(The below is a reprint from December 17, posted on the recently formed wearewhatsleft google forum. Discussion is happening! Please join.
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Yesterday, we got a curious email about benefits from the union. A faculty member wrote me the following yesterday morning:
“How come this sounds so shady to me.. I mean.. how come we didn’t have this money before?? This is a ton of money and just now they are finding it and giving it to us for insurance…”
Below is one of the questions I sent Debra Stakes:
1.) Why do you say that the full-time faculty unused fringe benefit money would be returned to the district? It never has before. If we have money left over, it’s ours. It’s part of our compensation.
Her reply: “Everyone that is contractually entitled to receive an in lieu out of pocket payment will still receive that payment. The MOU does not change any agreements, promises or language in the current contract (which I did not negotiate).”
But, then, in her email to the faculty today, Debra said “The concept is that funds allocated in the budget as fringe benefit allotments but not used by faculty would be placed into a faculty insurance pool to be reallocated by CCFT. Such unused fringe benefit funds would have previously been returned to the District.”
These two statements seem contradictory to me; how about you? Where is all the money for the pool coming from? It must be coming from the new, tiered single payers who now will be taking home less in compensation than they were before. Or, the part-timers. For example, if the single FT payer is now paying $350 a month for a single, tiered insurance plan, the dollars remaining from that FT’er’s monthly benefit compensation will be going to the pool to offset other faculty members’ insurance costs instead of going to the faculty member herself. So, that single faculty member will be making less in monthly compensation than her peer with a family plan. While an insurance offset even for a year can be helpful, we can’t toss aside benefits dollars so cavalierly. In the past, we sometimes bargained an increase in benefits rather than an increase in salary: it is all compensation. I’m not sure how those faculty can have compensation taken away from them. It is listed on our paycheck as compensation; consequently, the removal of those dollars from some faculty will lower their overall STRS because their overall compensation is lower.
If I am incorrect about the above, I would like to know where the money is coming from.
2.) If the above is true, do the single payers know that they do not now have extra money to take home? Was this discussed?
3.) Why is this outside the TA?
5.) And, most importantly, why was this not brought to our attention before December 12?–before we all had to choose what we were going to do with our insurance?
A change to benefits like the one above should be voted on and ratified by faculty, but it is not in the TA. It is in an MOU on the HR website. It is a temporary agreement for the 2014-15 academic year.
Where is all the discussion about these critically important matters? I hope that all of you who see this pass it on to others, and those going to the meeting today (Thursday) at 3:00 p.m. get answers.
Encourage others to join the forum. Another faculty member wrote to me today about the TA and asked, “Why would Debra agree to this TA??” Truly, I must say that I don’t know.