Some Maricopa Community College faculty and administration members allege a vote will be taken by Maricopa Community College Governing Board on Tuesday Feb. 20 on whether to void faculty contracts

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Some Maricopa Community College faculty and administration members allege a vote will be taken by Maricopa Community College Governing Board on Tuesday Feb. 20 on whether to void faculty contracts

Maricopa Community Colleges offices in Tempe, Arizona.

Maricopa Community Colleges offices in Tempe, Arizona.

Sarah Hall/SCC

Maricopa Community Colleges offices in Tempe, Arizona.

Sarah Hall/SCC

Sarah Hall/SCC

Maricopa Community Colleges offices in Tempe, Arizona.

Sarah Hall, Reporter

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Northeast Valley News was contacted by several sources close to both Maricopa Community College administrative and faculty departments with allegations that a vote would be taken on Tuesday, Feb. 20 on whether or not to void faculty contracts.

 

Several sources that fear retaliation if identified, allege, that this move was taken in order to avoid media attention and done quickly in front of a three-day weekend holiday recognizing Presidents Day.  The vote, if taken, would follow on the Tuesday after the holiday.

 

If approved, sources say that residential faculty will be employed at will, may have to reapply for their jobs and will be contracted annually.  The vote is also seen as a move to have a majority of instruction taught by adjunct advisers who are paid substantially less.

 

Other allegations include substantial salary decrease for faculty and allocation of teaching assignments that could restrict where a faculty member prefers to teach or has been teaching and would instead place faculty where “needed”–not where faculty resides or has been contracted previously.

 

One source close to the administration alleges that recent discussions by the board and the alleged expedited vote is an unapologetic political move made by some on the MCCCD Governing board and even constitutes a teacher “union busting” template for the nation.

 

In addition, some faculty say they have been forced to go “underground” with email correspondence to one another and are compiling private email communication lists in order to try and protect their jobs.

 

Northeast Valley News reached out to MCCCD governing board members over the weekend for their response to the allegations. The President of the MCCCD governing board, Laurin Hendrix, provided the following statement to nevalleynews.org.

 

The full statement reads:

 

“The meeting on the 20th is an informational presentation by the faculty. There isn’t any vote scheduled. I’m not aware of anything ever being discussed about voiding faculty contracts. No discussion has ever happened in my presence. It sounds like you are listening to political rhetoric and fear mongering that is not fact based.”

Laurin Hendrix

 

In a February 13 message sent to Maricopa Community College faculty through the district email system, the President of the Maricopa Community Colleges Faculty Association, Mike Mitchell elaborates on several issues in an email with a subtitle, “Our Future,” these are some of the same issues that other faculty and administrators revealed to nevalleynews.org.

 

Mitchell also writes in the email of a necessary move to communicate via private email among other things in his February 13 message to faculty provided here in its entirety.

 

“For many years, the Faculty Association and other Faculty leaders have been warning of a looming danger – that a politicized Governing Board might one day eliminate the Residential Faculty Policies (RFP). Recently, we may have witnessed the first step toward that looming danger becoming a stark reality.

 

Governing Board President Laurin Hendrix recently verified that the Governing Board intends to consider a vote to terminate the Meet & Confer process. Consequently, this means that the RFP can be altered unilaterally or dissolved completely. 

 

The Meet & Confer process has long been the mechanism by which faculty and the administration have worked together to identify and resolve issues related to our working conditions, which are then codified in the RFP.  Much like the Governing Board action taken against the Classified Staff Council last spring, this action comes without prior consultation and will be difficult to stop. It appears motivated by political ideology and undermines the successful relationship between our residential faculty and many successive administrations and Governing Boards for the past 50 years. Without any consideration for how the Meet & Confer process could be used to modify itself, the Board seems intent on eliminating Meet & Confer.

 

If the Board follows its own guidelines for changes to policy, a “first read” of proposed changes could be conducted as early as Feb. 27, followed by an adoption of the changes at the Mar. 27 meeting. I emphasize, “if, the Board follows its own guidelines” because they have violated their own internal process for modifying policy as recently as the Jan. 23 Governing Board meeting.

 

It is important to know that any changes to the RFP regarding the Meet & Confer process would not be effective until July 1, 2018. Until that time, the current RFP would remain in full effect. This means that we may hold the administration to the agreements contained within it, and they can do likewise. We must continue to serve our students and our community with integrity, excellence and accountability during this time. We must be the standard bearers of collaboration, decorum and professionalism if we are to protect our students and ourselves.

 

As we all know, this conflict is not an issue about faculty rights. It is about the conditions and the protections that are necessary for students to succeed. Students and our community expect the MCCCD to fulfill its mission. That mission requires the support of key values which the RFP preserves. Attacks on the RFP are attacks on our ability to do our work. As we repeatedly try to make clear to everyone, faculty-working conditions are student-learning conditions.

 

In the coming days, you will be informed of our plans to mobilize the faculty in response to this attack on the faculty’s central role in our colleges and district. It will be in this time that the true power and efficacy of the Faculty Association will be revealed by our coordinated and unified action. Know that this is not a moment of our choosing.  Know also that we are likely in this struggle alone. We must act together if we are to preserve the fifty-year relationship that allows us to pursue excellence in teaching and learning.

 

One final note, there is a real possibility that the District All-Faculty Distribution list could be eliminated. This is a vulnerability for which we must be prepared. For this reason, and because we should not needlessly broadcast private Faculty Association business, it is important that we have current home email addresses for all faculty so that we might communicate with you reliably and freely.”

 

Northeast Valley News took statements from several faculty and administrative sources that fear intimidation and/or reprisal for coming forward with information.

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