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Published: Wednesday, 7/1/2009

Monroe County Community College asks union staff to give up pay raise

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

MONROE - After the college president, administrators, and nonunion support staff voluntarily gave up their raises, Monroe County Community College officials are asking for a similar salary freeze from unionized faculty.

College officials have asked to meet with the school's Faculty Association to discuss a wage freeze for the coming year. The contract with the 64 teachers in the group call for them to receive 3 percent raises beginning Aug. 1. In April, college trustees accepted the offer from David Nixon, president of the community college, to give up his 2 percent raise to assist in the school's budget woes.

Mr. Nixon's voluntary gesture soon was followed with the college's 27 full-time administrators, who were due to get 3 percent raises, agreeing to salary freezes.

The support staff of secretaries, administrative assistants, and technicians joined in the salary freeze, forgoing their 3 percent raises.

The college is negotiating with the union that represents maintenance workers.

Trustee William Braunlich said the Faculty Association, which is represented by the Michigan Education Association, has been reluctant to talk to the administration about salary concessions.

The college and the Faculty Association are in the final year of a four-year contract.

"We asked the faculty to sit down with us. We asked them to join us in the wage freeze," Mr. Braunlich said. "So far, they have not agreed to sit down with us and they have not agreed to a wage freeze."

Mr. Nixon, who was hired six years ago, is paid $142,425 annually. He was to receive a $3,000 annual pay increase on Aug. 1.

In addition to the salary freeze,

Mr. Nixon returned the Jeep Grand Cherokee that he was given under his contract. Three vice presidents also gave up their car allowances.

Mr. Braunlich and Mr. Nixon said they hopedthe union would consider the request to reopen the contract.

"This would be a gigantic move in the right direction. We still have hope that they will agree to a wage freeze," Mr. Nixon said.

Tim Bennett, president of business affairs, said the voluntary wage freezes from the support staff, administrators, and Mr. Nixon and other concessions will reduce $359,000 from the college's $25 million annual budget.

If the association would adopt concessions made other employees, the college projects it would save $265,000 for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

Mark Bergmooser, president of the faculty association, could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Bennett said the college had made nearly $1 million in reductions to offset projected declines in state revenue sharing and property taxes.

He said the savings for the 2009-2010 school year were achieved by eliminating conference and annual events like the employee recognition dinner and faculty picnic and reducing student assistance. No employees were laid off.

While they didn't raise student tuition for the coming school year, trustees changed the fee structure from an hourly rate to a contact basis in which students are charged for hours spent in the classroom.

The college projects that the fee change will bring about $500,000 in additional revenue and affect about 46 percent of the students.



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