Archive for October, 2006

41) October 25. Faculty Contract Discussed

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

Thirteen members of the Unity Negotiations Team met with the Board’s team of Joe Rossi, Karen Beckman and Cindy DeFalco October 24, at 1:30. The Faculty Unit’s contract was on the table for discussion. There were a couple of back-and-forth’s with long breaks in between. Joe got loud a couple of times. His responses were occasionally aggressive. He did not maintain good eye contact. He proposed very few changes in his demands. At 5:00, we were still waiting for the management team to return. I began gathering my stuff to leave because there was nothing to indicate there would be any significant movement. Just as I was about to leave, Joe came back and made significant movement on the Faculty contract. He gave more concessions than would be necessary if he just wanted to keep things moving slowly. I would normally interpret his behavior as indicating he wants to settle sooner rather than later. Why Joe needed to go through all the posturing before moving, I don’t know. He has done this before,

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however, and is not always predictable. We still have some important issues related to terms and conditions of employment that both sides must agree on. After close to forty years of having labor contracts at ACC, we have mature contracts. The bargaining units want to keep the contracts the way they are and management wants to change them. I have no idea when the members will be voting on the new contracts, but I am guessing it will be before January. We are not home yet, but we might be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s hope it is not a train. Recently there have been a few people who were negative about our job actions. I am sure we would not have gotten significant movement yesterday, had

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we not protested our lack of a contract and our treatment at the table. Thank you for showing unity in our job actions.

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We have much more strength working together than working alone. The next negotiation session is October 31. Wilfred Parsons, Unity Negotiations Team Coordinator

40) October 20, Settle Now!

Friday, October 20th, 2006

I am pleased the way we showed in a united way our displeasure with the lack of a contract. In unity there is strength. Everyone at the coronation heard, “Settle Now!” Someone asked me if our actions were effective. I don’t know. The goal is to get a contract that both sides can live with. The idea of a job action is to generate discomfort. That discomfort is supposed to causes management to want to settle to get rid of the discomfort. We will see. Apparently we got to Joe Rossi. He emailed me a quotation from The Press which included words like “aggressive ignoramus”. I am glad that he sent it. Now I know we had an effect on Joe. There is no reason for the negotiations to be dragging on. We are asking for a money settlement in the range of others have gotten, no changes in benefits, and not much in the way of language change. One of the things that is holding up negotiation is Joe Rossi’s proposals to change the contract, not ours. Questions that come up often are, “How much are they offering?” “What are the proposed changes in benefits?” “What are the language changes?” If I gave specifics, the members would start arguing among themselves. For instance, some people would think that a three percent increase in January with health coverage for the employee only would be a good deal and that we should settle. They would start arguing with those who want more of an increase with family coverage. That is not necessarily what is on the table, but you can see why we don’t get specific. Another reason is that every agreement is tentative and subject

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to change. Until the Board and the employees ratify, we do not have an agreement. In addition, one thing that happens now, is that items that we thought had dropped off the table suddenly appear back

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on the table. And agreements we thought we made, we find we did not make. Also, unless you are at the

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table, you do not know the arguments and tradeoffs that have been made. You need to have faith in the Unity Negotiations Team. Remember you have the final say. The employees and the Board have veto power. Will Parsons, Unity Negotiation Team Coordinator

39) October 18 Job Actions Must Continue

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

I am pissed and so are many others. We sit for hours in the Board room waiting for Joe to return from his office. What takes so long? Fantasy football picks? We moved up negotiations yesterday to 12:00 to have more time to negotiate. Joe and his supporters came in a 12:30. At that time, Support Staff responded to management. That took maybe fifteen minutes. Then two hours later Joe returns to counter. His counter did not include some items we though we agreed on last time. Joe said we did not agree on them and there was a brand new proposal, something that we had never seen as an issue before.

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That is no way to reach a settlement. Yesterday it was one step back. The same thing happened with Culinary the time before. Then after his presentation Joe left and we waited two and a half hours, before he came back in. Nick presented two pages of proposals for ACCCOSAPP and again

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it was hours before Joe returned. No other college negotiates with huge breaks like that. I had to leave at five to teach, but negotiations continued until 9 p.m. We had hoped we would make significant progress and at least begin the end game so that there would be no job actions Thursday. No progress was made. It is very frustrating. I have heard from two administrators that we have not met often enough. I have not added the hours together recently but it is over 80 hours. The time is not the problem.

