Palo Verde College CTA

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

Monday, December 18, 2006

First Executive Board Meeting 12/19/2006

Please find attached/embedded the Agenda for the very first meeting of your Exec Board, which we had on the, "to do," list for this Fall--and please communicate any concerns you might have for us to address; we'll be more than happy to git 'em looked at. I'll ask Sandy to distribute hard copies on Monday, if at all possible.R.M. Robertson

Palo Verde Community College AssociationCTA/CCA
Executive Board
First Meeting: Tuesday, Dec. 19, 1:30 PMCL 213

I. Call to OrderThe President will convene the meeting.

II. Presentation and Approval of AgendaThe Agenda for today’s meeting will be presented for discussion and approval.

III. Discussion of IssuesThe Board will review the issues, concerns and actions of the union in 2006.a) Review of the year’s work to date. 1. Constitutional amendments 2. Committee appointments 3. Treasury 4. Progress of newsletter 5. Progress of negotiations 6. Quality of membership meetings 7. Discussion of members’ issues, concerns, as communicated to Board 8. Part-time outreach: letter concerning pay changes, retro checks for Jan. 1, 2007 9. Potential Grievance Issues 10. Other: COPs?b) Plans for Spring 1. Communication/MOUs with CSEA 2. Communication/MOUs with Academic Senate re: Professional Relations Committee 2. Community Outreach/Relations with Board of Governors 3. Members’ Educational Needs: Spring’s Outside Presenters? 4. Upcoming Conferences 5. Organization of Files 6. Organization of Negotiations Communications 7. Newsletter interests

IV. NegotiationsThe first negotiations session being scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 20, the Board will consider the bargaining unit’s Sunshined proposals/the Board’s response/Member issues.a) Topics for first session: “Housekeeping,” of Contract/preparation of, “clean,” Contractb) Explanation of District proposalsc) Scheduling of future negotiations sessions and general order of businessConsideration of rough schedule for bargaining, and order of bargaining issues:a) Contract cleanup/Insertion of negotiated Intellectual Property/Distance Education side letters.b) Details of Board and District proposalsc) Improvement of evaluation timelinesd) Non-Teaching faculty: evaluation, accountable hours, job descriptions.e) Hiring Policyf) Salary and Benefits. incl. part-time/retirementConsideration of Negotiations Needsa) Clean and final 2004-2007 Contract: in progressb) Examination of 2006 and previous CCFS 311 Reports: in progressc) Availability of up-to-date salary schedule/scattergram/State averages: done, dist. to membersd) State survey of current salaries, benefits, retirement, PT parity: in progress/rough drafte) NT faculty evaluation forms: partially completef) NT faculty: State survey of accountable hours; logs/journals of accountable hours: noneg) Compilation of CTA/CCA approaches to salary: materials in hand, not yet organizedh) “Cost-out,” of membership proposals: in progressi) Preparation of specific hiring policy language: in progress/available in rough drafti) Preparation of specific salary proposals: in progress/rough draftj) Preparation of specific benefits proposals: in progress/rough draftk) Obtaining of further District information: in progressl) Membership education: ongoing, in progress

V. RecommendationsAfter discussions, the Board will decide upon any recommendations to the membership.VI. Adjournment

R.M. Robertson, Association President
Irma Dagnino, Association Vice President
Sandy Sher, Association
Dory Jones, Association Treasurer
Barbara Gaubeca, At-Large Representative

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Letter from the President


We’ll be getting minutes out for last Tuesday’s meeting, of course. But I still wanted to thank everybody for attending ONE MORE ENTMOOT when we’re all so busy, and for their lively and useful comments. I learned a great deal about faculty’s ideas and choices, and I was impressed with the way the discussion jumped along. It’ll pay off, in our negotiations this year. And it’s the sort of thing that’ll make our union stronger.

Now I did want to repeat what I hope I said several times: if some of the things I listed as for-sure facts aren’t for-sure facts, let us know—and I will get your fact and your evidence out to everybody ASAP. Same thing with the Health Insurance options—let me, or your Exec Board (me, Irma, Dory Sandy, Barbara), or a member of the negotiations team (Bill, Peter, Dory, Henry), know.

