Monday, November 1, 2010

Temporary Injunction Issued Against MATC in Unfair Labor Lawsuit

The following letter was issued late last week by the P/t Union regarding our ongoing legal struggle with the MATC administration.  Click the image to enlarge.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yet They Want the Taxpayers to Believe They Can't Afford Us...

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that:
The Madison Area Technical College district board voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a resolution of intent to borrow up to $150 million for a building expansion.
The resolution is a legally mandated first step toward putting the question to voters as a referendum on the November ballot. The college will have a public hearing about the resolution Sept. 8, and the board will subsequently decide whether the referendum will appear on the ballot.
The money would fund the first phase of the college's facilities master plan, which includes a new health building, the creation of a southern or western campus and an expansion of current facilities.
Under state law, technical colleges must hold referendums before completing any capital project that costs more than $1.5 million.
Where exactly do the administration's priorities lie?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Inside Higher Ed Questions Who Gets Bumped?

Inside Higher Ed tackles the full-time vs. part-time debate head on in this article.

They get opinions from other part-time teachers groups:
Keith Hoeller, co-founder of the Washington State Part-Time Faculty Association, who has worked on the issue of adjuncts' rights to class sections, said that "one of the most common and corrupt practices" in higher education today "is letting the tenure-stream faculty teach overloads, while refusing to let the part-time faculty teach even up to full time." He said that "this regressive practice prevents adjuncts from ever qualifying for tenure, and robs them of money and benefits."

The split at Madison reflects one of the most challenging issues facing faculty leaders who are worried about an erosion of tenure-track, full-time jobs -- namely how to reverse the erosion without taking away the jobs on which adjuncts rely.
And an honest look at the heart of the division:
"The only resolution to this dilemma, to the contradiction of interests, is giving part-timers a predictable path into the full-time cohort," but since that's not happening due to the economy, "we're going to see more" conflicts like the one playing out in Madison, said Richard Boris, director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions, at the City University of New York’s Hunter College.
Take time to view the comments section and add your own.

Wisconsin State Journal's Lawsuit Coverage

This recent article in the Wisconsin State Journal sheds a lot of light on how the MATC administration and full-time faculty view part-timers:

But college officials say that the new system ensures that more courses will be taught by full-time teachers, which they say is better for students.

How is it better for students to be led by an overworked teacher?  How is it better that an equally qualified educator is locked out of the system for merely not having the opportunity to work full-time?  This singular statement shows that we are viewed as less than adequate - we simply exist in their eyes to take up the slack and balance a budget that is teetering on the edge.

Part-time faculty currently teach more than 25 percent of courses, said Joe Lowndes, president of the full-time union.
"It's our long-standing position that full-time faculty are the best for the institution," Lowndes said.

We have not only the legal high ground in this situation, but the moral and ethical as well.  It is simply wrong to disrespect and mistreat your supposed colleagues, full time union.  Shame on you.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Local 6100 Files Unfair Labor Practices Lawsuit Against MATC

The unfair labor practice complaint is based on the college's unilateral implementation of a new course assignment process which allows full-time faculty to assign themselves up to 40% overload, before any courses are assigned to probationary part-time faculty (2/3 of our membership). The negative impact to our membership is simply too large to let this change happen. In addition, philosophically, the notion that it is more important that a well-paid full-timer receive overload than it is for a part-timer get his or her basic assignment is simply unconscionable.

A full FAQ is availble on the P/t Union website.

To give a little perspective to what this change means, note that full time faculty voluntary overload costs the college between $6000-$7000 per course. The displaced part-time faculty cost the college about $2500 per course.

Check back with this blog and the P/t Union website often for more updates and links to local coverage.

Monday, July 19, 2010

MATC Administration Audit

or It's About Time!

Our good friend Deke Rivers over at Caffeinated Politics got the scoop on the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau's plans to Audit MATC.

The Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau decided on Wednesday that there will be an audit of the technical school system in the state.  CP is waiting for the exact language outlining the scope of the audit. It was reported to me that MATC President Bettsey Barhorst  was at the audit meeting on Wednesday and voiced strong opposition to any audit.  Democratic Representative Marlin Schneider again stood up for the citizens and called out the reason such an audit was essential to be undertaken.   If the head of MATC shows up with such energy to oppose an audit, there then seems even more reason to have one.

