July 17, 2019

AAUP Update: Court Case, Faculty Compensation Forums, Fall Negotiations, Executive Committee Nominations, the Closing Meeting and more.

May 2019

Colleagues:

The year 2018-2019 academic year is rapidly coming to a close.  I hope that all of you have had a good semester and year inside and outside the classroom.  Please pardon the length of this update; however, it is important that I provide you with all of this valuable information.

Closing Meeting:

This year the closing meeting will be held on Wednesday morning May 15 in Globe Hall on the Germantown campus.  The AAUP Chapter meeting, which is a full-faculty meeting, will take place as soon as the college wide portion of the morning meeting ends.  Please plan on attending this meeting.  There are only three meetings per year where the full-time faculty in its entirety is able to meet and discuss issues that are important to us.  We on the Executive Committee need to hear from you, and you need to exercise your right to voice your opinion on issues that affect you and your colleagues. At the meeting we will announce the results of the election of officers for the Chapter, we will talk about the faculty compensation forums, our pending case with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, the status of our treasury, and much more.  Your participation in these meetings is important.

Nominations and Elections:

Nominations are now being solicited for the following positions on the Executive Committee:

  • President
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Vice President-Germantown
  • Vice President-Rockville
  • Vice President-Takoma Park/Silver Spring

As announced last week, the nomination period ends on Wednesday May 8, the slate will be announced on the May 9, electronic voting will begin on May 9 and will close on May 14.  The results of the voting will be announced at the closing meeting in Germantown on Wednesday May 15.  Only dues paying members of the Chapter may vote on Chapter related issues. 

The Montgomery College Operating Budget:

Each year the president of the college submits an operating budget request to the Montgomery County Executive and the Montgomery County Council.  Through very intensive lobbying and a very involved decision-making process, the members of the council determine the funding of the operating budgets for all county-funded agencies, including Montgomery College.

I participated in the lobbying efforts by testifying on behalf of the full-time faculty at the April county council budget hearings. My testimony is posted on the Chapter website. The county council’s vote on our operating budget tends to occur around the week of gradation. Shortly after that, at the June Board of Trustees meeting, the BOT will make their final decision on tuition increases, the funding of our contract and the overall operating budget for the College. Below is some information that relates to this process and how some recent County Council action may affect Montgomery College.

From a Member of the County Council:

Councilman Hans Riemer sends out periodic messages to those who subscribe to his on-line newsletter.  Below is the most recent message that he sent out to the public.  The message relates to the county’s operating budget for next year.

Dear Resident:

Today [April 30] the Council took an initial vote on next year’s compensation for County employees, as proposed in the County Executive’s budget.

As part of our annual budget process, the County Executive is responsible for negotiating labor contracts with the unions. The Council then has the final responsibility of making sure that compensation is affordable.

While I support a raise for our employees, the County Executive’s proposal includes a 9.4% increase for many County employees in the MCGEO bargaining unit. (Increases for Fire and Rescue and Police officers are about 5.9%; teachers and school support personnel are scheduled to get 4.5% increases, on average.)

MCGEO members are the workers you will see driving a bus for long hours, inspecting rental housing, or providing health services. Like other public employees, they keep this county humming, and they deserve a raise.

But, after careful consideration, I voted no on the 9.4% raise, as did my colleagues.

I cast that vote because I take my obligation seriously to look to the future as a steward of our tax dollars.

Under the County Executive’s agreements, total compensation would grow at nearly double the rate of county revenue. When compensation grows faster than revenue, it consumes more of the budget over time, leaving less for new initiatives.

I think you will agree that we must be careful to preserve funds for goals such as reducing MCPS class sizes, expanding pre-k and afterschool programs, improving transportation and fighting climate change, to name a few.

By comparison, Federal employees, who make up a large share of our taxpayers, are receiving increases this year that are less than half of that amount.

While there is no doubt that the Recession was tough on our employees, with pay freezes for several years, since then, they have received steady raises.

The County Executive’s proposed 9.4% raise is all the more difficult because it is plain now that our budget has a structural deficit. The only way the budget achieves balance is through an extraordinary measure — using revenues from last year identified for the retiree health benefit fund.