I’d added two options, since our meet:

Drop the health care; put all that money on a much-increased salary scale. Advantages: money, choice, STRS benefit increase. Disadvantages: we’d never get paid health care again; health care increases more than inflation by a considerable margin, so we’d always lose money; higher taxes.
Make dental, vision, life unpaid-by District options. Advantage: focuses bucks on major issue; cheaper costs for District. Disadvantage: dental, vision, life, are cheap benefits with small cost inceases year to year, so cutting them wouldn’t save anything like enough to solve our problem with costs.

As for your Exec Board, we’re going to wedge in a meeting before the end of the semester. Please let one of us know if you’ve an Agenda item, or want us to get into some issue—we’ll be putting out an agenda today or tomorrow.

One last thing was brought to my attention, concerning salary schedule placement—good thing, since ‘tis the season to consider CTLCs and overload money. Apparently there was a bit of uncertaintly concerning the salary figures, graphs, and scattergram Bill Ponder presented two meetings ago.

So let me say first of all that you should know that Bill (without getting paid, I might add) spent a lot of time with Debbie Mitchell (who gets paid, but who works hard to help us out) to get the figures used in BOTH the salary schedule and the scattergram.

Second of all, please remember what we discussed at the CTA/CCA meeting on the matter: the salary schedule is theoretical while the scattergram is actual. The figures may differ, because while both show base salary, we have faculty on 177, 185, and 199-day schedules (if memory serves), and we also have faculty fulfilling various, “special assignments,” either mandated by the Board or categorically funded. Basically it’s this: more work, higher salary.

CTA/CCA’s Alan Frey says it’s essential in negotiations to have both sets of figures, so you can negotiate on salary in ways that attend to what your real people are really making, which is why Debbie and Bill worked so hard to get those numbers done right.

But having brought up salary, let me ask this: if you have ANY reason to think that you’re incorrectly placed for step and column, let me know and I will look into it? I’ll talk to Bill today, too, and see if we can’t get the toad on the road for overload pay.

Let me close, then, by thanking you for all the work. There’ll be more work for the Spring, but because folks have done so much this Fall, we can get our meeting schedule on a regular schedule—one of the issues, of course, for the Exec Board.

R.M. Robertson

P.S. Please send items for the Newsletter to Ms. Dagnino, who has come roarin’ back, or Linda Martin!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Health Care:
The Bits and Pieces

Most likely, we’re going to have a lot of disagreements about health care. This actually makes pretty good sense: the issues are tangled and confusing, we all have somewhat different needs, and the politics of health care go on forever.

But maybe we can more or less agree about what the bits and pieces are. That is, we can at least figure out what the facts and the issues are--and then, maybe we can even sort of agree on what the possible, “solutions,” are, even if we don’t agree about which solution we should try out.

So, here are the bits and pieces--here’s what we know pretty much for sure.

