After three years, the MCCC faculty contract awaits negotiations again.
The process officially began when the MCCC Faculty Association submitted on Feb. 15 its request to begin negotiating.
Since that date, MCCC administrators and trustees have 30 days to contact the faculty about setting a date for the first official meeting.
The district has not officially responded to set that date.
“Both parties could request intentions to negotiate a new agreement any time between Jan. 15 and May 15,” Dr. Pat Nedry, chief negotiator for the faculty, said.
“We, the association, have done that,” Nedry said. “The district, MCCC, has acknowledged that.”
As chief negotiator for the faculty, Nedry said he will be directly involved in bargaining and activities related to negotiations. Other members of the faculty team are Tracy Rayl and Terri Kovach.
For the college, MCCC’s attorney, Robert Boonin, will serve as chief negotiator, along with a team of administrators and trustees. Other members of the MCCC team are Randy Daniels, Molly McCutchan, and Grace Yackee.
The next step is for either the negotiating teams or the chief negotiators to meet, Nedry said.
The current contract, or Master Agreement, was set to cover 2006 to 2010.
If a new contract is not set in place before the existing one expires in August, Randy Daniels said there are several options regarding a contract extension, or the faculty could work without a contract.
Daniels said the last negotiations continued into the next academic year.
“Some contract negotiations start and wrap up quickly, and others take an extended period of time,” he said. “It just depends on how many issues there are and how complicated those issues might be.”
To prepare for the negotiations, each side has been considering what issues they will address this time around.
Faculty Association President Mark Bergmooser said his role is to advise the team members in determining what interests to focus on.
“Without making myself sound over important, I’m like a coach in some ways,” he said.
Bergmooser and Dean Kerste, faculty grievance chairman, worked with the executive board of the faculty association to recruit the negotiating team.
“We trust them to do the job,” Bergmooser said. “They are a very intellectual, smart team that will negotiate a fair and equitable contract for faculty at the college.”
Kerste served as chief negotiator for the faculty in the last negotiations, while Daniels served as chief negotiator for the district.
Nedry gave a general description of what he thinks will be discussed in the upcoming meetings.
“Wages, hours, and working conditions – that’s what bargaining is all about,” he said.
“There’ll be a lot of bluster on the side of both parties, but in the end cooler heads will prevail.”
The faculty association has not yet met to determine exactly what issues they will focus on, he said.
“It would be premature to say at this point,” Nedry said. “We do have some idea and a clear understanding of what the faculty is interested in, though.”
He said faculty meetings would be held periodically to share updated information
“We want to keep the faculty informed and aware, but not to create unnecessary anxiety at this stage in the game,” he said.
Nedry also spoke of some concerns leading into negotiations.
“There are questions we want to ask,” he said. “Why are there plans to build buildings we can’t afford to operate? That kind of thing.”
In his experiences with past negotiations, Nedry said he thinks there will be “a lot of grandstanding, a lot about money, about timing, and about our future.”
“Faculty care as much about those things as administration and board members,” he said.
Bergmooser said he thinks negotiating is an important process.
“I’d be disappointed if there was a reluctance to negotiate on either side, ours or the districts,” he said. “You’ve got to have that communication.”
He said he appreciates the opportunity to have a say in the faculty’s working conditions.
“Ultimately, in working to resolve a conflict, it has to come to an understanding, and there’s not a human being I’ve met who doesn’t want to be understood. We as faculty have needs and concerns, and the district has needs and concerns,” Bergmooser said.
When it reaches the final stages, the faculty association members will review the new agreement and decide whether or not to ratify it. Then it goes to the Board of Trustees for the final decision, Daniels said.
“The only stipulation is that we have to bargain in good faith,” Daniels said.
Editor’s note: A comment by Dr. Pat Nedry in the original version of this story was quoted incorrectly. The quote was corrected March 30. The correct wording is: “There’ll be a lot of bluster on the side of both parties, but in the end cooler heads will prevail.”