Bargaining experience

I have been part of the Bargaining Team that has represented NSTU Community College Faculty and Professional Support members through 5 rounds of negotiations.

The first Community College collective agreements were bargained in 1998. This was before the founding of the Community College Local and therefore didn’t have the necessary input from the members who were to be affected by the new agreements.

There were, unfortunately, some members of that first team who did not appear to put the rights of the Collective first. It was a bad agreement. From the date of this First Community College agreement, new Faculty had a work year that was 2 weeks longer (205 days) for the same salary. New employees also lost the ability to accumulate sick-leave.

Members of the Professional Support collective agreement lost even more. This group includes counselors, curriculum consultants, coordinators, and librarians among others.Their new working conditions had new hires working approximately 15 days more than those already employed in their own group, and almost 20 days more than faculty.

When the team was formed to negotiate the second agreement, starting in 2001, a commitment was  made by all involved to attempt to right the wrongs. Over 5 rounds of bargaining, the teams have been able to undo much of the damage that was done by the 1998 agreement. We achieved much success, but encountered considerable challenges along the way.

One set of negotiations lasted 23 months, we sat through conciliation and sent one salary proposal to binding arbitration. We also voted to strike; leading to much consternation and soul-searching, but ultimately got an agreement that we could live with.

At the end of bargaining, neither party is happy with the result, but hopefully both are satisfied that it was the best for that moment.

….and then we start to prepare for the next Contract negotiations.




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