COD board makes it official: Mediator to help with contract talks
The College of DuPage board of trustees has agreed to bring in a federal mediator to assist in contract negotiations with the Glen Ellyn school's 304 full-time faculty members.
The faculty members -- represented by the COD Faculty Association -- have been working without a contract since a multiyear pact expired this week.
Negotiations on a new deal are ongoing. But the contract talks, which started in March, have gone slowly. Union representatives and college administrators still need to resolve numerous bargaining issues -- and the two sides haven't even begun to discuss pay.
So the faculty association on July 30 asked the college to bring in a mediator.
The COD board announced Thursday evening that it signed a formal mediation agreement with the faculty association "in pursuit of a new contract." The statement said the college's administration has participated in "good faith negotiations" with the faculty association.
"Both parties are committed to education and providing the best possible experience for our students," COD board Chairman Frank Napolitano said in a statement. "We fully recognize the need to be competitive to attract and retain first-rate faculty, but we must also balance that with our fiscal responsibilities to the taxpayers of District 502.
"The board believes this to be an attainable goal, but there is more work to be done."
Shannon Toler, president of the faculty association, said faculty members are pleased that COD agreed to their request to enter mediation.
"We hope this is an indication of their willingness to take the next step toward a fair contract," Toler said.
The board's announcement came a little more than an hour before a rally on the school's campus.
Hundreds of faculty members and their supporters -- most of them wearing red in support of teachers -- rallied in front of the Student Services Center. The large crowd then attended Thursday's COD board meeting.
Jackie McGrath, vice president of the faculty association, was among those who addressed trustees during the public comment portion of the meeting.
"We call on the board to find a pathway for settling the contract," McGrath said. "We request the board of trustees commit to doing what's best for our students, which is coming to a fair agreement as soon as possible."
There have been 11 bargaining sessions so far and the next is scheduled for Aug. 27.
Toler said the faculty association has offered a "comprehensive package for settlement" that provides fair compensation to the faculty and addresses priorities raised by the board's bargaining team.
"Most importantly, we believe our offer puts our students and their needs first," Toler said.
Meanwhile, adjunct faculty members voted overwhelmingly to reject an offer from the college to teach classes taught by full-time faculty if there is a strike.
"In the end, they decided that what was a very lucrative short-term deal was not worth the long-lasting negative repercussions to the college as a whole," said Cheryl Baunbach-Caplan, president of the College of DuPage Adjuncts Association.