The Part-time Teacher's Union wonders what Mrs. Barhorst has to hide?  Our hope is that this much overdue audit will shed some light on the real workings of a, thus far, very secretive organization.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Retort to Bettsey Barhorst

In response to the fear-inducing* letter sent out to all P/t Union members from the office of Bettsey Barhorst last week:

Dear Part-time Faculty Member,

Earlier this week, you likely received a letter from Bettsey Barhorst, encouraging you to contact the union leadership and encourage us to schedule a vote on ratification.  The letter contains several factual inaccuracies, which we felt we should bring to your attention.

First, let’s concisely reiterate the reason we are delaying ratification.  In April, the college entered into an agreement with the Full Time Union that allows full time faculty to bump probationary part-time faculty out of courses and to claim those courses as overload.  Rather than openly and honestly informing us of this proposal while we were bargaining, the management concealed this information from us, and we were only able to discover the proposal when the full time union posted it on their website as part of their ratification packet.  It is ironic that Ms. Barhorst now speaks of the obligations inherent in good faith bargaining.

As I indicated in the letter we sent on July 2, 2010, we attempted to prevent the ratification of this toxic provision through numerous means.  These efforts were taking place parallel to our own bargaining process.  At no time did we concede to this new course assignment language in bargaining.  It never even came to the table.  After the Board ratified the Full Time contract in April, we brought in outside legal counsel.  We have never claimed that we were unaware of the provision.  It has always been our contention that the full timer language constituted an unfair labor practice.  It has always been our intention to contest it.  I personally told the MATC Board of Trustees on both March 17th and April 14th that our union viewed that agreement as an unfair labor practice.

After reaching our various tentative agreements (TAs) with management, we again met with our outside legal counsel, Lester Pines, about the unfair labor practice claim.  After researching the law, we concluded that ratifying the rest of the tentative agreements would be damaging to our unfair labor practice complaint. 

The bottom line is that, as long as we have not ratified the TAs, management cannot claim that we have waived bargaining over the course assignment issue.  If we have not ratified the TAs, we will probably win our unfair labor practice case.  If we do ratify the TAs, we run the risk of losing the unfair labor practice case.

Not surprisingly, the management REALLY wants us to ratify the TAs.  Also not surprisingly, they have refused to address the full time overload issue with us.  Their offer to discuss the issue only after ratification is disingenuous.  After ratification, we have little recourse if the college simply refuses to move on the issue. 

As to the second page of Ms. Barhorst’s letter, I believe the best response is to simply share the rest of the information that she neglected to mention. 

In the first paragraph, it is true that the college has always had assignment authority.  The new agreement takes the authority to assign overload away from the Center Deans and grants it directly to the full time faculty.  Voluntary overload has historically been compensated at rates ranging from the part-time course rate, to the regular full-time rate, and in very rare circumstances at 150% of the full time rate.  Involuntary overload is paid at 150%, and is unaffected by the contested Memorandum of Understanding   The agreement ended the practice in some centers of paying FT faculty at the part time rate for voluntary overload, and gave full time faculty control over the amount of overload they take.  There is no way this agreement could be characterized as a “cost savings.”  The attempt to characterize an agreement that takes courses away from part-time faculty at $2500/course and gives them to full-time faculty at $6000-7000/course as a “considerable saving to the taxpayers” simply does not comport with reality. 

In her second paragraph, Ms. Barhorst seems to suggest that the union’s concern that the FT language will result in part-time faculty losing work is inaccurate.  She suggests that this is because of a tentative agreement the college proposed which “clearly protects a level of work for bargaining unit employees.”  The tentative agreement Ms. Barhorst references states that the college will establish a “target” of no less than 25% of the courses at the college being taught by part-time faculty.  Currently, part-time faculty teach about 50% of the courses at the college.  In addition, there is no clear recourse if the college falls below the “target.”  The TA in question offers no protection against substantial job losses by PT faculty.

In her third paragraph, Ms. Barhorst suggests that a refusal to present the TAs for ratification is a “refusal to bargain.”  An interesting position, coming from a management team that is refusing to negotiate over the course assignment language they attempted to unilaterally impose on the bargaining unit.  Quite contrary to Ms. Barhorst’s assertion, the union is quite ready to bargain this issue with the administration and it is the administration that is refusing.  In addition, I think most of you are sophisticated enough to know that “stalled salary increases” mean little when you aren’t working.  Furthermore, I think most of you understand the concept of “back pay” in the event the contract was not settled before the fall semester.

