Regarding the SSC Memo to Faculty

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The SSC Executive Council recently distributed a memo to full time faculty in response to Stark AAUP’s previous meeting invitation flyer to colleagues. It is disappointing that the College has chosen to share this memo which reflects, at best, a poor understanding of how collective bargaining and unions operate, and at worst, misleading information.  We intend to address these points in further detail and take any questions faculty may have at our open meeting on October 18th from 1:00 to 2:30 in E215. We encourage all faculty to attend for an honest discussion about unions and the unionization process.

However, there are also some important broad points deserving of more immediate clarification:

On the OACC compensation chart provided in the memo, the average amounts shown for each listed institution include all faculty, including those who are not members of the bargaining unit covered by their union contract. OACC survey data are not collected or intended to illustrate union vs. non-union salaries, and it is disingenuous to imply this provides a valid comparison or that it negates demonstrated national data trends. Additionally, it is unclear why the SSC averages shown in the chart are larger than those reported to IPEDS for the same listed 2018 period.

Collective bargaining laws simply require both the union and the administration to negotiate in good faith as equals. This does not dictate the parameters of a contract or guarantee any particular outcome, nor does it limit the rights of administration to manage the workforce, finances, or day to day operations. To explore various collectively-bargained contract agreements and what they do/don’t contain, see Ohio SERB’s current archive of collective bargaining contracts: https://serb.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/serb/documents-and-decisions/collective-bargaining-agreements/collective-bargaining-agreements

Signing a union authorization card indicates support for a union as a bargaining representative and provides for a subsequent election. It does not and cannot dictate any individual’s vote in the election for or against forming a union nor can a signed card commit an employee to being a union member or limit their right to revoke a signed authorization card.

Union leaders, stewards, and other representatives are decided upon by consensus of the faculty union members. Such representatives are not automatically dictated or appointed, they are democratically elected according to the procedures laid out in the bylaws which faculty members create.

A union strike or any other type of collective action that may occur is always determined by the consensus of its members. Strikes are rare and unions don’t go on strike when collective bargaining is happening in good faith—to suggest otherwise is disingenuous. However, when/if a lawful strike over unfair labor practices is authorized, employers cannot fire union members for striking.

Have more questions? Want to find out more? Come join us on the 18th!

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Know Your Rights

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It’s important to know your rights, especially your labor rights as a worker.

Employees have a legally-protected right to inquire about, participate in, or join a labor association such as a union or an advocacy organization.

An employer may not coerce employees into refraining from inquiring about, participating in, or joining a labor association.

An employer may not retaliate against employees for inquiring about, participating in, or joining a labor association.

An employer may not restrict the right of labor associations or their members to speak on working conditions.

For full text and more detail, see the Ohio Revised Code §4117.01 – §4117.24 http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4117

Meeting Invitation

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In case you missed it, here is the meeting invitation flyer that was distributed to SSC faculty mailboxes last week. Hope to see you on Friday, October 18th! Drop by and join us in E215 any time between 1:00 and 2:30. All faculty are welcome, you do not have to be a current member to attend.

benefits of a faculty union

We Need a Union

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Fellow SSC faculty, we need a union. It will be protective for us, it will be formed by us, and it will be run by us.

We need a union, for ourselves:

We need a union, for our students:

  • Because faculty working conditions are student learning conditions.
  • Because academics are being continually rehoused under enrollment and marketing.
  • Because our diverse population of students deserves increased diversity in our classrooms.
  • Because an increasing focus on the approach of “butts-in-seats before all else” is a detriment to their education.

We need a union, for our profession:

We need a union, for our society:

Fellow faculty, we need a union. Because together, we are strong.

~ Angela Adkins
Associate Professor of Sociology

*Reposted from Facebook, links added 

Changes in Real Wage (updated)

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*This is an update from an earlier post to add 2018 figures

Real wage refers to the value of wages adjusted for inflation, a useful economic measure of purchasing power in terms of the goods and services that can be bought in one time period compared to the relative price of the same goods and services in another time period.

SSC has not been exempt from the national trend of stagnating real wages for most workers, even when nominal (unadjusted) paycheck dollars may have risen. See the table below for a summary of these effects. We used reported IPEDS data for the college and the consumer price index to calculate what the average salary would be in order to keep pace with inflation, and the percent of this difference with respect to real wage. The annual columns show current year salary figures compared to prior year only, while the cumulative columns show current year salary compared to the benchmark year of 20121.

Real wages for faculty have dropped 8.98% overall in this time period2. In other words: in order for it to have kept pace with the prior years of inflation and provide the same purchasing power as it did in 2012, average salary for full-time faculty in 2018 should have been $64,411. For someone earning the actual average salary and on the typical year-round pay schedule, the loss in real wage equates to $222 less per paycheck.