Like a large ship, the County’s budget changes direction slowly. I think this is an important moment to begin to “turn the ship” and express the Council’s strong desire to start taking steps to resolve our structural deficit.

The County Executive talked about our fiscal challenges on the campaign trail, as did Council candidates. The County Executive’s mantra was that as a leader trusted by the County unions, he could work with them to right-size County government — recognizing that it is more affordable to provide raises to a smaller workforce.

He’s right about that, and I hope he follows through. I am prepared to work with him.

The budget we received, however, adds 90 new positions, exacerbating the impact of compensation increases.

I share the County Executive’s stated desire to make County government more efficient, and I also strongly believe that we can do more to promote economic growth in the County. If we achieve major savings and our revenue growth accelerates from a hotter economy, then I absolutely believe that County employees should share in those gains.

But let’s not count the chickens before they hatch: we have to make the necessary changes before claiming savings.

I look forward to supporting a raise that we can fund over time — one that is more in line with the wage increases that other bargaining units and our taxpayers are experiencing.

Sincerely,

Hans Riemer

Councilmember, At-large

After receiving this message, I sent an e-mail to Susan Madden in our Governmental Relations Office.  I asked her how she feels this action may affect the amount of money the Council will allocate towards the College’s FY2020 operating budget.  Below is her response to my e-mail.

Yesterday [April 30], the Council took action to abrogate the contract with MCGEO and send them back to the negotiating table with the County Executive.  Councilmember Rice made the motion.  All nine members voted yes.  It remains to be seen what will be the result though the Council did signal some parameters.

The Council also took action across all contracts with county employees to change the cost sharing on benefits—suggesting a 75 percent/25 percent split—meaning county employees ought to pay more for benefits.

As I understand it, the County Executive has or will send a budget amendment to the Council for $5 million new dollars to be spent on MCPS.  These funds became available because of new state funds related to the operation of the 911 system. The balance of what MCPS needs will come from existing sources and or Kirwan funds from the state.

The combination of the reducing the county’s compensation costs and the $5 million now available for MCPS does give the council some greater flexibility to provide additional funds to other Council priorities like the College. The Council President made it clear the College is a priority at the conclusion of the hearings.

That said, nothing is said and done until the final vote. Students continue to meet with Council members. Dr. Pollard met with the Council President yesterday before she spoke at the Equity Summit.

The full Council work session for the College is May 13. As you may know, the Committee work session was quite a robust conversation and the Committee voted to put all $3.1 million on the reconciliation list—an important step forward in the Council’s budget deliberations.

Susan Madden

How may this action affect the full-time faculty?

The College receives a large portion of its operating budget from the county. The College asked that the County provide us with $3.1 million more for FY2020 than it received in FY2019.  The recent action of the Council appears to lead us to believe that the full Council may vote to provide us with all of the $3.1 million that the College administration requested.  If this occurs, the full-time faculty will receive a 2.5% general wage adjustment in academic year 2019-2020.  The full Council will hopefully vote on our operating budget at their full work session on May 13. 

What can you do?

Lobbying individual members of the County Council is encouraged and your message needs to be clear. We have a negotiated agreement. This signed agreement includes a very reasonable increase in salary for the full-time faculty for FY2020. The negotiated increase is below inflation, is below the federal increase that was given to Social Security recipients, and our work as a faculty benefits thousands of students on a daily basis.

Now is the time for you to make your phone calls, send e-mails, and meet with members of the Council, if their schedule permits.

Salary Issues:

Six faculty compensation forums were held around the College in April at all three campuses. On April 8 the power point presentation used during those presentations was posted on the Chapter webpage, mc.aaup.org.  Numerous faculty have contacted members of the Chapter’s Executive Committee and expressed their concerns about the results of the survey. Some faculty expressed a concern about how their salary compared to others at MC given that they have been working here for a longer period of time and their salaries are relatively the same. Others mentioned that they were hired during the recession, their salary did not improve during the recession years, and new faculty hired after the recession started at a higher salary than their current salary. A variety of other salary-related concerns have also been brought to the attention of member of the Executive Committee. The concerns of the so called “recession group” and others have been heard, and they have been discussed with members of the Labor Management Collaboration Committee and the senior vice presidents. 

