Negotiations Update September 22, 2007

From the September 22, 2007 status report:

The 2003-2007 Collective Bargaining Agreement expired on August 31, 2007. As of this writing, the UFCT and Pratt Administration have already held six negotiation sessions (two to three hours each), having started in June, and are scheduled to meet two more times back-to-back in early October. Mid-month and in late October, the mediator/arbitrator: Martin Scheinman, who oversaw our last negotiation (for the 2003-2007 CBA), and who has mediated some dozen grievance/arbitration(s) since spring 2005, will be coming to Pratt to oversee what I hope will be the finalization of our current contract negotiations. If all continues to go well it is certainly possible that we could be looking a potential settlement agreement by early November, a ratification vote shortly thereafter, and a ratified contract by semester's end. As reminder, the chief reason UFCT membership is crucial is that it will only be those dues-paying members who will be allowed to vote up or down this next contract.

As you recall, our major demands are:

Agency Fee: Sometimes referred to as an ‘Activity Fee,' ‘Service Fee,' or ‘Fair Share.' An agency fee, which is equivalent to regular union membership dues minus the portion earmarked for NYSUT/AFT's political action committee (PAC) would be required of every bargaining unit member.

Salaries and Rates of Compensation: All rates of compensation and salaries adjusted upwards to bring Pratt Institute in line with its sister/comparable Art & Design colleges. Additionally, there should be something resembling parity between PT rates and FT salaries; part-time faculty paid the percentage of a full-time workload they teach. [EX: If a part-timer teaches 50% of a full-time load and an average full-time salary at his/her rank is $56,000, the part-timer should be paid something akin to: $28,000.] This is about equity and fairness.

Workload: Full-time undergraduate studio and lecture workloads should be reduced. Moreover, all so-called ‘mixed' course designations: M1, M2, should be regularized or eliminated altogether.

Fringe Benefits: The percentage of Administration contributions to faculty pension accounts should be increased, along with making available to all faculty members, these ‘traditional' TIAA-CREF accounts. Additionally, health benefits w/Administration contributions should be available to all faculty members!

The biggest obstacle in negotiations is always in holding-the-line on faculty safeguards, and in countering the Administration's demands. As expected, much is at stake. For instance, in this latest round of negotiations, the Administration is proposing a rewrite of article(s): III and IXX, ‘Academic Freedom & Responsibility' and ‘Personnel Files' respectively [Why might that be?] As you can imagine, it is imperative that we have our wits about us. That said, I am ever confident in the collective wisdom of the UFCT's present negotiating team: Steve Doloff, UFCT VP and FT Professor in English & Humanities, Bob Zaccone, Adjunct Professor w/CCE in the School of Architecture, Suzanne Verderber, UFCT Secretary and FT Associate Professor in English & Humanities, Holly Wilson, FT Assistant Professor in Libraries, and Ric Brown, one of three UFCT Grievance Committee members and FT Associate Professor in the Department of Social Sciences. A mid-October ‘General Membership' Meeting is being scheduled at which time, I'll speak freely about the status of these negotiations.