LCC Faculty Colleagues,
I’m writing with more updates on bargaining, college budget, and statewide legislative issues.
If you have not done so, please read the bargaining update provided by your LCCEA Bargaining Team last week. The LCCEA presented extensive data including:
- the erosion of faculty salaries,
- the inadequate compensation of part-time faculty causing some to be eligible for food stamps even while working half-time
- the significant recent decrease in contracted faculty positions.
The LCCEA proposal would make substantial strides toward pay equity for part-time faculty as well as establish a threshold for contracted faculty positions.
The College presented an offer of $0 / 0% salary schedule increase (COLA) and zero steps for all faculty (a step “freeze”).
This is the worst offer the college has provided to the faculty in the forty-four year history of the LCCEA.
Please keep your eyes peeled for additional information from the Action Team, LCCEA Organizer John Groves, and your department rep(s) as we work toward a reasonable agreement with the college. In the meantime, please share your stories about how working part-time has impacted you or your students and/or how not filling vacant full-time positions has impacted you, your program, or your department at: https://forms.gle/Ey1io5hC197ENZDV8
While there was a significant projected deficit for next year, there is now a balanced budget proposal ready for Board of Education and Budget Committee approval. The Board voted last Thursday to outsource the campus bookstore and on April 1 to increase tuition, after an earlier vote to outsource Food Services as well. These changes will undoubtedly impact the campus community and especially students and staff. On a positive note, college administrators have made a commitment to involve faculty leaders in the evaluation of any proposed contract with Barnes and Noble in order to ensure that such a contract protects academic freedom as well as free, unfettered use of OERs.
Despite the substantial deficit that had been projected for next year, there are a number of factors impacting the budget positively. State funding is up slightly; tuition will be generate more revenue, and the projected deficit included $6.4 million in vacant positions as well as other expenses that had been carried over (e.g major maintenance funding) at levels exceeding regular allocations. In addition, enrollment has improved and is also much better relative to other mid-sized / large community colleges in the state, which will positively affect Lane’s percentage of the state allocation. All these factors combined portend a budget that is objectively better than many recent years.
The key to fiscal sustainability at LCC depends not only on state funding but also on reforming college budgeting practices and ensuring that allocations and expenditures align with the mission and the primary purpose of LCC as an institution of higher education.
Better choices are possible.
For instance, some pressure on the college budget stems from the college-owned Titan Court apartment building, which has expenses that exceed revenues by approximately $635K per year. That $635K net-loss is being paid out of the general fund this year. This reduces available funds for essential programs and student services. If the College continues with current practice by keeping the apartment complex, the annual payments will continue through 2036 in order to pay off the debt, which totals approximately $16M.
In addition, based on information provided to LCCEA, LCCCEF, and Management Steering Committee (MSC), it appears the College is now planning to fill 11 vacant or new manager positions, bringing the total up to 72 for next year. At the same time 13 full-time faculty positions are slated to be filled for a total of approximately 202, which will still result in a decrease in contracted positions for next year, continuing the recent practice of replacing contracted faculty vacancies by hiring new part-time members paid far less to teach the same classes.
The LCCEA has called for a college-wide staffing analysis of all employee groups from all funds in order to begin the process of aligning expenditures to the mission — to instruction and student services. Such an analysis and alignment of budget allocations with needs would preclude across-the-board cuts, which disparately impact some departments, especially instructional departments with growing enrollment. Share your voice in advocating for adding sections whenever classes are full and additional sections should be added — the college generally sets aside funding for sections based on demand, and your instructional deans can play an important role in accessing such funds. You will find here a list of additional strategies for fiscal sustainability that I presented to the Board of Education last week: Long-termStrategiesforSustainableBudget
Legislative and Statewide issues:
Community College Funding
While better choices are possible for the LCC budget, it is also true that additional funding is necessary from the state. When adjusted for inflation, state allocations for community colleges have remained stagnant and have placed additional burden on students to cover an increasing percentage of their educational costs.
There has been a significant push in advocacy for community college funding over the past two weeks, both locally and statewide. LCCEA has engaged Career Technical (CT) faculty in a letter-writing campaign to the governor and state legislators with a focus on increasing funding for the CCSF as well as advocacy for the $70M proposed for additional funding to expand CT programs at community colleges. Thank you to the many faculty who have participated, and a special thank you to Sharon Hagan and Christina Howard, who have shared their letters publicly. You can access them on the LCCEA website at: https://lccea.org/ In addition, LCCEA coordinated a statewide effort expanding the letter writing campaign to include community colleges throughout the state.
Read it in the Register Guard Today!
Finally, I had the great pleasure of collaborating with LCC’s student body President, Nick Keough, in writing an Op-Ed to advocate for CC funding — it was published in today’s Register-Guard, and you will find it at: https://www.registerguard.com/opinion/20190416/keough-and-mitchell-vital-community-colleges-forced-to-scale-back
You have likely read about Governor Brown’s proposed changes to PERS. She proposed that employees who are currently working and part of Tier 1 or 2 would have to dedicate 3% of earnings (after the first $20K) to a fund to offset the unfunded PERS balance for current retirees. This 3% would be diverted from individual retirement accounts to a separate fund for 14 years or until the time when the PERS system becomes fully funded. For OPSRP members (AKA Tier 3), the percentage diverted from individual accounts would be 1.5%. This proposal would certainly affect K-12. However, it is unclear at this time whether community college employees would be impacted. The governor made reference to a separate fund / similar system for public higher ed employees, but there are no details available as this would likely depend on any resulting legislation. Meanwhile, other legislators including Senate President Courtney and House Speaker Kotek have announced they are working on their own proposal.
The OEA has responded quickly and strongly to this potential change. In addition, NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia has spoken with the governor to advocate on behalf of Oregon educators, asking if the governor wishes to be the only one in the nation to propose reducing teacher compensation at a time when public educators nationwide are increasingly engaged in campaigns to increase direly needed funding for education.
You may wish to contact the governor to express support for community college funding or to share your opinion on proposed PERS reforms at: https://www.oregon.gov/gov/Pages/share-your-opinion.aspx
Part-time faculty insurance
Senate Bill 852, which would provide insurance to part-time faculty statewide through OEBB and would result in a net increase to the LCC budget of approximately $1 – $1.4M, has been moved by the Senate to the Ways and Means Committee with a “do pass” recommendation. OEA, in coalition with AFT-O, AAUP, and other higher education alliance members, has strongly advocated for this bill an will continue this important effort.
Community College Member Interests
OEA is currently conducting a statewide survey of community college members. Your input is important. In addition, LCCEA welcomes any feedback you may have regarding communications you receive from OEA.
Board of Education Endorsement
A reminder — there are several positions on the Board of Education up for election in May. LCCEA endorses Lisa Fragala, who has been advocating consistently for community college funding at the state level and who continues to ask critical questions on the Board to ensure that the college budget is developed on a rational basis. All supporters are invited to a canvassing event this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at 224 E. 11th Ave.
Save the Date: Statewide Educator Day of Action May 8
Save the date for the statewide educator day of action! This will be an opportunity to publicly demonstrate the need for increased funding from the state.
Thank you for all that you do every day as faculty members at Lane.