Schenectady County

SUNY Schenectady contract with faculty union up for Legislature vote Tuesday


If approved by the Schenectady County Legislature Tuesday evening SUNY Schenectady County Community College full-time faculty will begin receiving longevity pay — a first for the union representing faculty and professionals. 

“That was very positive,” said union president John O’Connell, about being able to negotiate for the additional pay for years of service. 

The contract, once approved, would be retroactive to September 2020 and go until Aug. 31, 2026. 

O’Connell said the contract is retroactive to 2020 because once the last contract expired the negotiating team was unable to meet in person at all because of COVID. They met on March 10, 2020, and then not again until August 2021.

Longevity pay would be retroactive to September 2021, according to the agreement.

The breakdown for the pay is:

  • Five to nine years of service would receive $500 in each year
  • 10 to 14 years would receive $750
  • 15 to 19 years would receive $850
  • 20 to 24 years would receive $950
  • 25 to 29 years would receive $1,500
  • 30 to 34 years would receive $2,000
  • 35 to 39 years would receive $2,500
  • 40 to 44 years would receive $3,000
  • 45 and each successive year would receive $3,500 

“Of course the next time I’m going to try to get the scale a little higher because it is very low, but it is there,” O’Connell said. “By getting it in the contract, it opens the door for the conversation six years from now.”

There are about 65 members in the union, according to O’Connell. He said the contract was approved by a slightly more than a 50% vote.

The contract also includes salary increases.

“Of course they were less than what we were asking for,” he said. “That’s standard.”

O’Connell said this is the third time he’s done contract negotiations.

“I try to get a sense of what they’re going to offer percentage wise and then I convert that to dollars,” he said. “The problem is our starting salaries are so low that new people, 2.5% isn’t worth mentioning.”

This time around, O’Connell said people will get $1,250 per year per member for 2021, 2022 and 2023. Then, there will be a 2.25% increase between 2024 to 2026, according to the contract.

“So it was a bit of a compromise,” he said, “not of course as much money as we thought or what we asked for, which it never is, of course. We all go to our bosses and want 10% and get 2%, for example. We didn’t ask for 10%.”

O’Connell said they asked for $1,500 per person per year.

He said the starting salary can be different, but currently instructors make $43,000.

But now, the base salary will start going up over the next couple of years, according to O’Connell.

Another addition to the contract is a one-time bonus for non-teaching professionals with a doctoral degree or if the person obtains a doctorate while working at the college.

The agreement, among other things, clarifies the criteria for considerations of a tenure appointment, the addition of a final 12-year career appointment and increases the time a faculty member must notify the college of their resignation to 60 days from 45 days.

Under the contract, an ad hoc teaching and learning task force would be created, consisting of the vice president of academic affairs, three deans and five faculty members. The group would be tasked with developing “uniform criteria and processes to evaluate teaching and learning effectiveness” that would be implemented by this coming fall.

Something that didn’t make it into the contract was some promotional steps for faculty members.

“As an instructor, I have the possibility to be promoted to assistant, associate and a full professor, and we have some members in the union that don’t have that promotional path, and don’t have any promotional path, and that was a big issue that people were upset with,” O’Connell said.

He said the issue will stay on his radar.

College President Steady Moono was upbeat about the negotiations during a Legislature committee meeting this past Monday.

“I want to commend our teams, both the administrative team and the faculty negotiating team, really for negotiating in good faith and really in a manner that puts our students at the center,” he said.

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