1. Health care is a national issue, and nobody’s got a perfect solution.
2. We have no national health care plans, except for Medicare/Medicaid/the VA.
3. Mostly, health care in America is driven by money.
4. Most of our health care comes from some, “employer-paid,” system.
5. There are a few different ways to pay for health care: a) you can buy it yourself, if you’re rich; b) the Government can buy it for you; c) you can pay an insurance company; d) your employer can pay an insurance company; e) you and your employer can cut a deal to pay for your health care together.
6. The kinds of insurance plans we have available in Blythe are: PPO (Preferred Provider: you choose an independent doctor from a list given to you by a company like Blue Cross), HMO (but only out of town: you choose a doc who is employed by a Health Maintenance Organization, like Kaiser), and Trimark (used by members of the military and vets).
7. PPOs are expensive; many Americans prefer them because they like the idea of, “free choice.”
8. HMOs are cheaper; some prefer them because of their cost, and their focus on preventative care.
9. The costs for health insurance were relatively low until the late 1990s, and then they started zooming.
10. The rate increases in health care were pretty low until the late 1990s, and then they started zooming.
11. Employers like PVC committed to paying for health care because it was a cheap benefit back in the 1990s.
12. At present, PVC spends around 11% of their annual budget on insurances.
13. Nearly all the costs of health insurance, and nearly all of the cost increases, are for Blue Cross: dental, vision, life, go up maybe a couple of percent every year, and BC went up around 14% in 2004, around 10. 9% in 2005, and 8.2% in ‘06.
14. Costs for HMOs are rising, but Kaiser only went up around 5% in 2006.
15. HMOs are cheaper because they a) have their own doctors, pharmacies, hospitals; b) push prevention, which costs less in the long run; c) control drug costs; d) sometimes limit experimental treatments.
16. We do not have an available HMO in Blythe, though Kaiser is available in Indio.
17. Currently, total costs for our health insurance are around $12, 900/yr.
18. Everybody gets the same rate: we’re on a “supercomposite,” structure.
19. The College probably wouldn’t save any money if we went to a “3-tier.”
20. The doctors in town all seem to be signed up with Blue Cross.
21. PVC appears to have the best health benefits in town.
22. There does not seem to be cheaper insurance out there, if we want to keep the same level of benefits.
23. We belong to REEP.
24. We could get cheaper Blue Cross, just like you get cheaper car insurance: accept higher deductibles, higher co-pays, or lesser benefits.
25. A “single-payer,” system would ensure that everybody in California was covered. It would eliminate co-pays and deductibles.
26. A single-payer system would be paid for the same way STRS is paid for: employer contributions, and payroll deductions. The deductions would be on the order of 2-3%.
27. We do not have IRS 125 accounts set up, which would allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for the following year’s health care costs and some dependent care costs.
28. We have no insurance benefits available for PT and adjunct faculty.
29. In 2003, we turned down a Contract that would have meant deductions capped at $300 for the first year, $700 for the nest year, and $1000 for this year, while the District would have paid everything else to a cap of $11, 900 this year.
30. In 2003, faculty got control of about a third of the PVC “self-insurance fund,” a total of around $185, 000.
31. After 2003, we met a set of deals that worked out to this: a) in 03-04, the District cap was $10, 800 and faculty paid zero; b) in 04-05, the District cap was $9880 and faculty each paid $2200; c) this year, the District cap is $10, 996 and the faculty will pay around $1900/yr.
32. The reason for this deal was that a majority of faculty did not wish to pay for their health care, believing that the District should pay.
33. An outsider might have trouble seeing how paying $4100 from the Benefits Fund is better than paying $2000 in payroll deductions.
34. The Benefits Fund is essentially gone, as we have put no money into it.
35. Our current demand is that the District increase the cap to $15,000.
36. If we assume that BC costs go up 8-10% for each of the next three years, $15, 000 would cover 07-08 and maybe 09-10. It would not cover 2010-2011.
37. We are going to run into serious District resistance to increasing the cap.
38. The union is not prepared for impasse and mediation, let alone fact-finding and strike.
39. The CTAs/Alan Frey’s recommendations on health care are, a) don’t start paying, you’ll never get it “for free,” again; b) don’t consider paying until the District’s paying $13,000-$14,000.
40. The current District cap for the CSEA is $12, 100. They traded part of their COLA.
41. We, “double cover,” a few employees.
42. The CSEA has a “me too clause,” especially on health care.

Again, one assumes that we will disagree. The point here is to look at what the choices are fairly objectively. It’s to give our bargaining team better information on what the faculty wants, so that they don’t cut deals we can’t approve.

1. DO NOTHING. Advantages: no wrangling. We’d have what we have now: a District cap of $10, 996, and payments coming out of the Benefits Fund. We could probably get more on salary and other wages. Maybe the “single-payer,” would get done. Disadvantages: the BF would be dry by the end of September, 2007 at the latest, and our insurance would not be covered after that.

