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Negotiations Update of High Importance. Please read!

Hello fellow faculty-

The PFF Negotiations team has been working every week since campus closed in March to continue negotiations and protect faculty working conditions. We finally have some substantive news to report based on negotiations that were finally completed this week. The TA’ed articles and signed MOU’s referred to below are attached to this email and will be available on the PFF website. It is a difficult time to be in negotiations- the financial crisis of our college and a global pandemic are a terrible combination. However, we have made some gains and some important choices.


ARTICLE 16- BENEFITS


We have been working on negotiating changes to our benefits plans since late last fall. Although this was the last thing we wanted to have to negotiate, Palomar’s financial crisis necessitated changes to health benefits in order to provide significant ongoing savings. Along with the other employee groups on campus, we agreed in March to follow the recommendations for plan changes from the Benefits subcommittee.

Since that time, we have been in ongoing and protracted negotiations with the District to finally TA (tentatively agree) on the changes to Article 16. The hold up was due to the District’s unwillingness to use any portion of savings to help improve health benefit conditions for our part-time colleagues. We presented over 6 proposals to the District, and were met for months with a refusal to increase the cap for part-time health care. We were unwilling to fold on this issue because we find it unacceptable that any of our members could find themselves kicked off of health coverage during a global pandemic. Finally, this week, we were able to come to an agreement with the District that increases the part-time health care cap to a level that, while still too low, should ensure that no part-time faculty member will lose health care this year.

The plan changes to health care affect EVERY ACTIVE employee receiving any health benefits. Every active employee will need to take action during open enrollment (which will start Monday 8/10 and run through Monday 8/31) to choose your health and dental care plans. HRS will be running numerous workshops throughout the rest of this month, including during plenary and will be distributing information and the benefits guide via the HRS website. It is important that you attend these workshops and pay attention to this information so that you can make informed choices about your health care.

We recognize that these changes are not ideal for most of us. However, while we would have loved to keep our full-time faculty benefit plan as it has been, we were not faced with much of a choice. Although we did have to agree to changes, we made sure that the choices available offer options for FT faculty- faculty have options that include keeping their same network of providers, plans that are no employee contribution, and more. We used the results of our surveys from this past winter as well as feedback received at listening sessions, meetings, and emails to help us in our work. We also want to remember that accepting the changes to benefits, combined with our colleagues' generosity in making known their retirement plans for Spring 2020, meant that there were no full-time layoffs and we were able to protect part-time benefits. This was not an easy or fun process. It was hard, stressful, and painful. We have agonized over these negotiations, and feel as though we came to an agreement that was as good as we could hope for during these challenging times.


APPENDIX H- COACHING STIPEND/RELEASE TIME


This is another area of prolonged (years) negotiations where we finally came to a resolution this week. We have been fighting on behalf of the coaching faculty to improve the equity of their compensation structures for years. We were optimistic that we were making progress towards change when we succeeded in moving the coaching matrix to its own appendix and agreed on defined levels of coaching positions. However, we ran into agonizing obstinance when trying to negotiate off-season compensation/release time and increased compensation. The District refused to negotiate, and maintained their same proposal of no changes over numerous rounds of counterproposals. Due to the financial situation and the changing realities of our 20/21 academic year due to COVID-19, we did not feel as though we could go to impasse over this Appendix. We were able to negotiate language that indicates that increases in compensation will be negotiated in future contracts, so although this particular fight feels very frustrating and cruel, we can look at that small gain as a win. PFF will not stop fighting on behalf of our coaching colleagues and this Appendix will remain a priority as we move forward.


