LCCEA President’s Update 12.9.2020

LCC Faculty Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you well and healthy during this challenging time and as we wrap up after the hard work of another term of primarily remote instruction. Thank you for your tremendous effort in providing continuity for students this Fall.

I’m writing with updates regarding: water quality, program evaluation and recommendation timeline, fiscal disincentives for program reductions, college budget and statewide funding, RIF lists, LCCEA Committee on Racial Equity and Social Justice, Grievance Team, grievance settlements, peer facilitation services, college-proposed “procedures” for minimum qualifications and faculty certification, work year calendar, curriculum development funding for part-time faculty, and looking ahead toward changes in the federal administration.

Water Quality Update

After a somewhat tumultuous start to the term with legionella bacteria identified in a large number of campus buildings over the summer, the College has implemented a collaborative approach that includes working with employee groups, following OHA and EWEB guidance to ensure safe water on campus, as well as transparent posting of lab results, which you can find on the College website at: https://www.lanecc.edu/facilities/water-quality.

Program Evaluation and Recommendation Timeline

Provost Jarrell presented the attached “Program and Services Sustainability” process and timeline document to the Board of Education at their work session last week. The College has hired an external consulting firm to analyze LCC programs and conduct an analysis to determine what gaps, if any, exist between community need, especially for workforce development, and existing LCC programs. In addition, the presentation notes a timeline for making proposed revisions to programs, which could include recommendations for reductions or elimination. Any proposed reductions to college programs would require approval by the Board of Education. In addition, if any program or service reductions that would impact faculty are proposed, the College is required to provide notice to LCCEA by March 15 and to meet to discuss alternatives. This timeline does not necessarily mean that programs or services will be recommended for reduction. In the meantime, LCCEA will continue to advocate on behalf of all faculty to ensure that, if budget reductions become necessary, they are framed in a manner that preserves the instructional and student service mission of the college.

Why academic program reductions or eliminations do not make fiscal sense

  • The vast majority of programs generate net revenue via tuition and state FTE reimbursement, which not only covers program costs but also supports college operations and all non-instructional college expenses.
  • Contracted faculty members have rights to assignment for courses for which they are qualified. When programs are eliminated or reduced, contracted faculty frequently transfer to other programs, which increases the relative cost of those programs providing a fiscal disincentive for any program reduction. At the same time all revenue from any programs that are eliminated would also be lost, only exacerbating budget deficits.
  • Our 2019-2024 contract has new language that ensures a minimum number of contracted faculty, which has helped stabilize academic programs, stem the downward spiral of loss of faculty positions,  and also helps protect against program reductions.

State Funding and College Budget

Through the successful efforts of our state union, Oregon Education Association, and other education advocates, the Community College Support Fund (CCSF) was maintained intact for the remainder of the 2019-2021 biennium. This represents a huge success in the face of declining state tax revenue and projections of substantial reductions in funding for community colleges when the pandemic hit.

In addition, Governor Brown released her proposed budget for the next biennium last week. The Governor’s budget, which is a starting point for advocacy for increases, maintains the CCSF at the current level for 2021-23. Furthermore, the governor has proposed implementing a statewide part-time faculty healthcare fund in the amount of $10M to begin in the second year of the biennium. This is a wonderful development to celebrate and the result of sustained advocacy by OEA and our sister union, AFT-Oregon! Much needed healthcare benefits for part-time faculty statewide, the majority of whom receive none from their employer, are now proposed for inclusion in the state budget. While the Governor’s proposed allocations to the CCSF and PT healthcare funding are not enough, they are a welcome starting point before the upcoming 2021 legislative session.

Through LCCEA’s successful contract negotiations over many bargains, LCC part-time faculty are among few at community colleges to receive health benefits and the only one in the state where part-time faculty qualify for full-family benefits. While the new proposed statewide program will not likely directly impact health benefits for PT faculty at LCC since they are already provided, the funding will likely mitigate pressure on the LCC budget once the program is implemented.

The overall college budget continues to face challenges due to unresolved systemic issues (e.g. Titan Court) and enrollment drops this year. At the same time, a number of factors have positively impacted revenue. These include $1.5M from the CARES Act (in addition to $1.5M earmarked for students from the same Act), approximately $1M increased revenue from an emergency fee, increased property tax revenue, $1.25M saved through the faculty furlough agreement for this year (with salary losses largely offset by reimbursements directly to faculty from Workshare), additional savings from other employee groups’ furloughs, and an increase to LCC’s proportional share of state funding due to enrollment declines that are less severe than other, similar-sized community colleges in the state. However, the loss of tuition revenue from enrollment decreases as well as dramatically reduced international student enrollment have negatively impacted this fiscal year’s budget. Finally, the LCC-owned Titan Court apartment building continues to strain the budget with both operating losses and outstanding debt. On balance, there is certainly substantial pressure on the budget, but the outlook is far better than expected given the circumstances and dire projections that have not come to fruition in the Governor’s budget.

