Faculty endorsements an issue in COD trustee race
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The impact of contentious negotiations over a new faculty contract last year at the College of DuPage continues to reverberate at the Glen Ellyn-based school, and it is now playing a part in the board of trustees election.
The Friends for Education COD Faculty Association political action committee is endorsing two candidates -- Ed Agustin and Frank Flores, Jr. -- to fill two open spots on the board. Incumbents Dave Carlin -- the board chairman -- and Joe Wozniak are seeking re-election.
Carlin, of Naperville, a senior adviser in the office of the state treasurer, lost a four-way Republican primary for state representative last year. He is running on a slate with Kathy Hamilton, a CPA from Hinsdale.
Also running is Mike Lanners, a retired COD employee from Lombard.
In an interview with the Daily Herald editorial board, Carlin took aim at Agustin and Flores.
"The board is elected by the community. It's not elected by the faculty senate. It's not elected by the faculty PAC," Carlin said. "Ed's a nice guy. Frank's a nice guy. But if I'm a taxpayer in District 502, I'm going to sleep with one eye open if individuals who were recruited by and financially supported by the faculty PAC get elected to the College of DuPage board."
Agustin, a retired architect and Democratic precinct captain in Naperville, said he mulled running for a position in Naperville Township, but a COD faculty member encouraged him to seek a spot on the college board. He says members of the faculty PAC told him they don't expect him to vote on their behalf all the time.
"They didn't buy me. They're just supporting my situation," Agustin said.
The most recent campaign disclosure filings from the state board of elections show Agustin received $1,000 from the faculty PAC. Flores hasn't received any money yet. But Carlin said he thinks the PAC will spend much more between now and election day, based on elections in the past.
Three current trustees on the seven-member board have run for election with the backing of the faculty PAC: Kim Savage, Dianne McGuire and Nancy Svoboda.
"When a trustee (Savage) sits in an open meeting, who had the support of the faculty in the past, and says, 'I will not agree to a contract that the faculty has not agreed to ... when Dianne McGuire says she receives calls regularly from the faculty saying, 'We were there for you, now where are you for us?' during contract negotiations, you don't think you're going to get those calls, Ed?" Carlin said.
Flores, a community organizer from Glendale Heights, said he resented putting "everyone on the defensive" except for the college's administration, which he accused of not coming into negotiations in good faith because the salary increases they offered were "a wash" with increases in the amount faculty members have to pay in health insurance.
"There's ballooning administrative costs at the same time they're asking other people to make sacrifices," said Flores, who questioned the need for a number of vice presidents under the leadership of COD President Robert Breuder. "I would be curious what sort of health package they have and is it comparable to the faculty's."
Carlin said he was disappointed that as a candidate for trustee, Flores is "coming in with a bias" that the administration isn't serving the interests of the community and the college.
"The job of the administration is to hold faculty accountable -- to make sure they're doing their jobs," Carlin said.
Flores responded it should be the other way around.
"If I win, that will change," he said.
After 16 months of negotiations, the college board voted 4-3 last May to impose the administration's "best and final offer" on the faculty. Negotiating teams from both sides worked out a new deal in June that the board approved unanimously.
Carlin and Wozniak voted in favor of the "best and final offer," while the three board members previously backed by the union opposed it.
Carlin said he didn't think the contention over a new contract was a bad thing.
"If a board that's elected by the community isn't creating a little bit of conflict, they're not doing their job," he said.
Wozniak said he would have given 2 percent raises -- if any -- because faculty members are "getting fairly handsome salaries."
The contract gave salary increases that average 3.4 percent over the course of four years.
Agustin said he probably would have voted to reject the initial offer.
Hamilton said the faculty has to be motivated and have incentives, but the board is elected by the community "to safeguard the budget."
"We can't just get overexcited about the negotiations," she said. "There's going to be conflict."
Lanners, a former union steward involved in contract negotiations at the postal service, said the intelligence of faculty negotiators "was lacking or nonexistent" about new state laws and the impact they will have on costs COD will be incurring.
"When you talk about negotiations, you're talking about: 'this is a pie in the sky,' and 'this is a pie in the sky.' And little pieces come off the pie until we find a piece of pie in the middle that suits everybody," Lanners said. "It has to be fair for everyone. It was the best offer the college could afford at the time."
The six candidates are seeking to fill two 6-year terms on the board.
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