The Faculty and Administration Bargaining Teams met on Thursday, July 31, for about 3 hours, and on Friday, Aug. 1, for about 2 hours. The mediator attended both sessions.
Faculty Chief Negotiator Geoff Woolf said, “The sessions on Thursday and Friday were extremely disappointing. After nine bargaining sessions that had seemed open and collaborative, the Administration team took a big turn in direction.”
“What they did felt a little like a ‘bait and switch,’” Geoff added.
Geoff continued, “After spending a lot of time talking about understanding concerns and meeting interests, it seems like the Administration is now saying that to gain any contract provisions that are important to Faculty, we must agree to two items: creating positions for full-time, non-tenure track faculty, and supporting expansion of online education through a partnership with Pearson Learning Systems.”
Faculty Team members said the Administration Team did not provide details about either of their new topics.
Team member Pam Ecker said, “For the discussion of non-tenure track faculty, which the Administration refers to as Annually Contracted Faculty, they had a bullet list with a few ideas about these new positions. For the discussion of expanding distance education through a deal with Pearson, they didn’t have anything in writing, and they couldn’t or wouldn’t provide answers to our specific questions.”
“It was frustrating to hear the Administration team imply that the College can’t possibly afford to implement workload changes we are seeking– let alone provide reasonable compensation and benefits– unless they add a bunch of non-tenure track positions and set up an online college with Pearson,” Pam said. “Yet at the same time, they couldn’t give us any specifics about how they expect to carry out these new activities they say are essential to fiscal sustainability.”
“They also didn’t have an answer to why Pearson is the one-and-only provider of resources for distance education that is open to consideration,” Pam added. “Many faculty members who are interested in expanding distance education offerings have examined a number of possibilities for resources. Not everyone agrees that Pearson is the best possible partner in offering pathways to better retention and increased success for Cincinnati State’s current and future students.”
Faculty Team has concerns about non-tenure track and Pearson online college
Geoff said that the Faculty Team explained at the sessions this week the concerns that need to be addressed if discussion of the Administration’s new topics continues.
“Three years ago, the Administration said they needed Annually Contracted Faculty, but they were unwilling to discuss procedures for hiring the positions, and unwilling to discuss any limitations on the number of these positions, or how many times an annual contracted position could be renewed,” Geoff said.
“Also, three years ago the Administration would not give us any assurances that new tenure-track positions would continue to exist once they started offering annual contracts to non-tenure track faculty,” Geoff added. “We were concerned that current tenure-track faculty might be non-renewed and then offered annually contracted positions instead.”
“Clearly, we can’t have a serious conversation this year about the possibility of annually contracted faculty positions unless the Administration is willing to address our concerns in a meaningful way,” Geoff said.
“The same thing applies to a discussion of a Pearson-supported online college,” Geoff said. “We told the Administration team about several concerns, but fundamentally they all relate to ensuring that the rules of academic governance, as described in the contract, are followed.”
“All programs and courses offered by Cincinnati State, whether they are online or in a traditional classroom, need to follow the standard processes programs and departments use to develop courses, submit them to the Academic Policy and Curriculum Committee for review, and complete other steps that may be required by the OBOR or accrediting organizations,” Geoff said. “All of those steps are key to ensuring quality in our academic programs.”
“A big company like Pearson might be able to provide some useful resources, but that doesn’t mean they– or any other for-profit company– can start dictating to faculty about the content of our courses,” Geoff added.
Next bargaining session Aug. 6; Fact-finder selected but not scheduled
Geoff said the next bargaining session was originally scheduled for Monday, Aug. 4, but the Administration team asked to cancel that session so they would have time to work on their specific proposals.
The teams agreed to meet again on Wednesday, Aug. 6.
Geoff said the Faculty and Administration have selected a Fact Finder from the list of names provided by the State Employment Relations Board. The schedule for a fact-finding hearing is not yet confirmed.
“We hope it will be possible to get back to the collaborative processes we used for several weeks, and reach an agreement on a new contract without the need for fact-finding,” Geoff said.
“However, it’s not clear at this point what it will take to settle this contract, so we’re making plans for various scenarios,” Geoff said.