February 20, 2019

AAUP Update: Negotiations, Campus Meeting, Retirement Issue, and More

February 2019

Colleagues:

On behalf of the Executive Committee, I am writing to provide all of you with some important information about negotiations, our recent campus meetings, the recently approved Distance Learning Side Letter, our court case, a retirement contribution issue, faculty rank, and membership.

Campus Meetings:

Due to inclement weather the opening meeting scheduled to occur on Jan. 14 was cancelled and as a result, our scheduled full-time faculty meeting was cancelled. The Executive Committee felt that it was important that we come to the faculty on each campus and provide you all with information on negotiations, the on-going court case, and more. For that reason, we scheduled meetings on each campus on different days and times. We had hoped that the schedule we created would have enabled the majority of you to attend at least one of the meetings.

All of the meetings were relatively well attended and the discussions were lively. We appreciated seeing those who attended the meeting but wished that more had come to ask questions and express their opinions on the issues we discussed. We hope to see each of you at the closing meeting in May. Much of the information covered in the campus meetings is summarized in this update.

Negotiations:

The following is a statement from our Negotiating Team, which recently wrapped up a long and involved process that required many hours of thoughtful conversation and meetings. I encourage all of you to take a few minutes and read this important statement. We each owe them a debt of thanks for all they did for us this year. Please thank them the next time you see them.

Statement from the Negotiating Team- AAUP

We have completed negotiations with Montgomery College management for the full-time faculty contract for the AY2019-2020. The negotiating team met with the management team for six bargaining sessions over the fall 2018 semester. On the table were the following items: salary, EAP benefits, overload pay, and bereavement leave (a hold over item from last year). The tentative agreement to be brought for ratification next week covers only the next academic year, 2019-2020.

As a team, we do not believe that this “Last, Best, and Final” offer from management reflects the true value of the full-time faculty members at Montgomery College or the efforts that the full-time faculty put forth every day on behalf of our students. We believe that our colleagues deserve much better, and we made every effort possible, as your representatives, to negotiate a more beneficial contract. Regrettably, we have concluded that full-time faculty compensation is of low priority and concern to this administration. We put forth the tentative agreement to the full-time faculty with deep regret and disappointment. We, however, do believe that the tentative agreement we present for your consideration represents the best offer that we could get from management at this time. Our team was able to move negotiations from an offer of only 2% for those below the top of the salary scale, and no increase whatsoever to those at the top, to an offer of 2.5% for all faculty.

While the County’s fiscal situation is, as has been reported, very negative, the fiscal mismanagement of college resources and the prioritization of expensive, un-implemented and untested programs, as well as the practice of financially rewarding administrators, have placed the Administration in a position where it is unwilling to fairly compensate full-time faculty who have direct daily contact with students. The agreement does not even produce a pay raise to match projected inflation for the next academic year. Inflation projections for next year range from 2.8%-3%, so the Administration’s “Last, Best, and Final” offer of a General Wage Adjustment (GWA) of 2.5% essentially amounts to a pay cut. Its only benefit, and it is a good one, is that, as a GWA, it is for all full-time faculty, including those at the top of the scale. This moves the scale for everyone, and has prevented the red-lining of full-time faculty salaries, at least for the next academic year.

Despite our extreme disappointment about this particular tentative agreement, our regret that this administration does not appear to value the full-time faculty, and our concerns about negotiations going forward given the abandonment of our history of interest based bargaining, we have decided, as a team, to put forth this “Last, Best, and Final” offer from management for a faculty vote. The alternative option to voting on the contract is to declare impasse, a process that we have decided is too expensive and potentially unproductive relative to the current situation.

We ask each of our Union member colleagues to thoughtfully consider the tentative agreement and our statement prior to casting your vote. Electronic voting will occur during the week of Feb. 18. Only dues paying members of the Chapter are allowed to vote on the tentative agreement.

For the Negotiating Team and the Executive Committee,
Sharon Piper, Lead Negotiator
Tito Baca
Michael Gurevitz
Tammy Peery

Distance Learning Side Letter:
If you look in the “Chapter Documents” section of the chapter webpage (mcaaup.org), you will see the Distance Learning Side Letter. This side letter expires every three years and allows both Management and Labor to review and update it while taking into consideration the latest technologies and best practices. Tammy Peery and Sean Fay represented the chapter. Michael Mills and Sharon Fechter represented the administration. The four of them met several times last semester and revised the side letter. The newly revised Distance Learning Side Letter has been posted on the Chapter webpage.

There are several important content changes in the new Distance Learning Side Letter. These changes include remuneration for the development of OER courses and materials and a requirement that online course coordinators have completed or are exempted from the Montgomery College Online Teaching course prior to being appointed as coordinator. All changes in the document are related to one of these two topics or represent grammatical or terminology updates.

For example, a faculty member may request remuneration for redesign of an online course for which he/she has already been remunerated as an OER course or for the design of an OER textbook provided at that at least 2 years has elapsed since the development of the original online course. A team may now provide a development plan to request remuneration for more than the standard two semesters to complete the development of a common course or team-designed OER materials.

I encourage all full-time faculty who teach distance learning classes, those who want to teach distance learning classes, and those who want to develop distance learning classes to read this important document. Our goal as an Executive Committee is to make sure that you are being paid for the work that you do and this side letter is one way we can ensure that you are being compensated properly.

Retirement Issue:

As you probably recall, the MC Board of Trustees did not ratify the salary increase we negotiated for this year in time to be implemented when we returned in August. Instead, we received the first three paychecks at last year’s rate, then a paycheck with the raise included, and finally a paycheck, which included a lump sum back pay for the missed raise for the first three checks.

