We’ve had four bargaining sessions so far this semester and we’ve made significant progress towards our first collective bargaining agreement. At each bargaining session we’ve had productive, collegial discussions about our bargaining proposals and issues that are important to both Core faculty and our administrators — each conversation has given us a fuller understanding of the other’s perspective and priorities.
We’re close to establishing consistent and reasonable appointment lengths, regularizing the procedure for contract renewal, and ensuring more job security for all Core faculty, but we still have a lot of key issues to continue discussing at the negotiating table. As we look forward, it’s clear that financial considerations present the most complicated component.
This month we presented our proposal on salaries — it would raise pay the most for those who are the lowest paid at each rank by creating minimums that are consistent with salaries at our peer institutions. Anyone that already makes above these minimums would see percentage increases to their salary every year, increasing overall payroll by about 15% over the three year life of the agreement. We’re also looking towards improving benefits, and the bargaining surveys completed over the summer and fall show that most of us would like to see decreases in out of pocket costs to health insurance and increases in retirement contributions.
However, salary and benefit increases are not the only financial considerations. For most of us, the seven courses a year (for a 9-month contract) is a burdensome workload that we’d like to see reduced, but for each course load we reduce, that’s 150 courses that still have to be taught by adjuncts or, ideally, more Core faculty, which is a significant cost to the university that could reduce the salary increases we can expect to win in our first contract.
Our negotiations challenge some of the ways the administration chooses to spend its money, and that’s an important piece to this process, but there are still four main areas where significant gains for us will mean significant cost to the university, and we have to be sensible about our priorities. Salary increases, benefits, resources for scholarship and professional development, as well as reducing workload are all major areas of financial cost. In order to have a comprehensive agreement, we must now examine these priorities, the same way the administration must examine their own spending, and choose to put money towards that which is most valuable.
Help us tackle this question by discussing your priorities with your colleagues, inschool/departmental meetings and with your school’s bargaining committee representative. And as always, you are welcome to join us at bargaining.
On Behalf of the Bargaining Committee,