Highlights of 2015 Goddard College Faculty Union Tentative Agreement
Following a long and challenging bargaining process, the GCFU Bargaining Committee is pleased to announce a tentative agreement with the Goddard College Corporation (GCC). We began negotiating with the administration of President Barbara Vacarr early in 2013. Just a couple of months in, the administration announced we were in financial crisis and demanded draconian cuts (8% pay cuts, elimination of longevity increases, steep cuts to severance pay, elimination of our retirement match, and cuts to travel reimbursement). While refusing to address most of the concerns the Union brought to the table, the administration threatened to declare impasse and impose its demands, marking a historic low in labor-management relations at Goddard. At the beginning of 2014, under threat of impasse, we put the administration’s best and final offer to a vote, and with the support of many in the Goddard community, the faculty resoundingly rejected a bad offer.
With the arrival of President Bob Kenny, the atmosphere in negotiations improved markedly. While we fully appreciate the flexibility and good will on the part of the new administration that helped us reach this agreemeent, we are clear that the lion’s share of the credit for a successful outcome goes to the unity and courage of the faculty and our allies. Our tentative agreement does include some painful cuts in light of the continuing challenges facing the College, but these are far more modest than what the GCC initially sought. At the same time, we have won a number of very significant improvements to non-economic provisions of the contract. The members of the Bargaining Committee are proud of this agreement and we urge you to ratify it.
The following is a summary of the important changes to our previous contract under this tentative agreement. A complete list of proposals is available for members to read at the bottom of this post.
- 3 year contract with an expiration date of June 30, 2018.
- 18 month re-opener solely for negotiating improvement in faculty pay and/or benefits if the College’s financial condition allows.
- There is also a re-opener to allow for negotiations if there are changes stemming from the recommendations of the Faculty Revisioning Committee that we want to see implemented.
- 0% increases (may be modified pursuant to re-opener in January 2017).
- Longevity increases continue as per current contract.
- 18 month suspension of 403(b) match, in tandem with identical suspension for unionized and non-unionized staff; match will automatically restart after 18 months
- Severance Benefits:
- The Union agreed to a revised severance pay schedule based on years of employment which reduces the amount of severance pay for faculty members who have less than fifteen years of employment on a graduated basis. (We rejected much more radical cuts sought by the administration and a “two tier” system which would have provided much lower benefits for new employees).
- At the same time, this agreement eliminates GCC’s ability, under the existing contract, to terminate any faculty member at the end of an appointment for economic or programmatic reasons, without paying severance or following the provisions of the Retrenchment article. Because the GCC had not made use of this loophole in the past, its existence was not widely known, but it constituted a very serious gap in our job security protections, and its removal is one of the highlights of this agreement.
- We also won extended medical coverage for faculty through the severance period.
- New Severance Schedule:
|Service Years||# Weeks Pay
|# Weeks Less
Than Old Contract
This Article has been substantially modified and improved.
- Stated goal of revised article is “to ensure a fair and transparent process that supports the curricular, programmatic and diversity goals of GCC and affected programs.”
- Before faculty members are laid off, a joint committee of program faculty and administrators develops a “retrenchment plan” for the program identifying programmatic, curricular and diversity goals.
- Prior to retrenchment, GCC must consider alternatives to layoff, including voluntary layoffs, furloughs and reassignment.
- New language has been added to define furloughs.
- Volunteers for furlough and layoff may not be unreasonably denied.
- A definition of seniority has been added.
- Involuntary layoffs are done by inverse seniority within a program; seniority can be overridden if necessary to meet programmatic, curricular or diversity goals in the jointly developed program plan.
- The Union and Administration will jointly develop policies governing the return of former bargaining unit members to faculty from administrative positions.
Strengthens current article by adding explicit protection from “institutional censorship, discipline or reprisal when writing or speaking as a citizen” including when criticizing GCC.
Adds a new provision recognizing faculty intellectual property rights which is much stronger than the policy issued by the Board of Trustees two years ago.
This completely new provision protects faculty electronic records from being accessed by GCC except in certain “extraordinary circumstances” and requires faculty be notified in such circumstances (in most cases prior to the accessing of their electronic records).
- Expands union meeting time at residencies from 1 to 2 hours.
- New “SUCCESSORSHIP CLAUSE” requiring GCC to give the Union at least 90 days notice of any plans to sell, transfer or merge Goddard College or make any other change in its legal status or identity of GCC and to bargain over the effects of any planned transaction.
Creates a joint Labor-Management Task Force to review the College’s diversity initiatives and to make recommendations for “a comprehensive plan for the ongoing recruitment and retention of faculty from under-represented groups.”
This article was substantially revised to clarify and streamline procedures. Changes include (but are not limited to):
- Eliminates comprehensive evaluations.
- Makes first year appointment “probationary.”
- Provides for two three-year appointments after a faculty member has completed two one- year appointments.
- Gives greater emphasis to the role of peer reviewers.
- Gives faculty a right to one semester’s notice of decision not to reappoint.
- Eliminates some subjective evaluation criteria.
- Prohibits consideration of information that is not disclosed to faculty member.
- Gives the faculty member the right to decide if any “information of a confidential personal nature” which is considered will or will not be disclosed to peer reviewers.
- Eliminates current ability of GCC to deny re-appointment based on anything other than performance after the first multi-year appointment.
- Requires “just cause” to deny re-appointment after the first two multi-year appointments.
- Requires GCC to show that faculty on multi-year appointments were given notice and an opportunity to correct any deficiencies before they can be denied reappointment based on performance.
- Creates a process for the Union and GCC to establish a set of fair and consistent rules concerning benefit eligibility for Paid By Task faculty with non-advising appointments that are at least 50% salaried.
- PBT faculty who turn down a salaried appointment will no longer have to wait until their next appointment term for another chance at a salaried position. Salaried positions will be offered to faculty in order of seniority every year when available.
Gives 100% faculty the same amount of paid vacation as other GCC employees (between four and six weeks per year).
Emergency Residency Leave
New provision gives faculty members the right to take a partial or full leave from a residency in the event of personal or family illness or emergency without losing their advising load or pay for the semester.
Late Changes in Residency Scheduling
Requires GCC to accommodate affected faculty if GCC makes a change in a residency schedule with less than one year’s notice.
2014-12-03 TA Article # Posting of Contract
2014-12-03 TA Article # Intellectual Property
2014-12-03 TA Article X Personnel Files
2014-12-03 TA Article VI Union Rights
2014-12-03 TA Article IX Grievance and Arbitration
2014-12-03 TA Article IV Meet and Discuss
2014-12-03 TA Article II Definitions
2014-12-12 TA Side Letter Faculty Diversity
2014-12-12 TA Article VIII Non-Discrimination
2014-12-12 TA Article VII Academic Freedom
2014-12-12 TA Article # Electronic Privacy
2015-06-19 TA Article XV Retrenchment
2015-06-19 TA Memorandum of Agreement
2015-06-19 TA Article I Recognition
2015-06-19 TA Article XI Faculty Evaluations
2015-06-19 TA Article XII Faculty Appointment & Reappointment
2015-06-19 TA Article XVI Leaves of Absence
2015-06-19 TA Successorship
2015-06-19 TA Workload