Category Archives: Negotiations

Discussions with Pratt Administration

Summary of May 1 Meeting

Dear members (and non-members),

Here is a short summary of what happened at the Union meeting that took place yesterday from 12:30-2 in 110 Engineering.

1.  WHO IS A MEMBER?

There was some confusion at the beginning of the meeting over whether faculty members who are not members of the union were permitted to be present at the meeting.  A "member" is defined as someone who pays union dues and has filled out the paperwork.  This is a confusing situation because even though many members of the faculty are not currently members of the Union, they are still covered by the terms and conditions of employment laid out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Obviously, one of the greatest benefits of membership is the right to be present at meetings, to have a say, and to vote on such crucial matters as the new contract.

A fundamental change in this new CBA, should it be approved by the membership, is that the Union has gained what is called an "agency fee."  This means that all faculty will be required to either pay an agency fee to the union (since the union bargains on their behalf and represents their grievances) or to join the union.  We will obviously be having many more discussions about the significance of this change, should it be approved by the current membership.

2.  ELECTIONS

The first item on the agenda concerned the election of executive officers.  Nominations for the positions of President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer were solicited from all members last fall.  All positions only received one nomination, as follows:

President: Kye Carbone (current UFCT 1460 president; member of 2007-2008 negotiating team; adjunct professor of Foundation; CCE)

Vice-President: Suzanne Verderber (current UFCT 1460 secretary; member of 2007-2008 negotiating team; full-time associate professor of English and Humanities; tenured)

Secretary: Holly Wilson (member of 2007-2008 negotiating team; full-time assistant professor in the Library)

Treasurer: Anne Turyn (current UFCT 1460 treasurer; adjunct professor of media arts; CCE)

NYSUT rules stipulate that if only one nomination for a position is received, a secret, mail-in ballot can be waived and elections can be held by a hand vote.  The membership, by hand vote, approved this method, and by the following vote approved those who had been nominated:

Yes: 37

No: 1

Abstain: 6

3.  GENERAL DISCUSSION OF NEGOTIATIONS

Kye Carbone took about 15 minutes at the meeting to explain the general structure of negotiations.  2007-2008 negotiations consisted of around 10 sessions of about 3 hours each; the Union team tried to work together to make gains for all members of Pratt's complex faculty, both full-time and part-time.  Kye also reminded the membership that all of last year was spent defining issues for negotiation from the membership by way of the delegates in each department.

4.  DISCUSSION OF THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING

Kye Carbone next reviewed each article in the MOU, in reverse order, leaving the obviously controversial topic of Article 3, concerning academic freedom, to the end.  He asked that all questions be held until the end of the meeting.  Many concerns were addressed: the potential "chilling effect" of the article; the need for more discussion for such a difficult, far-reaching issue; and the need for broader Institute discussion of academic freedom in general.  There was also frustration expressed with the fact that this important stage of the process was taking place at the end of the semester (ballots voting for or against the MOU are due May 23), when faculty are especially busy, and are getting ready to leave campus.  The discussion was passionate and engaged in a way that I cannot quite capture here.  The outcome of the discussion was that Kye promised to have more meetings in the next few weeks to allow further discussion of the MOU and especially of academic freedom.  I will post the date, time, and place of these meetings as soon as I have that information.

I invite anyone to contact Kye or me (our contact information is in the "About" section) with any questions or concerns you may have. 

Best regards,

Suzanne Verderber 

News and Comments: April 29, 2008

Dear members,

Several items of note:

1.  Ratification of the Collective Bargaining Agreement/Elections

As you probably know by now, on April 17th the Union and the Administration signed the Memorandum of Understanding (often referred to as the "MOU"), a document that lists the changes to the contract brought about through the collective bargaining process. 

These changes will be presented to Union members and discussed at a meeting to be held on May 1, from 12:30-2:00, in 110 Engineering. At this time, elections for the executive committee will also be held.

In the next stage of the process, all members will be sent a paper secret ballot and will be asked to vote on whether they accept the changes or not.  Ballots must be received back by the Union by May 23 at noon. 

