Front Page News

Bargain battle

By: Carrie Rakevich, Staff Reporter

Employee contract negotiations stalled

The CNM Employees Union and the administration have come to an impasse in negotiations over the wording of a contract clause, said former union president Donna Swanson.

The clause would allow union member salaries to be cut if nonunion employees have to take a pay cut because of a budget shortfall, said CNM president Katharine Winograd.

There are currently measures in the employee contract that can be used in the event of a budget shortfall, these include furloughs and layoff. A temporary pay cut could be a better alternative, but the language must be specific in how this can happen, said union president Andrew Tibble. “I don’t think Winograd wants to pull something over, she just has other interests to protect,” said Tibble. A pay cut should not be spread equally across the board, either, said Tibble. “Security only makes about $10 an hour. A one percent pay cut would hurt them more than the faculty or administration,” said Tibble.

Winograd makes $206,000 a year, while faculty make on average $54,292, according to cnm.edu. Instructors get a slight pay increase if they attain a higher degree, but it is small, said Swanson. “The school has not been interested in rewarding people for getting higher degrees,” said Swanson.

Contracts do not expire. If a new contract cannot be negotiated the old contract will stay in effect. If an old contract is in place the administration is not required to abide by any pay raises in the old contract, according to the Public Employees Bargaining Act.

Currently, the union is working under an old contract that went into effect in 2008, said Swanson. Including this language in the contract could create a problem because it could possibly never expire, said Swanson.

The best option would be to include the clause in a memorandum of understanding – a binding agreement that is separate from the contract itself – that has a clear trigger with tangible evidence, and a specific duration, said Swanson. “We have tried to work with the school, but they have dug their heels in,” said Tibble.

Employees have not received a pay raise in three years, said Tibble.

Any proposal would have to be taken to the union members for a vote, said Tibble. The members are not likely to approve a pay cut clause if it is directly added to the contract, said Tibble.

“Our members will not support this, given the past experience with the impasse,” said Tibble. The lack of a new contract is also stalling the inclusion of an educational benefit clause into the faculty contract, said Swanson.

The educational benefit, which is included in the security and communication worker contracts, allows the employee or a member of their family to get 12 credit hours worth of classes paid for by CNM.

“We will continue to negotiate with the union in good faith and work toward a contract that works for both parties,” said Winograd.

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