Negotiations Update Fall 2014
The big news around the AFA office this fall is the brand-new 2014-17 AFA-District contract. You can take a look at the new online PDF version at http://www.santarosa.edu/afa/articles.shtml.
Here are the highlights of this new contract:
Even though it's been only four months since negotiations on the new contract were finalized, the AFA team is back at the table with the District, working on a number of contractual issues for 2015-16. Of course, the final discussions on the big-ticket items—salary and health benefits—await the outcome of the State budget process for 2015-16.
Budget and Salary
In 2014-15, the California Community College (CCC) budget grew by $1.3 billion, its largest annual budget increase ever. The bad news was that nearly half of that increase was applied to eliminate the so-called "wall of debt" (the existing deferrals of payments to CCC started in the Schwarzenegger years), and that the Governor, attempting to play a fiscal conservative in an election year, cut the COLA from the statutory level of 1.80 percent to 0.85 percent. As a result, SRJC's 2014-15 budget was not quite as rosy as it appeared at first blush back in January.
But hope springs eternal in the human breast, and that's never truer than when looking forward to the next year's budget. With a composite 8.0 percent faculty salary increase over the last two years, SRJC faculty have returned to the top echelon of CCC faculty salary schedules, achieving Rank Ten in 2014-15. There's certainly reason to be optimistic about reaching Rank Ten once again in 2015-16. The good news for 2015-16 is that the CCC wall of debt is mostly gone, possibly freeing up most of that $600 million funding stream in this year's CCC budget to the direct benefit of students, faculty, and staff. Also, early projections of statutory COLA for 2015-16 are around 2.3 percent, and the 2015-16 CCC budget proposal from the Chancellor's office calls for an additional $180 million of "super-COLA" for CCC to offset the lack of adequate financial support in the last five years. The Chancellor is also calling for a complete restoration of funding for the three part-time faculty salary and benefits categorical programs that were slashed by 62 percent in 2010. (A summary of all items in the Chancellor's 2015-16 budget request may be found at http://www.santarosa.edu/afa/CCC.pdf.)
A lot can happen, however—both good and bad—between now and June when the budget is eventually approved by the Legislature. Presently, AFA is working with FACCC and CCCI in Sacramento to help implement the Chancellor's budget proposal provisions, especially with respect to COLA and the part-time faculty categoricals restoration. (Visit the advocacy page on the AFA website to see how you can help.)
The AFA Executive Council has also identified the long-term sustainability of faculty medical benefits funding as another major negotiations task for 2015-16. Since 2001, District revenues have grown 19 percent, while District benefits expenditures have grown 98 percent over that same period. During the recession, the faculty "rainy day" account for medical benefits, AHWBA (see AFA Contract §10.05.E), has been drawn down to a balance at which it will no longer match the fiscal demands of even a moderate adjustment in medical benefits costs in 2015-16.
AFA plans to address this situation with a two-prong attack. First, AFA will work with the District to restructure Article 10, based on the premise that while AFA and the District share the obligation to negotiate a financially sustainable agreement on benefits, the District still has the contractual obligation to provide a comprehensive medical benefits plan for full-time faculty and to also provide the opportunity for part-time faculty to participate in the AMBP (see AFA Contract §10.04.B). Second, AFA will join with SEIU in bringing pressure to bear on our benefits providers for cost containment; we hope to engage the District in this goal as well.
Also on the Negotiations Table This Year . . .
As negotiations progress this academic year, you will be receiving more updates. Feel free to contact the AFA office or email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have comments or questions on negotiation issues.