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Massachusetts Community College Council


Volume IX

January, 1992

Number Six

In This Issue:

Furlough Monies To Be Returned

In the closing days of the 1991 legislative session, a supplemental budget was passed which contained a provision for the return of the monies taken from state workers because of furloughs. According to the law, the monies are to be returned within the next month.

Higher education employees, since we were deemed essential, were not allowed to take the no-work, no-pay option. The faculty were further restricted in that they could take only option 3, work, no pay until retirement. The MTA along with other state unions filed suit in Superior Court. All the higher education unions as well as the majority from the Alliance group believed the impairment of contract issue should be dealt with in court. NAGE, MOSES, and a few other unions, however, went back to the table, agreed to the furlough, and agreed to be furloughed for the next two years provided they received their money back once a budget was passed.

In August, the decisions from the arbitrators began to come in with MCCC being the first one returned. In all the decisions which have been received to date, the unions have prevailed. There is little doubt that one of the reasons why the governor approved the return of the furlough monies was because of the decisions against the governor.

According to the law, arrangements are now in progress to institute the payback for those employees who took option 3. For those employees who opted for the bonus vacation days, the law allows these employees to buy back any unused vacation days. Unfortunately the original furlough legislation mandated that the bonus vacation days be used before regular vacation days. Consequently not many people have unused bonus vacation days. For the employees from the University of Massachusetts (prior to mergers), this new law specifically states that the commonwealth will not reimburse the employees since the university never transferred the furlough monies to the state. The university will have to reimburse the employees directly.

MTA To Continue Furlough Suit

Even though state employees are scheduled to have their furlough monies returned, the MTA will be pursuing its legal case against the Commonwealth.

As we move into the spring, it is becoming apparent that Massachusetts will have another deficit. If the governor decides he needs to get money from some place, he could decide to furlough the state employees again. Unlike NAGE, MOSES, and a few other state unions who agreed to be furloughed for three years provided they receive the furlough money back after the budget is passed, all the higher education locals and other state unions refused to allow the governor and legislature to impair the terms and conditions in our contracts and filed a law suit in Superior Court.

Although the higher education decisions received to date have been victories for the unions, there still remain unresolved issues. In the pursuit of this suit, the MTA will make arguments in three major areas: impairment of contract; the employees have not been made whole unless they receive interest on their money; and the 12-month employees have been unfairly penalized since the additional vacation-day option does not allow them to get their lost wages returned.

Governor's Early Retirement Proposal

On Wednesday, January 8, 1992, the governor filed another early retirement incentive plan for state employees. This newest proposal, however, is extended to municipal and K-12 employees. The highlights of his proposal are as follows:

This new proposal was scheduled to be debated during the first week the legislature returned -- January 13, 1992. By the time you read this, an early retirement plan could be law, the proposal could be altered, or the proposal could be detained in committee in order to work out a compromise.

Governor Sends Contracts Back

The state contracts (all state unions except higher education, lottery, and judiciary) contracts which had been sitting in committee finally came to the floor in the waning days of the legislative session. As you know the house and the senate voted to send the contracts to the governor. Instead of outright vetoing the bill as most legislators thought, the governor instead sent the contracts back with an amendment stating that he would pay the first year of the contract (approximately 3 percent), but the unions had to go back and negotiate the salary increases down.

State Unions Sue Governor

Since the house and senate passed the bill to fund their contract and the governor did not sign the bill, Alliance, MOSES, and NAGE, three state locals comprised of a number of bargaining units which represent most of the state workers, have filed cases against the governor for failing to fund their contracts. MOSES has filed with the Labor Relations Commission; the Alliance is pursuing the grievance/arbitration route; and NAGE has filed a law suit in Superior Court.

One of the arguments which will be made by these unions will be that since the "legislature did not duly reject the funding bill" and since the governor is their employer and since a contract had been signed with the employer (Dukakis is this case), Weld, as governor, cannot have a "second" bite at the apple by refusing to fund these agreements.

Under the law, the employees in these unions are considered direct employees of the governor (through Administration and Finance). That is why historically the Alliance group negotiates and usually settles their contracts first and their salary increases create the foundation for the remaining unions' bargaining. Higher education, lottery, and judiciary employees, however, fall under a separate section of the Chapter 150, our collective bargaining law, because we have separate employers. In the case of higher education, the Higher Education Coordinating Council (HECC, formerly the regents) is our employer. When we negotiate and sign our contracts, therefore, it is not with the governor. As a result, the funding request must be approved by the Administration and Finance (A&F), Office of Employee Relations (OER), legislature, and finally the governor before we can get our salary increases.

These cases, therefore, become very important for higher education, the lottery, and the judiciary employees.

DCE Faculty Must Receive MCCC Documents from College

The MCCC would like DCE faculty to be aware that some colleges have not been sufficiently diligent in providing all DCE faculty with the appropriate paperwork concerning dues/agency fee at the beginning of a new session. This oversight prevents the unit member from filing the required documents with the MCCC. It is contractually mandated that the college provide this information to all faculty, along with the letter of appointment, five weeks prior to the beginning of classes or immediately in the case of a late hiring. It is assumed that the faculty members who do not respond are aware of their obligation, but have chosen to ignore it. The result is a letter sent to the DCE unit member from the MCCC alerting him or her that if this obligation of dues is not met, the unit member cannot continue to work.

Since these letter meet with obvious indignation at time on the part of the unit member, the MCCC asks that faculty be aware of the college's responsibility to provide this information, and if it is not provided, ask the DCE Dean for the material. It is important that the MCCC be notified if the college is not providing this information so that this situation can be resolved.