Following this, a colleague who is enrolled in the Optional Retirement Plan noticed that the contribution made to her TIAA-CREF account included the 7.25% on that pay period’s salary, but did not include the contribution on the lump sum back pay. As a quick reminder, we are all in one of two retirement plans – some chose a defined benefit pension, while others are in the ORP, a defined contribution plan, in which the College contributes 7.25% of our entire base pay towards our retirement account. This colleague contacted the AAUP Executive Committee, and Nancy McCathran, Payroll Manager, who passed the question to Heather Pratt, Director of Employee Relations and Chief Negotiator for the college.

A member of the AAUP Executive Committee filed a grievance, following which several discussions were held, both within Chapter leadership and between representatives of the Chapter and of management, on how to proceed. Eventually management, after consulting with its legal counsel, agreed with the Chapter that this was a mistake that needed to be corrected as soon as possible. We have been told that the employees should notice the correction in their February 15, 2019 paycheck.

Those in the pension system should expect to see an extra deduction corresponding to the missed deduction on the back pay received at the end of October. This is just the money that was supposed to have been taken out back then – not any kind of additional withholding. For those of you in the ORP, you will notice an additional amount of funds was contributed to your ORP in the Feb. 15 paycheck.

This is a prime example of how union representation can benefit you as an individual.

Court Case:

I mentioned in my November update that there had been no progress in moving our case through the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. I am happy to report that some progress has occurred. Last December our attorney heard from the Court. A brief from our attorney is due to be submitted to the court on March 6 and we have received a tentative schedule which indicates that our case will be heard by the Court during the month of September. I will let you all know once we hear more definitive information about the actual date our case will be heard by the Court.

Faculty Rank:

For a number of years members of the Labor Management Collaboration Committee have struggled with the issue of faculty rank. Faculty rank is a very important academic concept and, while at MC there is no monetary benefit to advancing in faculty rank, there could be if you chose to move to another college or university.

Faculty rank is covered in the P&P but the process of advancing in faculty rank has never been handled in a uniform way throughout the College. This has led to some faculty advancing in rank as scheduled and others advancing years after they were eligible or never advancing in rank.

I am pleased to announce that significant progress has been made on this issue. Through the leadership efforts of Elline Damirdjian in the Employee and Labor Relations Office, and others in our Records Department, an audit of the faculty rank of all full-time employees below the rank of full professor has been completed. This audit included gathering information on when each faculty member was hired, how many points they were assigned when hired, the points needed to advance in rank, and a timeline for rank advancement. A communication process has been initiated and the Chief Human Relations Officer will contact faculty members who are scheduled for an immediate advancement in rank the week of March 1. Deans and Provosts were already notified of those faculty members who are eligible for an immediate advancement in rank.

Going forward, the Records Department in HR will take on the responsibility of tracking faculty rank information and the Deans and Provosts will be responsible for initiating the process of moving a faculty member from through the advancement in rank process. Individual faculty members should take an active role in monitoring their eligibility for rank advancement.

The Chapter thanks all who were involved in completing the faculty rank audit and for helping to move this process forward.

Membership Benefits:

One of the subjects I often hear about when I attend collective bargaining related conferences is on membership recruitment. How do you recruit members to a voluntary organization that charges dues? What is the value of joining a union when you work in higher education?

In this issue I gave you four examples that demonstrate the value of having a union in higher education. We have negotiated an increase in salary for all full-time faculty and members will be able to vote on this issue next week. A member brought an issue to our attention that related to retirement contributions. Through the collective efforts of the chapter’s representatives and management, we were able to resolve this issue and correct the error. The longtime problem of moving through the faculty rank advancement process has finally been resolved through the efforts of those of us on the Labor Management Collaboration Committee and others working in HR. We recently completed a revision of the Distance Learning Side Letter which is designed to ensure that you are properly compensated for the work you do in creating distance learning classes and OER materials.

Membership Dues:
You have a choice, either do nothing and be a freeloader (getting something for nothing on the backs of your fellow colleagues), become a full, dues-paying member of the chapter, or support the chapter’s efforts by paying the voluntary collective bargaining service fee. If you are not currently paying the service fee or if you are not currently a member of the chapter, I ask you to consider doing one or the other. We need your financial contribution in order to continue our efforts to represent you.

Membership Action:

In addition, we need your time. Some of us have been representing you for many years and we need some new people to get involved. Michael LeBlanc, English TP/SS is leading the way by creating an Organizational Task Force. If you are interested in participating on some of our committees and becoming more involved in Chapter activities, please reach out to one of the members of the Executive Committee or contact Michael LeBlanc. Your participation will be greatly appreciated.

The Chapter has its own Facebook group. If you are interested in joining please: Log onto Facebook and search mcaaup. (You do have to be a member of Facebook to join.)

Also, full-time faculty, we need to contact you away from MC at times. Please go to this site and fill in the form: tinyurl.com/mcaaupsignup

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

Harry N. Zarin, Professor/Counselor

AAUP Update: AAUP Chapter Membership/Voluntary Collective Bargaining Support Fee

Colleagues:

Later this week, I will be sending out an update with information on the court case, negotiations, voting on a tentative agreement, and more.  Only dues paying members of the Chapter will be able to vote on the tentative agreement, which relates to next year’s raises. 

If you were previously a Department Chair and stepped down, you are not a dues paying member of the Chapter unless you completed and submitted a membership application.  If you did not do so and you would like to become a member of the Chapter, please complete the membership application.

If you were paying the service fee and you are now interested in joining the Chapter so that you can, among other things, vote on Chapter related issues including the upcoming tentative agreement, please complete the membership application.

This next message is for those of you who used to support the Chapter by paying a service fee.  Last summer the Supreme Court ruled that bargaining unit members could not be forced to pay a service fee in lieu of becoming dues paying members of a union.  Therefore, the service fee stopped being deducted from your paycheck last fall. If you were paying the service fee and you would like to continue supporting the Chapter’s efforts to represent you by paying the voluntary collective bargaining support fee, please complete and submit the application.  When you pay the voluntary collective bargaining support fee, your contribution directly supports the Chapter’s efforts and helps cover our legal costs and release ESH for some members of the Executive Committee and the Negotiating Team.

