New offer as College of DuPage, faculty try to settle contract talks

College of DuPage officials have presented a counter proposal to representatives of the Glen Ellyn school's full-time faculty in an attempt to reach a new contract agreement.

But the COD Faculty Association, which represents the 304 full-time faculty members, says it already has "several substantial concerns" with the latest offer.

Details about the proposal were released Monday - one day before both sides are scheduled to meet for the first time with a federal mediator.

Full-time faculty members have been working without a contract since a multiyear pact expired on Aug. 14. Negotiations on a new deal started in March but have gone slowly through 11 sessions.

Earlier this month, Shannon Toler, president of the faculty association, said the group offered a "comprehensive package for settlement" that provides fair compensation and addresses priorities raised by the COD board's bargaining team.

In a statement released Monday, COD officials said they presented a counter proposal that, among other items, addresses three key components: compensation, evaluations and promotional structure.

The faculty association responded by saying it's being asked to accept the school's major proposals with no consideration of the union's offers, "which results in little to no movement when proposals are exchanged."

"This has been going on since bargaining started in March," the faculty association said in a statement. "The (COD board of trustees) tactics are attempts to circumvent the bargaining process, so they can eventually impose their half-baked proposals against the faculty's will."

When it comes to compensation, college officials say they offered "a highly competitive economic proposal" that addresses the faculty association's demands "while fairly balancing the fiscal obligation to the taxpayers of District 502.

"College of DuPage full-time faculty are currently among the highest paid community college faculty in the country," the school's statement reads.

The faculty association acknowledges the college's proposal shows "some movement" on salary.

"However, it's associated with a $5,000 cut in pay for summer for the majority of full-time faculty," the association said. "That's a big hit on summer pay and a modest increase in salary."

The association says the proposed salary increase "evaporates when accounting for the pay freeze a majority of our faculty have had over the last three years, increased costs in insurance and cost of living."

COD officials also are proposing mandatory in-classroom evaluations for all full-time faculty that involve college deans.

"The primary goal of implementing in-classroom observations ... is to meet the needs of our institutionwide objective of elevating student success," the college's statement reads. "This is a critical component to ensure all students receive the best possible education ..."

Officials say it's standard practice at many colleges throughout the country to have in-classroom observations as part of the full-time faculty evaluation process.

Another proposal is to implement a new promotional structure "that recognizes and focuses on continuous improvement in teaching, critical to student success."

But the union says officials want to restructure full-time faculty jobs, add duties and create "an unfair subjective evaluation scheme not based on current research."

"It is unfortunate the (board of trustees) seems to be unwilling to put our students' education first and unwilling to recognize that teaching matters," Toler said in a statement.

Toler said COD, which has more than $187 million in reserves, can afford to meet the faculty's requests without raising taxes.

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