2. DEMAND A $15,000 DISTRICT CAP. Advantages: if we can get this, we’d be covered for around two years. Disadvantages: we’re probably going to have to fight for this one, and is the union ready to really really fight? Further, this will probably mean less sheer salary dollars, and may limit our ability to do anything for PT faculty and retirement benefits. Most likely, this would be the absolute end of District increases: can the District afford this?

3. DEMAND THE HIGHER CAP, AND TRADE PART OF COLA FOR IT. Advantages: would solve the problem for two years at least. Disadvantages: some faculty wouldn’t want to trade anything, believing that, “the District has the money.” We don’t know how much COLA will be. And this may be seen as encouraging the attitude of, “I don’t see the money, so it doesn’t cost anything.”

4. SETTLE FOR A CAP INCREASE OF LESS THAN 15,000, AND FIND CHEAPER HEALTH CARE OUTSIDE REEP. Advantages: Cheaper health care would be…well, cheaper. We wouldn’t have to pay anything for at least a couple years. Disadvantages: a) unrealism—no evidence of cheaper health care is available or has been produced by anyone; b) leaving REEP would mean that our small risk pool would have a lot less bargaining power; c) all the doctors in town seem to be signed up with Blue Cross.

5. HOPE THAT THE DEMOCRATS GET “SINGLE PAYER,” DONE. Advantages: everybody in California would be covered; no co-pays or deductibles; over time, rates might actually drop. Disadvantages: “Hoping,” isn’t a plan; single payer would cost us $200-300/month in payroll deductions, since the system would probably work like STRS contributions. (Note: a long-term approach might be to look at District savings, and negotiate for salary increases to offset deductions from pay, but this would mess up some of the tax advantages of payroll deductions.)

6. SHIFT TO HDHP/SAVINGS PLAN ON BLUE CROSS. Advantages: if we negotiated to have District pay deductibles, this would allow careful members to a) keep their Blue Cross PPO; b) control where their dollars went better; c) still stay with REEP; d) possibly accumulate savings, from unused deductible monies. Disadvantages: a) these plans demand a LOT of attention; b) anybody with kids or chronic health issues isn’t going to save anything; c) national surveys show a lot of dissatisfaction with HDHP plans.

7. SHIFT TO RADICALLY CHEAPER PLANS, LIKE HIGH-DEDUCTIBLE/HMO PLANS/BLUE CROSS WITH MUCH HIGHER CO-PAYS and DEDUCTIBLES. Advantages: probably would allow everybody coverage, without payroll deductions; would allow extension of benefits to PT and retirees; costs could be deferred with Sec. 125 plan; much cheaper rates and rate renewal costs; no changes in plan benefits. Disadvantages: faculty might object to paying the deductibles, particularly if they use a lot of health care. No HMO locally available.

8. DEMAND SOME CAP INCREASE, AND GIVE UP SUPERCOMPOSITE RATES AND GO TO A THREE-TIER SYSTEM. Advantages: cheaper rates by far for singles, somewhat cheaper rates for two-party faculty plans. At least half of faculty would pay nothing. Disadvantages: Family rates would radically increase. Splitting of bargaining unit over costs. Would not save District money.

9. LEAVE REEP, AND USE CENTRAL VALLEY TRUST. Advantage: would make CTA very happy. Disadvantages: we’d lose local control in REEP; their rates are pretty much the same as ours, so we’d still have to worry about paying (San Joaquin Delta, Alan Frey’s old college, has agreed to payroll deductions); CVT doesn’t have doctors signed up closer than San Bernardino.

10. HOLD WHAT WE GOT, BUT ONLY NEGOTIATE HEALTH CARE FOR ONE YEAR, AND GO FROM THERE ON A YEAR-TO-YEAR BASIS. Advantage: might allow us to settle this year, and blow off the issue till 07-08 academic year; District might be more willing to increase to around $13, 900 for one year than commit to $15, 000/yr. for three years. Disadvantage: simply blows off issue again. District might demand to settle once and for all, NOW. Wouldn’t cut costs.