In closing, in this letter Bettsey condescendingly suggests to you that she is a better judge and advocate of your interests than your union bargaining team.  That she thinks you might actually buy that line tells you everything you need to know about her opinion of part-time faculty.

In Solidarity,

Mike Kent
President- MATC Part Time Teachers’ Union 

*We occasionally like to use sarcasm on this blog.  This would be one such occasion.  Mrs. Barhorst - you cannot frighten us.  We stand strong.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Emperor Has No Clothes

The following letter went out to all P/t Faculty earlier this week from the office of Bettsey Barhorst.  Is the tone threatening?  Is this truthful?  We will give you a day to mull this over before posting Mike Kent's official response.  (Note:  blog administrator's name has been redacted.)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Message from Mike Kent Regarding Contract Ratification

The following was sent via email to all P/t Union members last week:

Hello Part-time Faculty Members,

At this point, you have received two communications from the union delaying the ratification vote on the tentative agreements between the college and the union. You are probably wondering why. The purpose of this letter is to explain the problem we have encountered and to inform you about the options the union is pursuing to overcome this latest challenge.

To understand the issue, you need a little history of our talks with management over the past 6 months.
You will recall that last fall we informed you we had reached an impasse with the management’s bargaining team on several key issues: job security, course scheduling and wages. We initiated mediation with the college, and were able to come to some agreements in a number of key areas. Job security and course assignments were a major source of disagreement, but we managed to settle on mutually agreeable language in December. By the end of December, the only negotiations that were taking place between the parties were the exchange of proposed final offers, dealing solely with the issue of wages. From January through April, we exchanged a number of proposals back and forth with management until we finally agreed on the wage proposal that was presented to you at the end of April.
What we didn’t know at the time we were negotiating, but later discovered, is that in February and March, 2010, management was negotiating new contract language with the full-time union that would change the way courses were assigned within the centers. The system that had existed previously gave full-time faculty first claim to all courses up to their normal full-time load. The classes that remained after the full-timers had their full load were then assigned to part-time faculty, and in some cases given to full-time faculty as “overload.” The Deans and Associate Deans of the centers were responsible to decide how the courses were distributed and could take into account such things as their budget, the past assignments given to full- and part-time faculty members, the expertise of the full- and part-time faculty members, student feedback, etc. Under this system, the managers were responsible for making decisions that were in the best interest of the students, the college and the taxpayers.
Under the new agreement, the authority to make these decisions has been taken away from the managers. The infamous Appendix U (which we brought to your attention via e-mail in April) set up a course assignment process that functioned like this:

1.) Full-time faculty receive their normal course load.

2.) Non-probationary part-time faculty receive their base assignments.

3.) All remaining courses are then offered to full-time faculty to take as overload, up to an additional 40% load (2-3 additional courses). Full-time faculty are not limited to their own departments, but may take any courses for which they could potentially obtain temporary certification, regardless of whether they have ever taught the course before.

4.) Probationary part-time faculty receive whatever is left.

This was obviously a profound change in the course assignment process. Probationary part-time faculty comprise two-thirds of our membership, and this new scheduling process put them all at substantial risk of losing their courses. (Probationary faculty are those who have taught for the college for fewer than 6 semesters.) The college essentially gave the full-time faculty the right to assign themselves overtime.

The agreement itself boggled the mind. The full-time overload rate averages $6000-$7000 dollars per course, plus additional retirement contributions (compared to $2500 for a part-time faculty member). A huge number of full-time faculty (up to one third) are approaching eligibility for either regular or early retirement. Faculty approaching retirement have high incentive to maximize their income for their last three years of employment. The extra load increases the benefits they receive under the Wisconsin Retirement System formula. This overload option means the maximum financial exposure for the college is up to $15 million dollars per year. Actual costs are likely to be in the $5-10 million dollar per year range and is not an unrealistic possibility. (For comparison purposes, the total cost of the wage package they offered us is $300,000 to $400,000/yr.)
There are a number of shocking aspects to this proposal. The insane misappropriation of tax payer resources, the impact on students, and the philosophical position that it is more important for the well-compensated full-time faculty to receive overload than it is for our grossly-underpaid regular members to receive even their basic course assignments.
The union took the following action in response to this proposal. We contacted the Full-time Faculty Union, AFT-WI and ultimately brought our concerns to AFT-National. I addressed the MATC Board twice, drawing their attention to the implications of this proposal. We asked the full-time faculty not to ratify this provision that was so harmful to our members. Ultimately, none of these efforts did any good.
In the mean time, we negotiated our economic settlement with management. Management never brought the new course assignment process to the table and never even told us they were negotiating it with the full-time faculty. We only discovered it after the full-time faculty announced the agreement.
After reaching our economic settlement, and after the Board ratified the full-time tentative agreements, we evaluated our options with respect to the course assignment language.

Wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment are legally known as “mandatory subjects of bargaining.” An employer cannot unilaterally change the status quo in any of these areas without bargaining with the union. Clearly, management’s agreement with the full-timers has an impact on our hours and terms and conditions of employment. To implement that change without bargaining it with us is an Unfair Labor Practice, which we could attack in court. This is our option of last resort.
Our dilemma is that if we ratify our contract without bargaining over this issue, management could take the position that we waived our right to bargain it, thus harming our Unfair Labor Practice claim. They could take this position, even though they never disclosed their intent to change the status quo on the course assignment process.
In our discussions with management, management has insisted that we ratify the tentative agreements as they stand. We have proposed a memorandum of understanding

(MOU) to deal with the course assignment process. We have attempted to deal with this demand by seeking an agreement with management that acknowledges that the ratification of the other Tentative Agreements (TA’s) would not constitute a waiver of the course assignment issue. Management has rejected these efforts. Our last proposal to management asked for a mutual understanding that by ratifying the tentative agreements we were agreeing to change the status quo in the manner described specifically in the TA’s and that we were not agreeing to modify the status quo in any manner not described in the TA’s. Management’s rejection of that language sent a strong signal that they intend to make the waiver argument.
Our efforts to engage AFT-WI and AFT-National to mediate the issue with the full-timers have been unsuccessful. Our perception of these organizations is that they simply value the full-time faculty more than they value us, and the full-time faculty union has no apparent interest in discussing the issue. Worse, last fall AFT-WI made thinly veiled threats that it would attempt to impose receivership on our union if we didn’t stop upsetting the apple cart with the full-time union. We have taken measures to protect our union and the part-time faculty members against such action and will be providing more information on these matters in later communications.
So, as the situation stands now, we have brought in outside legal counsel for the Unfair Labor Practice claim. We are attempting to schedule a final meeting with management, including legal counsel on both sides. If we fail to come to an agreement, we will be seeking an injunction against the implementation of the new course assignment process.
It is possible that this course of action will send us to arbitration on the contract, and it is possible that MATC will revert to an earlier final offer. The executive leadership of the union believes, nonetheless, that the course assignment issue is too important for too many of our members to surrender.
We will keep you posted on this issue, and other issues the union is facing this summer. Until then, we remain loyally, faithfully and diligently in your service.

In Solidarity,

Mike Kent, President

MATC Part-time Teachers’ Union

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Forward Our Motto Congratulates the Part-time Union

and had this to say:
Part-time or not, the teachers should be treated fairly. Good to see them get a good deal.
Thanks for the support.  Full post here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Capital Times Coverage

The Campus Connection Blog at The Capital Times has a lengthy article regarding the past few months of negotiations that link back to this blog.  The author, Todd Finkelmeyer, brings up some items of interest for the public at large:
If you are an area homeowner wondering how this deal might impact the amount of taxes you'll be sending to MATC, Roger Price, the school's vice president of infrastructure services, said he expects it'll have a "minimal effect."
Kent notes that over the next two years, the part-time teachers' new deal is expected to increase the college's operating budget by just 0.3 percent.
He also added a bit of perspective for anyone in doubt of the unfair treatment we've experienced over the years:

The college employs roughly 1,200 part-time teachers and about 450 full-timers.

Although these raises are significant, especially during the current economic crisis, part-timers argue they are long overdue as the gap between what they make and what the full-time faculty earn had widened too far.

The average part-time teacher at MATC, who receives no benefits, will earn about $2,600 per three-credit course during the 2009-10 school year. A full-time faculty member, meanwhile, gets an average of nearly $13,400 in total compensation (pay plus benefits).

To add perspective, Kent notes full-time faculty members at MATC are required to teach the equivalent of 10 three-credit courses per year -- which comes to an average of $133,972 in total compensation. If part-timers were allowed to teach the same amount, their pay would be $25,825.

This pay discrepancy so infuriated the part-time union that its members voted in September to allocate $100,000 to fund a "public education" campaign about its plight. Among other things, the union produced print ads, purchased air time and put up yard signs in an effort to make people aware of what it viewed as an unfair situation.
This is great press and a fair view of our efforts.

