MEA faculty union rejects NMC contract proposal

Faculty union demands unsustainable annual salary increases

TRAVERSE CITY — The Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) faculty union, in collaboration with the Michigan Education Association (MEA) announced today its rejection of the college’s most recent comprehensive contract proposal, presented to the union on October 7, 2016. Members of the faculty union objected to proposed salary increases and the faculty evaluation process.

The faculty union’s first economic proposal was submitted to the negotiating team in November 2015 and sought annual raises of over 9 percent for each of the nine (9) month contract years. This amounted to a more than 27 percent salary increase over three years. The union’s most recent proposal presented in July 2016 calls for annual increases ranging between 6.2 and 7.6 percent for each of the nine (9) month contract years, which amounts to more than a 22 percent salary increase over three years. For faculty at the top of the salary plan of $86,255, which is roughly one-half of the faculty, will see varying increases each year with a 9.8 percent increase over the life of the contract.

NMC’s offer seeks to align faculty salaries with the economic realities of the college’s operations by offering salary increases of 2.37 percent for each of the 12 month contract years. This amounts to a 7.2 percent increase over the length of the contract. As noted in the proposal, faculty undertaking additional responsibilities during the summer semester will receive additional compensation for that work. Faculty at the top of the salary plan of $86,255 will receive a .5 percent increase each year.

“We are disappointed the MEA rejected the contract proposal and the college remains committed to working toward a contract that is in the best interest of NMC faculty, students, and the community,” said Vicki Cook, NMC Vice President of Finance and Administration. “We value our faculty and staff and seek to compensate them fairly, which is why we agree that annual increases are important and faculty should be compensated for increased workloads. However, it would be irresponsible to agree to annual raises that put the college in a financially unstable position. We owe it to the students paying tuition and the taxpayers of this region to negotiate a contract that ensures that the college is able to offer the services that provide and support lifelong learning.”

The rejected proposal also included language outlining the current faculty evaluation process and faculty participation. This evaluation proposal details the minimum requirements for faculty to receive annual increases and is consistent with NMC’s existing staff evaluation practice.

Related to faculty participation on campus, in March 2016 NMC offered to immediately reinstate faculty reports at NMC Board of Trustees meetings. This offer maintains the standard campus-wide practice of providing materials and background for Board of Trustees meetings two weeks in advance which allows administrative staff time to prepare the materials so that Board members can review it before the meeting is held. Additionally, NMC faculty are encouraged to participate in a number of committees. Specifically regarding the Curriculum Committee, the group consists of 11 faculty members and five staff members. This committee makes recommendations to the president who then takes appropriate items to the Board. During his 16 years as president, President Nelson has never overruled a recommendation from this committee.

Since the faculty voted to unionize in March 2015, NMC has:

  • Presented numerous written proposals and counter proposals for the union’s consideration, the first on June 12, 2015; a comprehensive proposal and set of tentative agreements on August 29, 2016; and, most recently, a revised comprehensive proposal and set of tentative agreements on October 7, 2016.
  • Followed established negotiating practices, engaging in 17 collective bargaining sessions with union negotiators between May 15, 2015, and March 7, 2016.
  • Requested mediation through MERC on March 7, 2016.
  • Participated in eight sessions with MERC mediators between March 22 and September 29, 2016.
  • Petitioned MERC on August 8, 2016 for fact finding analysis to advance negotiations.
  • Reached at least 18 tentative agreements with the union.

Release date: October 21, 2016

For more information:

Diana Fairbanks
Executive Director of Public Relations, Marketing and Communications
dfairbanks@nmc.edu
(231) 995-1019

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