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Faculty union preps to bargain new contract

Matt Thompson, Staff Reporter - November 28, 2011

With the 2009 collective bargaining agreement set to expire in the summer of 2013, members of the United Faculty of Central are brainstorming what they’d like to get out of a new contract.

“We are not poor, we are not begging,” Holly Pinkart, UFC vice president, said. “It’s time to appreciate our faculty. We need to retain the valuable people we have and be able to recruit folks.”

UFC held a meeting Nov. 14 with guest speaker Bill Lyne, president of the United Faculty of Washington State and an English professor at Western Washington University. He explained how Western’s chapter gained salary increases and raises based on post-tenure reviews.

“Everything that we did in this contract, we think, makes the quality of the education that our students receive and the conditions under which they receive that education better,” Lyne said.

During the previous full-contract negotiation in 2009, UFC succeeded in instituting processes for reporting grievances, setting workloads, and determining tenure-track promotions. This year, they hope to use UFWW’s 2012 contract as a template.

“Obviously salary is a big issue right now; we haven’t seen a raise in four years,” Bob Hickey, UFC president, said. “We’re paid below our peers. It makes it hard to retain and recruit good faculty, which has an impact on the students.”

The starting salary for newly hired instructors at Central is based on the faculty salary survey produced by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. However, compression becomes an issue when new instructors are hired at progressively higher salaries while experienced professors do not receive comparable pay increases.

“We’ve got cases on campus where newly hired assistant professors are making more than full professors that have been here since dirt,” Hickey said.

In the new contract, UFC hopes to address compression much like Western has. A formula has been designed to look at an instructor’s rank, discipline, and years of service, then compare their salary with their counterparts from peer institutions.

Another hot topic for UFC members is the post-tenure review process. Every five years, tenured professors must compile a report on whether they have satisfied university and departmental standards. Most believe that tying money to satisfactory post-tenure reviews could make the process more meaningful.

“I’m a full professor and I’m going through my second post-tenure review, 10 years, and my last raise was $500,” Steven Hackenberger, professor of anthropology, said. “And the president’s was half a million.”

In the previous agreement, both sides agreed that the post-tenure review procedure needed restructuring, but they failed to solidify the changes needed.

Bargaining between the university and its faculty is done on a local level. Holly Pinkart will bring together a team representing UFC, while a team assembled by James Busalacchi, director for faculty and labor relations, will negotiate the administration side.

“I sort of keep everything in mind,” Busalacchi said. “I’m thinking of what’s best for the faculty and then what’s best for the administration, so I take that all into consideration.”

Negotiations are set to begin in February and will go into effect next August.



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