SFCC fac­ulty union: Board hold­ing up con­tract talks

School lead­ers say they’re ne­go­ti­at­ing in good faith; han­dling of raises irks group

Santa Fe New Mexican - - FRONT PAGE - By Robert Nott [email protected]­i­can.com

A union rep­re­sent­ing fac­ulty at Santa Fe Com­mu­nity Col­lege says con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions have stalled, and in an ef­fort to restart talks, it has filed two com­plaints against the gov­ern­ing board with the school’s La­bor Man­age­ment Re­la­tions Board.

The com­plaints al­lege the gov­ern­ing board has failed to ne­go­ti­ate in good faith and ac­cuse col­lege lead­ers of deny­ing 3 per­cent raises to union mem­bers that were given to all other em­ploy­ees ear­lier this year.

The com­plaints could lead to a la­bor board hear­ing in which gov­ern­ing board mem­bers would be forced to re­turn to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble.

Marci Ean­nar­ino, lead or­ga­nizer of the 1½-year-old union and a teacher in the col­lege’s English de­part­ment, said Thurs­day the union be­gan ne­go­ti­at­ing with the gov­ern­ing board about a year ago. The two sides have met at least once a month since Jan­uary, she said, but lit­tle progress has been made on a new con­tract.

“It is typ­i­cal that con­tracts like this can take a year or some­times even longer,” she said of the new union’s ef­forts. “And we feel there is still room to ne­go­ti­ate. We feel like we have lots of room to agree with them. But they just need to come to the ta­ble.”

Board Pres­i­dent Linda Siegle said the col­lege is still in the process of ne­go­ti­a­tions. “Ob­vi­ously we feel we are ne­go­ti­at­ing in good faith,” she said. “We are do­ing our best.”

Ce­cilia Cer­vantes, the col­lege’s in­terim pres­i­dent, said in an email: “The col­lege can­not com­ment on the de­tails of mat­ters pend­ing be­fore an ad­min­is­tra­tive body. … SFCC has been en­gaged in good­faith bar­gain­ing for 12 months and the par­ties con­tinue through the bar­gain­ing process in ac­cor­dance with law.”

Re­gard­ing the 3 per­cent salary in­creases given to nonunion staff ear­lier this year, Ean­nar­ino said gov­ern­ing board mem­bers have said they want to

fi­nal­ize an agree­ment with the union be­fore de­cid­ing on raises for work­ers it rep­re­sents.

While it’s the col­lege’s right to “not play ball there,” Ean­nar­ino said, she be­lieves the board could have found a way to en­sure all em­ploy­ees got raises.

Cer­vantes and Siegle, how­ever, both said that by law, the col­lege must ne­go­ti­ate such raises with the col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing unit.

Santa Fe Com­mu­nity Col­lege opened in 1983. Since that time, re­peated ef­forts to or­ga­nize unions there have failed. Then, in March 2017, full-time fac­ulty mem­bers voted 39-3 to be rep­re­sented by a new af­fil­i­ate of the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Univer­sity Pro­fes­sors. At that time, Ean­nar­ino said the new union — which rep­re­sents be­tween 50 and 55 em­ploy­ees — would give fac­ulty mem­bers a stronger voice.

But the road to ne­go­ti­a­tions has been paved with bumps.

One of the two com­plaints the group filed says the col­lege’s gov­ern­ing board in Septem­ber pro­posed a “last best of­fer” and then de­clared the two par­ties were at an im­passe.

And dur­ing a Septem­ber gov­ern­ing board meet­ing at the col­lege, union mem­bers showed up in force to re­quest that ne­go­ti­a­tions con­tinue.

For­mer Santa Fe Mayor David Coss also at­tended, ask­ing the board to “use your lead­er­ship here. … Be pro-union.

Ea­nar­rino told the board the union was dis­ap­pointed in the lack of progress. The union was be­gin­ning to ques­tion its de­sire to find a so­lu­tion, she said.

Siegle dis­agreed, telling the crowd the board has faith in the ne­go­ti­at­ing process. “I don’t be­lieve any­one on the board is not sup­port­ive of unions,” she said.

De­spite the com­plaints, Ea­nar­rino said Thurs­day that as far as the union is con­cerned, ne­go­ti­a­tions are on­go­ing. She hopes the com­plaints prod gov­ern­ing board mem­bers to re­turn to the ta­ble to talk, she said.

The La­bor Man­age­ment Re­la­tions Board has sched­uled a pub­lic meet­ing at 9:15 a.m. Fri­day in the col­lege’s gov­ern­ing board room. The agenda in­di­cates the la­bor board might dis­cuss the union’s com­plaints at that time.

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