Schenectady County Community College has resolved its impasse with its faculty over a new contract.
The SCCC Board of Trustees on Monday approved a three-year contract with the SCCC Faculty Association containing 1.5 percent raises each year retroactive to 2010. Also, new hires will be required to contribute 20 percent toward the cost of their health insurance. Currently, the college pays the entire premium for employees hired before 1992. Those hired between 1992 and 2012 contribute 10 percent, according to the current labor pact.
The cost of the contract with the additional cost of the raises is $61,794 in year one, $63,547 in year two and $65,731 in year three. Also in each of those years, there is an additional $2,750 cost for uniform allowance and an approximately $35,000 pool to provide tuition assistance for faculty and their immediate family members.
The contract, which was approved by the union membership by a 2-1 ratio, now goes to the Schenectady County Legislature for final approval.
The union has been working under the terms of a contract that expired at the end of August 2010. In May 2011, the board rejected a proposed agreement with the roughly 80-member association that would have contained a 2 percent increase. Board members said at the time that they did not want to give the faculty a 2 percent raise when other unions received a 1.5 percent pay increase.
After further negotiations stalled, the matter headed before an arbitrator, who recommended in January that the faculty get raises of 3.5 percent for 2010-11, 3.5 percent for the current year and 4 percent for 2012-13. The arbitrator reasoned that other professors at similarly sized community colleges were getting paid more and Schenectady County has roughly $39 million in surplus funds that it could tap.
A brief filed for the arbitrator noted that the average salary for a full-time professor at SCCC was $63,000, and the only places with lower salaries are Herkimer County Community College and Sullivan County Community College.
SCCC and county officials flatly rejected that recommendation.
The union also pointed out that unlike other faculty at colleges and schools, SCCC professors do not have “step” increases built into their contract. This means that their total increase was smaller than the other unions that do have step increases.
Professors reported earlier this year that morale was “in the toilet” and some faculty members had been looking for other jobs.
The board Monday approved the contract with very little discussion following a 15-minute executive session.
At the close of the meeting, Chairwoman Denise Murphy McGraw thanked the negotiating team, which was led by Richard Walsh of Lombardi, Walsh, Wakeman, Harrison, Amodeo & Harrison, PC. The law firm was hired in February as the college’s legal counsel.
She also thanked the work of President Quintin Bullock, Vice President of Academics Affairs Penny Haynes, faculty spokesman Ralf Schauer and professor Tammy Gummersheimer.
“I know quite well that in any negotiation, you know you’ve done a good job when everybody’s a little happy. We have gotten the one thing that this institution needed very badly, which was a contract for the faculty who deserved one,” McGraw said.
In a statement, she said the agreement is fair because it mirrors the increases provided to other SCCC employees.
However, since this agreement is only for three years, work must begin almost immediately on a new pact, according to McGraw.
Schauer was not available for comment Monday evening.