Sixteen months and counting.
That’s how long the College of Southern Nevada faculty has been working with the administration to reach a collective bargaining agreement.
“I think that overall we have made some progress, but certainly there is a way to go in reference to our negotiations,” said Glynda White, chairwoman of the negotiating team for the Nevada Faculty Alliance at CSN. “We certainly feel we have presented some reasonable proposals, and we’re dedicated to getting a good contract for all parties involved.”
Bargaining commenced in November 2016, but the process actually began more than two years ago when the alliance collected faculty interest cards, similar to a petition-gathering process, to signal to the administration that faculty members wanted to hold a union vote. The vote came in March 2016, when a majority of the faculty voted in favor of the alliance serving as the collective bargaining agent, said Richard Hinckley, the CSN general counsel.
So far, the union and administration have agreed on 11 items, but 24 issues remain.
“They’re not as engaging as they should be to reaching an agreement on really critical issues for faculty, as well as the college,” White said.
Patty Charlton, the chief negotiator for the administration team, said the administration hoped to have an agreement by June, but that seems unlikely.
“We know that we have sticking points,” she said. “The salary items, we can move those forward pending appropriations and funding. Whatever we put into the collective bargaining agreement has to be able to be sustained.”
White is still hopeful that an agreement can be drafted by the end of the spring semester.
“We are all working toward that goal,” she said. “We have shown our willingness to compromise, and we have made some compromises along the way.”
Overload pay, which a faculty member earns when teaching more than 15 instructional units a semester, is one of the outstanding issues. The faculty alliance proposes raising the overload pay to $1,017 an hour. The current rate is $825 per instructional unit.
The creation of a sick leave bank, summer pay, equity studies and arbitration are other key issues that remain to be solved.
“We’re trying to make the college the best place it can be,” said Jennifer Nelson, a member of the faculty alliance bargaining committee. “And that’s not just for us; it’s for our students.”
Over the years, there have been conversations about unionizing at CSN, Nelson said, but they never went anywhere.
“Faculty felt as though they were being treated fairly,” she said.
However, dissatisfaction began to grow in 2013, she said, when the administration made “certain promises” that never materialized.
“A lot more people were interested this time,” she said. “The faculty have come together with a stronger and more collective voice and have expressed interest in making certain changes.”
The agreement would apply to full-time academic faculty members, librarians and counselors. Adjunct faculty members are not included in the process, per the policy of the state Board of Regents. The board must give the agreement final approval.
Nelson said it takes about 18 months, on average, to arrive at a first-time contract. The first agreement would be in place for three years.
Did you know?
The College of Southern Nevada is the third school in the state to attempt collective bargaining. Truckee Meadows Community College reached an agreement in 1996, and almost 20 years later, Western Nevada College achieved an agreement in 2014.