By EDDIE CELAYA
A mundane topic of labor discussions has evolved into a sharp point of conten- tion between Pima Community College and its three largest employee organiza- tions. The disagreement centers around a process called “meet and confer.”
Pima Community College Education As- sociation Vice President Matej Boguszak said in an email that meet and confer is im- portant on multiple fronts.
“It is what substitutes for collective bar- gaining at Pima and at many other com- munity college districts across the state,” he said.
PCC spokeswoman Libby Howell said that is not the case. “Meet and confer is not collective bargaining, it’s not a nego- tiation and it does not result in a binding contract,” she said.
Boguszak and PCCEA contend the guidelines for meet and confer have con- sisted entirely of Higher Learning Com- mission-related topics the past two years.
“We were asked to focus solely on HLC compliance, reduction in force (layoff) policies, and were not allowed to discusssalaries/raises due to the poor financialstate of the college,” Boguszak said.
That’s not usual, according to Boguszak. “More typically, faculty and administra- tion both bring a list of topics/priorities they feel need attention and jointly agree on (or negotiate) which ones to tackle,” he said.
The administration takes a different view. Howell said the Personal Gover- nance Task Force was set up to handle is- sues with human resources as well as to “be more inclusive of employee input.”
Both sides point to a specific policy tosupport their argument: Board of Gover- nors Policy 1.25.
The task force met twice, according to Howell. “What’s most noteworthy is that the PGTF developed the new framework by consensus, meaning all committee members agreed with it,” she said.
Boguszak believes that consensus is a matter of perspective.
The PGTF “had met during Fall 2015 to address the issue of redesigning BP 1.25and Meet and Confer, but it has not final-ized any specific recommendations and hasnot met since,” he said.
The policy, which is another point of contention, was up for discussion at the last governing board meeting on Nov. 16. A change in language was proposed, chang- ing key wording from “assist” to “inform.”
“The proposed language changes to BP 1.25 were presented as minor adjustmentsmade to reflect current practice and theextent of the board’s involvement,” Bo- guszak said.
He and PCCEA fear that the change could “potentially contribute to a dimin- ished employee voice.”
The administration and Howell findthose fears unfounded. She points out that the three employee organizations, includ- ing PCCEA, cannot provide the only em- ployee representatives during meet and confer meetings.
“Similarly, membership in these organi- zations at Pima is voluntary, and not nec- essarily representative of the majority of employees,” Howell said.
With both sides seeing the negotiations in such different terms, a contentious at- mosphere awaits the meetings, scheduled for sometime in the spring semester.
Boguszak harbors some hope, though.
“I truly believe we’re all in this together to create an environment that best supports the work faculty do with our students,” he said.