If you are not sure whether you are a dues paying member of the Chapter or if you are currently paying the service fee, please look for information about this on your pay stub.

If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact any member of our Executive Committee.  The members are listed on the Chapter webpage.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.
President-AAUP

AAUP Update: Up-coming Meetings

I had hoped to see many of you at the opening meeting on January 14th but some bad weather came along and the day’s activities at MC were cancelled.  In lieu of hosting one large meeting of the full-time faculty, the Executive Committee has decided that we will hold three meetings, one on each campus, so that we can provide you with updates on a variety of important issues.  At these meetings we will give you information on our on-going court case, negotiations for next year’s raises, and several other topics.  All of the meetings will be held next week and they are scheduled as follows:

Germantown Campus Meeting-                Monday               February 4          HT216   3:00-4:30pm

Takoma Park/Silver Spring Meeting-        Tuesday               February 5          CM211  5:00-7:00pm

Rockville Campus Meeting-                         Thursday             February 7           SW301  6:00-8:00pm

All bargaining unit members of the full-time faculty are invited to attend one of these meeting.  You do not have to be a member of the AAUP in in order to attend one of these meetings.  We look forward to seeing you at one of these very important meetings.

On behalf of the Executive Committee,

Harry Z.

AAUP Update: November 2018

Sent on behalf of Harry Zarin and on behalf of the chapter:

Colleagues:

Update to the Faculty-November 2018

I arrived at my class on Monday morning and, due to the events in Pittsburgh and Kentucky, I wondered how I would start my class.  Would I just begin with my planned lesson and say nothing, would the students bring up the tragedies from the weekend, would the students even know that something so tragic happened?  As a role model for our students and as a member of a minority group, I am Jewish, I felt compelled to say something.

I started the class with the usual welcome, “hope you had a nice weekend,” informed them of the day’s lesson and then made a very brief statement.

“The events from this past weekend were very tragic and scary.  I know there is little I can say to help you all understand how someone can have so much hate in their heart that they would search for and kill people just because they are Jewish or black.  I hope that once you are married and have kids or just decide to have kids that you will raise your children not to hate.  They don’t have to like everyone they meet but teach them not to hate. Teach them to respect themselves and the people around them.  I believe that the only way these types of senseless acts will stop happening is if we raise our children not to hate.”

I believe we all need to be a role model for our students and we need to ensure that they have a safe place to study, learn, and to express their views.  Be there for your students and do not hesitate to refer them to our counselors if they need someone to help them process these recent events and to deal with their feelings of anxiety or concern.

An E-mail Controversy:

Several members of the College community, myself included, recently received what some would call a rather controversial e-mail.  The e-mail was particularly critical of the Administration.  Within 24 hours of receiving this e-mail, it was deleted from my inbox.  At least one other recipient of the e-mail reported that the e-mail was removed from the personal folders section of her Outlook.  The concerns about this troubling situation are obvious.  Under what conditions can Management monitor our e-mail?  Under what conditions can Management remove e-mails from our inbox and personal folders?  Tim Kirkner and I attended our monthly meeting with Carolyn Terry, Sanjay Rai, and Donna Schena on Tuesday, and we asked them these questions.  Since IT is under the purview of the Senior Vice President for Administrative and Fiscal Services Donna said that she would research this issue and get back to us.  I hope to have an answer for all of you by the time I send out my next update in December.

Until then, my message to all of you is very simple.  If you don’t want Management to know the contents of what you are about to put in an e-mail, don’t use the College’s e-mail system.  Pick up the phone and call someone or send your e-mail from one private e-mail account to another.  You may also want to back up your email to a flash drive or separate server to maintain your existing records.

Monetary Concerns:

Included in the above-mentioned e-mail was information that we felt was very concerning.  Among other things, the e-mail contained information about substantial bonuses paid to several members of the Administration.  These bonuses were so substantial that one would wonder how an Administration, the BOT included, could express a concern about financial sustainability while at the same time approve additional payments to administrators who were just doing their jobs.  Even if they did more than they were supposed to, these bonuses make no sense.

How can you provide an administrator a bonus of $35,000, another administrator a bonus of $15,000 paid in two installments and another administrator a temporary 15 percent increase in salary for up to six months?  Did any administrator at MC deserve a $53,000 bonus in FY’17 and a $34,000 bonus in FY’18?  Are these bonuses appropriate during a time of declining enrollments when they are asking the community to do more with less?  Is this an appropriate action to take when the Administration breached our contract, and due to their failure to follow the terms and conditions of our negotiated Collective Bargaining Agreement, we did not receive a raise in FY’18? I believe not.

It is interesting to note that the administrator who received the $15,000 bonus is the very administrator who approved the 15 percent temporary increase in salary for one of his subordinates.

Tim and I expressed our concern about these bonuses at our meeting with the Senior Vice Presidents.  We will pass on any response that we receive.

Our Court Case:

There has been no progress since I last provided you with an update regarding our on-going court case.  We are still waiting for the Clerk of Court in the Montgomery County Circuit Court to provide the Maryland Court of Special Appeals with some information.  Once that information is provided, the Court of Special Appeals will let our attorney know when his brief is due.  Our attorney has tried to contact the Clerk of Court several times and has never heard back from her.  I have given him the authority to personally go to the courthouse to visit the Clerk if that is what it takes.

How much do you earn?

For many years, all of the full-time faculty received a letter from HR with their stated annual base salary.  The letter arrived at the beginning of the fall semester and included information about any raises that were incorporated into our annual salary.  For some reason we stopped receiving this letter several years ago.  I contacted the Payroll Office recently and asked how the faculty can learn of their actual salary.  Below are the directions I received.  If you are interested in learning how much you earn, your base salary, follow these directions:

Login to MyMC

  1. Click on the Workday Icon
  2. Click on the Cloud in the upper right corner
  3. Click on your name in the upper right corner
  4. Click on Compensation in the drop down on the left side of the screen
  5. Click on Total Rewards in the top of the page

Negotiations:

Negotiations are ongoing. We have met twice in sessions with the Administration and have three more meetings scheduled during this semester. Under discussion are salary, EAP, and bereavement leave. The Distance Learning Side Letter is being negotiated separately. We will update everyone as soon as we arrive at any tentative agreements.

