Magazine Article

Implementing the contract
Lift it off the paper and apply it to our daily campus work life

Picketing at CSU Dominguez Hills

By Andy Merrifield
CFA Bargaining Team Chair & CFA Associate VP-North
Political Science, Sonoma State

The new collective bargaining agreement is a good one in light of tough times. It is not a permanent solution to the CSU’s problems. We will have to continue to be strong at the bargaining table in the future, to deal with ongoing problems.

All of this is true and obvious to those of us on the CFA Bargaining Team.

We are the faculty members who took onthe two-year-plus task to sit at tables across from the Chancellor’s labor relations representatives and hammer out the details of a contract. It was a long process that referred back to past negotiations and that sets up the conditions and the opening for future contracts.

While we were at the table, large numbers of you on the campuses were taking action that provided us with measurably more strength.

Now, just as we all were able play a role in getting the contract, everyone can take steps to make sure the contract actually gets lifted off the paper and applied to our daily work lives.

In fact, every member of CFA needs to help us make sure the contract is enforced and protects our rights.

The first step is to know your rights. Look at the contract. It is on the CFA website and hard copies will be made available soon. You also can learn more by talking to your CFA leadership on campus.

The next step is to keep the Faculty Rights Representatives in your campus CFA chapter aware of what is happening to you and your colleagues. CFA reps cannot know what happens to every individual member if the member does not tell them. If you have concerns about how your rights under the contract are being implemented, step up and let us know. We can’t know without you!

What to watch for via this contract

Workload change opens the door to future improvements

Excessive workload on the faculty makes learning for our students untenable. So, when you help to enforce the contract on workload, you are doing a service for students too.

The gain on workload in this contract is both modest and a breakthrough. It is modest in the simple nature of the provision—a workload side letter to the contract calls for the formation of a joint faculty-administration committee to study the impact of exploding class sizes and other workload issues. The joint committee is charged to collect data and look at all aspects of Unit 3 work.

The side letter is a breakthrough in that CSU management has officially acknowledged that the CSU even has a workload problem. This is the necessary important step to actually solve it after years in which denial has been the order of the day.

When he came to the CSU some 13 years ago, the outgoing chancellor actually claimed that we only work three days a week and a few hours a day. He had no idea and no respect for the overall teaching load and the other work faculty do in this public university.

And while his public stance softened for a time under a great deal of pressure from faculty organizing, in the actual process of bargaining he never backed down from accusing us of goofing off—until now.

Keep the public university public

CFA scored an important victory for quality education by fighting off changes that would make it easier—and cheaper—to shift courses into Extended Education where students pay even higher fees.

Under the Chancellor’s earliest proposals, which were defeated in bargaining, all faculty who teach in extension would receivefull pay only for state-supported courses. All other “for-profit” courses, i.e. extension classes, would have been paid at a significantly lower rate. There would have been other “take backs” in extension too, like loss of “preference for work.”

While we retained status quo on extension, we need to remain cautious and diligent in this area. The creation of Cal State Online must be watched closely. We need to ensure that the faculty for this work are in our unit and that their contractual rights are protected.

Other attempts to move work to extension must also be monitored as well.

If it looks like your campus is moving our regular courses to extension, under any pretense, let CFA know!

Protect All Unit-3 members: The new contract provides important protections and hard-earned gains for many members of our bargaining unit including Lecturers, Coaches and Counselors.

LECTURERS

We preserved the basic protections in three-year contracts for longterm
Lecturers. These protections were a huge gain won over decades of contract negotiations.

These contracts give contingent faculty a measure of job stability for work in which they have proven themselves. All faculty benefit from having a consistent cohort of colleagues working with us in our departments.

Students also benefit from having a faculty with the continuity to meet their needs.

Over the coming months, faculty need to monitor shared governance to be sure the evaluation process continues to be appropriate.

The CFA Lecturers Council went to work as soon as the agreement was ratified to update the Lecturers Handbook, an essential guide to working conditions for Lecturers that all of us, including department chairs and hiring committees can use to make sure we are treating each other appropriately.