11. WORK OUT A COMPLEX DEAL FOR THREE YEARS THAT INCLUDED MORE PLANS, SEC. 125 ACCOUNTS, INCENTIVES FOR GETTING UNDER CAP, INCREASED CAP, PT PARITY, PAYROLL DEDUCTIONS, AND RETIREMENT BENEFITS. Advantages: would work out problems; would allow more options; would allow coverage for PT, retirees in Contract; would help control costs. Disadvantages: complexity; payroll deductions—are you insane?

Robert Robertson, CTA President

CTA Meeting Minutes
Nov. 28,2006

I. Opening of Meeting:
The regular meeting of the CTA was called to order at 4:11PM.

II. Approval of Minutes: The Nov.14,2006 CTA minutes were moved, seconded, approved by voice.

III. Approval of Agenda: The Nov. 28,2006 agenda was moved, seconded, approved by voice.

IV. New Business:
1. Barbara Gaubeca was nominated and then elected as an at-large member to the Executive Board.
2. 2 documents were distributed entitled, “177 Day Full-Time Faculty” (7 pages) (let’s call it “177” for future reference in these minutes) and “Assessing Salary Schedule Integrity: A Brief Guide” (18 pages) (let’s call it “Integrity” for short). Some comments made by Robert Robertson and other CTA members relating to these 2 documents were:
a. Highest salary = twice the lowest faculty member’s salary.
b. Some of the numbers in the tables were questioned.
c. In 20-year earnings PVC has increased from 65th place to 51st place.
d. Salary and benefits should not be lumped together.
e. Overload pay is important.
f. Missing from these 2 documents is paperwork concerning retirement money,
salaries for part timers, and non-credit faculty pay.
g. Concerning “Integrity” – CTA members need to tell their opinions to
Negotiations Team members.
3. Sunshine benefits will be discussed at the next CTA meeting.
V. Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 5:06PM. Ray Barney’s workshop concerning “Negotiations” will immediately follow this meeting.

Members in attendance: R.M.Robertson, Sandra Sher, Leticia Guilin, Joe Boire, Earl Turner, Sioux Stoeckle, Alejandro Garcia, T.M.Brown, Louise Gallan, Kevin Eoff, Bill Ponder, Joe Jondreau, Eric Wright, Henry Rinaldi, Bruce Wallace, Peter Martinez, David Silva, June Turner, Barbara Gaubeca, Doretha Jones.

Minutes submitted by: Sandra Sher, Dec.12, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006

Meeting Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2006, 4:00-4:45

For Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2006, 4:00-4:45

I. Call to Order
The President will call the meeting to order, noting CTA guidelines for, a) collegial discussion, b) focus on points, c) limiting remarks to three minutes, d) following a, “nobody speaks twice till everybody has had the chance to speak once,” rule.

II. Approval of Minutes
The Minutes for the November 28 meeting will be presented for discussion and approval.

III. Approval of Agenda
The Agenda for today’s discussion of bargaining issues, including, a) Benefits, b) Non-teaching Faculty Evaluation and Accountable Hours, c) Hiring Policy, d) Part-Time Parity, e) Intellectual Property, will be presented for discussion and approval.

IV. Discussion of Negotiating Issues
a) Benefits, focusing on health insurances. The President will offer two statements on i) facts, possibilities and guesses on health insurances; ii) general approaches. Discussions aim at i) members’ interests, ii) members’ concerns, c) members’ rage of solutions.
b) Non-teaching Faculty. Following brief explanations of primary issues (evaluation forms and student evaluation methods, accountable hours, job description), discussion of issues and bargaining approaches follow.
c) Hiring Policy. Presentation of issues, followed by discussion of approaches.
d) Part-Time Parity. Presentation of Issues, followed by discussion of approaches.

V. Committee/Liason Reports
a) Negotiations
b) Grievance
c) Executive Board: request for agenda items for first meeting.
d) Part-Time issues: presentation of mailing for part-time/non-credit faculty.

VI. Hearing of Citizens

VII. Adjournment
a) Discussion of next meeting date.
b) Request for attendance at tonight’s 5:30 Board meeting on District proposals.

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