Palo Verde College CTA

Friday, April 20, 2007

Agenda for CCA/CTA Meeting
Palo Verde Community College Association
Tuesday, April 20---3:30 PM-4:30 PM
CL 101

I. Call to Order
The President will call the meeting to order, and briefly outline the main topics for today’s meeting: a) presentation of revised Constitution; b) report on negotiations; e) announcements.
II. Approval of Minutes
The Minutes for the previous meeting will be presented for discussion and approval.
III. Approval of Agenda
The Agenda for today’s meeting will be presented for discussion and approval.
IV. Presentation of Materials: Constitutional Rewrite
Following the deliberations of August and September 2006, the CTA membership approved by a two-thirds majority: a) changing the Secretary/Treasurer’s position to two separate offices, Secretary and Treasurer; b) establishing a three-person Grievance Committee; c) establishing an Executive Board; d) electing one at-large member to the Executive Board. The rewritten Constitution will be delivered to the membership.
IV. Report on Negotiations
Mr. Henry Rinaldi will report, on behalf of the Bargaining Team, with regard to a) the current achievement of resolutions in negotiations; b) continuing issues; c) current disagreements with Administration; d) salary/benefit proposal details. Discussion to follow.
V. Hearing of Citizens
Members will present concerns, including those of campus security as an issue of working conditions.
VIII. Announcements
1. CCA President, Carolyn Inmon, to visit Friday, April 29.
2. Next meetings during May: nominations for CTA officers; presentations of TAs and ratification vote; elections.
IX. Adjournment
Announcement of next meeting date and adjournment.

R.M. Robertson, President
Irma Dagnino, Vice President
Sandy Sher, Secretary
Doretha Jones, Treasurer
Barbara Gaubeca, Executive Board At-Large Representative
Dist. via e-mail, Friday, April 20, 2007 Dist. via mailbox, Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday, March 09, 2007

The REEP Report

R.M. Robertson

The latest REEP (Riverside County Employer/Employee Partnership for Benefits) meeting was held in Calimesa, this last Tuesday. Ceci Garcia attended, on behalf of the classified staff; I attended on behalf of the faculty.

This report will be fairly short, because I want to emphasize three things: a) REEP’s solid finances; b) a lower renewal rate on Blue Cross than was anticipated; c) a way we could lower the renewal rate even further.

To begin, then, the first thing you need to know is that the REEP JPA (Joint Powers Association—it’s a “buyer’s group,” that consists of schools and colleges organized to get the benefits of buying in bulk that corporations and other large organizations enjoy) is more than solvent. It’s in good shape, as far as I can see. We’ve got money in reserve with them, in fact, and all the different Plan designs are doing reasonably well. The only blip seems to be that there were large numbers of claims this past December and January, which (just like with your auto insurance) raised costs. But it all looks manageable.

I’ve included more details in the last REEP Report, so you might want to check that; additionally, Ms. Garcia and I both have copies of the books. By the way, REEP’s books are audited, regularly, by an independent company: the IRS and government regulations for JPAs mandate such audits.

One thing you might be interested in is a technical term: “stop-loss insurance.” Insurance groups don’t just pay out whatever claims come in; they can’t, actually (nobody has that much money: think about paying all the claims on Hurricane Katrina), so they spread the risk among other re-insurers. In other words, big insurance companies take out insurance on themselves.

That’s what, “stop-loss insurance,” is: a group like REEP takes out insurance, so that claims past a certain point (in this case, it’s $200, 000) are paid by another insurer. The trick is to balance out how much insurance you need, against how much risk you’re taking. REEP just had its first million-dollar claim (that’s right, folks: ONE person needed a million dollars worth of medical care), so it looks as though the stop-loss insurance was a good idea. Of course you have to pay for such insurance, so REEP last year switched to a company that offered better service. Things seem good at the moment; we’ll keep you posted, since the stop-loss stuff gets rechecked yearly.

