Bargaining Session 8: July 25

Bargaining Session #8

The Faculty and Administration Bargaining Teams met on Friday, July 25, for about four-and-a-half hours. Mediator Earl Leonhardt attended the session, and some of the time was used for separate meetings of each team with Mr. Leonhardt.

Discussion between the teams focused on some of the challenges posed by the proposals made by each team, and considering ways to overcome these challenges. Topics discussed included workload, benefits, and a few other contract provisions.

Faculty Chief Negotiator Geoff Woolf said, “We continue to be impressed and encouraged by the fact that the teams have maintained clear and collegial discussions throughout all of the sessions so far.”

“We still have a lot of serious issues to consider, and the teams are far apart in some areas,” Geoff continued. “We still need to do a lot of prioritizing of each team’s wants and needs, so we can find our areas of possible agreement.”

“However, unlike past negotiations, the teams really appear to be hearing each other’s concerns,” Geoff said.

“These are probably the most productive and collaborative negotiations we’ve ever had,” Geoff added.

Faculty Team member Tom Burns said, “I had hoped we would start making progress in bargaining this week, and it looks like that is beginning to happen.”

At the end of Friday’s session, the teams set a meeting schedule for the next two weeks.

Bargaining sessions are planned for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday next week (July 30 and 31 and Aug. 1).

An AAUP Chapter meeting is planned for Monday, Aug. 4, from 11:30 to 1:00. Additional information will be provided early next week.

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Bargaining Session 7: July 23

The Faculty and Administration Bargaining Teams met on Wednesday, July 23, for about three-and-a-half hours. The next bargaining session is scheduled for Friday, July 25, and mediator Earl Leonhardt is expected to attend.

Additional members of the Administration Team at the session on Wednesday were Executive Vice President Carla Chance, and Human Resources Director Betty Young.

The Faculty Team said both teams presented several proposals on Wednesday, but not all of the proposals were discussed in full. Additional discussion and clarification of the new proposals will continue on Friday.

Faculty Chief Negotiator Geoff Woolf said, “Almost everything from both teams is on the table now, but we still have a lot of talking to do before we can settle a contract.”

“We’ve talked at many of the bargaining sessions about shared goals, like improving student retention and success,” Geoff said. “However, faculty and administration don’t always have the same ideas about the best ways to achieve those goals.”

“Since the mediator will be attending the next session, we’re hopeful we can make additional progress in identifying the issues that matter most, and then finding ways to incorporate those concerns into a new contract agreement,” Geoff said.

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Bargaining Session 6: July 14

The Faculty and Administration Bargaining Teams met on Monday, July 14, for about two-and-a-half hours. The next bargaining session is scheduled for July 23.

Mediator Earl Leonhardt attended the meeting to introduce himself to the teams, and explain how a mediator can assist teams in the process of reaching an agreement.

Faculty Chief Negotiator Geoff Woolf said, “Mr. Leonhardt has been the mediator for Cincinnati State AAUP negotiations in the past, so he is familiar with our contract and the topics that typically arise in our bargaining.”

“The timetable for when Mr. Leonhardt gets actively involved in our negotiations this year will be up to both teams, but it’s good to know that help from an experienced mediator will be available if needed,” Geoff said.

After Mr. Leonhardt left the session, the teams discussed some concepts related to workload and overload. No proposals were exchanged.

The teams will not meet again until July 23 because of scheduling issues that affect both sides.

“Both teams have expressed the desire to get bargaining done efficiently, and not drag it out,” Geoff said. “We agreed that when we start meeting again next week, both teams will try to have all remaining proposals ready to share.”

“Once all the proposals are on the table, we hope the Administration Team will be committed to making real progress and working efficiently to get this contract settled,” Geoff said.

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Bargaining Session 5: July 11

The Faculty and Administration Bargaining Teams met on Friday, July 11, for about 3 hours. The next bargaining session is scheduled for July 14.

The Faculty Team presented proposals for small changes to several contract articles. Most of the session discussion focused on two topics: selection and hiring processes for faculty and academic administrators, and workload.

Both teams presented proposals for changes to Article 7, Selection and Appointment Procedures. Then the teams asked questions about each other’s proposals, and clarified the intent of proposed changes.

Faculty Chief Negotiator Geoff Woolf said, “Some of the Administration Team members weren’t College employees when we bargained the last contract. Part of the discussion at Friday’s session involved explaining the history of Article 7, and talking about why faculty and administrators wanted the hiring processes that are described in the provisions of our current contract.”

Additional discussion of possible changes to Article 7 will continue at a future bargaining session.