It is important to remember that, with one exception that I will mention below, all matters related to salary are collective bargaining matters and are dealt with at the negotiating table. We are in the process of putting together our negotiating team for the fall and have had some very positive preliminary discussions with Management about these negotiations. The salary issues that have been discussed since the faculty compensation forums will be discussed in these negotiations. What we may and can do to address the issues has yet to be decided. We will provide you with as much information as we can about possible solutions to these issues, given that discussions that occur during negotiations are confidential until both sides come to an agreement and the agreement is announced.

Initial Salary Placement:

The one salary-related issue that can be addressed by individual faculty members relates to the initial salary placement which is based on the points they received when the faculty member was hired. 

Here is a quick review of how this works: All of us had our work experiences evaluated by our hiring dean, and the dean gave us points for all of these experiences. The total points we received determined our initial salary. We all signed the point sheet and the initial offer of a salary. Several faculty members have come to us and said that they do not feel they received enough points for their previous work experiences.

If you feel that you did not receive a fair initial salary based on an evaluation of your work experience, please get in touch with Elline Damirdjian, 7-5497, in MC’s Office of Employee and Labor Relations. This office has a process in place to review your resume, application, and the points you received.  Several faculty members have already been in touch with this office and their salary was adjusted based on this type of review.

If you would like a union representative to assist you with this process, please contact any member of the Executive Committee.

The Court Case:

On April 15, our attorney filed a brief on our behalf with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.  A copy of the brief has been posted in the court documents section of the Chapter webpage.  Management’s attorney had thirty days from April 15 to file a brief on behalf of management and our attorney will have an opportunity to file a rebuttal brief once the management brief has been filed. Our case is still scheduled to be heard some time in September.  We will let you know when additional information becomes available about our case.

The Closing Meeting:

Finally, I encourage all of you to attend the full-time faculty meeting on the morning of Wednesday May 13 in Globe Hall on the Germantown Campus.  We have much to discuss and we need to hear from you. 

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

AAUP Update: Testimony to County Council (April 2019)

Harry N. Zarin, President
American Association of University Professors Montgomery College Chapter Operating  Budget Testimony

Wednesday April 10, 2019

Good evening. My name is Harry Zarin, and I have been a counselor/professor at the Germantown Campus of Montgomery College for almost 26 years. I am here today in my role as the President of the full-time faculty union, the AAUP.

If I were asked to pick one word to describe the importance of my work and the work of the faculty at Montgomery College, the word I would pick is impact. As a faculty, we have a very positive impact and help to change the lives of thousands of students on a daily basis. The impact occurs both inside and outside of the classroom. The outside impact occurs in our learning centers, our offices, in training sessions, and at meetings with groups of current and prospective students. We provide our students with endless hours of counseling and advising in order to assist them in dealing with issues in life that impact their ability learn. We help them chose a major, help them plan their classes, help them learn how to study and to manage their time. We guide them towards becoming independent, confident, and ambitious people. Inside the classroom we must be creative, keep up-to-date with technology, be aware of the latest pedagogy, and create courses that don’t require text books in order to keep the costs down for our students.

As a community, we made a positive impact and changed the lives of Patrice, Heather, Rhiley, and Joanna.

Patrice came to MC as a high school dropout as part of our Gateway Program, and she had few defined hopes and dreams. As a single mother, she needed additional counseling and advising to help her learn how to manage her student life and her life as a mother. Through the combined efforts of a caring faculty, Patrice received the support she needed to achieve her eventual goal of becoming a nurse. She graduated from our nursing program in December 2018, passed her nursing boards in February, and will begin the RN to BSN program at the University of Maryland at the USG campus. We surrounded her with support both inside and outside the classroom:

Heather  arrived at MC with some obvious physical challenges,  and we needed a team of people   to help ensure that MC was accessible both inside and outside the classroom. All of our learning centers, the  library, bookstore, cafeteria, our private offices, etc. had to  be accessible. We   taught Heather how to  be a confident  student who learned how to  advocate  for  herself. Thanks   to our dedicated faculty, and the Disability Support Services staff, Heather had a very positive experience at MC, graduated with her BSW from UMBC at  the  USG campus, and  subsequently graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore at the USG campus with her MSW. Heather has been employed at MC as a part-time faculty counselor for eight years. She is now part of the community at MC, and she is making a positive impact on the lives of our students on a daily basis.