You can find the handbook in the Lecturers Council section of the CFA web
site and get hard copies when they are ready from your campus CFA chapter.

We also need to monitor the appointment process on new and additional work to ensure that the clear language and intent is respected and followed, and that while quality education is our goal, the process cannot bemisused as an excuse to weaken our rights.

COUNSELORS

Tenured counselors made an important gain in this contract that is both symbolic and practical—the right to the Faculty Early Retirement Program, something available to all other tenured faculty for a very long time. This gain signals that counselors are at last being regarded as equal and full members of the CSU faculty.

Also under this contract, management has to define the work assigned to any counselor and has to determine how the work fits their allotted work time. Managers have to manage; they can’t hold people responsible to do work that can’t be done. Counselors will be protected from supervisors adding work that cannot be performed within a normal 40- hour workweek.

The contract article covering professional development now allows for the campus to reimburse Counselors who are required to maintain licensing and training as conditions of employment, at the campus president’s discretion. Under the new terms, these Unit 3 members are entitled to reimbursement for licenses and credentials.

To make these gains real, counselors need to step up. Those interested in FERP must go to the campus benefits office to get it started. It’s a good idea to read Article 29 in the contract that explains the FERP program process. And keep in mind, you need to apply six months in advance of starting

FERP

All FERP faculty should be treated in certain ways, and there are rules on the assignments you get and many other aspects. If you have questions, call your CFA campus
chapter.

COACHES

Coaches working on contingent contracts will have the same access to fee waiver as other temporary faculty unit employees. The eligibility for fee waiver for dependents is improved. And, coaches have to learn how it works and how to pursue it. Refer to Article 25 in the contract.

Also, coaches remain fully integrated into the entire contract rather than being separated into their own contract “article” as management demanded at the beginning of the bargaining process.

Maintained Salary and Benefits: Objectively, we know that other public employee unions are taking pay cuts, losing benefits, and enduring many other painful losses.

While this agreement doesn’t solve everything that we believe is needed, we did fight off management’s attempt to impose pay and benefit cuts during the contract by means of last-minute legislative tactics.

Should state funding not improve or get worse, CSU management could reopen talks on our contract. This could happen either between October and November this year, or in January or February next year. In reopeners, contract changes occur only after mutual agreement of the parties. In the absence of mutual agreement during reopeners, the status quo remains in place.

Equity Pay

In our contract that was ratified in 2007, the CFA Bargaining Team took up the growing problems of inversion and compression in the faculty salary structure. At that time, newly hired faculty were getting jobs at higher pay than faculty who had been in the CSU for years.

In that contract, we won a two-year Equity Pay Program, which was an attempt to address these flaws in the pay scale. The first year of the program was implemented, helping thousands of faculty members but the chancellor de-funded the second year when state moneys declined in 2008.

This contract brings back the second year of the Equity Pay program, on a campus-by-campus basis.

  • Please read the accompanying article in this magazine to learn more about Equity Pay and how it might affect you.

More issues in the tentative agreement: Many other take-aways were defeated and low- or no-cost improvements to the contract have been made. A highlights fact sheet lays these out on the CFA web site at: www.calfac.org/settlement2012

By becoming familiar even with what we defeated this time, we can be better prepared to hold them off if they reappear in future talks.

Implementation of a collective bargaining agreement is a dynamic process. It takes time to make sure that it is done correctly. CFA is working with CSU management to ensure that the spirit and the letter of the contract is followed. We will remain vigilant and, again, that is why it is so important that individual members of CFA take ownership of this process to keep our Faculty Rights Representatives and campus leadership informed.

On behalf of the CFA Bargaining Team, I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to get to this point in our collective bargaining process. That includes our members, our faculty leaders, the staff of CFA, and our many supporters on the campuses and in the public. We on the Bargaining Team and the Officers of CFA have worked hard alongside you to get us to this point. It’s not over. We have a profession to defend and a great public university system to preserve.

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