Statement About Elections:

Several faculty members have asked me who the Chapter is supporting in the mid-term elections.  A specific question was raised about the Circuit Court judges who are up for re-election.  My answer is simple: we are not a political organization and we can’t make recommendations.  I believe it is incumbent for each of you do your research, make an informed decision, and most importantly, vote.

Responses to this Update:

Generally, the Chapter receives several comments and/or questions after I send out an update.  These comments and questions are forwarded to me for a response.  Tomorrow I am heading out of the country for a week. I will not be returning to the office until Nov. 12.

I am letting all of you know this so that if you send a comment or question to this update to the Chapter’s website, you will not be surprised if you do not receive a response in a timely manner. Where am I heading?  Peru for a one-week habitat-type build about two or three hours south of Lima.

If you need Chapter assistance while I am out of the office you should contact your campus Vice President or any other officer on the Executive Committee.  The Chapter website, mcaaup.org has all of our names and contact information.

Harry Z.

Harry N. Zarin, Professor/Counselor
President-AAUP\Montgomery College
20200 Observation Dr. SA240B
Germantown, MD  20876
240-567-7767
240-567-1985 Fax
240-449-3452 VPN

 

AAUP Update: Memorandum of Agreement Ratification

Colleagues:

I wanted to provide all of you with a brief update on a key issue that we are dealing with.

I am pleased to report that the vast majority of faculty who voted on the Memorandum of Agreement voted in favor of ratification of the Agreement.  This Agreement focused on the negotiated raises for the current academic year.  On behalf of the Chapter I signed off on the Agreement and forwarded the signed Agreement to the Employee and Labor Relations Office.  The Agreement will now be forwarded to the Board of Trustees for their ratification at the September 27 meeting.  All increases will be retroactive to the start of our current contract period, August 20, 2018.

Next week I will provide you with some additional information regarding our court case against the College.

I hope that all of you are having a smooth start to the current academic year.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

Harry N. Zarin, Professor/Counselor
President-AAUP
Montgomery College

E-mail from Faculty Member Following 6/22 Roop Memo

(published with permission)

Dear Mr. Roop.  I wrote this as soon as I received your email regarding the AAUP contract agreement and the court’s decision to deny arbitration.  I hesitated to send it for obvious reasons, but when I sent a draft to several colleagues on the faculty, they urged me to do so.  Typical of their responses was Well said sir. I agree with every word. In fact, I think you stated it fairly mildly. Thanks for sharing.”

So I am sending the letter without the hope of it accomplishing anything, but I thought you might like to understand what some of us on the faculty are feeling.

I suppose congratulations are in order.  By refusing to honor a signed agreement with the AAUP and obtaining the support of the courts, you have destroyed the effectiveness of our union.  The recent Supreme Court decision allowing non-union members to opt out of paying union dues will drive the final nail into the coffin. You may already be planning to replace our AAUP chapter with a company run union that will allow your employees to petition for minor changes in the circumstances of their employment.

This is the culmination of a trend that I noticed shortly after I began teaching here in 2005.  In my first couple of years, I felt the administration was here to support its teaching staff. Thirteen years later, I feel I’m a distrusted employee of a growing and apparently insatiable administration, which seems to feel that my teaching load is too light, my teaching methods are poor and I’m not sufficiently focused on student success, which MC seems to narrowly define as going on to a four year college.

Montgomery College now mirrors other contemporary American institutions, with increasingly high salaries for its senior executives and lower and lower pay for what you seem to consider your work force.

I only have experience in three other educational institutions, Reed College in Oregon, Bennington College in Vermont and Columbia University in New York City. Reed and Bennington, which were effectively faculty run, provided by far the best educational experiences. There was no HR, no elaborately expensive commitment to faculty training, no unresponsive administration with requests for self-serving and largely useless self-evaluations and other measure of success.   I do come with a bias. We teachers in the classroom actually know better than you folks in administration how to effectively teach our students and prepare them for the difficult future they face. That’s what we do while you have meetings, send emails, and think up new things for the faculty to do.

MC is far too large to be faculty run, but it could be faculty oriented. The only way to ensure that orientation is to make sure the faculty has real power over its working conditions through its union.  There is a great deal of evidence that the healthiest institutions in our country are those with strong unions.  Of course, there’s also a lot of evidence in our country that institutions without unions offer cheaper (but frequently inferior) goods and services for their consumers and higher salaries for their executives. A cheaper shirt or the indifferent service of a minimal wage employee may not make much difference, but it’s not the same with teaching.

Someone in the administration told one of my colleagues who was trying to get the contract honored, “if you don’t like it here move on to somewhere else.” It’s a comment that speaks volumes about MC’s administration.  I had a similar experience when I contacted a senior administrator about an exciting new educational software I’d discovered at a conference. He told me I could come and talk to him, but he wasn’t going change anything. I didn’t expect a dramatic change, but I did expect curiosity and respect.

I’ll stay at Montgomery College because I have a commitment to my students. I can’t really praise it to the skies as I once did.  I think in time you’ll realize this union busting was a mistake, a truly serious blow to teacher morale that will inevitably (even if unconsciously) be passed on to our students.  I’m sure you’ve all convinced yourselves that this isn’t union busting, but a inevitable result of insufficient funding that you also feel terrible about.  It’s not.  It’s about an allocation of resources and decisions about what’s important.

