KCC Faculty Association, Board Ratify Contract

9/15/2011 12:00:00 AM
The Klamath Community College Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to approve a collective bargaining agreement with the KCC Faculty Association.
KCC Faculty Association, Board Ratify Contract
            The Klamath Community College Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to approve a collective bargaining agreement with the KCC Faculty Association. The two-year agreement follows more than two years of negotiations that saw the groups start in face-to-face sessions, then move on to mediated bargaining sessions before returning to face-to-face negotiations in order to reach agreement.

            The switch back to face-to-face bargaining was instrumental in reaching an agreement, according to Faculty Association President Jamie Jennings. “The formalized, mediated bargaining process created a lot of pressure. Returning to informal bargaining without lawyers on hand eased that pressure,” she said.

            “We were able to work together toward solutions and spend less time getting caught up in legalese,” added KCC Executive Director of Human Resources, Karren Andrews.

            The agreement—which is the initial contract between the college and the faculty association—is a big step for KCC, the youngest of Oregon’s 17 community colleges. “Simply having a contract is the most important thing,” Jennings said. “Before today, we haven’t had one in place.”

            The agreement spells out processes and procedures for everything from filing a grievance or complaint to requesting sabbatical, filling personnel vacancies, determining workload limits and more, something Andrews said will give the college consistency and ensure fair and equitable treatment for all faculty members, whether fulltime or adjunct.

            The contract sets a 15 year salary schedule and outlines the college’s contributions to faculty health insurance and retirement plans, something that benefits both faculty and the college. “Having pre-arranged salary and benefits makes our personnel expenses more predictable year to year and will help immensely with the budgeting process,” Andrews said.

            “Our primary interest was never to improve salary, but to provide consistency, stability, a fair and equal workload and job security for our faculty, which we feel this contract achieves,” Jennings said. “We do feel that the salary schedule is fair and sustainable and that it works toward securing comparable wages.”

            Both Jennings and Andrews said that getting this initial contract completed before the start of the fall term was a top priority and will now allow both faculty and administrators to focus all of their time and energy on the upcoming academic year with no lingering distractions. “We can all get back to working together as a team and striving for a common goal: to serve our community to the best of our abilities,” Jennings said.

            Under the new contract, salaries for faculty members will be more competitive with statewide averages, which Andrews said will allow KCC to attract and retain quality faculty. The contract is somewhat unique compared to most collective bargaining agreements between colleges and faculty in Oregon in that the KCC Faculty Association represents both full and part time instructors. “A lot of people—from both sides—put a lot of hard work into getting this contract negotiated,” said KCC President Gerald Hamilton. “We want to thank the faculty bargaining team, including MaryLou Wogan, Lois Taysom, Cathy Saunders, James Stoutamore and Jamie Jennings. We appreciate their effort and we really appreciate the fact that with this initial contract now complete, we can once again focus on educating our students.”

            The faculty association was appreciative as well. “We really want to thank KCC President Gerald Hamilton, Board Chair Dave Jensen, Board member Carol Castle and the administrative team. We would not have a contract today if it were not for their efforts,” Jennings said. “President Hamilton was instrumental in opening the lines of communication and advocated for working toward positive solutions throughout the bargaining process.”

            The new collective bargaining agreement took effect immediately upon ratification. It expires June 30, 2014.