College approves new contract with instructors

ALPENA – Capping off what both sides agreed to be professionally handled negotiations, the Alpena Community College Board of Trustees approved a new four-year contract with the ACC Faculty Council MEA/NEA.

Board Chairman John Briggs said he was pleased with how the agreement was reached, and he hopes the faculty council and administration can continue the open dialogue and explore better ways to do things for the college and community.

“From what I’ve heard from talking with people taking part, the professionalism in the way this was approached by everybody on all sides … was outstanding, I understand,” he said.

College President Olin Joynton said the contract, effective Aug. 17, will allow him to present a balanced budget to the board. It’s also in step with a board policy to gradually increase the fund balance to 15 percent of the college’s annual expenses. The current balance is around 8 percent, which is much lower than other colleges.

The contract includes incentives for faculty who are ready to retire, Joynton said. They’ll receive extra money if they do so in the coming year.

“We have 52, I believe, full-time faculty members, which is many more than most colleges our size have,” he said. “There’s been a good response to that provision of the contract.”

There also are changes in process to handle vacancies, while others cover changes in state law, Joynton said. One includes language to comply with the state’s right-to-work law, and states a faculty member’s belonging to a union is optional. Another handles a limit imposed by the state in how much the college can pay for faculty health care benefits.

The current salary schedule will not change over the next four years, Joynton said. There are no increases for the faculty in the first year, and in the second and third years there are 2 percent stipends given to faculty members who have no more step increases ahead.

Tim Kuehnlein, ACC Faculty Council vice-president, thanked the board for approving the contract, and said he was happy with how the mutual gains bargaining process went.

“I think that we demonstrated restraint in a time that calls for restraint on the fiscal side, but I also think we had an opportunity to do some major restructuring of how we do our business,” he said.

The contract calls for mutual gains bargaining twice per semester between faculty and administration to address any issues that crop up, Joynton said.

“It’s been a good change of culture for the better for ACC, and I just want to thank everybody who was part of it, and especially recognize the leadership of Vice President Kathy Marsh, who introduced us to this process as she came from another college.” he said.

Contracts for the college’s other bargaining units are nearly done, Joynton said.

In other business:

* the board approved a 4 percent increase for administrative salaries following two years of salary freezes for all administrators.

* board members approved new college policies to reflect changes in federal campus safety laws, and rescinded the policies these ones replaced or made obsolete.

* the board accepted an updated job description for the college president. The description was last approved in 2003, Joynton said. Board member Lisa Hilberg explained she had been reviewing the previous description while developing a tool for evaluations, and saw that the previous description was out-of-date.

* Briggs presented monetary awards to Jenny Jimenez and Dan Hayes, who were inducted into the Michigan All-Academic Team in March.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.