Faculty bargaining process gets heated

FacultyAtBargainingOn May 5, 2014 between 25 and 40 faculty gathered outside of a bargaining meeting between the faculty union and administration to advocate for fair pay in the negation of the staff and faculty contracts. This is expected to be the first of many tactics to show that this is a serious issue. So far, faculty have been sending letters and displaying signs to reflect their positions on the negotiations. When factoring in cost of living, salaries offered at other campuses’ average starting salaries reach a high of 118 percent and their maximum salaries 135 percent compared to the equivalent at BC. Administration makes two to four times the salary of adjunct, full time and tenured faculty.

“We haven’t seen raises. Our salaries have been stagnant, and in fact, if you count for inflation, our salaries have been going down since 2008,” said Tim Jones. “Our workload has gone up even as our salaries are stagnant.” The only way for faculty to increase their income is to take on more classes, sometimes at the expense of the time they have available to meet with students. Approximately 80 percent of faculty are adjunct faculty, also referred to part-time. Many adjunct faculty work hours beyond full time divided up between multiple colleges.

“When students are frustrated that their faculty can’t meet with them … they have to not realize that they’re working in three different institutions, teaching six different classes so that they can pay their bills,” said Jones. “We think that there is overlap in some of our interests with students. … We think that [students] should care about our salaries, because if you don’t think you have very good professors, we need

to recruit better professors or keep the good ones we do have.” Candidates have been reported to back out of hiring processes and turn down job offers because of noncompetitive salaries.

“A lot of us,myself included, understood that salaries couldn’t go up during the recession due to the economy […] so we weren’t vocal at all,” said Jones. “We just agreed with administration that this wasn’t the time to address these issues. But in the last year or two we’ve seen a sizeable increase in administrative salaries at the top.” “The administration, from the board to the deans, need to recognize that eight years of no salary advancement is unsustainable at a level that is a mission threatening emergency, and that the inequities in both the count and compensation of part time faculty cannot be continued,” said Robert Hobbs. According to public information, vice presidents make upwards of

$100,000 and the president upwards of $200,000. In response to the sings faculty were holding featuring variations of “overworked, underpaid and fed up”, multiple faculty members witnessed Ray White, VP of administrative services, uttered a comment stating that he was paid enough before entering the bargaining room. “I think it’s fair to say that those of us who were there and who heard his comment were pretty surprised and appalled that he would make such a comment, even if it was an attempt at a joke, said Denise Johnson. “I know I am not speaking only for myself when I say that some of us felt that his flippant comment was insulting and a slap in the face to faculty. I am personally alarmed that a member of our administration’s negotiating team would say such a thing.” White made $129,778 in 2012 and $138,000 in 2013. White issued an apology stating that “I’ve learned that my off-hand remark in response to comments about salaries at Tuesday’s negotiation session has generated hard feelings among some of the faculty who had gathered there. It was not my intent to disrespect or diminish their concerns over salaries. I appreciate the position of the faculty on this issue and have been working with both negotiation teams to improve the pay situation.”

Multiple faculty members called for his removal from the negotiating team, adding that his apology was still belittling and inadequate. Marika Rienke points out in email that “this discussion is about values – it is not about offenses. It is about the mission of this college. It is about aligning our mission and values with our actions. It is about changing the discussion from you against me, to all of us feeling valued for the work we have done and the commitment and heart we put into it in order to serve our very important mission.”

“If we claim we’re the best community college in the system … then we need to not only pay our president the best but pay our faculty and our staff,” said Jones.