Board Report – April 27, 2016

Good afternoon, Board of Trustees!

We at the Association, and maybe the District, too, are trying to get used to the slow pace of Interest Based Bargaining. We hope the long discussions are worth the wait.

In fact, the Association has been waiting on pins and needles to find out what will happen to our salaries. We’ve anticipated a fair and just raise now for quite a while.

  • We haven’t had a easily-gotten raise since 2007/8 school year when the District without question followed our Article 16.8 salary formula.
  • We waited through the hard times, even giving up 2.02% of our salary two years in a row to get MPC through those hard times.
  • We then received one year of that back and a slight increase (1.08%) retroactive to 2012.
  • But that slight increase didn’t come easily, as it should have. As a reminder, the Association spent last year fighting for that small increase, with the District spending who knows how much on legal fees to fight us – for it only to be resolved in one hour with a mediator agreeing to what we said was due in the very first place!
  • We’ve watched State budget funding increase our base allocation, knowing full well that our salary formula should be implemented this time around – finally! – and we’d get a raise.
  • But now we must wait further as the District hints of it being nonimplementable.
  • We’ve watched other districts give their employees substantial raises, such as our neighbor CSUMB, as well as raises to our sister colleges throughout the State.
  • In fact, when we looked at what kind of raise it would take us to get to median in community colleges last year, our figure was that it would take a 7% raise.
  • Now, as other colleges get raises, we fall further behind. It will now take an 8% raise.
  • In fact, a more reasonable figure would be to get us up to the 25% percentile in the State. Right now we are in the bottom 25% – next to colleges like Feather River and Lassen College.
  • To get to the 25%, that would take a 13.6% raise.
  • To make it to the top of the CCC salary spot would take a 45.6% raise.

So, we’ve been anticipating a fair and just raise for a while, and we deserve one.

As we listen to and discuss with the District team at the table, we are hoping that in our next bargaining session, the District team demonstrates its understanding of the unfair compensation that we have here at MPC. As I’ve mentioned in other reports, salary as a percentage of expenditures is low compared to other schools. That means we are underpaid.

This hurts not only employees but ultimately students. Why? For one, without fair pay, it becomes difficult to hire and difficult to keep people. I know of several instances, told to me in confidence, of people either not taking a position here or leaving from here due to low pay. Second, unfair wages make for an unhappy workforce. All people want to be paid at the norm, not below the norm. This isn’t a matter of greediness; it’s a matter of equity. A happy workforce at a college makes a motivated and team-playing workforce, something absolutely needed as we make big, and hopefully positive, changes to MPC, guided by CBT. And a motivated, innovative, risk-taking, team-playing workforce starts with a feeling that they are respected and appreciated, and fair pay is a start towards that. I want to say, too, that it’s not that MPC faculty don’t sacrifice. We do, and we have – but the low compensation has just become so untenable. It’s far too low. It’s hard to work as much as we do when we see our compensation becoming lower and lower in comparison to other colleges. And the reality is that this unfair pay hurts students tangentially.

This situation must be remedied with fair and just pay.

As long as I’ve been here, the District has made the argument that in order to get a fair and just wage, we need to fix the school’s inefficiencies (or whatever jargon words are popular at various times), but that argument would mean employees waiting forever. Instead, priority should go to giving employees a fair and just wage.

It is important to note this: Our MPCTA Finance committee has explained that the MPC budget has an issue with budgeting that lends itself to hurting pay – as our budgets are produced having “budgeting slack.” The committee writes: “Have you ever wondered why we always come in below budget? It is not because we are great at expense control. It is because we estimate expenditures at such high levels that we cannot possibly come in over budget. Our budget process is so slack that the budgeting process fails to act as a control document. If our budgeting process was more closely aligned to actual expectations, then we could see where we are overspending and where we are saving.”

In fact, the committee has told us, “Our most recent financial research as part of the negotiations process identifies over $800,000 in budget slack that overstates estimates over any practical historical interpretation of how much we should be spending.” See the image below:

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Our Finance Committee went through the last few years of budget actuals and looked at what was actually spent, and then compared to the budgeted amount. Notice some interpretations of “practical expectation” in the chart above include opinions, like this: Do we need to pay $14,000 for cell phones these days? But others are not opinions, such as the copier lease, which is a set amount, or the electricity, water, etc., which never goes nearly as high as budgeted. And then there is the institutional contingency….but isn’t that what our reserve is for?

So, to end this subject, we anticipate a raise; we’ve long anticipated a fair and just raise. It’s the right thing to do. We won’t bankrupt the school. There is money in our slack budget.

I do want to bring up one other matter which I hope the Board will look into. In January of 2015, the District told faculty that a determination had been made (noticed in a grievance) that faculty had been underpaid for years in overload pay due to the District asking for professional growth in order to move up in overload step. Everyone agreed that asking for professional growth evidence for full-time faculty was against contract. So…. It was a matter of figuring out the amount owed to people in back pay. More than a year later – We still have not gotten that back pay. Also, our new MPCTA Grievance Chair has had minimal responses to requests on this and other grievance matters. I know everyone is busy, but a fundamental right of an Association is responsiveness from a District. I think the Association has been more than patient waiting over a year on this matter, and I do want to remind the District again that timely responses to any requests should happen, not only under law but under basic etiquette.

In any case, I don’t want to end with a negative note because I do want to say that our last negotiations session went well. It was our best one yet. I hope our next one will be even better. I want to end with a note from our Finance Committee: The Committee “would like to commend Steve Crow for acknowledging that he is working on correcting the slack budgeting process, and the Committee hopes he gets the support and resources he will need to implement major improvements in budgeting. If CBT is providing Steve with such support and systems improvement, then maybe one day we will be able to actually get dependable financial information upon which we can negotiate.”

Thank you for your time!

Paola Gilbert
MPCTA President

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