Respectfully,

Christopher Koch

___________

To: Montgomery College Colleagues
From: Robert Roop, Chief Human Resources Officer
Subject: Montgomery County Circuit Court Ruling on AAUP Lawsuit
Date: June 22, 2018
The College and the College’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) have worked collaboratively since April 2017 to resolve a disagreement regarding the contracted full-time faculty compensation increase for FY18. The disagreement arose because the College was, regrettably, unable to meet the original negotiated salary increase for FY18. These financial constraints are primarily linked to a shortfall in the College’s funding from the county, despite spirited advocacy by the College leadership and faculty representatives, coupled with a contraction in enrollment.

In February, AAUP asked the Montgomery County Circuit Court to force the College to resolve the issue via arbitration, under Article 3 of the collective bargaining agreement between AAUP and the College. In March, the College filed a motion to dismiss AAUP’s lawsuit based on the position that the “financial exigency” clause of the contract applied to this situation, not the grievance process. This past Tuesday, June 19, a Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of the College and agreed with the College’s interpretation of the dispute resolution process, saying that the disagreement should be properly dealt with under the “financial exigency” provision of the agreement.

Following this ruling, the College will continue to work with the AAUP negotiating team to resolve the salary issue through direct negotiations and/or with the assistance of a neutral, third-party mediator, as stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement. Doing so expeditiously is critical since the fiscal year ends in eight days, when we risk losing the funds for any salary enhancement for this fiscal year.

The work of the College’s full-time faculty is essential to the success of our mission. I am hopeful that we can soon craft a resolution that is fair and fiscally sustainable and allows us all to remain focused on our common mission of supporting our students.

 

AAUP Update: Response to Ruling

Colleagues:

Since my last communication, the Executive Committee had an opportunity to meet and have a discussion with the Chapter’s attorney on Wednesday, and it is our informed opinion that we shall appeal the judge’s ruling to Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals.

Although an unfavorable ruling last week was not totally unexpected at the Circuit Court level, it was disheartening. However, worse yet would be to stand by and watch as our union and our Collective Bargaining Agreement are ruined by a bad decision by one judge. We believe that Judge McGann’s opinion stemmed from a gross misreading of the law, and we believe that an appeals court will see this and side with us.

Before we proceed with the appeal, and before we offer you the details, please note that we are waiting on the full transcript of the opinion that Judge McGann read from the bench on June 19.  It will take about a week before our attorney will receive this document.

At this time, we can say we do not believe the narrow factually grounded procedure set forth in Section 8.5 of the Agreement is or was ever intended by the parties to provide a mechanism to resolve a dispute with the College over a failure to pay salary in accordance with the Agreement. When applicable, that Section provides for negotiation and fact-finding, the cost of which is substantial and is to be shared but does not result in anything more than an advisory opinion which the College could blithely ignore if it were contrary to the Administration’s desires.

Thus, Judge McGann’s grievous error results in there being no mechanism for the Chapter’s members to enforce the Agreement – a result directly contrary to the Legislature’s purpose in establishing collective bargaining for most College employees.

At the present time it is our informed belief, as we said above, that the best way we can protect our contract is to appeal the judge’s decision to Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals.

As far as this year upcoming is concerned, we have reached a tentative agreement for increases for FY’19 that would be effective in the fall.  The College’s attorney is currently drafting the terms of the tentative agreement.  Once the terms of the tentative agreement have been formally reviewed and accepted by the Executive Committee, the Chair of our Negotiating Team will issue a statement outlining the terms of the agreement.

We on the Executive Committee recognize the difficult position we are all in with regards to not receiving an increase in salary this year.  We appreciate your patience, your support, and your interest in communicating with us about the grievance, the court case, and how we are going to proceed.

We especially appreciate the number of you who have switched from paying the agency fees to paying the full membership fees in the past couple of months. We’re happy to report that we are close to 90% membership. We are an “opt-in” union. Although all Full-Time Faculty receive the protection of the union, no one is forced or coerced to join. Almost 90 percent of you have made the choice to join, and we sincerely appreciate this. We hope the rest of you will make the change soon.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

Statement from the MC-AAUP Negotiating Team, May 10, 2018

Colleagues,

Please read the response below from the negotiating team to the memo sent by HR last week.

We will discuss this further at the chapter meeting next week.  In the meantime, thank you for your continued support.

Rick Penn

Professor of Mathematics,
Montgomery College, Rockville
Chief Negotiator, MCAAUP


May 10, 2018

Colleagues,

In recent weeks, many of you have attended the faculty meetings, received updates, and asked questions about the status of salary negotiations for our 2018 and 2019 contracts. There will be further opportunities to discuss these issues at the AAUP closing meeting during professional week, and we hope to see all of you there at Globe Hall May 16, 11 a.m.

However, the members of your negotiating team felt it important to respond in writing to the FT faculty following the memo we received from HR last week, written by Bob Roop. Because Mr. Roop’s memo contains unsubstantiated opinions (with which we disagree) as well as factual inaccuracies and omissions, his remaining statements are cast in a distorting light.

The fact that the memo was sent at all raises an important question. Under the rules of previous negotiations (going back to at least the year 2000) it would have been a violation to review details of what was said during a negotiation session, other than to share a tentative agreement once one was reached.

When the administration unilaterally did away with Interest Based Bargaining during negotiations in the fall of 2017, it also denied the need for any ground rules at all. As such, the memo is not in violation of the ground rules, as there aren’t any to violate.

The following points are important to this issue:

  • While on the surface the memo purports to be an attempt to objectively clarify why our paychecks still do not reflect negotiated raises (which is HR’s right to do) it appears to be an attempt to bypass the AAUP and convince the faculty directly of the merits of the administration’s position.
  • Should that be the administration’s intent, that would be a violation not of any ground rule but a violation of labor law, known as “direct dealing.”
  • “Direct dealing” is more difficult to prosecute in the public sector than it is in the private sector, though we would hope that the administration would seek to stay more clear of that line in the future.

The lack of resolution on FY18 salaries, as well as the pending court case and potential arbitration, has made it nearly impossible to come to agreement on FY19 salaries. Salaries for future years are negotiated as adjustments to the current salaries. Because there is a dispute on the level of the current salary, how exactly would a negotiated adjustment even be implemented?