This information has been outlined in greater detail in a letter sent by Kye Carbone to the Union membership, along with a copy of the MOU.

Please feel free to contact Kye, me, or any member of the executive committee if you have any questions at all, or would like more information (see the "About" section for contact information). 

2.  WWW.PRATTFACULTY.INFO

I just became aware of a website at www.prattfaculty.info that lists some, BUT NOT ALL, proposed changes to the CBA (I am a bit out of the loop because I am on sabbatical this year).  The site places, side by side, new, proposed CBA language and the old language, from the 2003-2007 CBA.  I checked the information that is on the site, and it appears to be correct, if incomplete.  

I want to make it clear that the UFCT 1460 executive committee is not responsible for this site, and we have no idea who is (unless again I am out of the loop and one of my colleagues knows something that I don't). 

THIS website–the one you are looking at now–is run by the Union executive committee.  In my capacity as UFCT secretary, I am the main person who has been posting on it.  Anyone–members or non-members–is invited to comment.  My "philosophy" of the site, if you allow me to put it this way, is to post basic information that is important to members, as well as general union-related issues of a more global significance (health care issues, strikes, labor issues at the state and federal level) .  This is why even readers outside Pratt are invited to participate.  I do this because I see our Union as part of the larger context of global labor and the fight to maintain workers' rights.  So far, I have not been very successful at generating input, despite a previous plea.  I do find it strange that faculty would rather debate Union-related issues on the academic forum than here, but again, that is just my opinion.  

I always sign my name to these posts because I want to make it clear that they are coming only from me and do not speak for the whole membership.  Indeed, I don't think I want to be part of an organization where one person is capable of speaking for the whole membership.  Again, as far as I can tell, www.prattfaculty.info is anonymous. 

3.  Collective Bargaining

There has been some discussion on the Academic Forum listserv about the proposed changes made to Article 3, the article protecting academic freedom.  Just one point about the way the discussion is proceeding: the way I see it, some posts create the impression that the COLLECTIVE bargaining process consists of the Union ALONE, as paradoxical as that may seem upon close inspection. 

The process consists–and I have just seen it myself for the first time with my own eyes– of representatives from the Union and the Administration literally looking across a real, concrete table at each other, each side holding a "wish list" of changes they would like to make to the CBA.  A lengthy process of series of back and forth discussions–i.e. negotiations–ensues.  

I just wanted to paint a more vivid picture of what is actually taking place to attempt to dispel the impression that I received from reading some of these postings that the Union alone initiated all of the changes in the MOU. 

Yours truly,

Suzanne Verderber 

 
AGAIN: Union members, please try to attend the meeting on May 1, 12:30-2, 110 Engineering, to discuss the MOU and to vote on the members of the Union executive committee. 

Where is the Contract?

Dear UFCT Member:

 
At this late mid-spring semester date, it would be perfectly logical that you might be wondering aloud, or are contemplating accosting me personally to demand: “where the hell is the contract?”
 
As you’ll recall, I sent an email message to all UFCT members in late November 2007 announcing that the UFCT’s negotiating team had reached an “agreement” with the Pratt Administration. What was to follow shortly thereafter was: (1) an agreement letter, or ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (the document enumerating all changes and amendments to the Collective Bargaining Agreement) from the Pratt Administration would be forwarded to the Union for review, once vetted, the MOU would be signed by the Union’s negotiating team. Following this signing, (2) copies of the MOU would be distributed to all UFCT members. Once reviewed by the members, (3) a ballot would be conducted, a majority of members voting in the affirmative effectively ratifying the [new] Contract.
 
However, as many of us know all too well, Pratt moves slowly and in [seemingly] mysterious ways…
 
As such, although we started negotiations more-or-less on time (in early summer 2007, as opposed to late spring) and actually completed negotiations in record time (our last negotiating date on November 20th which was within one semester of the CBA’s expiration, as opposed to the usual practice of not reaching an agreement until two, four or more semesters have passed…), the Union actually did not receive the MOU until January 25, 2008 a full two months after the completion of negotiations. Hence, the stalling began…
 
Yet, notwithstanding the fact I was out of commission for almost two weeks in early February due to illness, our negotiating team of seven [including our NYSUT lawyer] was still able to thoroughly review the MOU individually during this period as well as meet as a group repeatedly throughout the last week of February.
 