Faculty Team members said the discussion of workload included examining faculty and administration concerns related to instructional workload, overload, and service days.

“So far, our discussions about workload have focused on general concepts rather than specific proposals,” Geoff said. “However, the conversations at the table have been frank, honest, and productive.”

“It appears that we’re building a good foundation for future bargaining sessions where we can get into the details of workload proposals from both sides,” Geoff added.

At the next bargaining session, on Monday, mediator Earl Leonhardt is expected to attend so he can meet both bargaining teams and explain the role a mediator could take in future sessions.

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Bargaining Session 4: July 7

The Faculty and Administration Bargaining Teams met on Monday, July 7, for about 3 hours. Additional bargaining sessions are scheduled for July 11 and July 14.

Most of the discussion Monday focused on workload. The Administration Team presented an overview of the concepts they would like to examine in each sub-section of the Workload article. The list of concepts includes some items that are related to development and delivery of distance education courses.

According to the Faculty Team, the Administration Team aligned each of their workload concepts with “success strategies” that are discussed in the College’s Completion Plan. The Completion Plan was developed by a College-wide committee, for submission to the Ohio Board of Regents. The Plan outlines steps the College will take over the next few years to increase success measures such as numbers of students who complete courses the first time the course is attempted, and numbers of students who earn degrees and certificates.

“A lot of today’s bargaining session was spent on getting clarification,” said Faculty Team member Pam Ecker. “We wanted to be sure we fully understand the ideas and concerns that are stated–or implied–in the administration’s workload concepts.”

Faculty Chief Negotiator Geoff Woolf said, “Now that we’re talking about workload, we’re getting to what’s most important in these negotiations. The next few weeks should tell us a lot about where this year’s bargaining is headed.”

Other portions of Monday’s session included some proposals from the Faculty Team that responded to proposals the Administration Team made at a previous session, regarding small changes to two contract articles. The teams also discussed briefly Administration concerns related to Article 7, which deals with the processes for hiring faculty and academic administrators.

Geoff said that during the next few weeks, it’s possible that the teams will do more exchanging of traditional proposals, as compared to just discussing concepts.

“During our initial bargaining sessions, the Administration Team expressed an interest in taking a ‘problem solving approach’ to negotiations,” Geoff said. “We said we were willing to use this approach, although generally it means that each side agrees to limit the number of issues that will be brought to the bargaining table, and to focus discussion on resolving the most pressing concerns.”

“As we move forward, it’s becoming clear that what each side is trying to accomplish has some complexities that might not be conducive to using the streamlined process we discussed earlier,” Geoff added.

“There’s nothing wrong with traditional bargaining processes that include exchanging many proposals and counter-proposals to get to an agreement,” Geoff said. “The Faculty Team has said several times that traditional bargaining can be collaborative and effective.”

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Bargaining Session 3: June 30

The Faculty and Administration Bargaining Teams met on Monday, June 30, for about 3 hours. Another bargaining session is scheduled for next Monday, July 7.

Most of the session focused on establishing a framework for detailed discussion of workload (contract Article 9).

The Faculty Team presented a brief overview of the changes faculty are seeking in each sub-section of the Workload article, and then answered administration team questions about the proposed changes.

The Administration Team said they will bring their detailed thoughts about the Workload article to the bargaining session next week.

Faculty Chief Negotiator Geoff Woolf said the session was cordial, even when discussion revolved around differences in faculty and administration perspectives about workload, and the costs and benefits of implementing changes to workload.

Faculty Team member Yvonne Baker said the Administration Team expressed interest in making fiscal issues a part of all discussions of workload.

“We spent some time talking about how to identify the possible financial benefits that would come from implementing a more appropriate load, such as increased revenue that could be associated with improved retention,” Yvonne said.

“Faculty certainly are willing to help identify opportunities for increased savings and increased revenue generation for the College,” Geoff said. “Those are topics we discussed throughout the FACT meetings that included members of the Board of Trustees.”

“At the bargaining session Monday, we talked about some conflicting perspectives on costs and revenues that led to considerable friction during the negotiations three years ago,” Geoff said. “The teams discussed these friction points openly, and we’ll probably discuss these points again before these negotiations are completed.”

“The key for faculty is that any changes we consider making to our contract must ensure that academic quality remains at the forefront,” Geoff added.

Faculty Team members said Monday’s session also included examining small “housekeeping” changes proposed for a few contract articles. The teams will continue examining these small proposed changes at the session next week.

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Bargaining Session 2: June 23

The Faculty and Administration Bargaining Teams met on Monday, June 23, for about 2 hours. Another bargaining session is scheduled for June 30.

