By Austin Metz
Editor in Chief
Faculty and staff within Grand Rapids Community College are returning to class this winter without a new contract in place.
Faculty Association President Fred van Hartesveldt said the old contract ended as of August 31 and the current faculty and staff are still working under the old contract rules and regulations which means there are no pay increases or cuts.
“Negotiations are hung up over the financials,” van Hartesveldt said. “Issues include what future pay will be for faculty and new hires, the current pay step system and a new evaluation system the college wants to implement.”
Under the current contract, a step system is in place so for the first 13 years of employment, faculty gets a raise each year.
All this may change depending on what happens in upcoming negotiation meetings.
“Currently contract negotiations are in the mediation stage where there is a faculty negotiation team and administrative negotiation team,” van Hartesveldt said. “Meetings will be held in February but if nothing is agreed upon then the process will move to the more formal fact-finding stage.”
In a report given at a recent faculty meeting, the issues that are present were mentioned.
The proposal given by the administration states they hope to eliminate the pay step system, adjunct mileage pay and travel time pay.
Also, administration would like to limit the amount of overload full-time faculty is able to teach.
Overload is the classes faculty teach above and beyond what they normally do. If faculty get what they want then the cap for overload classes would be eliminated.
Other differences have to do with the financial side. Administration wants overload rates for full time to be set at $937 while the faculty want overload rates for full time to be set at $1,250.
Administration also hopes to implement a pay system based on a merit system which is creating problems with van Hartesveldt and other faculty members.
“The school wants to use a merit system,” van Hartesveldt said. “Pay would be based on this merit system but the problem is that they can’t define merit. Who will define it?”
While both sides hope for an agreement to come soon, van Hartesveldt is confident the public will now see what the faculty is dealing with.
“Through this the public will now know what we deal with,” van Hartesveldt said. “We have a president who makes his own decisions without negotiating or collaborating with others within the school.”
President Steven Ender was contacted but was unable to comment about this matter at this time.
As for an agreement?
“There will be a conclusion but it could be months down the road,” van Hartesveldt said. “There will be an agreement, I’m confident that it won’t make people happy, at least faculty. I can’t talk for the administrative side.”