LCC Faculty Colleagues,
I’m writing with updates on community college funding, bargaining, PERS, college budget, and more.
Community College Funding — Good News!
Today the legislature released amendments for HB5024 setting proposed funding levels for higher education in Oregon. The changes include an increased allocation to community colleges set at $640.9+ million. This represents an 8.5% increase over the $590M figure under consideration earlier this spring and a 12.3% increase over the $570M that community colleges received for 2017-2019.
This means that Lane Community College is slated to receive approximately $2 million more per year than projected.
Part-time faculty health care and LCC budget
Substantial momentum continues to build around SB 852. In addition to providing healthcare to part-time faculty throughout the state, the vast majority of whom receive no medical benefits, the bill would mitigate pressure on the LCC budget with a positive impact of $1 to $1.4 million per year because Lane is one of the three community colleges in Oregon where part-time faculty receive healthcare. In addition to a higher ed coalition of OEA, AAUP, AFT-O, and SEIU, thank you to our student leaders of ASLCC and OSA for supporting this bill as well!
The state Senate and House have passed SB 1049, which would divert a percentage of future contributions to retirement funds from all public employees’ individual accounts (IAP) to a separate fund in order to reduce the unfunded actuarial liability (UAL) that developed after the economic recession. OEA has been active in statewide efforts, in collaboration with other public employee unions and progressive organizations, to prevent this bill from passing. Other alternatives to address PERS are possible. See below:
If the governor does sign this reform into law, it is likely that it will be challenged in court. In the meantime, local bargaining teams for public employees statewide, including your LCCEA team, will be negotiating over the impacts of the law (should it go into effect).
College budget decisions
As a follow up to both the annual budget process and recent email conversations, please see graphs here: Contracted Employees Fifteen Year Comparison
. It outlines some of the personnel trends and other factors impacting the college budget. For example, note that since 2005, contracted faculty positions have decreased by nearly one third; contracted classified staff positions have decreased by 30%, yet manager positions have increased by more than 9%. Also note the significant losses from the college-owned Titan Court apartment complex here: LossesfromProgramsAndTitan Court
. Those losses total nearly $2.4 Million over the past three years, far exceeding losses from Food Services and the Bookstore, which are being outsourced, as well as some program and service cuts from 2017 affecting faculty.
While it is not possible to reverse some of the decisions from that past that have negatively and dramatically impacted the budget and services to students, it is certainly possible to make better decisions going forward. This includes filling positions on the basis of alignment with the college mission as well as via a college-wide staffing and needs analysis of all employee groups in all budget funds.
A reminder from last Fall regarding faculty discussions of controversial issues or expression of divergent viewpoints, the faculty contract protects these most precious gems — academic and professional freedom — the fundamental tenets upon which higher education and its goals are based. In addition, the contract protects the rights of the Association and faculty members to communicate via the faculty email list about Association matters.
The College continues to maintain a $0 offer to faculty. We hear that the College respects faculty and wishes to create a culture of support, and we hear that our College leaders recognize the central role that faculty play in the mission of the college.
Now is the time for the College to act affirmatively to demonstrate support for the work that we do in service of students.
With next year’s budget already balanced in early April and now news of an additional $2 million dollars per year for LCC from the state, it is clear that the college can afford to invest in faculty and faculty salaries. Hiring trends and decisions for vacant positions show that less than 58.5% of full-time faculty positions for next year will be filled, contributing to an overall decrease in full-time positions of more than 20% in five years and an additional decrease of 3-4% next year. At the same time, the college continues to hire new part-time faculty without living wage salaries. And Faculty Professional Development funding has dropped so much that conference funding ran out in Winter term this year.
With only one bargaining session remaining this term and our contract set to expire on June 30, it is time for the college to allocate funding in a manner consistent with the college mission in order to truly create a culture of support.
If you care about moving toward pay equity for part-time faculty, maintaining full-time positions, providing sufficient funding for professional development, maintaining reasonable workloads and reasonable cost of living adjustments and steps, please share your story at: bit.ly/FacultyStories. In addition, in order to support bargaining efforts, please fill out this two-minute LCCEA survey: http://bit.ly/TwoMinSurvey
You may recall from LCCEA reports in Fall that the College and Association were meeting again to complete the work of the Joint Workload Taskforce, as required by contract. The 2014 agreement allowed an increase in class sizes by up to four students in the majority of sections campus-wide. According to the College, this class size increase would produce $2 Million in net savings every year.
The Taskforce approached this work with renewed energy in October; however, the work has been stalled due to recent meeting cancellations by the College.
At the same time, the College has made a proposal in bargaining that would circumvent the Taskforce’s work and dramatically increase workload for faculty in the Arts, Cooperative Education, and Social Science as well as potentially throughout the college through the removal of all reference to class sizes. Not only would such a change dramatically impact workload for all faculty and reduce our ability to serve students in the classroom, it also would reduce the number of sections available to part-time faculty.
Your LCCEA Bargaining Team rejected the proposal, and your LCCEA representatives on the Joint Workload Taskforce scheduled two additional meetings (June 11 and 17) for the purpose of codifying assignable class sizes as required by contract.
As faculty, we continue to do our part in fulfilling the contract, taking on increased class sizes. It is our expectation that the College fully honor the binding written agreement and do its part as well.
A final note and thank you
The legislature’s substantial new investment in higher education did not happen in isolation. Community colleges will receive $70M more in funding because of the coordinated efforts of many — both at the state and local levels — including the OEA and the LCCEA with the support of the NEA, working together with students of ASLCC and OSA and collaboratively with staff and the AFT-O as well as administrators and Board members who have come together for unprecedented, unified advocacy this year.
This increased funding is a result of our collective efforts: at the President’s Day rally in Salem, in legislators’ offices, at town hall meetings, at the May 8 rally on campus and online, through letter writing campaigns, and testimony in Salem, to which so many faculty members from Lane have contributed, standing together with our colleagues in K-12 and beyond.
At the beginning of this year, the LCCEA – like public employee unions across the state and nation – faced the challenge of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus decision. As a faculty we reaffirmed our commitment to collective bargaining and the rights and benefits that unions bring to our members. With a resounding and definitive response, the faculty affirmed our membership, which has continued to grow steadily since Fall, with more than 480 active members now.
Being a union member is not only about our individual rights and benefits, it is about supporting the conditions that allow us to do our best work. And importantly, it is about ensuring that public institutions and critical services have sufficient funding to meet community needs.
As public employees we contribute to the common good. As faculty, we work every day to support our community college mission of access and social justice. We support the fundamental role of the community college institution in a healthy democracy. We provide an opportunity for higher education and social mobility that would not otherwise be possible.
We have advocated for the funding our colleges, our programs, and our students need.
And we have been successful.
And in so doing we have also demonstrated that the future viability of the public sector and public employee unions are inextricably linked. Our students and our communities depend on us. Our union helps ensure that we remain here to serve them and to serve them well.
Standing together with the 44,000 members of the OEA and with the support of the more than 3 million members of the NEA, we have made a substantial difference in future of public education in this state.
Thank you for everything that you have done to contribute to this effort and for all that you do as faculty every day!