  • As Mr. Roop wrote in his memo, the administration has offered a 3% increase for FY19. The Chapter’s response was more thorough, however, than the “cannot accept the FY19 offer without resolving FY18 first” that is cited in that memo.
    • One option offered by the chapter was to accept their offer of 3%, with the base to be determined by the pending arbitration. If the judge and ultimately the arbitrator rule that we were entitled to our contractual pay in FY18 all along, then that should be the base on which FY19 is calculated, and the pay should be adjusted retroactive to the beginning of FY18.
    • This means we should receive retroactive pay for FY2018, as well as a 3% increase on the adjusted 2018 salaries.
    • If, however, the arbitrator finds in favor of the administration, then the 3% for FY19 would be based on the arbitrator’s decision for what is owed us as an increase for 2018.
    • While the administration was willing to set the base moving forward from the time the cases are resolved, they rejected any attempt to make the base salary retroactive.
  • In the memo, Mr. Roop also references a 3% salary increase offered for FY18 (a 1% increase for those at the top) if the Chapter would drop its lawsuit. This is obviously an unacceptable option, as that offer was on the table when we filed the suit.
  • The administration has stated repeatedly, both at the table and in its public attempts to influence the negotiations, that it wishes the faculty would accept the offered raise as it cannot guarantee whether the money will be available after the end of the fiscal year.
    • We countered with this proposal:
      • the dispute for FY18 is currently between a low of 3%, which the administration is offering, and a high of 6.25%, which was negotiated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement,
      • AAUP would accept the 3% as payment toward any eventual settlement for FY18, while at the same time waiting on arbitration to determine what the final settlement would be.
      • The College has publicly and privately said that it wants to give faculty the 3%raise before that money is potentially lost at the end of the fiscal year, and this plan would allow them to retain that money and use it for salaries, with the idea that the number might be adjusted after arbitration.
    • The administration rejected this proposal.
      • Over the course of the year, the administration has violated our contract; they have acted in bad faith; they have challenged whether we are appropriately representing our constituents; and they have reminded the negotiating team that we are all “free” to simply leave the college.

The AAUP has not refused to continue meeting with management, despite all that has transpired, and contrary to what Mr. Roop suggests in his memo. Both management and AAUP have currently agreed to pause our meetings to reflect on whether any new approaches might be possible. We also said we would meet at any time if they saw any reason to believe a productive conversation could be had.
Management’s actions demonstrate an interest not in negotiating a mutually acceptable resolution to this dispute, but in getting the faculty to capitulate, to relinquish both the money that we are owed for FY18, and whatever power we may have by virtue of our union and our collectively bargained agreement.

Again, should their interests change, we are ready to meet with them. In the meantime, we are heartened by the responses we have seen from you, our colleagues, which so clearly demonstrate that their attempts to divide us are failing. The AAUP Negotiating Team appreciates your expressions of support, and will continue to fight on your behalf.

On behalf of the negotiating team,

Rick Penn, Alberto Baca, Michael Gurevitz, Tammy Peery, and Sharon Piper

Response to Mr. Roop’s Communication (Update on Negotiations with AAUP)

Colleagues:

As you might imagine, the members of the AAUP Executive Committee have been exchanging a few private e-mails since Mr. Roop sent out his communication to the college community.  Several faculty members have contacted us and have asked if they can reply individually and others have asked how they can help.  We appreciate the support that we have been shown and will have a thorough reply to Mr. Roop’s e-mail in due time.

For now, I will say that any faculty member can respectfully reply to any communication that is sent to the college community.  If you have something you would like to say, please feel free to do so.

On behalf of the Chapter, I will say the following in response to Mr. Roop’s e-mail.

Many of you have been following the updates I posted on the Chapter’s website and you have read my testimony to the BOT.  Many of you attended one of the two faculty meetings we held last week.  Those of you who have been doing these things understand that there are key differences between the position the Administration has taken concerning negotiations and their failure to pay us the increase in salary, which was negotiated and entered into in good faith, for the current academic year.  The Administration claims that this is an issue of financial exigency brought on by financial constraints primarily linked to a shortfall in the College’s anticipated funding from the county contribution, state aid, and tuition revenue.  In fact, the reason why we did not receive our negotiated increases was because the college executed a plan to breach our contract, whether they received sufficient funds or not.  In fact, they asked for and received sufficient funds to implement our negotiated Collective Bargaining Agreement and they chose not to do so.  They instead, entered into other agreements and then asked us to renegotiate our contract in order to accommodate their plan.  They breached our contract and we did not agree to renegotiate our contract.

I hope I got your attention.  Our Executive Committee will be consulting with our legal counsel and we will share more with you at the closing meeting on May 16.  I encourage all of you to attend the closing meeting so that you can become an informed faculty member.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

Harry N. Zarin, Professor/Counselor
President-AAUP

 

 


Update on Negotiations with American Association of University Professors

To: Montgomery College Community
From: Mr. Robert G. Roop, Chief Human Resources Officer
Subject: Update on Negotiations with American Association of University Professors
Date: May 3, 2018

 

I wish to provide an update on the College’s negotiations with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), which represents our full-time faculty, regarding FY18 compensation increases. For reference, at this link is my previous message dated February 21, 2018.

All of our faculty and staff are vital to our mission, including those leading our critical student success efforts, so completing these negotiations and finding mutually acceptable solutions are among our highest priorities.

