If I haven't disclaimed enough already, let me add three more. First, "Deo Volente" is an opinion blog and not in any way an official information outlet of the FA. When Dave was running it, we may have received the benefit of insider knowledge from his position as chair of the FA's DRC. I do not have or claim to have such access. Second, although it is largely fictional at this point for both sides, part of the negotiation agreement is that we not negotiate in the media. For a variety of reasons, the negotiating team must, well, negotiate sometimes conflicting imperatives to (a) inform its membership and (b) remain diplomatic and strategic at the negotiating table. Finally, the negotiations are moving at a rapid pace of back and forth exchanges. What I have very recently learned is probably already out of date.
For these reasons, this unofficial report of bargaining is presented with admittedly broad strokes. There has been some progress, but not so much on the major sticking points.
- There has been a Tentative Agreement (TA) on student-to-faculty ratio, keeping that at 26:1. I was not clear whether that includes Distance Learning (DL) students or not. (In the past, it has not.)
- There has been some movement (but no TA yet) on clarifying the process by which program changes will occur and some movement on defining a process for ensuring changes to Operating Papers do not linger indefinitely on administrators' desks. There is a proposal currently being discussed on a process for determining contact hour vs. credit hour equivalencies in Operating Paper disputes.
- There remain major sticking points on Workload, including an administrator's ability to require instructors to teach their classes using DL, requiring off-campus teaching, and determining overload pay.
- There is no resolution on sexual harassment or conflict of interest policies/procedures.
- The Reduction in Force (RIF) language still is marked by the same problems as before. The FA team and the Administration team have been trading proposals, but there is not much significant change in the Administration team's proposals.... except that now, if you get laid off, your theoretical 'tenure' would still be good for three years, rather than two.
- The Administration team rejected an FA proposal of a side letter agreeing to no furloughs for the length of the contract.
- The Administration has put a salary offer in writing, but the FA team is not willing to do a TA on any salary until it means something. The FA logic is that there is no use signing when we could get a 1% raise this year, but get cut 2% again through furloughs. The Financial Exigency (FE) issue must be somehow resolved before any salary TA is meaningful. The FA is seeking wage reduction language and processes that are transparent and accountable, and the FA has suggested procedures for determining what counts as FE, but the Administration team resists all of these.
In general, all union teams reported a similar set of problems with negotiations. The Administration team tends to make package proposals and demand that the union team accept or reject the entire package. They are, in the words of the NTTFA negotiator, solidly tied you black and white negotiation and unwilling either to compromise or engage in creative problem-solving. This, by the way, is exactly what Interest Based Bargaining was supposed to help us avoid.