NOW--on to the renewal rate. If you remember the last staff meeting, the renewal rate we were given on our Blue Cross PPO was 10. 54%. That was a projection: typically, insurance companies project costs conservatively and a bit on the high side. I know that if I were doing insurance, I’d a lot rather tell a customer that they were getting a cheaper rate than they thought they would at first—not the other way around.

Our basic renewal rate for REEP will be 9. 28% on Blue Cross. That’s the first time we’ve been in single digits in--well, I think in this century, but check that for yourself. Note: this may or may not be the exact renewal rate for PVC. There’s a general calculation for REEP as a whole--but different colleges and schools have different populations and different plans, so each one gets a slightly different renewal rate. But 9. 28% is the ballpark figure, and it’s excellent.

There have been some questions--often quite appropriate questions--about whether or not medical insurance rates have really been climbing as much as they have been climbing. I’ve put together a bibliography that you can have for the asking, if you’d like to check that for yourself. You might also Google the topic, or check the NEA/CTA journals, to get started.

What seem to be the reasons for the improved renewal rates? a) nationally, the increases in medical rates have slacked off a bit this year; b) the plan design changes at REEP seem to be working; c) the switch by some members to CDHPs (Consumer-Directed Health Plans) are having an effect on overall rates; d) members have accepted increased co-pays and deductibles in ways that help cut costs.

One specific reason you should know about: the IAC (REEP’s Insurance Advisory Committee, on which Ceci Garcia and I sit) voted almost unananimously to start a Disease Management Plan through Blue Cross. This cut the renewal rate by .1% all on its lonesome.

What the heck is a Disease Management Plan? First off, it’s pretty common in the industry: we just didn’t have one. Second, it’s based on two realities: a) in any insurance pool, 20% of the people incur 80% of the costs; b) often, people with chronic illnesses don’t manage their illness very well--and this leads to hospitals, and that leads to dollars. So the basic idea is to focus on the folks who are the sickest, and try to educate them about managing their care.

Blue Cross is going to look at prescription information gathered from ExpressScripts, and focus on five categories: a) asthma; b) diabetes; c) CHF (congestive heart failure), d) CAD (coronary artery disease) and e) COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). If your medications--say you’re taking a diuretic, or some sort of beta-blocker, or a bronchodilator--indicate that you fall into one of those five categories, you’ll get some added attention.

It works like this: first, you get a postcard. If you don’t respond, you’ll get a phone call. If you don’t call back, Blue Cross will contact your doctor. What they’re trying to do is simply to provide education, and maybe noodge you a little: are you taking your meds as prescribed? do you have a diet and exercise program? can we help you with one? did you know...? are you aware of this new development in managing your disease? are you familiar with the Internet assistance that’s available? do you need a referral to some local agency?


One member concern that got raised had to do with privacy, and security of records. People had concerns about having their information spread around, and about having records circulated to other insurance companies and other employers.

The short answer is that they can’t do they, legally speaking. Under HIPAA (the recent Health Insurance Portability and Protection Act), my understanding is that a company can’t even release records to your spouse, except in emergencies, let alone another employer. Can there be problems? Sure. But remember--the guys issuing your prescriptions already know who you are and what you’re supposed to be taking.

At any rate, the Disease Management Program should cost REEP around $280K for the first year; estimated minimum savings are around $460K, so the program should pay for itself. Many people who get contacted find that they really prefer the added help; if you don’t, feel free to tell them (politely) to get lost. After all, it’s your health.


The last thing I want to report on is an option--a choice--we could make to cut that renewal rate a further 3%, to around 6.28%. (By the way, the Kaiser HMO renewal rate is 5.1%.) It involves adopting what ExpressScripts calls a, “Preferred Formulary,” plan.

