LCCEA-College Discussions of Budget, Furlough Days, and Workshare

Note: LCCEA President Adrienne Mitchell has provided an update on this here.

LCC Faculty Colleagues,

Your LCCEA Bargaining Team has initiated negotiations over safety for Phase 1 and will do so shortly regarding the recently announced Phase 2 guidelines as well as working conditions for Fall.

As you are likely aware, there are fiscal pressures to the College budget due to the impacts of the pandemic on operations as well as overspending this year prior to the pandemic (e.g. $800K+ over-budget in Fund IX and addition of 11 non-faculty contracted positions by October 2019 that had not been included in the budget, etc). While there remains considerable uncertainty about impacts to next year’s budget, the May 20 fiscal forecast from the state was better than anticipated. The HECC released a new update today estimating that, if the Governor were to make across the board cuts to public funding, the percentage would be roughly 4% instead of 8.5% — the HECC calculations indicate a reduction to funding for LCC that would be $2.4M instead of $5M. While a $2.4M reduction in state funding would be significant, it represents 2.6% of the $91M LCC general fund budget for FY21. At the same time, enrollment has the potential to increase due to high unemployment rates, and LCC’s performance relative to other mid- to large-sized community colleges in the state will likely result in an increased percentage of state funding for LCC. The extent to which there will be additional funding made available through state reserves such as the Rainy Day fund or additional federal funding to states is still uncertain, but these are both areas of substantial lobbying efforts by OEA and NEA. Nonetheless, it is reasonable to assume that there will be some budget impact to LCC next year.

At a meeting to discuss Phase 1 safety yesterday, the College made a proposal (link: COLLEGE PROPOSAL LCCEA Covid MOA 5.26 Salary Freeze) to freeze all faculty salaries and step advancements for 2020-2021 and “ongoing until such a time that this MOA is terminated by mutual agreement between the College and LCCEA.” This proposal would freeze all faculty compensation increases for both part-time and full-time faculty essentially indefinitely until a new agreement were reached at an undetermined point in the future. LCCEA did not accept this proposal.

As you are likely aware, the faculty contract is settled, including economic components, through 2022. The College may not unilaterally impose salary reductions. In addition, the contract requires a minimum number of faculty positions. Thus, even if there were programs cuts and layoffs, the college would save little due to the need to replace any eliminated positions. In discussions about the budget, the College has raised the specter or program cuts, which could not take place until Winter 2021 or later due to contractual deadlines that have passed, stating that positions eliminated would be replaced with new positions in “high demand” programs.

As noted at the LCCEA membership meeting, LCCEA leaders have been exploring proactive, creative options to generate revenue, tap external funding sources, and produce savings for next year. One manner in which numerous K-12 school districts and some universities within the state have addressed the anticipated budget shortfall is by pivoting quickly to take advantage of the WorkShare program, which seeks to preserve jobs but produce savings through limited furloughs. This program taps federal unemployment funding that is available and administered through a streamlined process by the state. The employer applies, and after the employer’s application is approved, employees fill out paperwork once to qualify for reimbursements. When incorporating the additional CARES Act unemployment funding that is available through July, it is possible to ensure that any reduction in compensation through furlough days is largely offset by reimbursements to individuals through the WorkShare program. While your LCCEA representatives have proactively discussed this option informally with the College since early May, College representatives did not indicate an interest in pursuing it in earnest at this time until yesterday afternoon. Given the limited time available this term and the additional CARES Act funding set to expire in July, there is a narrow window to consider a WorkShare plan that incorporates the substantial external funding that would offset impacts to individuals and make such a plan reasonable and possible.

As such, your LCCEA Team made a proposal today (link here: WorkShareMOADraft05262020 B), which, if accepted, would only take effect if ratified by the LCCEA membership and only if the College’s WorkShare application is approved. (See the FAQ page about this proposal here.) The proposal includes furlough days for contracted faculty only — two furlough days for this Spring (one each for each work week this June) and two days for the 2020-2021 year (one Fall inservice day and Spring Conference day). In addition, the proposal provides that there shall be no program cuts or contracted faculty layoffs for the 2020-2021 year, which would protect both contracted and part-time faculty in any programs identified for reduction. The net impact of the proposal to the College budget would be a savings of approximately $485K according to the college bargaining calculator. However, the additional federal funding would mitigate the impact to compensation for individual contracted faculty, and the salary reduction would be largely, though not entirely, recuperated by reimbursement to individuals through the streamlined WorkShare program. Thus, the proposal would protect faculty jobs, provide substantial savings to the college budget during a challenging time, and limit the impact on individual contracted faculty compensation with external funding.

We understand that there will likely be many questions, and as yet it is unclear if the College will be agile enough to pursue this option at such a late date. Should the proposal be accepted, we will provide more information as well as a ratification vote. In the meantime, for general information about the WorkShare program, please see the WorkShare Fact Sheet here: Workshare_FactSheet 2-6-17. Portland Public Schools, which is one of the many districts that has proactively implemented a similar plan, has a thorough FAQ on their website . The specific details for LCC would differ, of course, but it is a good resource for general information.

Your LCCEA Bargaining Team:

Kelly Collins
Adrienne Mitchell
Russell Shitabata

About LCCEA

The Lane Community College Education Association
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