COD faculty will drop grievances to get raises for 5 professors
The College of DuPage faculty union has agreed to drop various grievances against the school in return for pay raises for the head of the faculty union and four professors.
COD Faculty Association President Glenn Hansen says he stands to receive a pay bump of nearly $17,000 this year as part of the deal, but he insists the agreement isn't about him.
Instead, it's about creating a fresh start at the Glen-Ellyn based community college, which has been dealing with a series of controversies that have sparked state and federal investigations.
"It's really important that internally we work well together," Hansen said. "There's so much damage that has been done to the climate here. We need to have some peace within the institution so everybody feels empowered and energized to move us forward.
"We have problems to address that have to be fixed. We all have to work together to fix those problems."
The five professors slated to get the raises all were denied promotions by President Robert Breuder in 2014. A committee of administrators and faculty members recommended the five be promoted from a D to an E classification to take effect in August 2014, but Breuder rejected all five.
The union, which represents COD's 306 full-time faculty members, has long criticized Breuder and took a vote of no confidence in him in September.
But with Breuder on paid administrative leave, the school's acting interim president, Joseph Collins, informed the union in a June 16 letter that the board of trustees and the administration wish "to establish a collaborative working relationship" with the full-time faculty.
To achieve that goal, the two-page document -- obtained by the Daily Herald -- outlines a plan to settle "all outstanding faculty issues."
The plan calls for the union to withdraw four grievances, a Freedom of Information Act request and an unfair labor practices complaint.
In exchange, the college will approve raises for Hansen, a photography professor; Linda Barkoozis, a nursing professor; Lauren Morgan, a speech professor; Anthony Venezia, an associate professor of motion picture and television; and reference librarian Denise Cote, the document states.
"The board and the administration look forward to establishing a collegial and collaborative relationship with the Faculty Association," Collins wrote. "This offer is intended to provide an opportunity for us to have a fresh start in our relationship."
A school spokesman said Collins would not comment for this report.
Hansen said the union has accepted the offer and is in the process of implementing its end of the agreement.
Meanwhile, the COD board must take a vote to approve the raises for Hansen, Barkoozis and Cote. The pay raises for Morgan and Venezia already have been approved, according to school spokesman Randall Samborn.
On Friday, the school issued a statement denouncing the "unauthorized release" of the settlement offer made to the union.
"The unscrupulous source of this confidential document violated a trust," the statement reads. "It is no surprise, therefore, that the source of this breach would attempt to derail those negotiations. But the college remains determined to forge a new bond with its faculty."
The statement says the college would not comment further on the document or its underlying subject matter.
Attempts to reach COD board Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton and several trustees were unsuccessful.
Trustee Erin Birt, who isn't aligned with Hamilton, declined to comment. Trustee Joseph C. Wozniak said he is aware of the agreement but isn't sure if he supports it.
Hansen said the agreement resolves a number of long-standing problems between the union and Breuder.
"People that worked for him were obstacles," Hansen said. "Every time we tried to reach an agreement, things would go south."
One of those problems involved Breuder's refusal to allow Hansen and the other professors to move up to a higher lane in the faculty's pay schedule. Had he been promoted on the pay schedule last year, Hansen's base salary of $110,737 would have risen to $122,757, he said.
"This is something I was entitled to get," said Hansen, adding that he first applied for the pay bump in October 2013 and met all the requirements.
Hansen said he was passed over because of his involvement with the union.
Attempts to determine the amount of raises for the other four faculty members were unsuccessful, nor could they be reached for comment.
Two of the grievances and the unfair labor practices complaint were filed in response to the professors being denied pay raises.
As part of the deal proposed by the administration, all five professors would be paid retroactive to the date they were supposed to be promoted.
If COD trustees approve, Hansen expects his annual salary to increase to $127,625 for the coming school year.
Meanwhile, Hansen said his pay raise has nothing to do with his support of Hamilton, who has called for sweeping changes since the controversies at COD began.
Hamilton was the only trustee to oppose a $762,868 buyout package for Breuder, who is scheduled to retire in March. Then Hamilton ascended to the board's top position in the spring after helping three political allies get elected to the seven-person panel.
One of her allies, Trustee Frank Napolitano, said Hamilton and Hansen simply agree on issues related to reforming the college.
Hansen said "no deal was struck" for him to back Hamilton.
"The fact that it (requesting the pay increase) started before Kathy and any of this blew up is my reassurance that I'm not being bought out," Hansen said. "The fact that we were able to make some gains on these other areas, it's a package deal."
Hansen said he started working with Collins in January to resolve issues that were part of the faculty's vote of no confidence. "We wanted to build a better college," he said.
With this deal, the school and faculty will avoid the high cost of several arbitration hearings that were poised to begin.
There also have been discussions about steps that could be taken to prevent issues from escalating into grievances in the future.
"Administrators and faculty leaders can sit down and spend the day talking about how to resolve these issues without going head-to-head in battle across the table," Hansen said.