Now a formulary is when a prescription plan only pays for certain drugs: if it’s not on the list, the, “formulary,” they don’t pay nothing. THIS IS NOT THE SAME as that. In this, “preferred formulary,” you could get ANY drug or medication that was prescribed. AND EXPRESSSCRIPTS WOULD STILL PICK UP MOST OF THE COST, just as they do now. It’s just that the co-pay would go up quite a bit.

Presently, we have a, “two tier,” rate structure for drug co-pays. If it’s generic, the co-pay’s the lowest; brand-name, highest co-pay. Mail order--and we hope you’re all using mail order? It’s cheaper--has the same structure.

The “Preferred Formulary,” would have a three-tier co-pay. Generic cheapest; brand next; any drug not on the formulary, the co-pay goes up to $60. YOU STILL GET THE DRUG, and the benefit beyond the co-pay.

The trick is, of course, to know what’s on the list and what’s not. Ms. Garcia and I both have lists; we’ve asked REEP for lists of the most-used drugs that aren’t on the formulary.

The decision would have to be, a) considered by our own Insurance Committee; b) negotiated by both unions; c) a campus-wide choice.

In recent years, insurance companies have shifted co-pay and deductible costs onto employees. You would need to decide if this is one shift too many.

In recent years, health insurance has become a national disaster. You would need to decide if this change was worth getting our renewal rate down to 6.28% or thereabouts.

Full disclosure time. Just so you know, the “preferred formulary,” change would not affect me directly. I’m on a Kaiser Plan (you can be too, if you live in Indio or northwards); the rates are much, much cheaper because it’s managed care. They have their own in-house pharmacies, and they just switch everybody onto generics whenever possible: for most people, most of the time, it makes absolutely no difference whether you take a brand-name or a generic drug. My interest is in providing information--though of course since I also happen to be CTA President, I do have some concerns about what happens to faculty and staff.

That’s the REEP Report for Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2007. As always, please contact me, or Ms. Garcia, with questions.

R.M. Robertson

P.S. A correction is in order. In reporting on health care to the staff meeting a week or so ago, I wrote that REEP had around 45 total Districts and 250, 000 employees. The comment was idiotic, as I may have said at the time—I believe the REEP people offered a polite correction, in fact. The actual numbers are around 25 Districts total, and around 25, 000 people using their offered medical benefits.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Special Informational Meeting and Workshop with Ray Barney

Palo Verde Community College Association
Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007
3:00-4:30 PM
Room TBA

I. Call to Order
The President will call the meeting to order, and discuss the chief topics of today’s meeting: the presentation of “leftover,” information, and Mr. Ray Barney’s workshop.

II. Approval of Minutes
The Minutes of the previous Association meeting will be presented for discussion and approval.

III. Approval of Agenda
The Agenda for today’s meeting will be presented for discussion and approval.

IV. Informational Items and Announcements
A review of the informational items and announcements of meeting, August 2006-January 2007, will be presented.
a) Updating the Constitution: rewrite in progress for Secretary, Treasurer, Executive Board, and Grievance Committee sections.
b) Presentation of minutes for December, 2006, first meeting of Executive Board.
c) Presentation of latest Treasurer’s report.
d) Reminder: new Newsletter on PVC website; next issue in progress. Please contact Sandy Sher, Linda Martin, Irma Dagnino with information and suggestions.
e) Editorial policy of the Newsletter: President “out of the loop;” contributors asked to avoid political endorsement, personal attacks, and giving away “proprietary,” internal/negotiations information.
f) Question on College committee assignment: problems?
g) Question on salary schedule placement and advancement: refer problems to Irma Dagnino.
h) Question: do you know where you are on the Faculty Seniority List? Do you know why all faculty are classified under a single FSA?
i) Question: was your evaluation done, and done right?
j) Question: do you know how much sick time you have? Your STRS balances?
k) Question: are you familiar with PVC’s optional insurances, including Long Term Care?
l) Reminder: notify President/Executive Board of interests in Conference attendance; members asked to supply rationale for attendance, “after action,” report, and to disseminate all received materials.
m) FYI: the CCA/CTA is in the process of researching and developing a policy position on the FACCC’s “Community College Initiative.”
n) FYI: what are COPs?
o) Question: what is our position on Accreditation?
p) Question: what are we doing with regard to Needles faculty?
q) Question: what process should we have for preparing a clean and final Contract?
r) Question: are you ready to read the Contract?

