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Stage Set For Strike At Northwest State?



The stage might be set for a strike at Northwest State Community College.

The NSCC board of trustees and the Northwest State Community College Education Association are at loggerheads over a new contract for staff employees.

Staff employees include personnel such as secretaries, janitors, etc. There are 48 members of the staff employee bargaining unit.

The board of trustees has voted to impose its “last, best” contract offer, after rejecting a fact-finder’s report.

Prior to that, NSCCEA staff employee membership voted to authorize its bargaining team to issue a 10- day strike notification to the board.

The notification has not been issued.

Colin Doolittle, NSCCEA co-president, said the staff negotiation team will meet sometime this week and decide its next step.

History

The NSCC board of trustees and NSCCEA reached agreement over a contract for professional staff members, such as instructors, on April 6, 2015.

The NSCCEA represents more than 50 members of the professional staff.

That contract was approved after 10 months of negotiations, when both sides approved a fact-finder’s report.

NSCCEA officials said the two sides have been negotiating a new contract for staff employees since May 2015.

The contract between the college and the staff employees expired June 30, 2015.

NSCCEA officials said staff employees have not received a raise in base pay since 2009, and longevity steps– pay raises for each additional year of service–were frozen in 2011.

At a Dec. 4, 2015, meeting, the board of trustees voted to reject a fact-finders report, which the staff employee membership had accepted.

The fact-finder’s report called for a 2% per year hike in base pay, plus step increases of an average of 2.5%.

In rejecting the report, Sue Derck, chairman of the board of trustees, said, “The board was disappointed that the SERB (State Employment Relations Board) fact-finder made no adjustments to the contract for many changes that have occurred in health care over the last six years.

“As costs have increased, the college has worked to find a way to make health care beneficial to the employees and affordable to the institution.

“The college has proposed that union members be offered the opportunity to have a choice between a high deductible insurance plan or the traditional plan they currently have in place.”

Strike Authorization

In a press release issued Wednesday, Feb. 3, NSCCEA officials said the support staff “authorized their bargaining team to send a ten-day strike notice to the Northwest State Community College Board of Trustees.

“This unanimous vote took place at a general membership meeting of the NSCCEA staff employees on Thursday, Jan. 21.

“This vote was overwhelmingly reaffirmed by a secret ballot vote that took place Friday, Jan. 29.”

The vote means the NSCCEA bargaining unit has the authorization to issue the 10-day notice to the board and set a strike date.

“Staff employees have come to the conclusion that they had no choice other than to consider a strike as an option, given the board’s rejection of the recommendations made in fact-finder Matt Franckiewicz’s fact-finding report that was issued in December 2015.”

Last, Best

The board of trustees held a Friday, Feb. 5 meeting at the Advanced Manufacturing Training Center on the Scott Park Campus in Toledo.

There were allegations that the board opted to move the meeting from the Archbold campus to Toledo to make it more difficult for NSCCEA members to attend.

College officials said the board wanted to tour the recently renovated building and see new equipment.

The training center at Scott Park is a partnership with Terra State Community College, Fremont, and the University of Toledo.

In a press release, college officials said following an executive session, the board voted unanimously to approve “the implementation of the last and best offer to the school support personnel bargaining unit.”

The release quoted Derck as saying, “As the state of Ohio continues to challenge higher education to contain costs and provide exemplary educational opportunities, Northwest State will do all it can to ensure the college is fair and sustainable.

“Northwest State must continue to work to operate efficiently and fairly. The board supports the efforts of the administration; we believe a fair compensation package is being offered to our employees.”

NSCCEA officials said, “We are disappointed that the board chose to impose a non-negotiated contract.

“Our staff negotiation team will meet and decide how to proceed from here.”



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