COD contract talks may be coming to head

 
 
Posted5/9/2012 8:49 PM
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After 14 months of negotiations, College of DuPage trustees may vote Thursday to impose a contract on the college's 295 full-time faculty members -- even if the instructors don't want it.

Indications are administrators may be planning to impose the contract effective May 28, although neither side officially has declared an impasse in the negotiations.

College officials presented what they called their "best and final" offer to the College of DuPage Faculty Association last Friday during a fourth session with a federal mediator. The offer came less than a week before the board of trustees was set to consider the deal and before union officials said they had enough time to talk with their membership about it.

Faculty members met Tuesday night off-campus to review the proposal and take a straw poll, but union leaders said they are legally allowed more time to take a formal vote.

Faculty Association President Glenn Hansen said he doesn't believe there's an impasse.

"We want to continue negotiating. They're the ones who stopped. We're demanding they come back to the table and negotiate," Hansen said Wednesday.

COD President Robert Breuder long had targeted May 10 -- the date of the board's monthly meeting in May, and one day before commencement -- to bring a contract before the board.

Details of the administration's final offer were made available late Tuesday when materials for Thursday's board meeting were posted online.

Summer pay

The amount faculty are paid to teach summer courses has been one of the issues at the forefront of negotiations. College officials have sought to reduce summer pay to what they say is "a more reasonable level," while still keeping it at "a premium" above what adjuncts are paid.

Their original proposal called for paying full-time faculty 1 times the faculty overload rate, which is $951 per contact hour -- the amount of time an instructor is in the classroom. For example, someone who teaches nine credit hours would have received about $17,000 next summer and $13,000 in each of the following two years.

But the administration scaled back that proposal and is now calling for those changes to affect only future hires. Current faculty who are now paid 23 percent of their base salary to teach in the summer would get 22 percent of their salary next summer, 21 percent in 2014, and 20 percent in 2015.

The average nine-month base salary at COD is currently $95,362, which comes out to $21,933 in summer pay, under terms of the existing contract.

More work?

Administrators also have sought to increase the amount of instruction time for faculty who teach lab or studio classes, such as art, photography, automotive and chemistry. They argue the demands on a professor teaching a lab class are not the same as one who teaches a lecture class.

Under the proposal, a lab, clinic or studio class will equate to 80 percent of a lecture class, starting in the fall of 2013.

Hansen said the proposal shows "a lack of understanding and appreciation for different delivery methods."

Curriculum control

Hansen said administrators are trying to gain greater influence into the curriculum process through the negotiations.

For instance, one proposal would shift responsibilities from faculty program coordinators to the college's classified staff. College officials say these tasks are administrative in nature, such as assigning classes, monitoring the budget and tracking graduation requirements. But Hansen said the faculty creates a strong curriculum because members are experts in their disciplines.

"Administrator control of the curriculum is problematic because most administrators lack the curricular expertise necessary to drive the curriculum," he said.

Salaries

In exchange for the proposed concessions, college officials say they have proposed salary increases of 2.85 percent, 3.15 percent, 3.55 percent and 4.15 percent over the course of the proposed contract. Those increases represent a pool for faculty salaries in total -- and not raises for individual faculty members. Union officials say more senior faculty members may receive salary increases of less than 1 percent.

The agreement is expected to run until the start of the fall 2015 term.

The board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday in Room 2800 of the Student Resource Center, 425 Fawell Blvd. in Glen Ellyn.

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