V. Members’ Announcements/Informational Items.
The membership is asked to present similar, briefly-stated items of information and announcements of behalf of the Association.

VI. Negotiations: Report and Reminder
A written report on the bargaining sessions for the week of Feb. 12-18 will be presented; Mr. Henry Rinaldi will offer a verbal summary and report. Mr. Bill Ponder will present a full negotiations schedule.
As an information item, it will; be noted that the bargaining team for 2006-2007 consists of: Mr. Bill Ponder, lead negotiator; Ms. Dory Jones; Mr. Peter Martinez, caucus boss; Mr. Henry Rinaldi, spokesperson; Mr. R.M. Robertson, recorder and non-voting member.

VI. Workshop by Mr. Ray Barney

VII. Adjournment
Next scheduled meeting, Tuesday, March 13, on the progress of negotiations.

Palo Verde Community College Association, CCA/CTA

R.M. Robertson, President Irma Dagnino, Vice President
Sandy Sher, Secretary Dory Jones, Treasurer
Barbara Gaubeca, Executive Board At-Large Member

Dist. via e-mail, Friday, February 16, 2007
Dist. via mailbox, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

REEP Report for the Jan. 30, 2007 Meeting
R.M. Robertson

This time around there’s a great deal to report from the meeting of your Insurance Advisory Committee (IAC) in Calimesa, at which Ceci Garcia and I represented the College’s interests in the Riverside County Employer/Employee Partnership for Benefits, aka REEP. For those not in the know, REEP is the Joint Powers Association (JPA) that the College joined around 1991, after our insurance rates had started getting out of control. Generally speaking, JPAs offer much of the purchasing power that corporations enjoy: when a lot of people get together, get an administration in place, and start negotiating, they tend to get things done cheaper. In this case, REEP sort of brokers our deals with Blue Cross (BC), Kaiser (our Health Maintenance Organization), Delta Dental, and Vision Services Plan (VSP). They also handle the administration of these plans, answer members’ complaints, and hold meetings like the one I’m reporting on now. Their legal/accounting firm is Keenan&Associates, a national corporation that I like to think of (for those in the know) as our very own Wolfram&Hart. And just so’s you know, REEP serves between around 80, 000 and 220, 000, depending on the plan you’re talking about, and the annual balance sheet shows around 93 million moving in and out of the budget. REEP is regularly audited by an independent firm, as per State and Federal law governing JPAs. There was a lot to cover this time around, so this time around, I’m going to do this in, “bullet points,” form. I will follow the bullets--which are going to be presented as objectively as I can--with a conclusion summarizing my take on the meeting. Please feel free to contact me for further details, and please do let me know if you like this format for the Report.

1. Finances
--Treasurer’s report says assets around $15 million, current liabilities around $9 million
--Utilization rates up in several plans (BC, VSP), so costs spiked in December
--Stop-loss (reinsurance of claims over $200K) reserve is around $518K, good
--Usage/utilization increase is probably from a) 1000 new members, b) seasonal changes
--”Strong,” financial position, but year-end spikes will affect renewal rates.

2. Acupuncture Benefits
--Current offer is $30/visit, 12 visits/yr.
--One member District wanted increase
--Proposal was to remove max. benefit limits
--RMR argued against increase, since, a) NO clinical data to support, b) raise renewal .15%
--Approved, 12-8 vote.