Thursday, April 29, 2010 Sends Congratulations

One of our earliest online supporters,, posted this gem today:
The MATC part-time faculty (early allies of Pretty Important) has made significant gains in their quest for fair(er) treatment, relative to full-time teachers.
Congratulations, you work hard and deserved it. Your job is important.
Thanks again for all of your support and exposure.

The Badger Herald Heralds Our Victory

Full article here:
Part-time teachers at Madison College may be seeing pay increases thanks to an agreement the college reached with the teacher’s union earlier this week.

After nearly a year of deliberation, Madison College agreed to allow part-time teachers a 3 percent annual pay increase and for those who have been employed longer than 13 years, a 12 percent pay increase each year over the course of the three-year contract.
Madison College Part-Time Teachers’ Union Vice President Robert Curry said the bump is substantial, but it still does not get part-time teachers even up to half of what full-time teachers make.
He said before the agreement, a full-time teacher would make $1 for every 18 cents a part-time teacher would make.
A big thanks to Bob Curry for all of his work in these efforts.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Big News: Tentative Agreement Reached with MATC Administration

From the desk of MATC Part-Time Union President Mike Kent:

Good Morning Part-Timers!

I am pleased to announce that on Friday, 4/23/10, the union entered into tentative agreements with management on our remaining outstanding issues and we have averted formal arbitration this year.

While we still have work ahead of us to achieve our goal of true equity with the full-time faculty, the concessions offered by management were significant and of sufficient strategic value that the bargaining team decided it was in our union's best interest to lock them in.

The key feature of the economic package is the expansion of the number of longevity steps from 3 to 13. Under the old system, part-time faculty got a 2.75% longevity bonus about once every 3-4 years. Under the new system, faculty will receive a longevity bonus every year for years 1 through 13. The bonus starts out at 1.25% and increases to as high as 2.6% over the three-year course of the contract. The net result is that the average employee will see a 5.5% raise for 2010-11 and a 6.5% raise for 2011-12. The actual raise will vary based on the faculty member's longevity. The newest employees will be seeing raises closer to 3% in 2010-2011 and 3% in 2011-12, while the most senior people will see total raises of around 10-12% per year over the same time period. This difference is due to the effect of the system being implemented, and the difference in raises between newer and more senior faculty should not be as dramatic in the future.

A decent gain, particularly in this economy.

There were three key aspects of this approach that the union found valuable: 1.) the new system rewards sticking around, and turnover is our single greatest challenge, 2.) the new system matches the FT faculty pay schedule in number of steps, making it easier to directly compare the wages received by an individual PT faculty member to those of an identically-experienced FT faculty member, (it was also a philosophical concession on the issue of part-timer/full-timer comparability), 3.) and most importantly... this new system will create a formula-based pay increase of 2-3% per year that will be over and above any other negotiated raise... every year... forever... from now on. If we are able to bargain a 3% raise, most of our members will see a 5-6% raise. If we bargain 5%, most members will see 7-8%. The future benefit to the union is substantial.

The union has an update to the Excel pay calculator that will allow you to project how much you will receive under the new system. This new pay calculator will be posted on the union's website later today. To use it, you need to know the number of contact hours for your class, the number of semesters you have worked for MATC, your education level, and the average enrollment for the course (data available on a sheet in the calculator workbook). The calculator will show you what you will make in each year of the contract, and will also show you how far we have come in the last two contracts. For people who have been here a while, we have improved pay by almost $1000 for a 3-credit course.

We made other important gains in this contract as well. We will be sending around complete details and we will be scheduling presentations at each of the major campuses. The ratification meeting will be in early June (after the 30 day notice period). Look for an e-mail scheduling both the campus presentations and the ratification meeting.

Our fight is not over, but our cause is advancing.

Hope you have a good day.

In solidarity,

-Mike Kent

This is an amazing achievement for all Part-time Union Members.  We would like to extend an enormous thank you to everyone involved in negotiations over the past months.

We should note that this agreement shows that the administration has given ground and modified their stance regarding the status of part-timers, but our work is not done.  We will continue to lay the groundwork for future negations over the coming year(s).

Thanks again for all of the community support!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year!

The MATC Part-time Union would like to wish a happy new year to the Madison area and the interwebs at large.  After nearly a month long haitus, we are glad to be back in action.  The holidays allowed time to reflect on the past year, make plans for the future, and relish our families and friends.
We will have updates on our current state of affairs in the coming days, so stay tuned.