DEPARTMENT CHAIR RECALCULATIONS


We have had existing language in Article 12.8 for years that indicates that the Instruction office will recalculate department chair release time each year and adjust accordingly based on changes in staffing within each department. This management right had never been enforced until this year. As a result, 7 department chairs were informed in July that their release time for the 20/21 school year was changing (5 were decreases, 2 were increases). This tight notification timeline created a lot of panic due to scheduling and workload concerns. Luckily, the 5 department chairs that were reduced were successful in petitioning the Interim VP of Instruction and were granted an abeyance of implementation until Spring 2021. However, this situation highlighted that the timeline outlined in the contract is problematic. We were able to sign an MOU with the District that changes the timeline for this recalculation that will allow departments to be notified in February of each year if the department chair release time for the following year will be changing. This will give departments more time to plan and more opportunities to hold informed chair elections.

The bottom line is that we are well aware that the matrix used to calculate department chair release time is bonkers. We have had no luck in past negotiations cycles getting this matrix changed to a more logical calculation. However, this remains a priority in future contract cycles. In the meantime, we will have a slightly more agreeable notification timeline as Instruction enforces the recalculation language in the contract.


SALARY SCHEDULE CREDIT FOR Africana Studies AS 101


We signed an MOU this week that permits part-time faculty to use the full-time process for applying for salary scale credit for lower division coursework (see Article 15.2.2.1) for the AS 101 (African-American History) employee course being offered this fall https://www2.palomar.edu/pages/pd/africana-studies-course-for-employees/

We are planning on addressing this discrepancy when we reopen Article 15 soon, but since the deadline for applying for salary scale credit for the AS 101 course is August 17, 2020, we signed this MOU to get it covered for now.


POET COMPENSATION FOR PART-TIME FACULTY


We signed an MOU extending compensation for active part-time faculty to complete the new POET this fall for up to 10 hours past their PD pay. We hope this will enable all of our part-time colleagues to take advantage of the POET training! For directions and more information please visit https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CI_lSq3uAb7gMxRhWqfBsGH7dTJf-CmCxuU7O3sWpSM/edit?usp=sharing


MINIMUM ENROLLMENTS FOR FALL 2020


We presented an MOU that would lower the minimum enrollments required for courses during the duration of the mandated online learning plan due to COVID-19. The District did not agree to the MOU, but did make us the following verbal and written promise about adjustments to cancellation policies for Fall 2020:


For Fall 20 low-enrolled classes, our plan is as follows:


For classes under 10, we will allow until the end of the week (Friday, 8/14 at noon) before cancelling and, for classes under 20, allow until the end of the week (Friday, 8/21 at noon).


In keeping with Article 8 of the PFF/District contract, we will consider classes with smaller enrollments for the following reasons:

1. There is only one (1) section of the class offered during the academic year and the course is required for transfer, an associate of arts degree or a certificate.

2. The smaller enrollment is required by law or the accrediting organization for that program.

3. Traditionally, the class has been combined with other related courses and the combined enrollment meets or exceeds twenty (20) students.

4. The class is experimental or is being offered for the first time.

5. The available facilities cannot reasonably accommodate twenty (20) students.

6. The cost for offering the class is covered by contract or other non-public funds.

7. The Vice President for Instruction finds that special circumstances warrant an enrollment below twenty (20) students.


a. In this case, in addition to the items above, we will consider the number of sections being offered and the enrollments of each of those sections.


Additionally, Student Services will assist in conducting an outreach campaign to students re: classes that are trending low in enrollment.


DISTANCE EDUCATION CURRICULUM STIPENDS MOU


We signed an MOU extending the $80/class stipend for making the necessary Distance Education changes to courses in META during the Fall semester.

While we recognize that not everyone will be happy with all of the information shared above, we hope everyone can see that we have been fighting hard for faculty interests, our student’s learning conditions, and to protect faculty rights. That fight continues. We meet with the District team at least twice a month, often more frequently, and are engaged in weekly (sometimes daily) planning, emails, calls, and more. We are here to represent you at the table, and appreciate all you do for your students and for Palomar.

In unity,

Your PFF Negotiations Team

Jenny Fererro, Barbara Baer, and Teresa Laughlin

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