I cannot over emphasize just how important this review process is, or how imperative it is to be acutely aware of as well as anticipate all of the potential ramifications and/or implications of changes in text or contract language. Keep in mind; absent the “intent” or what is often described as the “spirit" of a specific word, clause, or article, a contract is nothing more than a jumble of words devoid of “meaning.” Or worse, a document whose meaning is defined exclusively by Management. And, meaning is what we, the Union, bargain for, negotiate, debate and grieve each and every day. As example, from my point of view, way too much time was spent in negotiations on what were two administration proposals: (1) a rewrite of our ‘Academic Freedom and Responsibility’ article (III), and (2) a rewrite of the ‘Personnel Files’ article (XIX). Putting aside: why [?] they felt the need to propose such changes, or what their “real” motives were, imagine now that words like: “research”, “constructive dissent” and  “teaching effectiveness and professional competence” are missing in their proposal for academic freedom, or, the following clause: “each faculty member shall be informed when material is placed in his or her central file and shall have the right to append or affix comments to the file” is [some how] dropped from their proposal of revising the personnel files article? Are these omissions “intended” or “unintended" and if left unchecked or left to stand, what would these articles then actually “mean”?
 
Following our review, the Union had a number of concerns with this initial draft of the MOU, as certain “omissions” [or additions as it were] in language did not appear to reflect or “say” what we negotiated in good faith. As such, I met privately with the Provost (he having led the negotiations for the Administration) on March 4th and brought to his attention our concerns. At the time, I felt that the meeting was exceedingly productive as there were no arguments to speak of; our concerns not only acknowledged, but also accepted.
 
However, on March 24th [a full three weeks later] I received from the Provost, a revised MOU that incredulously excludes one — not too insignificant — an item. Not insignificant, because in no uncertain terms I will not sign the MOU absent its inclusion. To quote our NYSUT lawyer, its exclusion actually constitutes a “substantive change absent negotiation" [which is not bargaining in good faith]. For your review: the item in question is what exists now as section: 19.6 of article XIX [Personnel Files]: “Only materials contained in the central personnel file or materials reflecting professional development and achievements may be used as the basis for any personnel actions.”  
 
Can you imagine the potential consequences of such a clause being dropped from our Contract? I can, and because it is my job to protect the faculty bargaining unit from the whims of an Administration continually testing and prodding what they view as fault lines in our Contract, I will not cede to those tactics administered in bad faith. In summary, we did not, and would not, negotiate or bargain away, the “intent”, “spirit” or “meaning of 19.6. Period!
 
Rest assured, we are pushing as hard as we can to have this all resolved by late spring/early summer. Once the Contract is ratified everyone will be paid retroactively for the 2007-2008 academic year.
 
I sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding.
 
In Solidarity,
 

-Kye

Negotiations and Elections Update

The Union and the Administration are in the process of putting finishing touches on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which sums up changes made to the Collective Bargaining Agreement as a result of this summer's negotiations.  The MOU will be presented to Union members for ratification as soon as these final changes have been made.

At that important meeting (date TBA) elections will also be held for the Union executive committee.  The following nominations have been made:

President: Kye Carbone (PT, Adjunct Professor of Foundation, CCE)

Vice-president: Suzanne Verderber (FT, Associate Professor of English and Humanities, tenured)

Secretary: Holly Wilson (FT, Assistant Professor in the Libraries)

Treasurer: Ann Turyn (PT, Adjunct Professor of Media Arts) 

Negotiations Update November 29, 2007

From an email sent from Kye Carbone to the membership, November 29, 2007

Dear UFCT Member:

This is the second in a series of emails to UFCT members regarding our recently concluded contract negotiations. Hopefully, these emails will serve to explain in more detail the "how" and "why" of negotiations.  Once a 'Memorandum of Understanding' (MOU) is vetted by the negotiating team and signed, copies will be distributed to all voting members of the UFCT. At that time, a meeting will be called wherein the MOU will be reviewed and discussed. Following this review a ratification ballot will be sent to all dues paying members of the Union. A simple majority of votes cast in the affirmative is needed for ratification.

