NEA Affiliates in Action
The faculty at New Mexico’s Highlands University has begun the academic year with the first higher education collective bargaining agreement in university history.
“We are thrilled to be the first four-year-plus institution of higher education in the state to reach such an agreement,” said Dr. Tom Ward, chief negotiator and president of the New Mexico Highlands University Faculty Association, a recently organized joint NEA-AFT affiliate. “We believe this will benefit not only the faculty of NMHU, but also the students, staff, administration and the larger community.”
“It's historic,” said New Mexico Highlands President Jim Fries.
Under the agreement, minimum salaries for 2007—08 were raised to $45,000 for assistant professors, $51,000 for associate professors, and $58,000 for full professors. Additional increases were distributed to address a compression in the salary schedule.
New 2007—08 salary increases were in the August 2008 paychecks. A new round of bargaining will tackle 2008—09 salaries.
In recent contract negotiations, YSU-ACE, the Association of Classified Employees at Youngstown State University, settled a grievance filed originally in 2004. The settlement provides classified employees with four personal days as well as one professional personal enrichment day each year, as well as compensation in the form of bonuses and days off for not receiving the days off in the past. The agreement came after the university lost in court for the fourth time in as many years in its attempt to deny personal days to YSU-ACE, an affiliate of the Ohio Education Association and NEA.
A federal court has struck down a Florida law that restricted faculty students, and researchers at the state’s public colleges and universities from traveling to Cuba and four other countries that the U.S. government considers terrorist states.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida challenged the law in court on behalf of the Florida International University faculty senate.
Members of the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY, the AFT-NEA affiliate representing 22,000 faculty and professional staff at the City University of New York, have ratified a new contract by a margin of 93 percent in a vote counted by the American Arbitration Association.
The 37-month agreement provides faculty and staff with a salary increase of at least 10.5 percent, in addition to annual increases of between 3.5 percent and 4.5 percent for thousands of employees entitled to annual salary step increases. One of the union's victories was to preserve the annual step increases, which CUNY sought to eliminate.
The union campaigned on the slogan “CUNY Needs a Raise,” and negotiated a creative distribution of dollars so that employees who have reached the senior level in their positions will receive additional increases beyond the 10.5 percent in October 2009.
The top professor salary will rise by a total of 13.8 percent to $116, 000, and the top adjunct salary will rise by 16.7 percent. The larger increase for adjuncts was negotiated by the union to begin to close the huge gap between part-time and full-time salaries at CUNY.
Eleven NEA/Massachusetts Teachers Association higher education unions, representing nearly 10,000 faculty and staff at three University of Massachusetts campuses and all nine Massachusetts state colleges, filed unfair labor practice charges in August against the state Board of Higher Education and the board of trustees of the University of Massachusetts. The unions accused the colleges and university of bad-faith bargaining for not submitting a salary proposal. Negotiations for most of the unions began in January for contracts that expired this past June.
College and university officials said they were waiting for financial guidelines from the office of Governor Deval Patrick. The governor’s office released so-called “economic parameters” shortly after the unions filed charges, and some of the colleges have now made salary proposals.