President’s Update 6/13: Budget and Bargaining, Evaluations, Funding, Insurance

LCC Faculty Colleagues,

I’m writing to report on a number of topics:

College Budget and Bargaining
More than 120 faculty and classified staff union members attended the LCC Board meeting Wednesday night, and many faculty members sent their support because work responsibilities or prior commitments prevented them from doing so in person. The room was packed, people standing along every wall, sitting on the floor, and many more crowded at and out the dooway. Classified staff and faculty speakers provided powerful and moving testimony to the Board and the Administration, calling for them to support the agreement reached in the Budget and Finance Subcommittee, to start bargaining in good faith, and to start respecting our salary schedules–not just telling us they respect our contributions to our college. The Board seemed clearly impacted by the testimony and the clear resolve of the people who actually lead and do the work of our college, in a space that normally is far removed from us.

We’ll see what difference this will have made Friday morning as the Administration has tentatively requested a bargaining session then (we’ll let you know). But the faculty should be under no illusion that the Administration and Board are going to shift from their “support Administration prerogatives and protect student tuition first and if there’s money left over take a little less from the faculty and staff this year” mindset. President Spilde continues to deny the agreement reached in the Budget and Finance Subcommittee: that if state funding was at least $450M, the tuition rate and $3M Bargaining Allowance would be fully protected. I encourage anyone wondering whose “memory” of this agreement is more accurate to ask Adrienne Mitchell (Faculty Bargaining Team member and former FPD Coordinator) or Bob Baldwin and Roger Gamblin (LCCEF representatives on the committee). And, as I noted to the LCC Board in my report at the end of the meeting, whether or not President Spilde remembers the agreement, that can be easily fixed: agree to it now. The same reasoning that created the agreement on May 15 is relevant today: the $680k less that LCC will receive in state funding at $450M for CCs compared with the $460M agreement that President Spilde does remember can and should be covered by the same budget lines that we agreed to on May 15. Vacancies and reserves can easily pick up those costs, and likely would anyhow without a formal agreement to do so. (Does anyone think the Administration is going to authorize filling new faculty vacancies that have and will occur after the budget projections were set in months ago unless there’s formal agreement requiring it?) Faculty and staff should not have to shoulder the difference in funding. That is a CHOICE, and one the Administration and Board are making, and contrary to the May 15 agreement. We simply need to choose ourselves NOT TO ACCEPT IT.

Toward that end, the Association has formed an Action Team to educate and help organize faculty support for our Bargaining Team, and to work closely with the classified union, which is in the exact same boat as us. They also are refusing to accept the Administration’s walking away from the agreement, and like us are being threatened with high insurance out-of-paycheck rate hikes when our contracts expire with no new agreement in place because the Administration hasn’t begun to start bargaining in earnest. By standing together, and being willing to say no and not accept yet another attack on our salaries and insurance benefits, we will get a fair deal.

Over the summer, if you get a chance to relax, spend some time thinking about all of the things that you voluntarily do over and above what we are compensated for at Lane. Think about the fact that other public employees get furlough days to offset pay reductions they have taken in recent years, days that we mostly have not taken in order to protect our students’ educations.  Think about how many of us are working “overloads” simply to achieve the salaries we have earned but aren’t receiving  in order to support our families, working ourselves to exhaustion and taking time away from those families–all to help keep the cost of tuition down for our students when the state hasn’t provided adequate levels of funding to pay for them. And think about how the College continues to reward and award the College President [their “CEO” (sic)] while proposing further cuts in our pay and medical insurance. (Failure to provide cost-of-living adjustments IS in fact a “cut.” It’s simply a clever way of using inflation rates to do so while pretending otherwise).

Then think about what you and we should start doing instead if the Administration and Board don’t finally start treating us with the respect they claim. Because, in all likelihood when the fall term begins and all faculty are back on campus, we will be working without a contract, despite the college’s $17 million dollar carryover from last year, recent presidential decrees of “very sound college financial health,” millions in additional state funding next year, reserves that are planned not to be even touched, and years of financial sacrifices and incredible contributions to our college by faculty and classified staff. And if we are without a contract in Fall, it’s solely because the College has refused to bargain, refused to put the money on the table, money they have and previously agreed to commit. And if so, it will be time for us all to take a very different approach with the College. Be ready to do so this fall.

