If approved by the Schenectady County Legislature on Tuesday evening, full-time faculty at SUNY Schenectady County Community College will begin receiving longevity pay — a first for the union representing faculty and professionals.
“It was very positive,” union president John O’Connell said of the possibility of negotiating the extra pay for years of service.
The contract, once approved, would be retroactive to September 2020 and through August 31, 2026.
O’Connell said the contract is retroactive to 2020 because once the last contract expired, the negotiating team was unable to meet in person at all due to COVID. They met on March 10, 2020, then not again until August 2021.
The longevity pay would be retroactive to September 2021, according to the agreement.
The pay breakdown is as follows:
- Five to nine years of service would receive $500 per year
- 10 to 14 years old would receive $750
- 15 to 19 would receive $850
- 20 to 24 would receive $950
- 25 to 29 would receive $1,500
- 30 to 34 would receive $2,000
- 35 to 39 would receive $2,500
- 40 to 44 would receive $3,000
- 45 and each successive year would receive $3,500
“Of course next time I’ll try to increase the scale a bit because it’s very low, but it’s there,” O’Connell said. “By including it in the contract, it opens the door to the conversation in six years.”
There are about 65 members in the union, according to O’Connell. He said the contract was approved by just over 50% of the vote.
The contract also includes salary increases.
“Of course they were less than what we were asking for,” he said. “That’s the norm.”
O’Connell said it was the third time he had negotiated a contract.
“I try to get an idea of what they’re going to offer in percentage terms and then I convert that to dollars,” he said. “The problem is that our starting salaries are so low that new people, 2.5% aren’t worth mentioning.”
This time around, O’Connell said people will get $1,250 per year per member for 2021, 2022 and 2023. Then there will be a 2.25% increase between 2024 and 2026, depending on the contract.
“So it was a bit of a compromise,” he said, “not of course as much money as we thought or what we asked for, which is never the case, of course. We let’s all go to our bosses and want 10% and get 2%, for example. We didn’t ask for 10%.”
O’Connell said he asked for $1,500 per person per year.
He said the starting salary may be different, but currently instructors make $43,000.
But now the base salary will start to increase over the next two years, according to O’Connell.
Another addition to the contract is a one-time bonus for non-teaching professionals with a doctorate or if the person earns a doctorate while working in college.
The agreement clarifies, among other things, the criteria for consideration of a permanent appointment, the addition of a final career appointment of 12 years and increases the time a faculty member must notify the college of his resignation from 45 days to 60 days.
Under the contract, an ad hoc working group on teaching and learning would be created, consisting of the vice president of academic affairs, three deans and five faculty members. The group would be tasked with developing “consistent criteria and processes for evaluating teaching and learning effectiveness” that would be implemented by next fall.
Something that was not included in the contract was certain promotional measures for faculty members.
“As an instructor, I have the opportunity to be promoted to assistant, associate, and full professor, and we have members in the union who don’t have that promotional path, and don’t have a promotional path, and it was a big issue that people were upset with,” O’Connell said.
He said the issue would stay on his radar.
College President Steady Moono was upbeat about the negotiations during a Legislative Assembly committee meeting last Monday.
“I want to commend our teams, both the administrative team and the faculty bargaining team, for really negotiating in good faith and really in a way that puts our students at the center,” he said. he declares.
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