Since April 2017, the College and AAUP have worked to settle a disagreement regarding the contracted full-time faculty compensation increase for the current fiscal year, 2018. Because of financial resource constraints, the College was unable to meet the original negotiated salary increase for FY18. These financial constraints are primarily linked to a shortfall in the College’s anticipated funding from the county contribution, state aid, and tuition revenue, despite spirited advocacy by the College leadership, faculty, staff, student, and alumni representatives. As a result, the College was not able to provide a 6.25 percent increase (2.75 percent general wage adjustment and 3.5 percent increment) to full-time faculty for this academic year. The College is committed to keeping tuition affordable, and therefore could not meet this funding gap through tuition increases because of the severe impact it would have on students. Fiscal constraints will continue into FY19. As you may recall, in January, the county council directed the College to reduce spending by $4.4 million in addition to the $3.7 million in reductions made to balance the College’s proposed budget for FY19, which is now pending review and action by the county council.

The financial exigency provision in the AAUP collective bargaining agreement has a framework for resolving this situation; however, the College and AAUP negotiators were unable to agree on a solution. Until an agreement is reached, the College cannot implement any pay raise for AAUP faculty. The College has offered AAUP a 3.0 percent salary increase for FY18, and this offer remains available. To date, AAUP negotiators have declined to accept this offer without tying it to other demands.

On February 13, 2018, the AAUP filed a lawsuit against the College in Montgomery County Circuit Court asking the Court to tell the College to resolve this matter through arbitration. On March 22, 2018, the College filed a motion to dismiss AAUP’s lawsuit, and the matter is now under court review. It is our goal, however, to continue to collaborate with AAUP to reach an agreement.

The College and AAUP have continued to negotiate in an effort to resolve the FY18 compensation dispute as well as to reach agreement on wages for FY19. To that end, the negotiating teams met on April 25, 2018; however, no agreement was reached regarding FY18 or FY19. At that session, the College offered AAUP a 3.0 percent salary increase for FY18 (retroactive to July 1, 2017), if AAUP would end the present litigation in order to bring closure to the matter. AAUP rejected this offer. For FY19, the College proposed a 3.0 percent salary increase, effective July 1, 2018. AAUP declined this 3.0 percent increase for FY19, taking the position that it cannot accept the FY19 offer without resolving FY18 first. Also at that April 25 negotiating session, the College requested a follow-up meeting with the AAUP negotiating team after the two membership meetings, but, at this time, no further negotiations are scheduled.

In the next three weeks, the county council will take action on the College’s FY19 budget. It’s critical to resolve the salary negotiations before the end of FY18 to ensure funds for associated pay increases are available.

For background and perspective, it’s worth noting that the terms of the AAUP contract were agreed to in 2015; the county’s fiscal outlook has changed significantly. While not dire, county resources are constrained and enrollment contractions continue to reduce tuition revenues. Also, for comparison, the Service Employees International (SEIU) part-time faculty have already received a salary increase for FY18 of 4.5 percent; bargaining and non-bargaining employees received a 3 percent increase for FY18.

The College remains committed to reaching an acceptable resolution that recognizes our fiscal constraints, protects affordability for students, and provides fair and reasonable compensation for our dedicated faculty.

Please contact Heather Pratt, director of Employee and Labor Relations in HRSTM, at 240-567-3097 or me with any questions. Thank you for your continued commitment to Montgomery College and our students.

 

AAUP Works for Me! – Faculty Voices

Many thanks to the AAUP leadership and members for their willingness to fight this worthy cause on behalf of full time faculty and the college community as a whole. Everyone benefits when all are treated respectfully and are appropriately rewarded.

I was able to make it to the Rockville meeting last night, and I just wanted to chime in with those below and encourage everyone who couldn’t make it to that meeting to attend the TP/SS meeting tonight. There is a lot of new information about what is happening with both our contracts for 2017-18 and future contract negotiations.

I agree that we need to stand united as a faculty union right now. We discussed ideas about how to show support, and I hope—with many faculty engaged—we will see actions as well.

Hello, I also attended the AAUP meeting last night.  I am so proud of the work our executive committee is doing on behalf of Full Faculty.  We support their efforts 100% and will continue to attend update meetings where we discuss all matters related to the important role the Faculty play in the success of the College.  Please take the time to attend the TPSS meeting this evening.  Our team has important information to share with you.

AAUP Works for me.

I too attended last night’s update meeting in Rockville. Our AAUP chapter is in an important battle for our rights against an administration uninterested in negotiating in good faith. The chapter executive committee representing us works tirelessly to make sure that each of us is paid fairly, receives decent benefits, and that we are able to work under as favorable conditions as possible. We have MUCH to be grateful for in terms of the committee’s work and unflagging support. We are also fortunate to have a competent attorney representing the chapter. NOW is the time to support them in return, to become informed, and to get involved in your own future here at MC.

I would like to chime in with my faculty colleagues and emphasize the fact that we all need to stand behind our union at this time and show solidarity as one united body of faculty who care about our students and about each other.  I attended the AAUP meeting last night and learned so much!  I would like to urge everyone who could not attend the meeting last evening to please, please attend the TP/SS meeting tonight.  It is crucial that the administration sees that we stand together.

As faculty, we were supposed to receive a 6.25% raise this year, 3.5% increment and a 2.75% GWA. As chief negotiator, our team signed this contract 3 years ago with Management and the BOT in good faith.  Management and the BOT decided last year not to honor our contract, because of their claim of no funds. However, look at all the contacts that were signed recently after our contract was in place, including IT contracts, coaches for our classes and probably many others. Management and the BOT had a fiduciary duty to honor our contact first before signing any other contract. This is truly an administration and BOT uninterested in negotiating in good faith.

Thank you all.  Last night’s meeting was very important. I encourage all faculty to keep Bill’s salary percentages in mind and do the math. This is very serious. Thank you Harry and the whole team for your tireless efforts on our behalf.  Our AAUP attorney is outstanding, seasoned, and clearly concerned about the legality of the College’s avoidance tactics. It’s unfortunate that it’s gotten to this point.  It didn’t have to.

I would like to add my voice to those urging faculty who were unable to attend last night’s AAUP meeting to attend the meeting tonight at TPSS to learn more about the status of negotiations for both our 2017-2018 contract and our 2018-2019 contract. Last night’s meeting was very informative, and it’s more information than could be easily communicated in an email.  Our union reps have been working tirelessly for us. I am grateful for their diligent work to ensure fair contracts and treatment for faculty.  These negotiations affect us all, and we need to stand united with our union. 