3. Rx Prescription Plan Upcoming Changes
--10/40 Plan to be eliminated; nobody using it
--5/20 (which we’re on?) to be phased out next two years; co-pays will go to 5/25
--Using ExpressScripts “Nat. Preferred Formulary,” would drop renewal rates by 3%
--Formulary Plan would add “third tier,” co-pay of $60 for Rx not on formulary
--NOT ordinary formulary; could get ANY Rx at higher co-pay
--Common arrangement in industry?

4. Renaming, “Delta Dental Premier”
--Currently, dentists take either “Premier,” or, “DPO/PPO,” Dental Plans
--Premier gives dentists higher payouts; DPO/PPO lower pay, higher annual limits
--Offers dentists lower reimb/visit, but higher annual max. as compensation
--Name change to “Delta Incentive,” approved; RMR abstained.

5. VSP Renewal Rates (Preliminary)
--REEP est. is preliminary only; accountant uses, “near-worst case,” assumptions
--Actual rate renewal should drop, but this depends on Jan/Feb utilization
--VSP: 81, 074 members
--Rates to increase 11. 31% (high est.)
--Unusual for VSP; had been running 2-5% increases since 2002
--Cause? probably BIG Aug/Sept usage (“utilization,” in other words) --Approved

6. Delta Dental Renewals (Preliminary)
--REEP est. is preliminary only; accountant uses, “near-worst case,” assumptions
--Actual rate renewal should drop, but this depends on Jan/Feb utilization
--229, 174 members
--Rates to increase 4.54%, about avg. for Delta over last 5 yrs.
--app. for recommendation to Board.

7. Blue Cross (Preliminary)
--REEP est. is preliminary only; accountant uses, “near-worst case,” assumptions
--Actual rate renewal should drop, but this depends on Jan/Feb utilization
--Rates to increase by 10. 54%, a bit lower than last yr.
--Acupuncture increase benefit would raise this to 10.64%
--Adopting “Preferred Formulary,” would give renewal rate of 7.64%
--RMR voted yes; unanimously approved for recomm. To Board.

8. What is, “stop-loss?”
--All big insurance firms “lay off,” the really big claims, buy, “re-insurance”
--Currently REEP reinsures claims over $200K
--This fig. seems to balance costs of insurance/costs of paying claims well
--REEP went out to bid on new re-insurer; some probs. with administration
--full report next meet

9. What Is “Capitation?”
--Only with HMO
--”Cap,” is the per-head charge/fee for belonging to HMO
--”Cap,” is “running cost,” of paying doctors, building, equip,. etc.
--BC HMO cap. fee around $220/mo
--Think of, “cap,” as like car payments, other fees as like gas, oil, maint., insurance., etc.

10. Kaiser HMO
--KP is, “fully insured,” plan; fewer reporting requirements
--Renewal rate will prob. be in 4-8% range, as per last 5 yrs.

11. Administrative Costs
--Every plan cost includes insurer admin costs, plus Keenan $.
--Insurer admin cost varies: usually in 5-12% range?
--TOTAL Keenan costs, BC/Dent/VSP= $7.74/employee/month. PVC=$800/mo., $9600/yr.?

12. “Disease States Management,” Program
--Uses data from ExpressScripts (ESI) to ID 5 main disease states
--Focuses on diabetes, asthma, cong. heart fail. (CHF), coronary art. (CAD), one other?
--Problem: patients don’t a) manage diseases, b) take meds as per Rx
--Solution: a) ID patients, b) set up assessment, c) arr. Nurse Pract to help, d) make plans
--Discussion: member concerns with privacy; can always opt-out.
--NB: BIG diff. between “opt-out,” vs. “opt-in,” plans
--Statistics diff. to keep --Possible 2-3% cost decreases overall
--In Health Savings Acct./Lumenos plans, this already featured
--To be connected to, “wellness,” plans