Additionally, keep in mind that these figures include gross contract salary only–they do not incorporate taxes nor deductions such as the increases in employee STRS withholding or increased health care costs which have affected us all.

Annual Cumulative
Year Regional
CPI
3
SSC Reported
Average Salary
4
CPI-adjusted
Salary
5
Real Wage
% Change
6
CPI-adjusted
Salary
7
Real Wage
% Change
8
2012 214.706 $59,027
2013 217.462 $58,932 $59,785 -1.43% $59,785 -1.43%
2014 220.622 $58,203 $59,788 -2.65% $60,653 -4.04%
2015 220.476 $57,186 $58,164 -1.68% $60,613 -5.65%
2016 220.896 $55,863 $57,295 -2.50% $60,729 -8.01%
2017 223.417 $56,125 $56,501 -0.66% $61,422 -8.62%
2018 234.290 $58,630 $58,856 -0.38% $64,411 -8.98%

This is a significant pattern of decline, one that cannot be accounted for solely by changes in staffing numbers, new hires or exits, or rank classification of individuals. Meaningful cost of living increases have been absent, and we’ve collectively seen our wages erode further each year. In this context, it’s not necessarily surprising that FT overloads taught have increased and the #1 reason faculty reported for doing so is to increase pay. Also consider that faculty and staff have been consistently asked to increase workloads and “do more with less,” while students have watched their costs increase and their resources cut.

By its own reports, Stark State College is not and has not been in such a precarious fiscal position that would warrant a steady decline in employee wages. To the contrary, we’ve opened a new campus, expanded our programs, and the SSC Board of Trustees has annually recognized and rewarded college leadership for excellent performance and solid financial management. Are those gains coming at the expense of faculty, staff, and students?


(1) 2012 was selected as the starting comparison year because this is the time range most easily provided by and accessed through IPEDS. Conveniently, this is also the year after reallocation occurred, the effects of which are reflected in all subsequent salary figures. [back]

(2) Due to differences in the way IPEDS records instructional vs. non-instructional categories and pay data, reliable salary-only figures for SSC staff are more challenging to calculate. However, a preliminary rough analysis suggests that staff have experienced a similar decline in real wages: approximately 7.58% decrease overall during the same time period. [back]

(3) Data obtained from Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index https://www.bls.gov/cpi/research-series/home.htm#CPI-U-RS%20Data; All urban consumers, all items, Cleveland-Akron OH, 2012-2017; All urban consumers, all items, Midwest Region 2018  [back]

(4) Data obtained from the National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/use-the-data reported financial data for Stark State College: Average salary equated to 9 months of full-time instructional staff, all ranks, 2011-2012 to 2016-2017; Data feedback report for 2018 [back]

(5) Calculation for annual CPI-adjusted salary: (Prior year reported average salary * Current year regional CPI) ÷ Prior year regional CPI [back]

(6) Calculation for annual change in real wage: (Current year reported average salary – annual CPI-adjusted salary) ÷ annual CPI-adjusted salary [back]

(7) Calculation for cumulative CPI-adjusted salary: (2012 reported average salary * Current year regional CPI) ÷ Prior year regional CPI [back]

(8) Calculation for cumulative change in real wage: (Current year reported average salary – cumulative CPI-adjusted salary) ÷ cumulative CPI-adjusted salary [back]

Priorities

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The Board of Trustees meeting minutes show that SSC President Para Jones was awarded a $40,000 performance bonus, authorized by the board on June 12, 2019. This bonus is in addition to the increase to base that will go to all full-time employees, as well as in addition to the $65,000 annual additional compensation given as a yearly retention incentive to the President.

Source: SSC Board of Trustees meeting 6/12/19, record of proceedings (minutes) via public records request

This was the same meeting in which the lump sum pay determination for employees was once again deferred while waiting for final revenues.

Source: SSC Board of Trustees meeting 6/12/19, record of proceedings (minutes) via public records request

It is curious that for several years faculty and staff have not received base salary raises in alignment with cost of living or other deductions like STRS or health insurance increases, and a portion has been moved to lump sum amounts that are contingent on revenue. We were originally told that lump sum payments instead of an increase to base would be a temporary measure, but they have been consistent inclusions in the board’s approved salary plans. All of this occurs under the umbrella of stated fiscal stability concerns, and yet a sizable presidential bonus which increases substantially each year does not evoke the same hesitation or concern.

Despite the consistent language of “valuing people” it seems quite clear where the priority in institutional values does and does not lie.

Another insurance cost increase

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In case you missed the latest college email announcement, there has been yet another rate increase in health insurance (medical) for the upcoming fiscal year. The increase is 3.25%. As we all wait for word about the increasingly diminishing possibility of getting a lump sum pay this summer per the terms of the Board’s salary plan, consider how this additional rate increase will affect you.

For your convenience, the table below contains a summary of changes in monthly and annual employee costs since 2017.