Riley came to Montgomery College as a student in transition with the usual doubts and confidence issues that many of our new students have. Through his hard work and dedication and a group of faculty who have been supportive and encouraging, we challenged him to be his intellectual best.  Rhiley will soon achieve his goal of becoming a college graduate, and in the fall will begin working towards receiving his Bachelor’s Degree at the USG campus of UMBC.

It took a community of faculty and staff to help Joanna, who was home schooled, achieve her goal of becoming a teacher. Joanna is legally blind, and we spent many hours together trying to figure out what assistive technology she needed in order to help her become a successful college student. We had to find tools to make the relatively invisible, visible. Our Disability Support Services faculty and staff constantly communicated with her faculty, the learning center staff, and most importantly with Joanna so that we could provide her with whatever was needed to help her be successful. Joanna not only graduated from Montgomery College but also subsequently graduated from Towson at USG with an education degree, and she has been employed at Weller Road Elementary School for the last 4 years.

These students are where they are today partially because of the proper guidance, creative instruction, counseling, encouragement, and training they received from our faculty. All of these students have learned how to be a better student. They should be very proud of themselves.

Now we need your assistance to help Montgomery College continue to be in a position to recruit, retain, train, and re-train quality full-time faculty. We need the financial support of the County so that the College can meet its contractual obligation to fund our bare bones negotiated increase in salary. Recognizing that the county and state budgets are tight, we have agreed to a general wage increase that is below the federal standard, no increase in our overload pay, and no increment. We ask for your support of the budget request so that we can continue to hire and keep the faculty who are making such a positive impact on the lives of thousands of students on a daily basis.

I would like to add that each·of the students I mentioned this evening have written an impact statement, and their statements are attached to  my testimony.

Thank you

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: 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: 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.

AAUP Update: Testimony to County Council (April 2018)

Harry N. Zarin, President
American Association of University Professors
Montgomery College Chapter
Operating Budget Testimony

April 11, 2018

Members of the County Council:

My name is Harry Zarin.  I am a Professor and Counselor at the Germantown Campus of Montgomery College.  I am here today in my role as the President of the Montgomery College Chapter of the American Association of University Professors.  I am here to ask that you fully support and fund the College’s proposed operating budget, which includes funding for compensation increases for our valued full-time faculty.

Community colleges are the entry point to a higher education for a multitude of students who for a variety of reasons, are not able to or choose not to attend a 4-year university.  Our annual entering class includes a very diverse population of students:  minority students, students with disabilities, international students from over 150 countries, and students at all learning levels, whether they be developmental learners or honors students.

The full-time faculty at Montgomery College are privileged to help shape and change the lives of these students and this is a privilege that we take very seriously.  We are a creative and accomplished group of faculty members, a faculty who have earned advanced degrees, published papers, presented at national conferences, and some who have written books.  We must remain current in our field while at the same time must design new and innovative ways of teaching courses. We spend countless hours with individual students and groups of students outside of the classroom. We need to do this because every day we work with students with varying learning styles and some with learning difficulties. As you can imagine, we also have to grade a seemingly endless stack of papers, quizzes, and tests.

Faculty are also deeply involved outside of the classroom.  Among other initiatives, we are creating and expanding our dual enrollment partnerships with MCPS. We have increased the number of distance learning opportunities for our students, and are developing OER courses – courses that do not require students to purchase a textbook – in order to help reduce educational expenses for our students.  Faculty also redesigned our general education and general studies programs. We have worked with our Transfer Articulation Office to help create more transfer partnerships with our local 4-year universities.  These partnerships help to ensure that our students will be better able to transfer seamlessly upon completion of their studies at Montgomery College.