At Monday’s session, the Faculty Team presented a list of general goals faculty would like to achieve in bargaining this year. During the first bargaining session, on June 13, the Administration Team shared four general goals, and the Faculty Team said this week that three of those four goals are also important for faculty:

  • dealing with workload problems

  • implementing College-wide strategies for improving student retention and completion

  • maintaining fiscal sustainability

Other general concerns presented by the Faculty Team on Monday included:

  • preserving and improving academic quality

  • maintaining and strengthening academic freedom through shared academic governance and a meaningful tenure system

  • improving and enhancing faculty morale, working conditions, and professional sustainability

  • maintaining competitive salary and benefits

The Faculty Team said that the administration’s fourth general goal, expanding distance education, is not a priority for faculty in this year’s negotiations.

“Faculty are interested in adding to our distance education offerings organically,” Faculty Chief Negotiator Geoff Woolf said. “Making a large, immediate increase to distance education is not one of our top concerns, particularly if the immediate increase involves outsourcing the design and teaching of online courses to for-profit companies.”

Like the June 13 session, much of the session on Monday dealt with clarifying the processes that will be used to discuss specific contract articles or to examine shared interests.

“We’re still talking about ways that both teams can make the bargaining process solution-based, while also recognizing that some administration concerns may not be the top interests of faculty, and vice versa,” Geoff said.

“No matter what approach we use, both teams can still strive to be collaborative and productive in our bargaining sessions,” Geoff added.

The teams agreed that next week’s session will focus on the entire Workload article, including all subsections. Rather than formal proposals, both teams will bring additional information about goals and concerns related to the Workload article.

“We’re pleased that the Administration team wants to start examining workload concerns right away,” Geoff said. “Workload is a complex and multi-faceted topic, so it should not be put off until late in bargaining, like some of the other times we’ve been to the table.”

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Bargaining Begins for Unit 1

Contract negotiations for AAUP Unit 1 began with a 2-hour session on Friday, June 13.

Members of the Faculty Bargaining Team said the first session was cordial and collaborative. Another bargaining session is scheduled for June 23.

“Both sides want to solve some of the same problems,” said Faculty Chief Negotiator Geoff Woolf. “We also have a shared interest in not repeating the contentious tone from the last time we bargained a contract.”

Faculty Team Member Yvonne Baker said that the Administration Bargaining Team expressed interest in continuing the kind of dialog that was present in the Faculty/Administration Communication Team (FACT) meetings. Two members of the College Board of Trustees participated in the FACT meetings, along with several members of the faculty and administration bargaining teams. (See AAUP News, May 12, 2014, for more about the FACT meetings.)

“The Administration Team told us that the Trustees hope that the tone of these negotiations will help set a positive tone College-wide,” Yvonne said.

Faculty Team Member Tom Burns added, “The Administration Team stressed several times that they want bargaining to be ‘solution-oriented’ rather than adversarial.”

The Administration Bargaining Team includes Steve Brooks, the College’s Labor Relations Manager, as Chief Negotiator, along with Academic Vice President Monica Posey, and Dean of Humanities & Sciences Robbin Hoopes. Vice President for Finance Mike Geoghegan is also a member of the Administration Bargaining Team, but he did not attend Friday’s session.

The Administration Team said others may join their team for discussion of specific topics, such as co-op or clinical experiences. The AAUP announced previously that “issues specialists” may be added to the faculty team at times.

Faculty Team Member Pam Ecker said, “The Administration Team told us they are not using an outside attorney as their Chief Negotiator this year, because they want to continue sharing ideas openly, as we did in the FACT discussions.”

Geoff said the Administration Team identified four goals they would like to achieve through this year’s negotiations:

      dealing with the faculty workload problems associated with the 36-unit annual load

      enhancing implementation of the College’s plans for improving student retention and completion of courses, degrees, and certificates

      increasing and facilitating online education

      maintaining fiscal sustainability in the next budget year and future years

“We appreciated that the Administration Team was willing to share their major concerns at the first bargaining session,” Geoff said. “The goals they discussed are important to faculty members, too.”

According to the Faculty Team, much of the first session focused on examining possible approaches for discussion of specific issues, to be implemented at future bargaining sessions.

“We’re working on developing a more collaborative approach to moving forward,” Geoff said. “Both teams agreed to bring materials to the next session that will help us examine where our interests coincide and where they may differ.”

Posted in Bargaining, News
AAUP Office:
Main Building Room 124
Phone: 513-569-1888

Chapter President:
David Simmermon - 513-569-1797
Media contact:
Pam Ecker - 513-569-1722

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