LCCEA President’s Update, March 14, 2022

LCC Faculty Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you well as we wrap up winter term. 

I’m writing with a number of updates for all faculty regarding: legislative news, public service loan forgiveness,  assessment, program modifications and retrenchments, budget, bargaining, and a grievance settlement, retirement incentive, among others.

Legislative Updates, including Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness

The Governor’s workforce bill (Senate Bill 1545 ) passed during the legislature’s short session, which ended earlier this month. The bill will provide additional funding to LCC for next year in excess of $1.1M, not including any grants provided to LCC for credit for prior learning or workforce development in key career technical programs. Thank you to everyone who helped advocate for its passage!

OEA and AFT advocated for an omnibus education bill (SB 1522), which passed and improves eligibility for part-time faculty healthcare statewide, among many other provisions. The bill modifies the calculation for qualifying for healthcare from last summer’s SB 551 in a manner that will help more part-time faculty at public higher education institutions in Oregon receive benefits. For LCC, where healthcare is already provided through our contract, the funding that LCC will receive will increase due to this bill. Funding that LCC receives will be utilized for the benefit of faculty in accordance with our SB 551 MOA (e.g. increased contributions to family healthcare for part-time faculty; increased compensation for part-time and full-time non-instructional time; Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Faculty Fellowship positions, etc.)

In addition, through the leadership and advocacy of OEA and AFT, the Oregon legislature passed another bill that helps expand eligibility for part-time faculty statewide who are seeking public service loan forgiveness through the federal program. SB 1572 requires institutions of higher education in Oregon to calculate faculty work hours at a rate of 4.35 hours for every one hour of instruction when reporting hours for the purpose of federal public service loan forgiveness. This improvement from last year’s bill will help even more part-time faculty meet the threshold of 30 hours per week required to qualify as “full time” for public service loan forgiveness. For instance, a faculty member teaching 7 hours per week would receive credit for working 30.45 hours (i.e. 7 x 4.35 = 30.45).

Also – a reminder from last Fall, the Biden Administration has made numerous improvements to the federal public service loan forgiveness program, including a waiver in effect through October 22, 2022 only, which will help many more educators throughout the US have their student loans forgiven. See NEA resources for more information.

In addition, a benefit to all NEA members, which include all LCCEA members, is personalized advice on student loan forgiveness. You can access the loan forgiveness navigator on the NEA member benefits website.

Masks and Safety

There is new mask guidance from the CDC as well as OHA that reduces requirements for masks. As of March 10, Lane County is now the “low” risk category according to the CDC. We anticipate this will be a topic of discussion at Tuesday’s Covid Advisory Team meeting. It is likely that masks will not be required indoors on campus once we reach the point when all the applicable public health guidelines (e.g. LCPH, OHA, OSHA, CDC) no longer require masks indoors. Faculty with safety concerns may report them here.

Assessment

Many faculty members have questions about assessment requirements and related workload and compensation.

Part-time faculty must be compensated for any non-teaching work and may use in-service hours for LCC workshop and/or meeting attendance. In addition, depending on total state reimbursements to LCC as a result of SB551 and the SB551 MOA, which increases both part-time and contracted compensation for non-instructional time, either four or eight hours of the additional inservice hours provided to part-time faculty will be reserved for assessment work, beginning next year.

For contracted faculty, assessment is one of the options for non-teaching work that comprise 15% of contracted faculty time. Individual contracted faculty may choose which non-teaching work to pursue. Examples include discipline, department, division, and collegewide committee service in addition to assessment, long-term curriculum planning, search committees, peer mentoring, and work in the community. There will also be four or eight hours reserved for contracted faculty for assessment during inservice beginning in Fall, depending on total state funding reimbursements.

Program Modifications, One Program Elimination, and Partial Retrenchments

The Board of Education voted in January to modify the Culinary and Manufacturing programs to establish short-term certificate programs in each one. In addition, despite the substantial tourism industry in Lane County, the Board voted in February to eliminate the Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management (HRTM), which had been under review for the past two years. These changes will result in the retrenchment of one faculty member.

Due to low enrollment, the College is also making one partial retrenchment and reassignment of a faculty member in Sociology to teach part of their workload in another discipline.

The College also sought to make a partial retrenchment in the French program mid-year without following contractual notice requirements, but has since agreed not to pursue such action for Spring term.

Finally, the College is reviewing Cooperative Education faculty assignments and has made changes to reassigned time for two Cooperative Education coordinators’ workloads.

Your LCCEA representatives will continue to advocate to ensure that the administration adheres to the contract and honors faculty rights. In all cases, but especially any involving retrenchment or job security, faculty need to be able to rely on their contract.

Section cancellations

LCCEA has received reports of class cancellations from more than one division where the cancellations also negatively impact other course enrollments in the same term or subsequent terms, especially in cases where there is only one section of a course offered or a course is canceled mid-sequence, effectively resulting in the cancellation of the rest of the sequence. In addition, LCCEA has received reports from faculty in more than one division about faculty learning about class cancellations after students have been notified. Affected faculty have expressed concerns about impacts of such cancellations to enrollment and students. If you have similar concerns, please share them with LCCEA at lccea@lanecc.edu

Budget

The College Council Budget Development Subcommittee and the College Council both achieved consensus on a balanced budget framework for next year. The full budget will go to the Board of Education and the Board’s appointed Budget Committee before its adoption in May through June. The projected deficit for FY23 (i.e., July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023) was reduced to $8.1M, and the committee bridged the gap with a number of strategies, including use of budget surpluses generated last year and this year, coupled with additional state revenue from SB 1545, holding some vacant positions open, moving to a banded tuition model, and maintaining major maintenance funding at a level that does not exceed this year’s budget in accordance with our institutional commitment to Lane County voters who supported the LCC bond. Overall, the LCC budget is far more stable than at any time in the past five years because federal relief funding has restored reserves (e.g., ending fund balances) with budget surpluses over the past two years. A big thank you to Jim Arnold, LCCEA VP for Part-time Faculty, who also served as an LCCEA representative on the committee.