Faculty are constantly challenged to grow, to expand our programs to meet the needs of our students, to design and develop new and challenging programs and learning opportunities for ourselves and our students. We need your continued support to enable us to continue to prepare our students to move on in their education and their careers. We have earned and deserve the increases in compensation that we negotiated in good faith.  We need your support to enable the Administration to meet and honor its contractual obligations.

On behalf of the full-time faculty, I am asking the Council to continue their investment in excellence, affordability, and training in higher education by fully funding the College’s FY’19 budget request.

We thank you for your past support and your anticipated continued support.

Thank you.

AAUP Response to Feb. 21 College Memo

Colleagues:

By now all of you have had an opportunity to read today’s memo that was sent by Mr. Robert Roop, Chief Human Resources Officer, “updating” you on negotiations. If you have been attending the faculty meetings we hold at the beginning of each semester and last spring’s closing meeting, you are well aware that the Chapter’s perspective on the facts with regards to negotiations and the grievance are substantially different from that which Mr. Roop expressed in his memorandum (see below).  I wanted let all of you know that, on behalf of the Chapter, I will be sending you a detailed update with our perspective on negotiations, the status of the grievance, where we are with regards to moving the grievance to arbitration, and several other topics within the next few days.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

Harry Zarin, Counselor/President

AAUP

 


 

To: Montgomery College Community
From: Mr. Robert G. Roop, Chief Human Resources Officer
Subject: Update on Negotiations with American Association of University Professors
Date: February 21, 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. All of our faculty and staff are vital to our student mission, so successfully completing these negotiations and finding mutually acceptable solutions are among our highest priorities.

The College and AAUP have worked collaboratively since April 2017 to resolve a disagreement regarding the contracted full-time faculty compensation increase for FY18. Due to 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 and faculty representatives.  As a result, the College cannot afford 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 it is unable to meet this funding gap through tuition increases because of the severe impact it would have on affordability.

Financial exigency provisions in the AAUP collective bargaining agreement provide a framework for resolving this situation; however, the College and AAUP negotiators have been unable to agree on a solution. Further, until an agreement is reached, the College cannot implement any pay raise for AAUP faculty.  The College offered AAUP a 3.0 percent salary increase for FY18, and this offer remains valid. To date, AAUP negotiators have declined to accept this offer.

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. The College will respond to the lawsuit as per legal requirements; however, it is our goal to continue to collaborate with AAUP to reach an agreement.

The College remains steadfast in its commitment to reaching a mutually agreeable compromise that recognizes our fiscal constraints, protects affordability, and provides equitable 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 commitment to Montgomery College and our students.

AAUP Update: Fall 2017

Colleagues:

As the Thanksgiving Holiday rapidly approaches I wanted to give all of you an update on this years negotiations, the grievance we filed in September and several important reminders.