13. Consumer Driven Health Plans (CDHPs)
--Incl. HDHPs (High Ded. Health Plans) with HSAs (Health Savings Accounts)
--REEP to switch from Chase to Mellon Bank for HSAs: probs. with Chase
--IRS to increase limits to $1050/2100 deductibles and $2500/5000 annual contrib.
--IRS to change from current monthly contrib.
--WARNING WARNING WARNING: personal opinion follows
--CDHPs are pushed by Republican/libertarian grps., to emph., “personal responsibility” WARNING; end of personal opinion.
--Higher ded/contrib limits can mean a) higher out-of-pocket; b) overinvestment
--Great plans for members, a) young, b) gd. health, c) no kids, d) gd. managers
--BUT the availability of HDHP/HSA in REEP has lowered general renewal rate by 1.3%.

14. “Boutique,” Physicians --Some members report solicitation by docs
--If pay $1500-2500 additional fee, get gold-plated, “no-wait,” service, other perqs.
--BC position= oh, hell no. Violation of their Contract with physicians
--Prob: patients who don’t pay extra get less than they pay for
--If solicited, members should, a) get in writing, b) REPORT IT

15. Member Concerns
--Rare prob. with co-pays on diabetes maint. drugs: report if probs.
--Some ESI changeover probs; report any
--Approx. 250-300 ID cards retured to sender (for all REEP): have you got yours?
--RMR raised issue of PuraScript changeover
--RMR has 800 number at Keenan if needed
--RMR raised issue of Keenan “worker comp,” demanding physical req. in faculty jobs
--Informed REEP that the prelim. CTA will be taking a position on issue.

Summary: A Personal Take

1. REEP looks to be in good financial health, overall. There are some concerns about increased utilization rates, but most of this is just the way the cookie crumbles, nothing unusual.

2. The Plan design changes, co-pay increases, etc. are working. Problem is, members don’t like to pay any higher costs--especially when what these changes do is to decrease the rate of the increases in renewal rates.

3. National trend: increased health care costs.

4. Another national trend: fight between, “find the money in the market, cause you’re on your own,” and, “socialized medicine.” Guess which political parties represent which position?

5. As reflected in the push toward “disease management,” and, “wellness,” programs, the, “personal responsibility,” argument is here to stay. It’s also largely true: if Americans stopped smoking, exercised, ate halfway rationally, and cut some of the overwork and stress out of their lives, we’d have much cheaper health care.

6. Some of what goes on in discussions of insurance, at REEP or anywhere else, is based on irrationality. For example, my asking, “Where’s the clinical data to support the hypothesis that acupuncture does anything at all, let alone has serious benefits?” was met with, “Well, I know that it does cause I feel it and anyway millions around the world use it so it must work.” For this we’re paying?

7. Some of what goes on in these discussions exemplifies the Spanish Prisoner dilemma. If you prefer, it exemplifies the dog-eat-dog argument: you know, it’s a dog-eat dog world, so I’m gonna do unto others before they do unto me.

8. Some of the problems REEP address are unsolvable on the level of REEP. They are global and national issues, so whatever we do amounts to cost-containment and cutting the rate of increases.

9. The rate increases we’re seeing are lowish, considering what’s going on in the country.

10. REEP has several Plans available that would drastically cut costs. a) the “Preferred Formulary;” about 3% drop in renewal rates. b) the HDHP/HSAs; about 30-40% drops in costs. c) a “high-deductible,” catastrophic plan; about 50% drop in costs.

11. Problems with cheaper insurances include: a) radically higher deductibles; b) restrictions on drug benefits; c) much more difficult paperwork for individuals; d) individual bad choices that lead to disaster--for example, anybody over 50 is unwise to choose one of the “high deductible,” plans, because of the higher probability that they will get sick.

