July 20, 2017

AAUP Update: Testimony to MC Board of Trustees

Testimony by Professor Harry N. Zarin
President, Montgomery College Chapter of the American
Association of University Professors (AAUP)
To the Montgomery College Board of Trustees

June 19, 2017

Members of the Board of Trustees:

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with all of you this evening.  I am here at the unanimous request of the Montgomery College Full Time Faculty, who passed a motion at our May meeting requesting I speak to you about the failed process Management used to create the College’s FY’18 operating budget.

By now you have heard that the Full-Time Faculty have not signed any agreement regarding reductions in duly-negotiated wage increases for the coming fiscal year, and that the Chapter filed a grievance against the College. The Chapter filed the grievance, with the full support of the full-time faculty, after it became clear that the Administration failed to ask for sufficient monies from the County to fully fund the increases we previously negotiated, in good faith, and were incorporated as part of our collective bargaining agreement.  Our enabling legislation authorizes the College’s full-time bargaining unit faculty to select an exclusive negotiating representative, and it requires the College to bargain with said representative in good faith.  It also provides that if an agreement is reached, the College must request the funds necessary to implement the Agreement.  With regards to the FY’18 operating budget, this did not happen.  In essence, the College did not ask for funds sufficient to cover the increases that had been agreed upon and, when it heard the College might not get enough money to fund our increases, it invoked Section 8.5, the financial exigency provision in our Agreement.

It appears to us that Management’s attempt to appease the County during our period of declining enrollments has failed.  Earlier this year, Management publicly stated that it only requested enough funds to allow for salary increases in the coming fiscal year that would be equal to increases in the current fiscal year. That statement clearly demonstrates Management’s failure to request enough money to fund the raises previously agreed upon for the members of the AAUP Chapter.

We recognize that the County is under a significant financial strain and that some tough choices must be made, but we also know, from a memo written by a County administrator to County-funded agencies, that the County expected operating budget requests to, “not include staff furloughs or any other reductions of existing pay and benefit levels that are subject to collective bargaining.” The County Executive and the County Council expected operating budget requests to contain full funding for contracts, presumably so that the County could see and know the full fiscal operating picture before making decisions.  Process and procedures must be followed when working with a labor organization that represents a collective bargaining unit like the Chapter, and it is clear that the process the Management followed was part of the problem.

In the 17 years that I have been actively involved with the Chapter we have only testified in front of this Board on one other occasion, and I can count on one hand the number of grievances we have filed.  Recently we have noticed an increase in the instances where individuals in the Administration have failed to follow the terms and conditions of the Agreement.  Multiple grievances have been the result. Whether this is due to changes in personnel, or for other reasons, appropriate procedures required to follow the terms and conditions of our Agreement are not being followed.

Bargaining unit faculty members are required to follow the terms and conditions of our Agreement which was ratified in this room just two years ago.  We hold our office hours, teach our classes, take on leadership roles, serve on committees, advocate for the College when asked and participate in professional development programs on a regular basis. We expect Management to have the same respect for and obligations regarding the executed Agreement as we do.

Thank you.

 

 

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