I hope you enjoyed some rest over the holidays.
I have some news to share regarding our day unit contract. As we feared, our employer has requested a meeting to discuss re-opening our recently ratified and submitted Agreement. Peter Tsaffaras, DHE Deputy Commissioner for Human Relations, sent me the following email earlier this week:
“As you are aware, the Office of Employee Relations (OER) of the Human Resources Division of the Commonwealth has been meeting with unions representing collective bargaining units in the Executive Branch and for whom the Secretary of Administration and Finance is the employer, in order to request that said units reduce the overall economic cost of their respective Agreements by, among other items, delaying the effective date of certain salary increases and implementing a mandatory employee furlough program for members of the bargaining unit. In some instances, agreements on these issues have been reached by unions representing effected employees and the Commonwealth.
The administration has asked the Board of Higher Education, acting as the employer of individuals in collective bargaining units at the Community Colleges and the State Colleges, to enter into collective bargaining negotiations with unions representing our collective units and secure concessions designed to reduce costs. Accordingly, I am writing in order to formally request a meeting with you and representatives of the Association of Professional Administrators, the Massachusetts Community College Council and the Massachusetts State College Association in order to discuss changes to their respective Agreements.”
My views about this matter have not changed. I oppose reopening our Agreement. To date, three state employee unions have agreed to reopen their contracts and, pending ratification by their members, have agreed to delay negotiated salary increases by one day short of a year as well as accept furloughs.
On a more positive note, I confirmed earlier today that the BHE will soon proceed to implement campus-based items like payments for licenses and certifications points as well as begin the work of the first of three joint workload committees.
In coming weeks, I look forward to having a full and robust conversation with all of you about the serious challenges we face in 2010 and beyond. These exchanges will begin this Friday at our executive committee and continue later this month and next at our board of directors and chapter meetings.