Bargaining

College representatives have delayed negotiations, first informing LCCEA that they would not be ready to make proposals on the economic reopener until March 10 and later postponing to March 31. Your LCCEA Bargaining Team will keep faculty updated as negotiations progress. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out to your LCCEA Bargaining Team members: Kelly Collins, Joseph Colton, Nancy Wood, and myself.

In preparation for negotiations, your LCCEA Bargaining Team has been engaged in comprehensive data analysis for several months, including results from the November All Faculty Survey as well as comparative local and regional data.

While our 2019 contract made important gains for faculty, including pay parity adjustments for part-time faculty, inflation has dramatically increased, and faculty salaries are also losing ground since 2019 when compared to other public sector employees locally and in the state, who have received well-deserved increases. For example, when comparing part-time and full-time faculty top of the schedule salaries at LCC with other salaries at the college and in the local area such as 4J teachers, faculty increases lag behind. (See comparison chart below.)

In addition, a comparison of total contracted salary expenditures at the aggregate at LCC also demonstrates a similar lack of investment in faculty.

Faculty also receive below average compensation for lab instruction compared to other community colleges in the state. For contracted faculty, this means more teaching time is required for a full-time workload for lab or lecture-lab instruction. For part-time faculty, this means less FTE and commensurate compensation for courses with labs or lecture-lab time. (See below.)

All Faculty Survey

Thank you again to the 249 faculty who participated in the All-Faculty Survey in November! Data overwhelmingly indicate heavy faculty workloads as well as compensation gaps, causing substantially higher percentages of faculty (both part-time and full-time) to rely on government assistance compared to previous surveys. These and other data will inform LCCEA advocacy in bargaining.  Please contact Action Team Co-Chairs, Peggy Oberstaller and Wendy Simmons, to learn about how to get involved.

Workload and Uncompensated Time

➔   74.1% of faculty respondents work more than their assigned and compensated FTE with 34.3% working 21% or more over their assigned and compensated FTE

➔   96.7% work some evenings or weekends (outside of regularly assigned times) with 84.2% working evenings and/or weekends at least half of the weeks each term.

Necessity and basic needs

➔   36% of part-time faculty who are not retired and 8.3% of full-time faculty reported having relied on government assistance while working as faculty at LCC.

➔   10.2% of part-time faculty who are not retired experienced food insecurity, 2.8% of contracted faculty experienced food insecurity during the last year.

Settlement Agreement

At the end of February, LCC and LCCEA avoided litigation by reaching an agreement to settle a grievance in the Flight Tech program that provides a process for managers to teach classes during emergency staffing situations on a temporary basis. The agreement maintains strong protection for faculty by requiring that the College follow multiple steps and provide documentation of each step to LCCEA before any manager would teach a class in such emergencies. In such cases and on a temporary basis only, the College must demonstrate that no part-time faculty members are willing to teach the class; no part-time faculty are willing to accept a temporary contracted faculty position; no contracted faculty are willing to accept an overload assignment; and posting the position resulted in no qualified applicants. While such emergencies are extremely rare, the settlement does provide a reasonable approach for ensuring continuity of services to students if they do ever occur.

Reminder: Contracted Faculty Retirement Incentive Deadline April 1

LCCEA and the College reached an agreement on a retirement incentive for contracted faculty. Please see below for details. 

To be eligible for the incentive, individuals must:

·       Be a contracted faculty member (i.e., not part-time);

·       Be at least 55 years of age by December 31, 2022;

·       Be currently on payroll as a contracted faculty member at LCC; and

·       Have been hired into a faculty position at LCC no later than October 2018.

For eligible faculty, the incentive agreement provides:

·       $15,000 if separating from contracted employment with LCC by or before June 30, 2022, OR

·       $10,000 if separating from contracted employment with LCC by or before December 31, 2022, OR

·       One year employee-only health insurance if not eligible for early retirement provisions under Article 41 AND

·       Tuition waivers for one year for retirees for an unlimited number of classes as long as space is available (beyond the one class / term emeritus tuition waiver provided in Article 19.6 of the LCCEA working agreement).

Above incentives are provided in addition to Article 41 retirement benefits and stipend, if applicable. Eligible faculty who have previously communicated during the 21-22 academic year their plan to retire or separate on or after April 1, and who meet the eligibility criteria shall be eligible. Finally, should the College provide incentives to managers or classified that exceed the incentive provided to faculty, the incentive for faculty shall be increased to match.

OEA Benefits

Among many other benefits, OEA Workshops and Events are free to members and provide a variety of offerings every month.

Wrapping up the term

As Winter wraps up and we prepare for the last term of the academic year, I pause to reflect on the past two years. Amid global tumult from the pandemic, a new war in Ukraine, countless other humanitarian crises, racial violence and discrimination in the US, and an assault on the US Capitol in 2021, our work becomes ever more important. It is critical that we continue to galvanize support for public education, center the open access social justice mission of the community college, strengthen opportunities for our students to think critically and engage in thoughtful analyses, and increase civic engagement, all of which underscore the quintessential role of community colleges in a vibrant democracy and make salient the connection between our work and the common good.

Best wishes that finals’ week goes as smoothly as possible. I hope you all are able to enjoy some time away from campus for spring break.

In solidarity,

Adrienne

About LCCEA

The Lane Community College Education Association
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