‘A lot of tension’ at COD after long contract battle
Updated: July 29, 2012 6:07AM
Hard feelings still linger around the College of DuPage campus concerning the recently concluded contract negotiations between faculty and the college administration.
It took 16 months before an agreement was reached with the college’s full-time faculty.
College of DuPage Faculty Association President Glenn Hansen said the feeling among faculty members can be seen in the number of employees leaving COD.
“It is a staggering number ...,” he said. “As I’ve said before, we should be asking why our most experienced staff is leaving.”
The new contract runs through 2015 and gives faculty a 3.43 percent salary increase, but seems to give both sides something to claim as victory.
The association had already accepted several concessions, including giving up a retirement bonus that had some faculty getting a year’s salary right before and after they retired, agreeing that single teachers would pay the same 20 percent co-pay for their health insurance as their married colleagues and paying one-third tuition for classes taken on campus instead of being able to take the classes for free.
But association members balked at adjusting the reimbursement for teaching summer school; changing the pay for teaching non-traditional classes, such as photography and art; and allowing the administration to adjust benefits without a vote by the rank and file.
Except for some minor adjustments for the number of students allowed to be taught by each teacher in a semester, the pay for all manner of instruction stays the same.
The final agreement on summer school pay sees some teachers lose and others make out a little better.
Hansen gave the contract a somewhat less than ringing endorsement, saying, “it is not a good contract, but it is the best that both sides could agree to in good faith,” noting that only 196 out of 292 full-time faculty supported it.
Anthropology professor John Staeck lambasted the administration for money invested in the Waterleaf Restaurant on campus, asking how much money the college put into it as opposed to COD’s honors program.
“All of your energies over the last two or three years have been directed into money,” he said. “You have no product without education.”
When Staeck suggest to the board that they pay close attention to President Robert Breuder’s record at COD, board members hit right back.
Trustee Kim Savage pointed out the culinary and hospitality students who benefited from Waterleaf, and board Chairman Dave Carlin noted that, despite Staeck’s charge that Breuder neglected teaching, 80 percent of the money spent by the college went to salaries.
Breuder himself strongly defended the money spent on the Waterleaf Restaurant, stressing that it was built to the specifications of the faculty of the Culinary and Hospitality Department.
Carlin said that he was disappointed that the two sides could not get beyond some of the heated rhetoric of the negotiations and said the board never saw the negotiations as a battle.
Hansen acknowledged the strained relations caused by the process.
“There’s a lot of tension,” he said. “This is is not (going to be) kiss and make up.”