And that’s the REEP Report for Jan. 30, 2007. Let me know what you thought, and what concerns you have.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Agenda for CCA/CTA Meeting
Palo Verde Community College Association
Tuesday, February 6---3:00 PM-4:00 PM
CL 101

I. Call to Order
The President will call the meeting to order, and briefly outline the main topics for today’s meeting: a) negotiations; b) likely renewal rates for health insurances; c) issues concerning job descriptions for faculty; d) member concerns; e) announcements.
II. Approval of Minutes
The Minutes for the December meeting will be presented for discussion and approval.
III. Approval of Agenda
The Agenda for today’s meeting will be presented for discussion and approval.
IV. Report on Negotiations
Mr. Bill Ponder, lead negotiator, will provide a brief outline of progress and issues, together with an updated schedule of meetings and topics for February and March.
V. Discussion of Proposals: Hiring Policy
Major issues in hiring policy include: a) procedures for originating new positions; b) hiring committee composition; c) hiring procedures; d) job descriptions.
VI. Discussion of Issue: Job Descriptions for Faculty
Following a presentation by a representative of Keenan & Associates, the PVC Insurance Committee is considering: a) requiring faculty requesting to drive school vehicles/driving on school business to have updated DMV checks and proofs of insurance; b) writing essential/non-essential physical requirements into faculty job descriptions. Mr. Rich Soto, CSEA President, has been invited to present a position, and to participate in the discussion.
VII. Member Concerns
1. Class sizes, enrollments, and governing contract language.
2. Overload limits and governing contract language.
3. Salary and health care: scheduling workshops/”free-for-all,” discussions?
4. Other.
VIII. Announcements
1. Date of Ray Barney’s next workshop: “Unionism 101: How To Be A Member.”
2. Newsletter publication via PVC website; available forum.
3. Matching fund expenditure of $120. 00 for ASB Christmas fund.
4. Preliminary report from CTA/CCA Winter Advocacy Convention of Feb. 2-4, 2007.
IX. Adjournment

R.M. Robertson, President; Irma Dagnino, Vice President
Sandy Sher, Secretary; Doretha Jones, Treasurer
Dist. via e-mail, Friday, Nov. 3, 2006; Dist. via mailbox, Friday, Nov. 3, 2006

Monday, January 22, 2007

CTA Schedule for Spring


I’m writing to offer schedules for two things: a) negotiations; b) CTA meetings this semester.

First, the CTA meetings. As I mentioned, the Exec Board recommended going on Tuesdays at 3 PM-4PM, and it makes sense to me. They also recommended a few fewer meetings…something about being tired of hearing me yak, who could imagine why. But be that as it may, here’s the proposed schedule:

Jan. 30, Tuesday, 3 PM: negotiations progress and semester issues.

Feb. 20, Tuesday, 3 PM: negotiations and accreditation

Mar. 13, Tuesday, 3 PM: negotiations

Apr. 3, Tuesday, 3 PM: negotiations; discussion of TAs; ratification vote?

May 1, Tuesday, 3 PM: election process/nominations

May 22, Tuesday, 3 PM: candidates talk/elections

Now obviously, we can add meetings if emergencies arise. And I am going to continue scheduling the workshops, to discuss issues such as health insurances and how they work. But if you don’t mind, please let me know by Wed., next week, if you have things that you’d really like to discuss that I’m leaving out. We’ll need to get a full Agenda next week, and I don’t want to shortchange anybody.

Next—the rough cut of a negotiations schedule for the Spring.

Jan. 15-Feb. 1: Contract fixes, easy TAs
a) the “clean and final,” Contract
b) adding already-negotiated language on PT STRS, and Intellectual Property Rights
c) language fixes on overload, assignment?

Feb. 1-Feb. 15: Non-teaching Faculty Issues
a) Evaluation Forms for all positions
b) Issues with NY evaluation process
c) Job descriptions
d) “Accountable hours”

Feb. 15-Mar. 7: Salary and Benefits
a) “regularizing,” the salary schedule
b) PT/Overload/Summer salaries
c) Health insurance cap
d) Health insurance plans
e) Benefits Fund
f) PT issues

Mar. 7-Mar. 17: Hiring Policies

As you can see, this is a lot of work in a short time for the negotiations folks—if you’ve never done this stuff, you should thanks them a lot—but it should get us done, with a couple weeks leeway, before April Fools’ day—which seems appropriate.

