Community college faculty seek contract ratification

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About 5,000 community and technical college faculty would receive a retroactive pay increase of $3,500 under a bill that would require legislators to ratify the teachers’ 2012-2013 contract.

For beginning faculty, that represents about a 10 percent pay increase and a 5.5 percent increase for veteran teachers. Those at the top of their pay scale would see a base increase of $2,400, plus a one-time payment of $1,500.

HF1801, sponsored by Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL-North St. Paul), recommends that members ratify the contract between the state and the Minnesota State College faculty. There is no Senate companion.

The House Labor, Workplace and Regulated Industries Committee approved the bill as amended on Wednesday and referred it to the House Rules and Legislative Administration Committee.

“I certainly have some concerns about the precedent of a sizable increase of $3,500. I don’t know how it’s going to play with all the parents in the world who are shipping their kids to state schools to see a 10 percent increase,” said Rep. Mike Benson (R-Rochester).

Wages were previously frozen. The proposed contract would only apply to fiscal year 2012-2013 and would increase co-pays and deductibles in the State Employee Group Insurance Program.

In addition to salary and benefits, the contract would reinstate the Awards for Excellence incentive program that pays teachers for exemplary performance with an additional $2,500.

MnSCU and MNsure

Compensation plans for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities administrators, plus the director and managerial staff of MNsure, the state’s new health insurance exchange, also require ratification.

The MnSCU plan covers about 550 managers, including the chancellor, vice chancellors, presidents and other administrators.

The chancellor, who earns the maximum $360,000, and presidents’ salary ranges would remain the same. However, the salary range for vice-chancellors would change to $129,375-$318,737. The chancellor sets the actual salaries for each vice-chancellor and college president within their salary ranges.

Administrators covered by the plan would receive a one-time $1,250 payment and could be eligible for merit pay in 2013 that averages nearly 4 percent. Performance incentive payments would stop under the plan.

The new state health insurance exchange, still under construction, doesn’t yet have staff in place but the bill contains terms and conditions for employment for up to 15 future MNsure managers. Submitted by Minnesota Management & Budget on behalf of the exchange board, the plan includes salary ranges of $69,405-$156,078. Managers could be eligible for up to 3 percent additional pay for performance.

Rep. Mike Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park) supports the contract and compensation plans.

“We’re competing with the private sector. If we want to draft good people to work for our public institutions, we have to be competitive in the workforce and pay benefits and salaries that are commensurate with what’s being paid on the outside,” he said.

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