Negotiations Update Spring 2015

Part 2

by Warren Ruud, Regular Faculty Member in the Mathematics Department, AFA Chief Negotiator

As this semester winds down, the endgame in this year's negotiations with the District has begun. A flurry of data comes in at this time of year—projected revenue reports from the State, rate increases from our benefits providers, compliance issues from the Chancellor's Office, mandates from ACCJC (the accrediting agency), and on and on. AFA and the District have doubled up on their weekly meeting times since spring break, attempting to complete this year's agenda of negotiation items in time for next week's AFA General Membership Meeting.

2015-16 State Revenues and SRJC: More Good News!

In February's Negotiation Update1, we reported that "budget-wise, the 2015-16 academic year will be the rosiest in a long time." The Governor's January budget proposal predicted an increase of $1.6 billion in 2014-15 State revenues over 2013-14 revenues and as a result, SRJC would see an additional $11 million in State funding for 2015-16.

But wait, it gets even better! Last month, the State Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) updated its projections of 2015-16 revenues, and State revenues now are predicted to grow by another $4.0 billion over those January projections. Nearly all of this new revenue would be applied to K-14 because of the Proposition 98 mechanisms currently in play, so SRJC would most likely realize its own unforeseen funding increase, which would be significantly beyond the $11 million increase already in the Governor's January proposal for 2015-16. Rosy indeed!

The Governor will revise his January budget proposal for 2015-16 later this month with this new State revenue in consideration, and the Legislature will most likely enact a budget early in June. Whether SRJC's unforeseen funding increase would trigger a readjustment of the currently projected 2015-16 SRJC faculty salary schedules2 (as determined by the AFA/District Contract §26.02) depends on whether any of this increase is passed along by the State in the form of increased COLA for 2015-16. (Of course, all faculty salaries are subject to negotiation and approval by the District and by the AFA membership.)

Medical Benefits: Moving Toward Sustainability

Maintaining and funding faculty medical benefits plans has become a significant problem for all public employers, and SRJC is no exception. Over the last two decades, SRJC employee medical benefits premium costs have been increasing at a far faster rate than has SRJC's funding from the State. Since 2001, medical benefits premium rates have grown by more than 98 percent, but State funding through COLA has grown by less than 19 percent. Table 1 illustrates how the gap between SRJC's initially budgeted revenues and premium rates has grown over this period.

table 1

Table 1

For the first eight years, the gap was covered in part by annual concessions in salaries and sabbatical leaves. In 2008, the District and AFA agreed to faculty out-of-pocket premium cost-sharing, and AFA negotiated the funding of the AFA Health and Welfare Benefits Account (AHWBA) to provide a "rainy day" fund for premium increases. This year, the balance of AHWBA has been expended, and now other provisions must be enacted to mitigate faculty's share of the roughly $6 million gap between budgeted revenues for SRJC employee medical benefits and the actual premium expenditures.

AFA has been working with the District in developing a long-term, sustainable plan to help the District finance faculty medical benefits. Below are the elements of this plan.

These adjustments to the medical benefits plans will be outlined at the AFA General Meeting on May 13 and presented in faculty forums this fall. Any revision of the existing medical benefits plans would not occur before January 1, 2016.

Also on the Negotiations Table This Year . . .

Feel free to contact the AFA office or email me directly ( if you have comments or questions on negotiation issues. See you at the General Meeting on May 13!

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