Pay concessions critical piece of new TVCC contract

Treasure Valley Community College managed to avert a major labor crisis last week when officials inked a new contract with faculty. (The Enterprise/Les Zaitz)

VALE – With both Treasure Valley Community College and the Treasure Valley Education Association approving a new contract for teachers, the college is estimating a $900,000 savings over the next three years.

The anticipated savings is in addition to the departure of seven instructors, a move the college says will save $388,000 in the next budget year, and now a possible tuition increase. The instructors would be replaced by adjunct teachers or other full-time faculty members teaching extra courses. The union agreed to no pay raises for the next three years unless enrollment increases at the college. In the last contract, senior instructors got automatic 2.5 percent increases each year and other instructors received 4.5 percent per year.

Under the new contract, instructors could receive a 1 percent bonus in 2019 and an additional 1 percent in 2020 if enrollment hits certain increased benchmarks.

Half the savings come as the union agreed to accept less money for teaching small classes. Instead of full pay, instructors will get pay pro rated for classes of less than 13.

The college estimates savings of $193,000 just next year.

The college originally wanted to set the class load at 20, pro rating anything less. The old contract imposed no concessions for instructors of small classes.

Teachers will also see less money for summer classes, historically a slow time for college attendance. For the three years, TVCC estimates a savings of $103,000.

“The pro rating classes with fewer than 13 students and summer pay rates are the most important aspects of the contract,” said President Dana Young in response to questions by the Malheur Enterprise. “This was a negotiated agreement between the faculty union and the college. Everything in this contract was agreed upon by both sides.”

The teacher’s union also agreed to a number of furlough days in the upcoming years.

They agreed to take three in the current school year, and the first furlough day was last Friday.

Additional furlough days are scheduled for the next two school years, which the college estimates saves just under $200,000.

One small group of instructors may continue to receive higher pay, according to the new contract. Faculty looking to retire can now return to the college to teach at a rate of $720 per credit, a rate higher than the adjunct rate of $500 per credit. The college previously paid retired instructors a rate of $740 per credit under the old contract, according to Young. As both sides agreed to a new contract prior to the start of the spring term, the college is estimating savings of $192,000 for the rest of this school year. An additional $358,000 is expected next year and in the final year of the contract, the college is expected to save $356,000.

Even with the contract, Young said there is more work to be done.

“Some of the savings are years two, three and beyond,” she said. “Over time, I am certain the college will recover financially under the terms of the new contract. We have to grow enrollment. We have to invest heavily in marketing, public relations and new academic programs.”

Young also said she didn’t anticipate a problem attracting new staff under the new contract.

“The compensation, benefits and bonuses are still very competitive when compared to other colleges,” Young said.

Drake Wallick, a college instructor and union president, didn’t respond to telephone or email messages seeking comment on the new contract.

Reporter John L. Braese: [email protected]. or 541-473-3377.