Please let me, or your team, or your exec Board, know your thoughts—they’ve been universally helpful. Of course, we will be thrashing through this stuff in meetings, and in workshops. Ray Barney has agreed to parachute in again, fairly soon—February, he’s saying—for another teaching moment he calls, “Unionism 101: How To Be A Member.” It’ll be on a Tuesday, during or immediately following a CCA meeting.

By the way, I will be at the Prez’ convention, Feb. 2-Feb. 4. Please let me know if there are constituent issues you’d like raised, and I’ll see what I can do.

Hard copies of this memo will follow on Monday, when I’m here again.

So—as always--thanks to all of you who’ve been working hard to support your faculty association, and let’s git r’done.

R.M. Robertson, President,
Palo Verde Community College Association, CTA/CCA

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Executive Board Meeting


In today’s Exec Board meeting, we discussed a set of faculty concerns—one of which, as it happens, has to do with a faculty member or two seems to feel are, “discrepancies,” in our salary schedule vs. our scattergram.

The first thing you should know is that there is no such thing as, “Bill,” figures,“ vs. “Debbie,” figures. Mr. Ponder and Ms. Mitchell sat down after our TAs got signed off on by the Board in its Sept. 26th meeting, and painstakingly checked and rechecked the numbers on the salary schedule and the scattergram everybody was supplied with.

In other words, they mutually worked hard (and without extra pay or much thanks in Mr. Ponder’s case, I might add) to make darn sure that the CTA and the District agreed on the figures. And the two sets of numbers were agreed upon by both Ms. Mitchell and Mr. Ponder.

The two sets of numbers are different, yes—but there is no, “discrepancy,” of which I am aware. Why do they differ?

The two sets of numbers differ because as we discussed at some length during our meetings on salary, the salary schedule is the theory, while the scattergram is the practical reality. The salary schedule distributed via the CTA is based on a 177-day schedule; the scattergram shows what everybody is actually earning for a schedule that may be 177 days, or may be more—and which in a few cases includes “special assignments,” such as Accreditation.

The long and the short of it is this: the schedule shows what you’d earn if you worked 177 days at a particular row and column; the scattergram shows what people earn for their actual work-year (which may be more) and any special assignments. Please recheck two things: a) the handout distributed at our CTA meeting, showing salary schedules, graphs against State averages, and a scattergram; the b) xerox a faculty member has created, which itself shows that different faculty are working a different number of days per academic year.

I very much appreciate having faculty involved in these discussions, especially in our scheduled, public meetings. A lively and collegial debate is, I feel, essential to making things work in a college—as is asking clear, open questions of people who put out information.

As someone who remains still a bit of a scholarly type, I still appreciate the open dissemination of information, the public, collegial debate of issues, and the willingness to inquire. I appreciate too, the presentation of evidence—and the willingness to question one’s own arguments, and evidences. And I still feel that this works best when it’s done out in the light.

And last, speaking from under the tinfoil hat of the CTA President—I appreciate the way our meetings have been going this fall. It seems to me that the more we work to come to meetings prepared, the more we’re willing to have our ideas and arguments and facts scrutinized in open, free debate, the more we work for consensus and against backdoor politicking, the stronger we’ll be.

By the way, we had a great first Exec Board meeting—some of it involved better ways to do things on my part, and I learned a great deal. We’ll get a set of minutes out to faculty as soon as we can, what with finals and grades and all.

Oh yes—let me strongly encourage anybody to drop by and ask me, or your Exec Board members, what’s going on. We’ll give a straight answer—even if it is, “Sorry, I don’t agree,” or, “Huh. I dunno. Let me go find out, and I’ll get back to you.”

Thanks for the soapbox,
R.M. Robertson