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There have been three colleges this year that settled with only one or two negotiations sessions by “rolling over” the present contract and agreeing on money. We presented that as an option last May when negotiations began, but the administration was not interested. As long as unreasonable items are still on the table there will be no settlement no matter how often we meet. The administrators who think that we need to meet more often do not realize that this is often not a reasonable process. Sometimes people have agendas that are not reasonable. The problem is Pete likes to delegate. I have no problem with that management style but you have to have good people to delegate to. Pete has delegated labor relations to Joe and that is a problem. In July after the contract expired, Joe remarked,” We are still early in the negotiations”. His plan is to drag out this process. The College is collecting interest on our money. No management proposal so far has included a retroactive increase. Joe’s plan may be to delay settlement until the end of December or perhaps May and to have the increase take place at that time with no retroactive pay. That will show his stalling tactics are successful. I am angry about this disgusting mess. We are not making progress so job actions must continue. Will Parsons

38) Faculty March October 12

Friday, October 13th, 2006

Yesterday at the Faculty meeting, John Stratton President of the bargaining unit, handed out sheets showing the salary increases for the President’s staff this year. The average raise was over 10%. John also explained how negotiations were going. John allowed Effie Russell to read a statement about how she felt. That was followed by other comments from the membership. Then at 1:15, seventy-three somber Faculty showed their unhappiness with the lack of a contract by marching across the Mays Landing campus carrying signs that read “SETTLE NOW”. They marched in line from the Ruth Lee building, across campus, through the Culinary Academy, though the Cafeteria, though lower Administration building, through upper Administration building to the President’s office and then back to Ruth Lee for a debriefing. At the same time, Support Staff members on all three campuses posted red signs that said “SETTLE NOW”. I heard that in Cape May, Joe Rossi took down the signs and sent out an email to the membership telling them where on campus the contract says they may post. Our protests so far are polite and have not interfered with classes. The coronation ceremony, by the way, has interfered with classes. The Academic Dean has cancelled classes on Thursday so that Faculty may attend the ceremony. That does interfere was classes. I am not sure how canceling classes is “for the students”. We hear “for the students” often at the table. At the last minute, the Administration invited the part time faculty to attend and has ordered gowns for them probably fearing that the full time faculty may boycott the event. In addition, I heard that the College is spending $50,000 for two plasma TVs for the occasion so that the screen does not have to be dropped in front of the dignitaries. You can add the cost of the gowns for the part time faculty and the cost of the plasma TVs to the previous costs I posted. I was chastised yesterday at the Faculty meeting by two people who were at negotiations Tuesday. They said, “My note sounded too optimistic. My hopeful tone could be because I know that negotiations could be settled easily if Joe Rossi would drop some of his demands and get the money in the range of other community colleges in New Jersey. Those are

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the biggest stumbling blocks. Apparently after I left Tuesday, it got a little ugly when the Culinary contract was being discussed. Emotions took over and the decibel level went up several notches. The negotiations dance has been more erratic lately than it used to be. Bob Goudie always kept his eye on the prize – ratification of the agreement by both sides. Now the dance is one step forward and two steps back and three steps forward and two steps back. It is more difficult to predict the next step. During the last contact, after several hours of negotiations and after most of the team had left because we were getting nowhere, we very slowly began making progress. That session started at 1:00 in the afternoon and ended at 6:00 the next morning as it was getting light. At that session we had to call people and wake them up to come back to the table. We are scheduled to meet again at the table 12:00 next Tuesday. Cross your fingers. Will Parsons, United Negotiations Team Coordinator

37) Negotiations October 10

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

The Unity Negotiations Team kind of met with Joe Rossi in the Board room on October 10. Representing the Team were Michelle Bevan, Phil Cragg, Renee DeAngleo, Nick Ganaway, Dennis Huey, Dom Nigro, Ellen Parker,

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Will Parsons, Marsha Patrick, Heather Peterson, Jim Sacchinelli, John Stratton, Jim Taggart, Jim Usilton, and Penny Wells. We started out with the Faculty contract. At 1:45 Joe Rossi called John Stratton and Dom Nigro into his office to counter the faculty proposal. John had to leave for a 2:00 class. About 4:30 I went in with Dom to counter Joe’s position. I had to leave at five to teach in Cape May. People come and go at these meetings. For instance Jim Sacchinelli came in late because of another meeting and Jim Taggart left and returned after class. Dennis Huey came in late after class. Phil Craig and Jim Usilton were scheduled to appear about 5:30 when Marsha Patrick had to leave. John Stratton came back as I was leaving. The reason I said “kind of met” is because by 5:00 Joe had not entered the Board Room. He was negotiating today in his office. He may feel uncomfortable being the only person on his side with fifteen people on the other side. There was a tiny amount of progress today, but besides money and benifits some sticking points are proposed changes suggested by Joe, not by us. He wants employees to work anywhere, at any time with no

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money until the language issues are settled. If money is settled first, no one wants to talk about the other issues. Joe says he is being pushed by Pete Mora to speed things up. Pete wants us to meet twice a week. Joe did not say that Joe wants to meet twice a week. We agreed to meet earlier next Tuesday at 12:00. I keep looking for clues that Joe is anxious to settle, but so far I have seen none. He could speed things up by pushing some of his proposed changes off the table. It still may take us a while to settle so we need to continue with job actions. Will Parsons, United Negotiations Team Coordinator