Faculty negotiations go to mediator

MCCC’s faculty and administration have decided to bring in the assistance of a state mediator to help with the ongoing contract negotiations.

“The job of the mediator is to sift through all the chaff and figure out what all the real issues are,” Dr. Patrick Nedry, chief negotiator for the faculty, said.

The negotiations have been going on since last spring, and there are only a few issues left.

The faculty’s contract, which was set to cover 2006-2010, expired in August, and the faculty are now working without a contract. The faculty’s pay and benefits have continued based on the previous contract.

According to Robert Boonin, an attorney with the Ann Arbor office of Butzel Long who was hired by the college to help with negotiations, the teams were having trouble with the last few issues and decided to bring in a state mediator.

The teams have met ten times so far since negotiations began.

“There wasn’t a lack of meeting,” Nedry said.

According to Nedry, there wasn’t always agreement between the teams, but there were plenty of places where there was agreement. The mediator will attempt to find some middle ground between the two teams.

“I would say the meetings have been reasonably productive and constructive,” Boonin said. “We were able to resolve a number of issues. It’s overall been a very professional and productive round of meetings.”

At this point in the negotiations, the remaining issues tend to tilt towards the economic, Nedry said.

“Economics are always an issue and a concern, and agreeing on what’s fair and reasonable and possible and what isn’t going to compromise our future, both of the institution and of the faculty; we’re all concerned about that,” Nedry said.

The mediation process takes time because it depends on the availability of the mediator and the others involved who need to be assembled.

“If the district’s position is as positive as the PR release is, this will probably be resolved fairly quickly and fairly amicably,” Nedry said.

“The art of the possible is what negotiating is all about.”

The first meeting with the mediator has not yet been scheduled.

The faculty team consists of chief negotiator Patrick Nedry as well as Tracy Rayl and Terri Kovach. The chief negotiator’s job is to be directly involved in bargaining and activities related to negotiations, Nedry said.

The college’s team includes Robert Boonin, who serves as chief negotiator, as well as Randy Daniels, Molly McCutchan, and Grace Yackee.