Negotiations off to a good start
Contract negotiations for the 2020 CCAHE faculty contract are underway and there are many positive signs:
Both teams have agreed to meet consistently every week throughout fall quarter. This is promising and may allow us to develop a momentum of cooperation. Negotiations is time consuming, and one of our greatest challenges in our last round of negotiations was that we weren't able to meet but once every three or four weeks. The commitment to meet regularly will allow us to make progress. It also indicates a mutual desire to work together.
Another good sign is that both teams have agreed to adhere to group norms and a more structured approach to bargaining.
These changes in our approach are already paying off. We've tentatively agreed to three proposals. This is great news!
Some questions around bargaining have come up including:
Who is on the bargainging team and how are bargaining team members chosen?
Traditionally, it's challenging to find faculty who are willing to serve on the bargaining team so there isn't a specific policy for choosing team members. About a dozen faculty members were asked to serve, and we've been able to compile a team of five - Chris Boucher, Tobias Peterson, Arwen Spicer, Kimberly Sullivan and Suzanne Southerland.
Who decides what is negotiated and why isn't the list of negotiation items widely shared?
The negotiation team spent about 40 hours this summer combing the contract for needed corrections, language to be updated, and policy to be changed. With respect to policy, many of the changes we're proposing have been ideas shared by members. For several months, CCAHE elicited negotiation ideas from faculty. Some of these ideas, such as increasing the number of full-time faculty, are commonsensical policy changes that would obviously benefit students.
At this point in the process, the proposals aren't widely shared for a number of reasons:
We don't want to create false hope only to disappoint members later on. For example, if we communicate out that we'll be negotiating an increase in full-time positions and we're not able to actualize this proposal, many members may be disappointed. This is a minor reason, but it's not unrealistic.
We don't want to cause confusion. Rumors start quickly. We proposed several changes to the contract, some of which just won't materialize. However, once we start talking about these proposals, some members may start believeing that these changes are on the horizon. In other words, we made proposals that may not come to be.
We don't want to show our hand. Invariably, communicating out to membership about our proposals makes public which proposals we value most. With this knowledge, the other team gains leverage. Negotiations is like a boxing match. Knowing vulnerabiliies and knowing from where the next punch is coming are both helpful.