Schenectady County

Board’s rejection of contract surprises SCCC faculty

Schenectady County Community College’s faculty union members are surprised by the trustees’ rejectio

Schenectady County Community College’s faculty union members are surprised by the trustees’ rejection of its latest contract offer, the union’s leader said.

The SCCC Board of Trustees voted on Monday not to approve the three-year deal with the 80-member SCCC Faculty Association, which would have contained a 2 percent raise.

“This is the first year of the 40-year history of the college that the association has gone this long without a contract,” said association President Ralf Schauer, a professor of science at the college.

Schauer said the faculty members are scratching their heads about the rejection. The union ratified the agreement on April 1 and fully expected it to be approved on Monday night. Many members attended the meeting wearing bright yellow buttons with a check mark saying “Vote Yes.”

“We bargained in good faith. That was their offer on the table,” he said.

Trustees Chairwoman Denise Murphy McGraw said she believes that the board had a problem with the size of the raise; the 11-member Chairpersons, Administrators and Directors Association (CADA) contract, which the board approved, contained a 1.5 percent raise.

“Everybody here really appreciates the faculty and everything that they do, but we want to try to keep all the unions at the same level,” she said.

The union has been working under the terms of a contract that expired in August of last year.

Both agreements contained some minor changes to the health care coverage, according to Darren Johnson, assistant dean of planning, accountability and advancement.

In a follow-up email, Schauer said the health care cost savings would have more than offset the 2 percent pay raise and noted that the union’s contract does not have a pay-step system, longevity, or bonuses for extra duties. Also, there is no tenure system and salaries are below comparative community colleges throughout the state, Schauer said.

Schauer criticized the trustees for continuing to award what the union deems a generous annual longevity pay raise to non-representative administrative personnel and adding many new administrative positions.

“We feel this is not a money issue, but a power issue, aimed at weakening this bargaining union and showing little respect for the professional staff that provide the point of service to the students of Schenectady and surrounding counties,” he wrote.

In other business, the board approved sending a nearly $26.3 million budget to the Schenectady County Legislature. The spending plan calls for a 3 percent tuition increase. The plan would increase tuition by $52, to $1,692 per semester for full-time students and by $4.50, to $141 per credit hour for part-time students.

It will be reviewed by the Legislature in June.

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