LCCEA President’s Update Oct 4, 2021

LCC Faculty Colleagues,

I hope your first week of Fall term went smoothly, especially for so many faculty who are navigating recent changes to their course modalities.

I’m writing with updates regarding the vaccine requirement implementation, LCC presidential search, SB 551, public service loan forgiveness, and labor relations issues.

Vaccine Requirement Implementation

As confirmed at the September 15 Board meeting, the vaccine requirement for LCC students and employees will be fully implemented no later than October 25. IT is working on a new process for submission of proof of vaccination status (e.g., photo of vaccine card) and submission of documents required for anyone seeking a medical or religious exemption. Please see OHA forms at the end of this message, which will be required for requests for medical or religious exemptions. No other exemption types will be available.

The system will go “live” sometime later in October, and employees will have only five working days to submit documents. Please note that a healthcare provider signature is required on the medical exemption request form, so it is recommended that any employees or students seeking a medical exemption start now by making an appointment with their healthcare provider. Faculty members needing assistance with the process should contact LCCEA for support.

Current plans include placing holds on student winter term registration until their documents have been submitted, reviewed, and approved. Because student registration for Winter term begins November 1, this will likely require a very quick turnaround for document submission and verification, and the administration may ask for faculty assistance in communicating with students later in October.

Other Safety and Working Conditions Updates

For more details on safety requirements and other MOA provisions in effect for this year, including required notice of COVID exposure in a classroom, MERV-13 filters installed in the campus HVAC systems, prioritization of in-person instruction for faculty who wish to teach in-person, flexible workplace accommodation requests, curriculum development funding for part-time faculty, and more, please review the September 19 communication from your LCCEA Bargaining Team at: https://lccea.org/2021/09/19/1587/ and the full 2021-2022 COVID MOA at: https://lccea.files.wordpress.com/2021/09/signed-covid-moa-9-18-21-lcc.pdf  Please do not hesitate to contact your LCCEA Bargaining Team members and elected officers with any questions you may have. A full list of LCCEA committee members and reps is at: https://lccea.org/committees/

The COVID page on the LCC website at: https://www.lanecc.edu/covid19 provides additional information, including links to official college communications to students and employees, the campus COVID case dashboard with information on current and cumulative cases associated with LCC since June 21, 2021, as well as details on voluntary testing (for asymptomatic individuals) available on campus every Tuesday 9 – 4 through October. Periodic testing may be required in the future for unvaccinated and/or vaccinated students and employees.

Facilities is making progress fixing outstanding ventilation issues in a few buildings in order to proceed with balancing/engineering firm consultation to confirm ventilation rates, outside air damper operation, room airflow, etc. Outstanding repairs remain in buildings 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 12, 16, 17, and 19. (Please see attachments provided 9/19 for a complete list, many of which have been addressed.) Through Summer 2022, faculty will be provided HEPA filters upon request for classrooms, shared offices, and any other shared spaces on campus as an additional measure to mitigate risk of COVID transmission.

Search for a New LCC President

After President Hamilton announced her retirement in June, the Board of Education began planning the presidential search. The Board retains hiring authority for the position and will have a significant role in interviewing finalists and selecting the next president. The initial stages of the search allow for community input via forums and a survey, followed by the work of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee to screen candidates and recommend semi-finalists.

Faculty are encouraged to attend one of the forums this week to help shape the vision for the president and/or to participate in the survey, which is open through 3:00 p.m. on October 12 at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/lane-community-college-presidential-search

Forums for LCC employees are scheduled this week as follows.
Wednesday, Oct. 6, noon to 1 p.m. https://lanecc.zoom.us/j/96677086566 
Friday, Oct. 8, 2-3 p.m. https://lanecc.zoom.us/j/92790324709 

In addition, plans for public forums with finalists are tentatively scheduled for the week of March 7, 2022.

SB 551 Implementation and Bargaining

The Oregon legislature passed SB 551, providing employee-only medical care to part-time faculty at public colleges and universities. Part-time faculty who work half time or more at least three terms/year at any combination of public institutions of higher education in the state now qualify for insurance with 90% of costs paid by a new state fund. This will be transformational for so many colleagues throughout the state. Thank you to our state union, OEA, and AFT-O for their longstanding advocacy on this issue!

Insurance benefits for part-time faculty at LCC provided through our contract are more generous, including vision and dental care, a lower threshold for eligibility, a 100% contribution for employee-only insurance, and options for coverage up to full family. Insurance benefits for LCC faculty will not change as a result of this new law.

The new law will provide reimbursements to LCC for eligible part-time faculty with savings reserved for labor relations (i.e., negotiations for the benefit of faculty in accordance with all faculty survey results), which we estimate at approximately $500,000 or more per year.