College President and LCC Board Evaluations
Also Wednesday night, the Board was scheduled to consider their own and the President’s evaluations. They postponed their self-evaluation until July, giving us some time to collect faculty observations that we can share with them for their consideration. They did complete the President’s “evaluation.” I put that term in quotation marks because the evaluation was changed a few years ago and no longer provides an opportunity for even employee group representatives (let alone employee group members) to share their observations. It seems more than a coincidence that invitations to participate, which union and ASLCC presidents used to receive, were no longer offered the year after the Faculty Association invited the faculty to complete the Board’s evaluation form for the President and shared those results with the President and the Board. Now the Board completes their assessment on their own, with no input from college employees at all. I doubt very much that the Administration would consider an evaluation of faculty instructors complete without requiring student evaluations. But that is how it is being done now for the President. Since it is very late in the year, it doesn’t make sense to try to complete a faculty survey to evaluate the President and the Board now, so we will postpone the survey until this fall when all faculty are back on campus. In the meantime, if you have your own observations of the Board (or the President) that you want us to share with them as part of their self-evaluation, please don’t hesitate to send them.

Performance-Based Funding Proposal (PBF)
The Performance-Based Funding (PBF) proposal to add so-called “outcomes” measures to the state distribution formula determining what share of the Community College Support Fund (CCSF) each college receives is apparently going forward; it is scheduled to be voted on by the State Board of Education next Thursday morning. This, despite the fact that the vast bulk of evidence shows PBF does not work and that it undermines the quality, integrity, and accessibility of higher education–and despite the opposition of faculty representatives and many administrators across the state. What is particularly challenging to understand is that it has been made clear many times that changes to the distribution formula can only happen with the OR CC President’s Council approval, and that they work by consensus. Challenging, because President Spilde has said several times that she opposes PBF. Your union Executive Committee representatives asked President Spilde how it is possible that she is opposing it, that decisions are made by consensus, and yet it is moving forward. We also asked what she is doing to stop a proposal that will lower LCC’s state funding (since we fare poorly on the so-called “metrics” for reasons that have nothing to do with our quality and much to do with the nonsensical nature of the measures; see previous reports). But all we were told is that she “is opposing it,” and the apparent contradiction remained unexplained.

It’s also confusing and disconcerting that after I had noted to the LCC Board that a majority of them had expressed their opposition to the performance funding proposal and recommended that they make it official by passing a resolution saying so, we were told by President Spilde that the Board was going to wait for the OCCA Board to take a position on it, not wishing to interfere with what they did. I thought that odd because influencing its position is precisely what a local board would normally be trying to do in such circumstances. It then became more confusing when we were told that the OCCA Board wasn’t going to take a position, and were told the LCC Board still wasn’t going to. So, the LCC Board didn’t take a position because the OCCA Board was going to. But now the OCCA Board isn’t taking a position and LCC still won’t?

The whole thing is confusing. Our President and a majority of Board members say they agree this is a bad and potentially destructive proposal, and yet neither appears to be doing anything to stop it. Why? We’ve asked but haven’t been provided a clear answer. You might try asking them yourselves; perhaps you’ll have better luck than me. Be sure to ask them why they don’t seem to be doing anything to stop a proposal that threatens the quality of our educational systems and has been shown that it would take money away from LCC, as well as from schools with higher proportions of African-American, Native American, Asian American, female, and career technical students. It would seem to be part of their responsibilities to protect our college and our state from such policies.

OEBB Insurance
The Faculty Insurance Committee is meeting Thursday to review this year’s changes in OEEB insurance rates and benefits, and to consider making any choices in the plans made available to faculty. We’ll provide a report on any such changes and recommendations you may wish to consider.

Jim Salt
LCCEA President

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