Bargaining Update #2 (9/24/15)

The CCFF and District bargaining teams held their second round of negotiations on Thursday, September 24, and the District brought with them their counter-proposals and their attorney.

About healthcare and benefits, the District seems to favor maintaining the level of coverage we currently have for calendar year 2016.  That’s good.  All available plans are covered.  However, the District wants to reduce coverage in 2017 and 2018.  You might recall that when the CCFF signed the 3-year agreement back in November 2012, the CCFF agreed to cap the District’s contribution.  At the time, this was a CCFF concession, reasonably, albeit reluctantly, proffered because 2012 was a bad year for the state budget, a bad year for the Cerritos College budget.  Unlike 2012, however, 2015 is a good-enough year, and 2016, 2017, and 2018 promise to be better still.  When times are bad, the CCFF has demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice.  When times are good, the District needs to show a willingness to share.  With the improving economy and comparatively small increases in healthcare, the CCFF is looking for the District to maintain its current level of healthcare and benefits not just for the next year but for the next three.  Also, the CCFF and the District continue to have differing views on what kinds of health benefits retirees and early retirees should receive.

At the last bargaining session, the CCFF proposed a revised Union Rights article, which included an increased allocation of reassigned time for union activities.  Currently, the District provides the union with the equivalent of 30 lecture hours (LHE) each academic year to be used as reassigned time for union members engaged in union business, such as serving as union president or as grievance officer.  To be clear, 30 LHE is 100% of the load of one fulltime faculty member.  The union receives another 12 LHE when engaged in contract negotiations.  That’s 40% of the load of a full-time faculty member.

Bear this in mind:  when the District comes to the table, it brings the Director of Human Resources, the Vice President of Human Resources/Assistant Superintendent, the Vice President of Business Services/Assistant Superintendent, the Dean of Fine Arts, the Dean of Health Occupations, the Dean of Academic Success, the Dean of Academic Affairs, and the District’s lawyer.

The CCFF is allocated enough to bring the equivalent of one fulltime faculty member on 40% reassigned time.

While deploying one director, two vice presidents, four deans, and an attorney against a teacher on 40% reassigned time reveals the District’s spectacularly high and wonderful regard for faculty resourcefulness, 40% reassigned time for negotiations is simply insufficient for the task.  Indeed, most peer districts – those of similar size in terms of FTES and number of faculty members – provide their faculty with nearly twice as many hours in order to conduct union business.

And this accounts, in large measure, for the fact that we are currently operating under a contract that expired in 2012, which leaves faculty and managers to toggle among the outdated 2012 contract, an antiquated 2006 Faculty Handbook, and a forest of MOUs for information about working conditions.  Everyone – the District and the union – recognizes that this is a problem.  It’s the CCFF’s position that an increased allocation of reassigned time would lead to increased productivity – a full contract, perhaps.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for October 8.

P.S.  In response to the first update, a colleague asked why the CCFF was not addressing the matter of salary, and I wrote that negotiating is like eating a meal – that one can’t eat the whole meal at the first course.  Salary would be addressed later.  I was wrong.  When the CCFF and the District come to an agreement on salary, the raise will be retroactive to July 1, 2015.  So, if negotiating is like eating a meal, then it can, as one colleague pointed out, be served all on one plate – the plate of the 2015-16 fiscal year.