Progress continues in CFA contract negotiations
Negotiations between the college administration and the Chemeketa Faculty Association (CFA) are moving forward as both sides work towards an agreement on a new contract.
The contract between the two sides expires every three years and must be renegotiated. This provides an opportunity not only to make changes to issues important to either side, but also to update articles that may have become outdated.
“Like technology,” Justus Ballard, the president of the CFA, said. “There are lots of holdovers from 80s and 90s that we’re weeding out of the contract to make it more applicable to current times.”
The process to make changes to an article in the contract consists of one side opening it up for negotiation by submitting a proposal. Then the other side has an opportunity to agree to that proposal, or to submit a counter-proposal. However, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Proposals can only be brought forward during negotiation sessions, which only take place once a week.
According to Don Brase, the Dean of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, thirty-three different articles have been opened up for negotiations since the current round started this past January.
“There were only three of the almost forty articles that weren’t opened,” Brase said. “On some of these, we’ve only had one proposal and one counter-proposal, but on others we’ve had six or seven.”
While the negotiations have been ongoing for ten months, this is not necessarily uncommon. Both Brase and Ballard can remember bargaining sessions in the past that went well past the July 1 contract expiration date.
“One dragged on for almost 14 months… that was a crazy one,” Ballard said.
In Brase’s experience, the current round of negotiations are not out of the ordinary either.
“It seems similar to almost every other time where the goal is to have it done by June, because that’s when it expires,” Brase said. “And then we usually go into the fall and it’s completed around then.”
According to administration officials, both sides have opened a similar amount of articles for negotiation. In the past, the non-economic articles have been settled first in order to help clear the path for economic issues such as salary, benefits, and workload. The economic articles tend to take longer to agree upon due to the importance of the articles to both the bottom line of the college and the individual faculty members. That has been the case this year as well.
With tentative agreements in place for most of the articles, both sides have now focused their attention on the economic articles. The CFA presented their economic proposal in June before the summer break.
On Nov. 14, the College revealed their economic counter-proposal. The session lasted just over an hour.
Traci Hodgson, who is the vice president of the CFA and a member of the bargaining team, said after the meeting that she felt optimistic.
“I think we definitely moved forward today,” Hodgson said. “We’ll work as hard as we can.”
Brase said that he, too, is feeling optimistic about the course of the negotiations.
“I feel both sides have been working hard on coming to agreements,” Brase said. “In negotiations, each side must make compromises in order to move forward, and both sides have. There is still work ahead of us, but based on the hard work already done, I am optimistic we will reach agreement on the contract.”