Today's email is specifically related to newly negotiated minimums for all bargaining unit members, full-time and part-time, union member and non-member (the UFCT negotiates for everyone!) Keep in mind; that at a minimum, one will at leastreceive 3% per year for the life of this four-year contract. Which is to say, everyone gets something. However, depending on where you are in the faculty schema as determined by your rank, status and years served you might be receiving much more- a percentage higher than 3%. Appropriately, many will receive upwards of 10% and 15% as based on an earned promotion in rank and one's "years of service." Every bargaining unit member shall receive the higher of: (1) the annual percentage increase *or* (2) the applicable minimum.

Context

It is very difficult to express in words what happens in a negotiation; a context in which many issues are operating simultaneously. Separating-out one issue from another is challenging as each invariably dovetails into the other. As example, thethree major "economic" items in negotiations were (as always): (1) salaries, (2) medical and (3) pension costs, except that in this round of negotiations the UFCT demanded that such economic issues be addressed for all faculty, not just full-time and CCE bargaining unit members.

Of the three, salaries are always addressed last. So, if you achieve say, medical benefits for a contingent of the bargaining unit that has heretofore been uninsured and miraculously the Administration commits to a 50% contribution, is not the Unionforced into having to determine what this will actually cost, as well as assess the implications of such costs on pension and salary expenditures? The answer is yes, and in a nutshell, this is why we had to achieve a bit less for the overall redress of part-time rates, as the costs associated with covering 100, 200, 300 or 400 adjuncts is quite frankly, astronomical! Again, in confronting this kind of allocation, does the Union then retreat, say we aren't really serious about getting medical for uninsured adjuncts; that one of the chief demands of the Union for many a contract was just posturing on our part? I don't think so, as that would be antithetical to what an inclusive, unified union does in negotiations. We should all agree that a bedrock tenet of collective bargaining is that all boats [or is it ships?] be lifted.

Minimums That Matter

It was not until the just expired 2003-2007 Collective Bargaining Agreement that salary minimums for the full-time faculty and contact hourly rates for the part-time faculty were actually raised in any significant way. Due to a history of stagnation in the raising of minimums many a faculty member in years past applying for promotion (a change in academic rank) saw very little (if anything at all) difference in their salary or rate upon promotion as almost all faculty members were just above what were exceedingly low minimums. However, that changed in a significant way by the re-structuring that took place in our last contract. As such, this new structure has afforded significant raises to a large number of the faculty as based on such rightfully earned promotions in rank and one's years of service.  Moreover, many endemic inequities were finally being addressed.

In this round, the UFCT went into negotiations simply wishing to continue the progress made, and capitalize on the re-structuring breakthrough of the last contract. Remember, the UFCT is extremely rare in that all of its bargaining unit members (the full-time and regular part-time faculty and our professional librarians) shall have academic rank: Instructor, Assistant, Associate and Professor. As such, all applicable salary/rate minimums are thus tied to these four ranks which include now (as of the last contract) additional minimums in five-year increments as based on years served at the two highest ranks: Associate and Professor.

FT Minimums

Effectively, the Union's original demand was that $10,000 be added to each cell or minima. We were able to get $8,000. Therefore, for the next contract, the following shall be the new applicable minimums for the full-time faculty:

[The 2003-2007 MIN is to the left, the new MIN in bold on the right]

Instructor: $35,000 [+ $8,000 =] $43,000

Assistant: $40,000 [+ $8,000 =] $48,000

Associate:

Up to 5 yrs. $47,500 [+ $8,000 =] $55,500

6 to 10 yrs. $50,000 [+ $8,000 =] $58,000

11 to 15 yrs. $52,500 [+ $8,000 =] $60,500

16 to 20 yrs. $55,000 [+ $8,000 =] $63,000

21 to 25 yrs. $57,500 [+ $8,000 =] $65,500

26+ yrs. $60,000 [+ $8,000 =] $68,000

Professor:

Up to 5 yrs. $52,000 [+ $8,000 =] $60,000

6 to 10 yrs. $55,500 [+ $8,000 =] $63,500

11 to 15 yrs. $59,000 [+ $8,000 =] $67,000

16 to 20 yrs. $62,500 [+ $8,000 =] $70,500

21 to 25 yrs. $66,000 [+ $8,000 =] $74,000

26+ yrs. $69,500 [+ $8,000 =] $77,500

How the structure works…

EXAMPLES:

(1) A FT Associate in their 6th year (as full-time) currently making $50,000, will have their salary adjusted to $58,000, the applicable minimum (@ 6-10 yrs.) "higher" than their present salary + 3% ($51,500). This faculty member receives a 16% raise.

(2) A FT Professor in their 12th year (as full-time) currently making $59,200, will have their salary adjusted to $67,000, the applicable minimum (@ 11-15 yrs.) "higher" than their present salary + 3% ($60,976). This faculty member receives a 13.17% raise.

(3) A FT Assistant in their 3rd year (as full-time) currently making $55,400, will have their salary adjusted to $57,062, their present salary + 3% "higher" than the applicable minimum (@ the Assistant level: $48,000). This faculty member receives a 3% raise.

PT Minimums

Effectively, the Union's original demand was that $200.00 be added to each cell or minima. We were able to get $100.00. (Everyone needs to know that the Administration dug-in after their commitment to provide medical to adjuncts and insisted that each

rate only be increased by $50.00 with NO PERCENTAGE INCREASE! The effect of this proposal would have been that anyone with a CHR higher than the applicable minimum [there are many of us] would be granted: 0%, 0%, 0%, 0% for the life of the contract! Wouldn't that have been good news?) Therefore, for the next contract, the following shall be the new applicable minimums for the part-time faculty:

[The 2003-2007 MIN is to the left, the new MIN in bold on the right]

Instructor: $850 [+ 100 =] $950

Assistant: $1,000 [+ $100 =] $1,100

Associate:

Up to 5 yrs. $1,150 [+ $100 =] $1,250

6 to 10 yrs. $1,200 [+ $100 =] $1,300

11 to 15 yrs. $1,250 [+ $100 =] $1,350

16 to 20 yrs. $1,300 [+ $100 =] $1,400

21 to 25 yrs. $1,350 [+ $100 =] $1,450

26+ yrs. $1,400 [+ $100 =] $1,500

Professor:

Up to 5 yrs. $1,300 [+ $100 =] $1,400

6 to 10 yrs. $1,375 [+ $100 =] $1,475

11 to 15 yrs. $1,450 [+ $100 =] $1,550

16 to 20 yrs. $1,525 [+ $100 =] $1,625

21 to 25 yrs. $1,600 [+ $100 =] $1,700

26+ yrs. $1,675 [+ $100 =] $1,775

How this structure works…

EXAMPLES:

(1) A PT Associate just promoted to Professor currently in their 16th year (as part-time) with a CHR of: $1,425, will have their rate adjusted to $1,625, the applicable minimum (@ 16-20 yrs.) "higher" than their present CHR + 3% ($1,467.75).  This faculty member receives a 14.03% raise.

(2) A PT Associate in their 10th year (as part-time) with a CHR of: $1,200 will go into their 11th year with a CHR of: $1,350 this new applicable minimum (@ 11-15 yrs.) "higher" than their present CHR + 3% ($1,236). This faculty member receives a 12.5% raise.

(3) Assistant in their 20th year (as part-time) with a CHR of: $1,280 will receive no more than 3% ($1,318.40). However, should they apply for a promotion to Associate (effective their 21st year) they would receive a 9.98% increase in their CHR ($1,450 the applicable minimum for Associate @ 21-25).

To be continued…

-Kye