Employees pitch in to save money

A penny given by employees is a penny earned for MCCC.

MCCC’s Board of Trustees approved a 2009-2010 budget of $25 million on June 22, with some creative help by employees.

College President David Nixon says that 80 percent of MCCC’s $25 million budget goes to paying expenses that relate to employees.

“The employees taking sacrifices helped tremendously,” he said.

Nixon accepted a freeze on his wages by turning down a 2 percent raise for this year, saving the college $2,848.52.  He also decided to forgo a college-provided vehicle, saving another $9,000.

He said the white Jeep Grand Cherokee he used to drive is now being used as a campus security vehicle.

Along with Nixon, the three vice presidents – Timothy Bennet, Randy Daniels, and Grace Yackee – also accepted a wage freeze and declined their college-provided vehicles.

Nixon added that 28 administrators plus the support staff gave up their raises, saving the college more than $360,000.

“With the current economic crisis, we all know how serious this is,” Nixon said.

MCCC’s faculty also has saved money for the college, according to Mark Bergmooser,  president of the Monroe County Community College Faculty Association (MCCCFA), which is a branch of the Michigan Education Association (MEA).

“Basically, the faculty was at the forefront of saving the college money back in 2006 when we agreed to a lower cost insurance plan.  We understood the situation and costs surrounding health insurance and were proud to come up with a solution with the district in order to save the college money,” he said.

To save even more money, the Board of Trustees requested that all employees accept a pay freeze. Administrators and staff agreed, and the faculty was asked in May to consider a freeze on their wages for the next year.

“Upon the district’s request for a wage freeze, MCCCFA initiated a process required by the MEA to determine if there is a legitimate need to open an existing contract,” Bergmooser said.

As of now, the faculty contract, which was negotiated between the district and the MCCCFA, provides for a 3 percent raise each year, he said.

A decision has not been made yet, but the faculty’s contract is currently in its last year and will be open for negotiation.

The maintenance staff has not determined whether or not they will be accepting a wage freeze either, Nixon said.  They also are part of a union, which is currently in collective bargaining.

“It is time to negotiate their contract. They have had a few meetings, but nothing was decided,” Nixon said.

He said the trustees want to keep tuition as low as possible without laying off any employees.

Because of the efforts to save money, there were no lay-offs, Nixon said. However, the college was forced to raise more revenue by switching to a billable contact hour system for tuition, he said.

Bergmooser noted that the change to charging tuition by contact hour instead of course hour doesn’t have anything to do with how faculty are paid. 

“At MCCC, faculty are compensated according to degrees earned and years served,” he said, “not solely because of the types of classes they teach.” 

“A professor of political science with a doctorate who has worked for ten years at the College is paid exactly the same amount as a chemistry professor with a doctorate and ten years of service.” 

The implication of the change to contact hours, Bergmooser said, is that lab classes, primarily in the health, science, and technology fields, cost more to operate than other types of classes, such as English or history.

“This is true,” he said. “However, the reason lab courses cost more is not because of faculty salaries; it’s the expense of lab equipment, machinery, hardware, software, etc.”