In addition to the submission of the necessary materials by the unit member to the MCCC concerning the dues information, a copy of the collective bargaining is sent to the unit member.

If anyone has any questions concerning DCE dues, agency fee, or membership issues, he or she should contact MCCC Treasurer Tom Parsons (617-235-3606). For other contractual questions, DCE Grievance Coordinator Joe Rizzo should be contacted at 603-898-6309.

MCCC Elections: Nomination Papers Due 1/29/92

For any full-time, part-time, and DCE member who is interested in running for MCCC president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, MTA Annual Meeting, and/or NEA Annual Meeting delegate, they must file nomination papers by January 29, 1992. All unit members are eligible to run for these positions provided they are members in good standing (dues are paid). Ballots will be mailed to all unit members in March and results will be announced at the MCCC Delegate Assembly on April 25, 1992.

DCE Member Deemed Eligible for Unemployment Compensation

A DCE unit member from Massasoit Community College completed her summer 1991 teaching assignment on August 8, 1991. Although the college was interested in assigning her a course for the Fall, 1991 semester, enrollment was uncertain and there was no reasonable assurance of re-employment. In September the faculty member was reemployed when a sufficient number of students enrolled in the courses in her work area.

Since this unit member did not hold a full-time job, her income was based on part-time teaching, and she could not be guaranteed employment in September, she filed for unemployment benefits, and her request was granted. The college appealed the decision and argued that part-time faculty were independent contractors and this unit member had been employed every semester since 1984 despite the uncertainty of student enrollments. The college asked that the claim be denied. MTA Attorney Brian Riley argued this case before the Mass. Department of Employment and Training, and the original finding for the unit member was affirmed on appeal giving her the right to collect unemployment benefits.

MTA To File Suit On Insurance Increase

Part of the early retirement bill which Governor Weld vetoed contained a provision which would freeze our insurance costs until June, 1992. You may recall that the governor first attempted to get our percentage contribution increased; the legislature did not pass that bill. Then the governor went to the Group Insurance Commission (GIC), but it voted not to increase our deductibles or co-payments. The governor then wrote a letter to the GIC members threatening them with imprisonment or a thousand dollar fine if they did not vote to increase these items. After receipt of that letter, the GIC reversed its previous vote and passed these increases effective February 1, 1992. Kevin Blanchette, chair of the Public Service Committee then incorporated the GIC freeze into the early retirement bill. The governor vetoed it, and maintained throughout this political football game that there was not enough money to sustain the freeze.

The MTA is initiating two actions to challenge the implementation of these changes. (1) A lawsuit seeking a declaration that funding was sufficient to maintain health insurance costs and benefits at their status quo level through June, 1992. NAGE has filed the same kind of suit. (2) Unfair labor practice charges at the Labor Relations Commission alleging unilateral changes in health insurance. SEIU is also filing similar charges.

Part-time and DCE Employees Put Into PEBSCO

With the passage of Chapter 494, Massachusetts is now in compliance with the Internal Revenue Service regulations concerning social security (or some form of pension) coverage for all employees who are not part of a retirement plan in the commonwealth.

This IRS regulation requires that all states provide an opportunity for all state employees, full or part time, to participate in a retirement or deferred compensation program. The governor and legislature determined that the part-time employee would make the contribution; the employer would contribute nothing. This excluded, therefore, participation in either the state retirement system or social security.

On December 31, 1991, the governor signed Chapter 494 (OBRA 90), and all part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees will now have pretax dollars deducted from their salary up to an annual limit of $7,500. Since the Public Employee Benefit Service Corporation (PEBSCO) was already in existence, the Senate approved PEBSCO as the plan. When its contract expires, the state will go out to bid, and it is possible that another program would come into existence.

Though the language in the law stated that some employees would be subject to a 7.5 percent deduction, for the ease of implementation, 6 percent will be deducted from all eligible employees' salaries though 1992. In 1993 the deduction will go to 7.5 percent.

All participants will be receiving enrollment forms (albeit after the fact) since a beneficiary must be named. Basically, PEBSCO is a savings account which will be administered similar to the state retirement board. The employee's contribution will generate interest at a "reasonable" rate, and it may be moved in and out of the account without penalty when a contract is completed. In addition, money may be withdrawn if the employee can show hardship, but he or she must go through the same approval process as required by the state retirement board.

Since full-time MCCC unit members belong to the state retirement system, participation in this program is not required if they teach in DCE. Similarly, a part-time, temporary, or DCE employee who belongs to a retirement system through his or her full-time job is also excluded.

Know Your Contract

Jan. 24

Faculty post office hours

Jan. 23

Student evaluations returned to faculty

Jan. 31

Summary evaluations sent to faculty

Jan. 31

Summary evaluations sent to first year professional staff

Jan. 31

Faculty submit course materials for department chairs

Feb. 7

Applications due for sabbatical for Fall, 1992

Feb. 15

Notice of nonreappointment for 1-3 year employees

N.B. Dates may vary depending on first day of classes. Also, most of these dates are "last date" standards. In many instances, the action can he accomplished before the date indicated.

MCCC Newsletter

Catherine A. Boudreau

MCCC/MTA Newsletter
20 Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108

The MCCC Newsletter is a publication of the Massachusetts Community College Council. The Newsletter is intended to be an information source for the members of the MCCC and for other interested parties. The material in this publication may be reprinted with the acknowledgment of its source. For further information on issues discussed in this publication, contact Catherine Boudreau, Massasoit Community College, Brockton, MA 02402.


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