State of Our Union

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.”

In solidarity,

WCCEA Executive Leadership

 

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MEA Election 2018 Guide

Please use this information as you see fit. You can visit http://www.mea.yourvoter.guide/#/search to see recommendations based on your home address.

MEA Election Guide

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BOT Remarks September 19, 2017

Colleagues,

The College’s Board of Trustees met last night.  I have attached (BOT 19Sept17) my remarks to this email.

Much happened.

First, I want to thank all of the faculty who came to support the OPTs.  They appreciated your being there, I know, as did I!  Thank you.

And thanks, especially, to Anne Garcia for her particularly pointed and poignant comments.  She, far more than I, cut to the heart of the issue.  Please take the time to see what she said, both about police on campus and about the OPTs, when the video of the meeting becomes available.

Claire Sparklin spoke to the Board about the new Gen Ed requirements before the Board for its approval.  She spoke eloquently about how those changes did a disservice to our students and urged them to reject the new policy so that it might be reconsidered and reworked.  Nevertheless the Board approved the new policy.

Finally, despite it not being on the Board’s agenda for “action,” it voted on and approved the creation of a campus police force last night.  As my earlier to you indicated, I am not surprised by this, but it indicates the degree to which some board members don’t care if they mislead the public about their intentions at upcoming meetings.  And, again, when the video becomes available, I urge you to watch the discussion that ensued as this measure was being considered.  The arrogance and disrespect for contrary opinions was manifest.

So, not good news.

Hope you’re having a good semester!

Dave

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Support for the OPTA

On August 12, 2107, the Office Professional/Technical Association (OPTA) held an informational picket. The OPTs are working on a contract extension as the contract expired June 30, 2017. Negotiations are set to continue this week. Please review the flyer that was passed out during the informational picket.

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Remarks to the Board of Trustees, June 27, 2017

Colleagues,

The Board of Trustees met last night (6/27).  I used my time before the board to voice support for the OPTs.

This is a negotiation year for them.  Three weeks ago they reached a tentative agreement with the College but the membership voted the contract down.  The primary issue was pay.  OPTs at the bottom of the scale would have seen a less than $10/week increase in their pay.

So both sides are back to the bargaining table today.

I therefore encouraged the Board to rethink its approach to negotiations and to be more generous to this very important and under-compensated employee group.

All of this was against the backdrop of the Board’s agenda last night, which included a proposed renewal of the president’s contract.  It approved a 1.5% pay increase ($214,307 to $217,522) along with a $12,000 deferred compensation bonus.  That package was approved by a 6-1 vote.

Seems the College can afford a better deal for the OPTs.

Dr. David Fitzpatrick
History Instructor
Faculty President
Washtenaw Community College

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BOT SPECIAL Meeting on June 13 at 5pm

Agenda – June 13 2017

This meeting will be held in SC 211 before moving to closed session in SC 229. There will be time for public remarks.

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Comments to the Board of Trustees (February-April)

Our apologies for posting these comments so late.

From April 25, 2017

Presented by Julie Kissel on David Fitzpatrick’s behalf

  1. Survey Results

David presented a one question survey to the full-time and adjunct faculty (over 250 faculty) starting the week of April 9, following Scott Hilden’s presentation to the faculty on April 6 concerning the police force.

Question:  Do you support the College’s Plan for campus policing as you understand it?

Total Respondents = 145

Yes: 59 (40.7%)
No:  86 (59.3%)

Certainly, impressions regarding the establishment of a WCC police force are complex and in flux on this campus.

  1. On Doug Kruzel’s Retirement…from David Fitzpatrick

I apologize that I could not attend tonight due to illness.  I especially am sorry that I could not make it because I wanted to say personally what follows:

For the last 14 years, first as the chief negotiator for the WCCEA and then as its president, I have had the distinct pleasure of working with Doug Kruzel.  We’ve crossed swords more than once, and quite often we have agreed to disagree with one another.  Through it all we worked together to improve in important ways the relationship between the faculty and the College.  More importantly, I always knew that I’d get a straight answer from him, no matter the question or subject.

Doug, you will be missed.  Good luck to you in retirement.

  1. As David has mentioned in previous meetings, any Trustees interested in visiting a class, please feel free to contact the WCCEA leadership for more information.

 

From March 28, 2017

  • David thanked Trustee Milliken for visiting his classroom and invited any of the trustees to visit a class. Faculty are eager to extend invitations.
  • David urged the BOT and College to  make an effort to seek out feedback from staff and faculty regarding a campus police force. The public sessions in April and May are for the public, but there should be a way for employees to note their concerns, questions, or support. (Per the Board, the April 25 and May 23 meetings will begin at 5pm to accommodate two public hearings to gather input for the establishment of a WCC police force.)
  • Since a marketing director is in place, David urged him to engage with faculty from across the College to highlight the variety of courses and programs available.

 

From February 28, 2017

David covered two points at the meeting:

  1. Welcome to Kim Hurns the new VPI. David is proud that another faculty member has taken on this role and is looking forward to working with her. In fact, discussions with VP Hurns started the day after the announcement to the position. The contract implementation (CI) meeting on Monday was very productive, and there is hope this will continue.
  2. Also at CI, Linda Blakey and Scott Hilden (Campus Security) presented the options that the BOT will consider regarding policing on campus. The department chairs were briefed before break as well. At CI, we discussed the need for a way that faculty and staff can provide feedback about this important issue. The administration committed to finding a way to do this.
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