RIF list update

Thank you to all the contracted faculty who have taken the time to ensure that RIF lists are corrected. As you likely recall from messages this term, a large number of faculty have incorrect or incomplete RIF lists this year. The latest estimate from HR is that one in three contracted faculty require corrections to their lists. LCCEA and the College have reached an agreement to ensure that the complete lists will be corrected and re-issued to all contracted faculty by January 13. Once the lists are re-issued, we will ask all contracted faculty to again review them in detail to ensure their accuracy, which is important given that these lists track seniority and qualifications for contracted faculty and are used in the event of a reduction in force.

LCCEA Committee on Racial Equity and Social Justice

Thank you to faculty members Wynona Burks, Susie Cousar, Cybele Higgins, Michael Samano, Lori Tapahonso, and Nancy Wood who are participating on this recently formed committee to support the LCCEA mission (below) through, among other endeavors, a review of the contract to help ensure an inclusive, equitable learning and working environment now and into the future.

Grievance Team Update

I would like to share my deep appreciation for faculty member Russell Shitabata for his dedicated service as Grievance Chair over the past two years. As LCCEA shifts toward a Grievance Team structure, we have implemented a new email address to address any contract questions or concerns faculty members may have – feel free to send inquiries to lcceacontract@lanecc.edu Please join me in welcoming Grievance Team leads, Christina Howard and Kelly Collins, as well as new Team members, Joseph Colton, Rosa Lopez, and Meggie Wright in their roles in service to all faculty.

Grievance Settlement News

LCCEA representatives continue to advocate for faculty on a relatively large number of contractual issues. Recent successful resolutions include a settlement that will provide roughly $135K in retroactive compensation to part-time faculty members in a number of divisions across campus who had not received class assignments consistent with the contract as well as an individual grievance settlement with a five-figure retroactive compensation award for a part-time faculty member who had been underpaid and was not compensated according to the faculty salary schedule for several years. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to LCCEA representatives with questions, concerns, and especially if something seems amiss.

Proposed “Procedures” for Minimum Qualifications and Faculty Certification

You may have noticed in last week’s Faculty Council agenda that college administrators are proposing new draft “procedures” that make a number of changes to the process for determining minimum qualifications (MQs) for instruction as well as faculty certifications. A noteworthy change is that both previous procedures and language in the contract have ensured that faculty would be involved in decision-making for determining MQs for teaching in their disciplines whereas the new procedures provide that a “dean” or “dean’s designee” do so instead. LCCEA has provided notice to the College that a number of changes within these draft procedures are inconsistent with the contract and may involve mandatory subjects of bargaining and have invited College representatives to collaborate to ensure that the “procedures” are revised in a manner that honors faculty contractual rights and respects faculty expertise.

Work Year Calendar and Curriculum Development Funding

A reminder – for the 2020-2021 year only, Friday of finals week each term as well as Spring Conference day are not working days for contracted faculty. The work year was rearranged as part of the furlough agreement, which also provided six paid course prep days for contracted faculty over summer. Part-time faculty will continue to be eligible for additional curriculum development funding in the amount of 1.25 hours for every one hour of (asynchronous) class time for any new courses taught remotely or online in Winter or Spring.

Peer Facilitation Support for Faculty

Faculty who seek confidential assistance or consultation may contact Counseling faculty members Jessica Alvarado and Anthony Hampton, who serve as LCCEA peer facilitators for faculty wishing to collaboratively resolve issues or challenges among colleagues. In addition, OEA provides a peer mediation network as a service to members as well. Learn more about the service at: https://www.oregoned.org/member-resources/know-your-rights/mediation-network

Looking Ahead

As we look forward to 2021 with the promise of a COVID-19 vaccine, a new federal administration, Dr. Jill Biden — fellow community college educator and NEA member — in the White House, and former NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia on the short list for U.S. Secretary of Education, we have great hope for both better education policy and funding at the federal and state level. Our national union, the NEA has released the following policy playbook to help guide the next four years:

https://www.nea.org/resource-library/2020-nea-policy-playbook-congress-and-biden-harris-administration — a good reason for optimism.

I wish you all a most wonderful, restorative winter break and look forward to seeing you in the new year.

My best,

Adrienne

About LCCEA

The Lane Community College Education Association
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