WCCEA “State of Our Union”
Prepared for General Membership Meeting
February 7, 2019
Inspired by the recent State of the Union, the WCCEA leadership wanted to take the time to share with you the “State of Our Union”. To begin with, we are doing remarkable things here at WCC.
- LAND Conference is happening today in Ann Arbor
- Susan Dentel and STEM scholars (one of this year AACC Distinguished faculty)
- Tom Penird’s program (Last year’s AACC Distinguished Faculty)
- Culinary program wowed Lansing
- We produce students prepared for challenges at 4 year schools.
- We have one of the nation’s best welding programs.
- Our nursing program is one of the nation’s few Centers of Excellence in Nursing Education.
We are doing remarkable things. And our membership is strong
In this era of Right-to-Work, an effort to undermine Union strength, 92% of those eligible, adjuncts and full-time combined, are members of the WCCEA. That is one of the highest percentages in the state, and there is no bargaining unit with more members with a higher percentage. This has been done because our membership chair continues to reach out to new faculty hires, noting that they may join the WCCEA as soon as they are hired. Over the past year, the WCCEA has added over two dozen new members, both full-time and adjunct faculty. We had been hearing from new faculty that they were told they could not join immediately, but through our discussions with staff in HR, we have not encountered this impression recently. We are doing remarkable things. And we are strong.
And yet, those of us who do the day-to-day work of the WCCEA want to share additional insights, both positive and negative, that many of you might be unaware of:
- While the new contract was ratified in May 2018, we continue to work with the administration in our Contract Implementation meetings to clarify areas we did not address or not address completely during negotiations. This includes signing Letters of Agreement that amend the contract in some cases or allow for things like part-timers to teach over the limit.
- As we continually work to clarify the contract and question issues impacting the membership, we are also looking toward the Adjunct member contract negotiations. We are beginning our listening sessions and have adjunct members ready to serve on this negotiation team. We are hopeful that we can negotiate a contract that reflects the value of our adjunct members.
- Additionally, through Liaison meetings with President Bellanca, VPI Hurns, VPI Veltri, and WCC counsel, we worked to create language and an understanding around recording policies across campus that impact students, staff, and faculty. This took many, many months of requests to the administration, but we are pleased to have this point clarified.
- Working to serve the membership also means that we are actively involved in grievance concerns. In 2018, there were 6 grievances submitted. Five went to step 2 (last step before it moves to the MEA). Four of those grievances went to Arbitration (step 3). One grievance was settled. This only tells part of the story, though. Due to the nature of these issues, we are limited in what we can say. But what we can say is the formal grievance process, which is long and tedious, is just one aspect of what could be consider some of the less than positive interactions and issues the WCCEA representatives handle. Just to underscore this point, during the first two weeks of classes this term, we sat in on 6 meetings with members and their supervisors. We thank all of the representatives who helped their colleagues during these trying times of an investigation.
- For your protection, we urge you to keep your supervisors informed if you have to miss class or office hours or mandatory meetings. From our position, it appears that some faculty are pulling back from the College or doing the minimum necessary. But, most disconcerting for us is that we have been privy to what seems to be a substantial increase in disputes between and among faculty. These disputes have any number of causes—many of them the product of forces outside of the faculty—but they are having a deleterious effect on us. For example, some of the talk recently has been about the changes facing many of the departments across campus as they are moved, combined, or split apart. This, of course, creates a great deal of stress.
- We must remember, though, that we are the glue that holds this College together—we are where the rubber meets the road. Whether librarians or counselors, lab techs, advisors or instructors, we do the critical work at the College—we perform its most basic mission. We educate and serve our students. We cannot do that job well—or at all—if we are not also focused on supporting one another.
So to our membership, we urge you to take care of each other. This does not mean ignoring unseemly behavior or shutting ourselves in our offices or classrooms. This is about creating a collegial environment that supports our colleagues, which thereby supports our students. It can be difficult at times to deal with the many aspects of the job, but there is such value in doing what is right by one another, even when it feels like the campus community at large is not supportive. Respectful, frank, and even difficult conversations need to occur as we focus on leveraging our collective strengths and talents.
In the end, our goal is to make sure the contract is followed and to support you in all your good work. We must remember these great words from Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
WCCEA Executive Leadership