It seems that history only counts sometimes.
When the faculty bring up problems with the selection of eCompanion and other tech initiatives, or question recent hires, or bring up failed programs, such as the Japan and China agreements, we are told: “that’s in the past. We need to be progressive. We need to look forward.”
When the administration is questioned about the contract, as happened at Wednesday’s faculty meeting, we hear “we offered you a contract four years ago. You didn’t take it.”
See the problem here?
When we have a concern that we’d like to be examined – and may actually prevent future problems — we’re told it’s in the past.
When the administration has a concern from the past, it’s kept alive and used as a cudgel.
We don’t want cudgels: we want a fair contract.
But since the college wants to revisit the past, okay, lets. What did they learn from it? Some history and context helps here. The college’s first proposal was rejected by faculty vote, primarily due to detrimental changes in language and lack of retroactive pay (September 2011).
Instead of coming back with a proposal we would more likely accept, they decided to punish us with a contract designed expressly to fail. This new, more draconian, proposal was filled with extreme work changes, very low raises, and again, no retroactive pay. Not including retroactive pay amounts to wage theft. It sets an atmosphere of zero sum gamesmanship that poisons the negotiation process. In effect, it says, “take our initial offer: if you don’t you will be penalized.” This, of course, is not bargaining in good faith; it’s more akin to what you get at a car dealership: “we can only offer you this price today . . . . .” Such an approach will not engender more positive employee relationships on campus.
Yet even that did not stop the resolve and professionalism of the union. Since 2011 we discussed an unworkable contract in 39 meetings which usually ran from 2-3 hours (Chronology of Negotiations, 2011-2014). The result? In the summer of 2014, when the college had to change their negotiation team because of retirements, they want to start all over again.
We’re ready to swallow hard and look past the attacks (both informally and formally in disciplinary proceedings), the years of discouragement at our treatment, the “you’re just a content provider” mentality that seems to pervade attitudes toward faculty, and move forward.
Unfortunately, they seem stuck in the past.