  1. The Employee Engagement Survey-For the past few weeks we have all received e-mails about the importance of completing the Employee Engagement Survey.  On behalf of the Executive Committee, I want to encourage all of you to complete the survey as soon as you can.  This is the time for each of us to provide the Administration with our opinion on a variety of topics covered in the survey.  Completing the survey only takes about 15 minutes, the results are confidential, and the results will be published in the form of a report in the coming months.  The Chapter has membership on the Employee Engagement Advisory Committee and we have a voice in helping to recommend actions the Administration can take based on the results of the survey.  Please take some time to complete the survey.
  2. The Food Pantries-This is the time of year when the food pantries on each campus need to be filled so that our most needy students can benefit from our collective generosity.  When you come into the office next week try to remember to bring a few items for the pantry on your campus.  I know our students will appreciate you efforts.
  3. Negotiations-The salary, EAP, and overload ESH provisions of our current contract  expire at the end of this academic year.  Negotiations for next year’s salary, EAP, and overload dollar amounts began this week.  These negotiations will continue on a regular basis until an agreement has been reached.  As with past negotiations, all discussions held at the table are confidential.  Once an agreement has been reached, a joint statement Labor/Management statement will be released.  I will try to keep you all posted on the progress our Negotiating Team is making without violating the confidentiality of the negotiations.  We all owe a debt of thanks to our Negotiating Team-Sharon Piper our Chief Negotiator, Tammy Peery, Rick Penn, Tito Baca, and Michael Gurevitz.
  4. The grievance-Last month I provided all of you with a detailed update on the status of our raises for this year and the grievance we filed against the College.  The steps in the grievance process are outlined in our Collective Bargaining Agreement. I filed the grievance in September and shortly after that step 1 of the grievance process was completed.  We are now in step 2 of the grievance process and I anticipate that we will be moving to step 3 in the process right after the Thanksgiving holidays.  I encourage each of you to review the steps in the grievance process.  As I mentioned in my previous update, until such time as the grievance is resolved, no wage adjustments will be made to salaries of the full-time faculty.  We believe the merits of this grievance are so important that the membership voted to continue the grievance through to arbitration and we on the Executive Committee are prepared to do follow the direction of our membership.  I will keep all of you posted on the progress of the grievance and the status of the arbitration, once that process starts.
  5. Counselors Sick Leave Issue-This is an issue that has been on-going for almost a year-and-a-half.  We have been working with members of the Administration to resolve a shortage of earned sick leave hours that should have been granted to counselors who worked over the summer months.  This shortage, for some counselors, dates back to 1999.  Through our cooperative efforts with members of the HRSTM staff, the issue was partially resolved for a number of counselors.  We are now working with the HRSTM staff to completely resolve this issue.  After the Thanksgiving break I will be sending an e-mail to all current and former full-time counselors asking them to provide me with some information.  I will collate that information and work with the HRSTM staff to resolve the issue over the summer months.

Thank you for taking the time to read this brief update.  On behalf of the entire AAUP Executive Committee I want to with all of you a pleasant Thanksgiving Holiday.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Z.

Harry N. Zarin, Counselor
President AAUP

AAUP Update: Contract Negotiations

Colleagues:

Recently, you should have received an update from Bob Roop, Chief Human Resources Officer, regarding the status of contract negotiations with the AAUP.  I am writing this memo in response to that document in order to provide each of you the Chapter Executive Committee’s perspective on where we stand with regards to these negotiations and other important issues related to our contract.

Before I begin, let me say that this may appear to be a very complicated situation; especially given Bob Roop’s depiction of the origins of the current situation where Faculty are deprived of our salary increases previously agreed upon by the College, and his choice of words. In fact, I think it can be stated fairly simply- the College has violated the legally binding Agreement it has with the Chapter.

I am going to attempt to summarize the situation we are dealing with and encourage all of you to attend any full-time faculty meeting we hold in the near future.  We have held three full-time faculty meetings regarding the situation we are facing.  Last spring, we held an off-campus full-time faculty meeting, subsequent to that meeting we held our traditional full-time faculty meeting in May and provided those in attendance with additional information. In August, during Professional Week, we gave a very thorough update to the faculty in attendance at our opening meeting.  At that meeting a vote was taken on a motion made by one of our members to support the Executive Committee’s decision to take this issue to arbitration, if we deemed that necessary.

It is true, as Mr. Roop stated, that the College did begin discussions with Chapter leadership about its concerns related to the County’s financial projections for the upcoming fiscal year, FY’18. As President of the Chapter I attended a meeting with several of the Senior Vice Presidents where these concerns were expressed.   Basically, they provided me with information from the County which stated that they believed this was, in my words, going to be a difficult fiscal year and that there may be a need to reduce funding in the FY’18 operating budget.  The County also provided a document which gave the College guidelines to use when creating it’s FY18 budget.  One such guideline stood out to me and it reads as follows, “Do not include staff furloughs or any other reductions to existing pay and benefit levels that are subject to collective bargaining.”  Consistent with the governing State law and prior experience, the County, in essence, said tell us what you really need based on your collective bargaining agreements. It is very important to note that at the time the College created and submitted its FY18 budget to the County Executive and the County Council, the AAUP Collective Bargaining Agreement, [“CBA”-a legally binding document] was the only one in place at the College that committed the College to specific salary increases for covered members for the current Academic Year.  AFSCME and SEIU were in negotiations with Management at the time the budget was submitted.  The only pertinent legal obligation the College had with its unions at that time was an obligation to request and obtain funding from the College [and potentially other sources], to meet the fiscal requirements necessary to pay the salary increases as provided for in our CBA and to then pay us according to our CBA if sufficient funding was received.