I didn’t see many of my Germantown colleagues last night at the AAUP meeting, and it really was important information about several different initiatives. One of the major points was how important it is to be visible in our support of AAUP and its leadership right now. (Also, having done the reverse commute to DC for years, I can vouch for 270 South not being bad at the end of the day when you’re going against traffic.) I think it’s well worth the trip!

Thank you to the union leadership for advocating so fervently on behalf of the faculty. The meeting on the Rockville campus last night was very informative. Please try to attend the Takoma Park meeting tonight if you were unable to attend Wednesday’s meeting. Our strength comes from our solidarity.

If you weren’t able to go last night, go tonight. Spending the time listening to colleagues and leaders helped clarify much of what has been happening.

Yes the meeting was fantastic, great information provided. I really enjoyed meeting the attorney. Please attend tonight if there is anyway you can.  Your paycheck depends on our support for AAUP!

I can’t echo enough the appreciative comments that have been offered to our AAUP team, or the sense of urgency that goes along with the issues discussed last night.  There’s no better time than now to ask questions, talk with one another, and generally keep on top of developments.  I think those sorts of activities will have a useful momentum of their own.

I support AAUP.  They speak for me and I am incredibly thankful for all there hard work.

Thank you to the AAUP, which in serving faculty, serves our students and the well-being of our institution.

Now is a crucial time for all of us to be aware and to support our union. AAUP works for me.

I also want to echo the sentiments of my colleagues.

The AAUP Team has represented us well and they have our full support.

Great meeting last night! I am grateful to have AAUP representation in the current climate nationwide.  We must not take our union team’s hard work  for granted.  Let’s advocate for ourselves and our students with one voice through support of our MC AAUP.

Montgomery College AAUP chapter speaks for me and I will not fall for any external “divide and conquer” tactics.

I want to thank AAUP and all the faculty that are pulling together to allow us to work in a productive and healthy atmosphere. We deserve respect. We deserve dignity. We deserve honesty. Let us strive to hold those in power accountable so that those after us won’t have to fight these same battles.

I’m wearing the button.  I urge the union to stay strong in this extremely urgent and difficult situation.

Thank you to all of our AAUP representatives for your efforts.  Thank you for keeping us informed every step of the way through this unfortunate series of events.  Lets hope at some point responsibility to agreed upon commitments will prevail in the mindset of the college.

I have always been impressed by and happy with the college, Administrators, Staff, and Faculty all working in a collaborative effort for the good of the college and the students.  Student success, College success, Employee success and a harmonious friendly work environment have always been the hall mark of Montgomery College.  We don’t want an “us or them” atmosphere to infect our college.

The AAUP supports me and I support it.  My hope is that we can arrive at an expeditious resolution within the scope of integrity.

I also support  AAUP and I would urge those who are paying just the service fee (which is $7.70 per pay period) and not the full membership dues to consider filling out the paperwork to do so. Here is the link

http://mcaaup.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/AAUP-Dues-Service-Fee-Deduction-Form-AY-2017-2018-Reader-Enabled-Fillable.pdf

I’ve repeatedly heard MC leadership profess a commitment to social justice, but negotiating in bad faith and questioning the integrity of union leadership undermines that commitment. Social justice is more than a talking point. It’s more than catchphrase. A genuine commitment to social justice mandates that the administration honor our contract and treat our well-organized faculty with respect.

Many of us walked paths through life and encountered obstacles that aren’t dissimilar to those faced by our students. Our students know those stories and are inspired by them. They’re hopeful that if they persevere, they, too, will achieve comparable levels of professional success and recognition. What message do they receive about their potential—and their power—when they see the administration devalue our contributions by dishonoring its commitment?

Like so many others, I support our union and appreciate the efforts of Harry and the rest of the executive committee. AAUP stands for social justice, and I stand with AAUP.

The irony of their social justice initiative and how they are treating faculty might be lost on them but I encourage you to echo these sentiments at our AAUP closing meeting. You articulate this so very well and other faculty members should hear this too as we are dealing with these types of inconsistencies way too often.

I also support AAUP and encourage my colleagues to become full members.  Thanks for all you do.

I would like to echo my colleagues’ thanks to our AAUP leadership for keeping us informed and working on our behalf for a fair outcome to our contract situation. I greatly appreciated getting such a clear explanation at our meeting last week of the events that led to where we are now. After hearing that, I’m even more confident that the AAUP executive committee is doing the right thing by us. I will be there at our meeting in May. I encourage my colleagues to attend as well, and to join our AAUP chapter as full dues-paying members.

I really praise the hard and dedicated work of AAUP leadership to guard and improve our working conditions and compensation. I felt so sad to see the humiliation that our representatives have been through during the process of negotiations. On the top of this, it is a very challenging task to contest a court against this management. Brett: Harry Zarin is going to post the complaint and the management’s motion to dismiss on the union web site that will answer your questions.

For many years, the management has cancelled or reduced our contracts and I am hoping that justice will prevail on June 14th. This looks so unfair that they the management mostly argue that they have power not to honor the contract.

Now that we are doing so much more work, including

  • Enhancing face to face classes with blackboard
  • Having additional office hours
  • Substituting for our colleagues when they are called by the supervisors for additional
  • tasks (such as search committees)
  • Sacrificing our winter break to teach the winter sessions
  • Creating course materials to eliminate the cost of text books
  • and in return the management does not even want to honor a contract that they signed.

United we stand

I am grateful, professionally and personally, for the work of the union leadership and the tenacity of the negotiating team. Thank you!

As a daughter of life long union members (garment workers, railway), I am grateful for AAUP representation and its defense of my professional welfare.  Thank you.

A heartfelt thank you to AAUP for all the work they have put in to have fair practices in place here at MC.