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Elgin CC Adjuncts Lose Option to Self-Insure

by TAA Staff

WITH MANAGED HEALTH care and retroactive pay increases included,
Elgin Community College released its tentative two-year contract
agreement with its faculty union on July 17th. ECC’s faculty
union voted to ratify the contract that same week, and shortly
thereafter the board of trustees did the same. Though several
issues, including pay increases for both full-timers and adjuncts,
appear to be resolved, others were not. In the new contract,
full-time faculty will have to choose managed care, and adjunct
teachers will not be allowed to purchase health insurance.

“It’s a pretty good two-year contract,” union President David
Sujak said. “But all it does is buy us some time.”

Faculty members have been working without a new contract
since Jan. 1, 2001. Talks broke off in mid-December when the
two sides could not a reach common ground on insurance, salaries
and workload equity. On Feb. 6, 2001 teachers walked off the
job for the first time in ECC’s 52-year history. Faculty members
returned to their classrooms a week later with what they thought
was a tentative contract agreement. However, that deal fell
through a week later when both sides realized they had different
interpretations over retirement savings.

College instructors were once again ready to walk off the
job again, but on March 14 both sides reached an early-morning
arbitration agreement to avoid the second strike, which threatened
to cancel the semester. Then in June, just prior to an arbitrator’s
intercession, the two sides reached the current tentative
agreement.

Several of the issues, including those regarding pay increases
for full-time and adjunct faculty, medical coverage for retiring
faculty and overtime pay for laboratory hours were the same
as those in the February contract. But others, including medical
coverage, changed, and, according to Sujak, may present problems
in the future.

The union, which was in favor of forming a committee with
ECC to study several insurance options, has said it does not
like the managed care option. But on July 1, the college’s
self-insurance, which ECC said was too expensive to continue,
expired, and because a committee never formed, there was no
other option. But the college still plans on forming a committee
and reviewing its insurance plan throughout the year, said
Carole Akemann, ECC’s managing director of planning and marketing.

Another hanging issue concerns retirement savings. Sujak
said the union would like to see some of the money the college
would save when faculty–many who make more than $80,000–retire
early and are replaced by younger teachers who might earn
half that. The new contract does not touch on this subject,
mainly because a large number of faculty will not retire until
the contract expires, Akemann said. This, then, leaves several
issues up for negotiation in the next contract that would
follow this one. Negotiation for that contract could begin
in the fall of 2002, Sujak said.

“Next year is going to be an ugly year,” he said.

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