We all received a copy of the February 6, 2017, memorandum from Dr. Pollard to the County Executive and the President of the County Council.  In that memorandum, she stated that the College was requesting $7.4 million more than we had previously received in order to fund compensation and benefit increases.  The AAUP Executive Committee’s determination, at this point, is that the College had asked for sufficient money to fully fund our CBA at least with respect to the agreed-upon increases for the current Academic Year.  As you will likely recall, the College had previously negotiated and entered into the binding CBA with the Chapter which provides that we would receive a 2.75% general wage adjustment and a 3.5% increment.

Subsequently, on March 1, 2017, we all received a memorandum from Dr. Janet Wormack, Senior VP for Administrative and Fiscal Services regarding the FY 18 budget.  In that memorandum she stated, “In fact, our only request to the county for increases this year is for College employee compensation and benefits, totaling $7.4 million. Consistent with last year’s decisions by the county, this is a 4.5% salary increase for every eligible employee: one percent cost of living allowance (general wage adjustment) and 3.5 percent in merit increase (increment)…”  Upon reading this memo it became obvious to the AAUP Executive Committee that the College had no intention to honor the terms and conditions of our CBA.

On March 15, 2017, Dr. Pollard notified the College community of the initial recommendation from the County Executive to only provide the College with $2 million in additional County funding.  Shortly after that memo was sent we were notified by one of the College’s attorneys that the College was invoking Section 8.5 of our CBA.  This is the Section that deals with what should be done if the College doesn’t receive sufficient money to fully fund its projection of what is required for it to comply with our CBA and meet its financial obligations to you as a Faculty member.

Thereafter, on May 18, 2017, we received notification from Dr. Pollard that the Montgomery County Council voted to provide the College with $5.2 million in new money for the FY18.  The College continued to insist that they didn’t have sufficient money to fully fund the raises it is required to pay as required by our CBA and subsequently offered us a 1% general wage adjustment and a 2% increment.

This necessarily raises the question and you all may be wondering “how much money did the College need in order to fully fund the raises that were previously negotiated and agreed upon in our CBA?”.  The answer is $2.73 million.  If the College received $5.2 million and they only needed $2.73 million, why can’t they fund our previously agreed upon raises?  Remember, the only CBA in place at the time the budget request was submitted to the County Council and the County Executive was the AAUP CBA.  At the time the County Council voted to provide the College with $5.2 million our CBA, with its agreed-upon salary increases, was the only CBA in place and to which the College was legally bound with regard to salary increases for the current Academic Year.  As I noted above, the College was still in negotiations with AFSCME and SEIU.

We initially filed a grievance against the College because it appeared that the Administration did not ask for enough money to fund our contract.  We learned that they did request sufficient revenue from the County and we have rescinded that grievance.  Several weeks ago we subsequently filed a grievance against the College because it failed to pay us according to the terms and conditions as stated in our previously negotiated and agreed-upon CBA.  To put it simply, they asked for enough money and received enough money but intentionally decided not to do use it to pay our salaries as provided for in the CBA.  We believe they invoked Section 8.5 improperly.

The steps both Management and the Chapter must follow when a grievance is filed are stated in the CBA.  I encourage each of you to please read this document which can be found in the Chapter Documents sections of the Chapter’s webpage, mcaaup.org.

Until such time as this grievance is resolved no wage adjustments will be made to the full-time faculty but it is our understanding and expectation that all other aspects of the Agreement will remain in place.  I will provide you with additional updates in the near future.

On behalf of the Chapter,

Harry Zarin, President AAUP