Rock Valley College Faculty Association addresses ongoing contract dispute
Editor’s note: The following release was issued Jan. 5 by Linden Griesbach, chairman of the Rock Valley College (RVC) Faculty Negotiating Committee. RVC instructors have been without a contract since July as they continue to work toward an agreement with the RVC Board of Trustees.
This release explains the RVC Faculty Association position in regard to ongoing negotiations with the Board.
1. Board Impasse
On Dec. 21, the RVC Board of Trustees met and by a vote of 4-3 declared that negotiations had reached Impasse. The Faculty Association disagrees with that assessment in that the offer we presented to the Board on Dec. 20 included movement in their direction. In spite of the declaration of Impasse, the Board has publicly stated that they wish to continue bargaining. The Faculty Association is interested in continuing to bargain, and we invite the Board representative to contact our IFT representative to schedule meeting times.
2. Healthcare Contributions
Both sides during these negotiations have sought to address recent sharp increases in healthcare costs. In the expired RVC contract, faculty contributed a percentage of salary toward healthcare coverage. This percentage of salary increased each year of the expired contract. The percentage of salary structure has the benefit of relieving younger families (who are lower on the pay scale) from some of the financial burden of healthcare coverage. However, with the dramatic increases in healthcare costs over the past few years, RVC’s contribution structure has not kept pace. The Faculty Association has proposed significantly increased faculty healthcare contributions.
The latest proposal from the Board (released publicly Jan. 4) includes healthcare contributions based on percentage of premium. While the Faculty Association does not disagree with this concept in principle, we object to the abrupt transition from the current structure to the new structure. An abrupt transition from the current structure to a flat percentage structure results in young families seeing a significant and unnecessary net decrease in take-home pay — perhaps for several years.
For example, a faculty member currently making $43,265 pays 3.75 percent of salary, or $1,622 for family coverage. Based on the Board’s proposal, that faculty member would see their annual take-home pay cut by over $2,200 during the four years of the contract. That number is based on the following (annualized) amounts:
Current year — Base pay of $43,265, health care contribution of $1,622, net take-home of $41,643;
First year of proposal — Base pay of $45,019, health care contribution of $4,940, net take-home of $40,079;
Second year of proposal — Base pay of $45,019, health care contribution of $5,484, net take-home of $39,535;
Third year of proposal — Base pay of $46,755, health care contribution of $7,102, net take-home of $39,653; and
Fourth year of proposal — Base pay of $48,428, health care contribution of $9,009, net take-home of $39,419.
Many faculty members see losses similar to those described above.
It has been the position of the Faculty Association that a gradual transition to a new contribution structure is possible at reasonable cost and does not require any faculty member to take a pay cut. However, the Board has firmly rejected all such proposals, insisting on a flat percentage structure, regardless of its impact on young families.
3. Salary Increases
The Board’s proposal includes increases in base pay in three of the four contract years.
At first glance, this appears to be a generous offer, based on the present economic downturn. However, the proposal also includes take-backs of extra pay for extra work that some faculty members perform. These are not explicitly highlighted in the proposal. Rather, they result from the removal of existing contract language.
The net effect is that most of the salary increases in the proposal are funded by greatly increased heath care contributions and other take-backs. Essentially, the Board’s proposal takes money from some faculty members to give to others. On average, faculty members will see a very slight increase in pay. Many will see a net pay decrease as they are funding the “raises” of others.
The Faculty Association seeks a salary structure that is fair to all of our members.
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