TVCC sides deserve kudos for deliberations toward new deal

Your editorial (April 4 Enterprise) was unduly critical of the process which our teachers and administration at Treasure Valley Community College used in achieving their agreement. 

Negotiated agreements between labor unions and administrative bodies are rather unique in that they bring to their process a very thorough degree of study, the standpoint of people with very different interests. Those interests, however, coincide in the process we’ve just observed between the teachers’ union and the Treasure Valley administration. I, like most citizens in our community, have operated on the fringes of the college’s existence for many years although I have served as an instructor there and have enjoyed the benefits of having the college and its galaxy of activities and community resources.

More recently I have served on the Foundation Board for the college and have enjoyed my contacts and observations. Those observations have been of a very diligent and sometimes spectacular effort of people associated with the Foundation to benefit the students of Treasure Valley, the community and everyone who is associated in that effort. We have excellent people there. Their pay probably is not as much as they deserve but everyone in this community sacrifices a little of the standard of living they might have elsewhere to be here and participate with other people who want to share a small-town atmosphere.

Your editorial misses the mark badly on two counts. The first is that the relationship between the administration and teachers is not a “long standing battle” but simply the co-existence of two aspects of the college that do not have exactly the same interests when it comes to settling the contract for the services of the teachers. Like any employer, the administration needs to hold down costs in order to continue an existence. The teachers are acting in good faith in the interests of their body to try to insure there is sufficient remuneration to justify staying here and being part of the effort. Both sides of that equation have acted in good faith. 

We have excellent people in those key positions which makes the quality of the education offered at Treasure Valley and excellent one. The success of most of the people that go on to other colleges or into vocational fields when they leave Treasure Valley has proven to be high and, in many instances, just plain spectacular. You have only to go to the donors’ Dessert at Treasure Valley that is put on each year to listen to the many storied from students and citizens who have benefited form their education at Treasure Valley and from the scholarships and encouragement that is provided by the foundation.

Your second error is in thinking that the public, including newspaper editors, are entitled to micromanage the process of these negotiations. The competitiveness of the interests involved insures that the issues that need to be vetted are vetted. We all need to be interested and reflect on what happens as a result of those negotiations.

The resolution of those issues is a process that the two sides are entitled to discuss openly or less openly as the interests of reaching an agreement require. Transparency of the process should not become an interference with the process. Both sides were entitled to make decisions between themselves as to what degree of transparency was necessary or advisable to them in aiding the deliberations and decisions that were eventually reached.

The interests of the rest of us are simply that an agreement is reached so that the process can go on and that our college can continue to offer the students, citizens and young people of this community the opportunities that would not be available if the college were not there. What is obvious to those of us on the fringes is that both groups acted in good faith; they are constituted of people who are competent and desire a shared responsibility for that outcome. As long as that is the case they don’t need me or you looking at what they are doing and telling them that they are doing it wrong.

The tenor of your editorial suggests to the public that they have done something wrong. You are wrong. They have not. They are serving us well. Let’s congratulate them, smile and help everyone move forward in doing a good job for our community.

H. Clifford Looney is a Vale attorney.