We write to inform you that recent actions by Goddard’s top leadership constitute both an extremely serious breach of good faith labor negotiations and a glaring violation of the trust that ought to obtain between upper management and all community members.
At a community meeting on Friday, June 14, the Administration presented its fiscal year 2014 budget forecast of a $1.5 million deficit, as well as its proposed solutions, which include significant financial concessions by the faculty and staff. The Administration’s financial demands, which were presented to the GCFU and GCSU bargaining committees earlier in the week, include a suspension of the retirement match, elimination of severance pay, a pay cut of 5% for those making $30,000 to $49,999 based on full-time equivalent (FTE) annualized salary, a pay cut of 8% for those making $50,000 or above based on FTE annualized salary, and a cap on faculty travel expenses.
The Administration’s presentation to the community characterized negotiations with the faculty and staff unions as an “obstacle” to its implementation of its “strategic choices” and included a statement of the administration’s intent to unilaterally impose its financial demands on August 1 (i.e. declare an impasse) if an agreement has not been reached with both unions by that date.
The Administration has a legal duty to negotiate in good faith with the staff and faculty unions, which means among other things that it is legally prohibited from imposing its demands unless and until good faith bargaining has been exhausted. Good faith bargaining is a process that depends equally on both parties’ input and it is outrageous to suggest that either party can know when and where that process will end up before giving it a chance to unfold. The Administration has violated federal labor law and committed an unfair labor practice by communicating to our members its intent to withdraw from good faith negotiations on an arbitrary date regardless of where the bargaining process actually stands.
The members of the GCFU and GCSU are determined to see Goddard survive and thrive. Many of us have already devoted big chunks of our working lives to the labor of love that a job here represents, and we all care deeply about the college’s future. We have made clear to the Administration that we are fully prepared to deal responsibly and expeditiously with Goddard’s financial challenges, but we have the legal right and obligation to independently assess the college’s financial condition and to develop proposals that are appropriate and fair to our members. To that end, working with a financial expert from the UAW, we have submitted detailed financial information requests and are awaiting the Administration’s responses.
We have every confidence that a respectful negotiation process can produce labor agreements that will be good for everyone. In the meantime, it is both illegal and counterproductive for the Administration to set arbitrary deadlines or to threaten impasse. If the threats are implemented, we will take appropriate legal action.
In this difficult moment, we draw comfort from the fellowship, love of justice, and habits of courageous thought and action that characterize our community at its best. We are greatly strengthened by the solidarity between our two unions, and will keep building that alliance in the coming days.
The Goddard College Faculty Union Bargaining Committee
The Goddard College Staff Union Bargaining Committee