By AMARIS ENCINAS
Changes have come to Meet and Confer.
Normally, when changing employee policy, Pima Community College Education Association can present its side to the Governing Board of Pima, while the administration presents its side. From there, the board reaches a decision.
Now, PCCEA does not have the opportunity to present its side. Instead, it goes directly to the administration to decide whether to agree or disagree.
Matej Boguszak, president of PCCEA, has seen these changes firsthand.
“Besides the AERC, the biggest change to the Meet and Confer process last year was that the Governing Board no longer needs to approve those policy changes that are proposed as a result,” Boguszak said. “Before, management and employees had to come to an agreement and the board approved that agreement. If no agreement was reached, a case could be made to the board by both sides. Now, the board is no longer in the process, and it is the chancellor or another designated administrator who approves the proposed change.
“That is highly unusual, maybe even unique in Arizona and other states, because we’re essentially negotiating with the same people who are to approve those changes. That is not an even playing field.”
Meet and Confer is “the process, approved by the Board of Governors, which allows employee representative groups to provide input for the development of personnel … related to wages, salaries and working conditions of the employee group,” according the Faculty Personnel Policy Statement.
PCCEA lost the ability to have the Governing Board have a final say in approving these policy changes.
“It remains to be seen whether the new Meet and Confer process will be as effective as the old one,” Boguszak said. “It has the potential to be more flexible and inclusive, but it also tilts the table in the administration’s favor by taking the board out of the picture. It provides an opportunity for employees to give input and provide suggestions for policy changes — the people who actually know how those policies play out and affect their classrooms, students, etc. It helps the administration make more informed decisions and prevent unintended consequences. It ensures fairness and transparency and prevents managers from making arbitrary, unsupported decisions.
“In my experience, it really is about creating policies and pay structures that are equitable and detailed enough to ensure our big college actually works the way it’s supposed to.”
The process is used to have a representative space for the faculty when it comes to salary schedules, initial placement procedures, advancement policies, overload rate, substitute pay and the non-teaching supplemental rate.
Any and all issues up for discussion and revision are predetermined by the Board of Governors specific to contractual obligations and benefits for regular full-time employees within the employee representative group.
The employee representative groups at Pima are: ACES, adjunct faculty, administration, AFSCME, non-PCCEA faculty selected by Faculty Senate, non-ACES and non-AFSCME staff selected by Staff Council, PCCEA and temp staff full-time advocates.
The Faculty Senate and Staff Council are “governance bodies” for faculty and staff, respectively.
“Faculty Senate is focused on academic issues and policies affecting all faculty, as well as reviewing board policies and administrative procedures for the college,” Boguszak said.
However, the All Employee Representative Council is a group of representatives from all employee classifications and takes two employees from the employee groups previously stated. Each employee group goes through its own process to select representatives for itself.
The represented employee groups fall under one of the three categories: exempt, non-exempt and faculty.
“The AERC provides avid representation between all groups and addresses change in policy in the form of directives that are mutually beneficial to the employees and to the institution,” said Ted Roush, co-chair of the AERC. “For the management we are interested in having employee policy that reflects the mission of the college while also providing a good and happy work environment to all employees.”
The AERC encourages faculty to submit their suggestions and concerns regarding employee policy and terms of employment to the AERC through the Pima website. All submissions will remain anonymous and are open to all faculty.
The meetings are open to all faculty and the public and meet at various times at Pima’s District Office in Room C-228.
Collection methods of input can vary, such as through an on-campus visit to any of the campuses or through surveys that must be conducted annually in addition to the Spring and Fall forums.
From there, the AERC will discuss and review the issues that were collected in order to determine the proper course of action. Issues fall into two categories: policy or non-policy changes.
Policy changes is an issue that “requires a change or new board policy/administrative procedure/employee personnel policy statements,” according to the AP Draft. Employee issues that are of greater significance and would be best modified through a change, radication, or implementation of new board policy will be directed toward a resolution team.
The purpose of the resolution team is to reach a consensus on the issue through research and feedback from constituents. The team is made up of to six members who are diverse in representatives’ campus location, classification, gender and ethnicity, according to the AP Draft.
The AERC gives the resolution team a timeline in which it must work. If the resolution team does not reach a consensus, multiple proposals have to be submitted to the AERC. From there, the AERC has two options and that is to refer the recommendations to the appropriate department for decision-making, or it is sent back to the resolution team for revision.
While the AERC is still a new group that has been added after much debate, the AERC was created to ensure that the appropriate pathway for every issue, recommendation or grievance is addressed and communicated effectively with all employee organizations that are involved and to ensure that the college community is operating on an optimal level.
“The AERC meets monthly,” said Ana Jimenez, co-chair to the All Employee Representative Council and past-president of PCCEA. “The Meet and Confer teams that are created meet as often as needed to resolve issues. Currently, we are meeting weekly starting in November.”
Within the scheduling sphere, the Meet and Confer process has been modified recently.
“Now embedded in a comprehensive process of collecting issues districtwide from all employee groups together and sorting them to address each issue individually,” Jimenez said. “The former process was to have a Meet and Confer process for each separate employee group held annually.”
As of now, Meet and Confer does not serve Pima in the same way it used to.
“We have spent the past 11 months working on infrastructure and logistics of running this new process and have addressed very few issues,” Jimenez said. “Additionally, because administration has also decided to prioritize the complete rewrite of all college policies right now, we are creating Meet and Confer teams right now to review the first installment of policy rewrites and will need to focus on this colossal change as the rest of policy is rewritten and installments are provided through March of 2019.