Your LCCEA Bargaining Team members (Kelly Collins, Joseph Colton, Adrienne Mitchell, and Nancy Wood) met with the College last week for an initial discussion regarding streamlining the implementation of the bill at LCC in order to maximize reimbursements to LCC while allowing an opt-out option for eligible individuals to select a different institution to provide healthcare benefits, if desired. We have two additional bargaining sessions scheduled this week and will provide more information as soon as possible.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness – Changes to calculations of working hours for Oregon higher ed faculty

The Oregon legislature also passed HB 3255, which is now in effect. The new law establishes requirements for public education institutions to inform employees of eligibility and provide information about public service loan forgiveness (PSLF). (See: https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB3255/Enrolled )

Importantly, the law also requires a 3.35 factor be applied to every instructional hour when calculating full time equivalent work hours for the purpose of public service loan forgiveness. For instance, a faculty member teaching 10 hours per week in Oregon will receive credit for 33.5 hours of work for the purpose of qualifying for the federal public service loan forgiveness program.

This issue is very important to many faculty, especially part-time faculty who sometimes have faced challenges in qualifying for PSLF, who carry heavy student loan burdens from attaining the advanced degrees most often required to work as faculty. For example, our last survey on student debt carried by faculty was in Fall 2019. Results from 333 faculty respondents are below.

Student debt at time of survey

5% of part-time faculty and 6.4% of contracted faculty report having current student debt of $100,000 or more.

13.2% of part-time faculty report current student debt of $50,000 or more.

18.2% of part-time faculty report current student debt of $30,000 or more.

Highest previous balance of student debt

6.8% of part-time faculty and 7.0% of contracted faculty report having previous student debt with the highest balance of $100,000 or more.

Other Labor Relations and Contractual Issues

Contracted Faculty Positions

The College was required to ensure that contracted faculty positions and FTE (full-time equivalency) for the 2021-2022 year total at least 195.864 for Fall, which would then reduce to 193.864 for the remainder of the year after two December retirements; however, the contracted FTE as of September 25 was only 187.821 – a full 8 positions below the contractually required FTE. As you may be aware, numerous positions that were approved in April or earlier were not posted until June, July, or August. Most remain unfilled due to a dearth of applicants, resulting from last minute, off-cycle posting and abbreviated timelines.

These delays have had a significant impact on some programs and disciplines such as Health Information Management and Dental Hygiene, both of which need a faculty program coordinator to meet their external program accreditation requirements, as well as disciplines like Chemistry, which do not have sufficient full-time or part-time faculty to meet student demand for classes.

The College’s representative has apologized profusely, acknowledging that the College “wasn’t even close” to hiring sufficient faculty for this year, but did not provide an explanation as to why ASA (Academic and Student Affairs) had not authorized nor ensured posting of more positions in a more timely fashion.

LCCEA will seek a full remedy for this issue through the appropriate procedures.

Minimum Qualifications and Instructor Certification Procedures

ASA published final procedures for MQs and Instructor Certification in COPPS (College Online Policies and Procedures) and announced their publication via the September 28 Weekly e-mail newsletter. These procedures, which were also the subject of many faculty concerns at last year’s Faculty Council meetings, are inconsistent with the faculty contract and also represent potential unilateral changes to mandatory subjects of bargaining (issues about which negotiations are legally required). An analysis of the procedures by the LCCEA Executive Council and Grievance Team indicates that the procedures: contravene job security and assignment rights for both part-time and contracted faculty and also reduce the role of faculty in determining the minimum qualifications for their discipline.

The College did not meet requirements under the contract and the PECBA (Public Employees Collective Bargaining Act) to provide notice to the Association before implementing the new procedures even though LCCEA  provided numerous courtesy reminders regarding the College’s notice and labor relations obligations prior to implementation of new policies. LCCEA will address faculty concerns through all means with support from OEA-appointed legal counsel.

Resources for Faculty and Upcoming Events

Professional Development

A reminder that LCCEA members are invited to attend free professional learning events sponsored by OEA at any time. Upcoming opportunities include a Fall Conference beginning October 16, a workshop on student debt relief October 21, and an introduction to trauma-informed practices November 18.

Peer Mediation and Facilitation

Both LCCEA and OEA provide free, confidential peer mediation, facilitation, and consultation services to faculty. Faculty members may contact LCCEA Peer Facilitators, Counseling faculty members Jessica Alvarado or Anthony Hampton, for confidential assistance. In addition, faculty may seek peer mediation through OEA’s statewide mediation network.

All Faculty Survey

Please watch for a comprehensive all faculty survey later this term. The survey will be longer than many recent LCCEA surveys and will include questions that seek broad information on faculty working conditions at Lane, faculty interests, and recommendations set forth by the LCCEA Committee on Racial Equity and Social Justice for recruitment and retention of BIPOC faculty and for a more just campus.

Best wishes for a wonderful week 2 and ‘hope to see you at one of the presidential forums this week!

My best,

Adrienne

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