PCCEA and administration at odds over Meet and Confer

By BRIANNA HERNANDEZ

Throughout October, the Pima Community College Education Association and the college’s administration have been embroiled in a battle over the administration’s newly revised Board Policy 1.25.

BP 1.25 covers Meet and Confer with employee representative groups.

Meet and Confer is the yearly negotiation process between the faculty representing PCCEA and the college’s administration. The process revolves around rectifying employee-related working conditions.

“I think the concern with the proposed BP 1.25 is that it took out all the details about what Meet and Confer is and who the groups are and all the guidelines,” PCCEA spokesman Matej Boguszak said. “It tasked the chancellor and the administration with having all authority over all these employment-related issues and policies.”

Boguszak called the shift on BP 1.25 an attempt to weaken the Meet and Confer process.

“I’m at a complete loss as to why we would be dealing with this right now,” Boguszak said. “The college has so many other important things it’s working on.”

According to Daniel Berryman, PCC vice chancellor of human relations, the board and the administration had expressed desire to revisit board policies.

“The existing BP 1.25 is rather lengthy at about five pages,” Berryman said.  “Board policies in general, if you look at other institutions, are broad, overarching institutional policies.”

Berryman said the current standard to resolve changes can be lengthy and time consuming.

“Those things all had to be done in legislative style,” Berryman said. “Whether it’s changing one word from ‘should’ to ‘shall,’ or something like that. There is this long process.”

“They were given all these pages and pages of changes. I mean there was 40- to 50-plus changes being made every single year between the three different policy statements,” he said.

PCC Chairman Mark Hanna discussed with PCCEA the desire to transition the responsibility and management to the chancellor.

“The chancellor more recently said, ‘Look, we want to make BP 1.25 a brief overarching policy coming from the board,’ and the board wants to delegate the responsibility to the chancellor,” Berryman said. “So the current shortened version of the board policy takes out four to five pages of detailed information and makes a two-paragraph statement.”

PCCEA felt the revised board policy blurs the details about employee representative groups and the way they are elected.

“Well, no, it was made fairly clear from my perspective that we as the task force should adopt that into the administrative procedure that we were developing for the new process,” Berryman said. “So, yes, it was being cut out of 1.25 but whatever was appropriate to retain in the administrative procedure is what the task force is still working on.”

Task force appointed

In 2015, a task force was charged by Chancellor Lee Lambert to closely look at the Meet and Confer process and revise BP 1.25.

“We started with recreating the Meet and Confer process,” PCCEA President Ana Jimenez said. “It took a lot of time.”

The task force conducted presentations to the college community on the proposal. The feedback garnered from the community then was integrated.

“We were starting on rewriting BP 1.25 to align with the new process,” Jimenez said. “Obviously, if you’re going to change the process then the board policy that talks about it has to be modified to align with the new process.”

On Sept. 29, the chancellor attended a task force meeting to make the group aware of some changes.

Lambert also discussed the intent to rewrite policy statements into the form of a handbook.

“But those were all big-picture topics that were down the road,” Jimenez said.

On Oct.1, just a few days after the meeting between the task force and the chancellor, PCCEA received an email from administration about BP 5.01.

“This essentially replaced BP 1.25 and all of the board policies that talked about Meet and Confer,” Jimenez said.

The shift was unprecedented to PCCEA members.

“That was a complete shock because we didn’t realize that was going to happen,” Jimenez said.“This was completely outside of any of the work the task force was doing or anything we knew was coming. Or were involved in.”

According to Boguszak, this situation isn’t warranted by the desire on part of the board to have more broad policies as well as administrative procedures to follow.

“I don’t think that justifies completely redoing the structure of our Meet and Confer process and suspending all these policies,” Boguszak said.

Moving forward

Jimenez believes the rewrite of BP 1.25 was created in an effort to remedy initial PCCEA concerns over BP 5.01.

Jimenez noted that the revised BP 1.25 which replaced 5.01 in the board packet was essentially the same except for the mention of Meet and Confer.

On Oct. 11, Jimenez sent out a mass email to faculty. She thanked those who had called, emailed and written letters for their part in getting Lambert and Hanna to delete BP 5.01 from the board agenda on the same night.

The email referred to the revised board policy as Lee’s BP 1.25.

“It was written without employee input and is very different from the original board policy,” Jimenez said in the email. “Lee’s BP 1.25 is missing many key elements, such as board recognition of the representative groups and a guarantee that mutual agreements are ultimately approved by the board.”

BP 1.25 has not been posted for public comment since the announcement of the revised board policy.

“This is a standard practice which means that the board will not be voting on it in their November meeting,” Jimenez said. “This is because it needs to go through 21 days of open comment first.”

Lambert said he was unaware that it was not posted when he spoke to Jimenez on Oct. 25.

“I don’t know if it was intentional or who was directing that,” Jimenez said.

PCCEA intends to move ahead with their faculty surveys for the upcoming Meet and Confer, which typically begins in January.

“It’s extremely important that we continue to advocate,” Jimenez said. “We meet with the chancellor and provost once a month and bring forward issues each month to try to problem solve any working conditions we can rectify.”

Neither Jimenez or Boguszak have any idea on what Meet and Confer will look like.

“It is going to depend a lot on what is going to happen with the revised BP 1.25 and that administrative procedure that goes along with it,” Boguszak said. “I feel like it’s extremely important that those get finalized and approved. In order to be put in place if we are going to buy out some kind of new policy, so it’s not some kind of free-for-all.”

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