November 20, 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.

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