Updates from ECCFA

Push the Button

posted Feb 11, 2017, 3:54 PM by Tim Malone   [ updated Feb 11, 2017, 3:56 PM ]

I (Tim Malone) would like to suggest the introduction of a new element into the "ECCFA UNITY" button campaign.  When an ECCFA member wearing a button passes another, they should both "push" their buttons (i.e. tap or touch).  Let's call this the "unity salute" or the "push the button salute."  I like it.  "Push the button" has such multi-faceted cultural resonance...

Search For Some Facts and Figures

posted Feb 5, 2017, 9:28 AM by Tim Malone   [ updated Feb 6, 2017, 3:18 PM ]

Go to the ECC homepage.  Hover over “About ECC.”  Hover over “Board of Trustees.”  Click on “Board Policies.”  Then on the right under “Related Information” click on “College Documents and Reports” and then on “Financial.”  Then click on “ECC Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, Year ended June 30, 2016.”  There in the section “Basic Financial Statements” (p.4, watch the pagination in this report, it’s complicated) go to “Current Assets” and look at the line items “Cash and Cash Equivalents” and “Investments.”  Cash and cash equivalents = $31,813,175.  Investments = $73,182,656.  Total reserves= $104,995,731 as of June 30, 2016.  No comment is really necessary is it? 

Contact Info

posted Jan 26, 2017, 7:01 AM by Tim Malone

There is no comments function at "Dispatches."  That's OK with me.  However, I do want feedback.  So, if you have a comment send it to me at tkmalone8@gmail.com. Thanks.

The ECCFA Cycle

posted Jan 23, 2017, 6:38 AM by Tim Malone



Six years ago, Gary Christenson’s Dispatches blog ago was primarily concerned with updating ECCFA members about contract negotiations.   Today, negotiations on a new contract are ongoing, and the Dispatches Editor is on the Negotiating Committee, so Dispatches will again include updates. However, under Jessica Carpenter’s editorship, ECCFA’s Facebook page has been doing a great job of providing updates, and there have also been several general membership meetings about negotiations, with more to come.  So Dispatches will also adopt a longer-term perspective, with coverage of broader topics.


This discussion of the long term versus the immediacy of tense contract negotiations highlights the cyclical nature of ECCFA’s reality.  The norm has been for ECCFA and the Board of Trustees to agree to three-year contracts, putting us on a three-year cycle.  Usually for the first two-and-a-half years of a contract, ECCFA simmers along.  Then we begin negotiating a new contract, and the pot begins to boil.  In 2000, it boiled over into a strike.  Six years ago, it came to a rolling boil, with vigils outside the negotiating room and informational picketing. 


This cycle of less activity between negotiations and more activity during negotiations is the nature of the beast and perfectly understandable.

Yet I am not the first ECCFA member to think that applying our effort more consistently over the entire three-year cycle might be a more successful strategy.  That idea is one of the reasons for the new Dispatches.


ECCFA is "COPEing"

posted Jan 16, 2017, 8:16 AM by Tim Malone

The ECCFA general membership meeting held on opening day (Wednesday, Jan. 12) focused on the political side of ECCFA, the ECCFA Committee on Political Education (COPE).  As I said at the meeting, all labor unions end up political, it is the nature of the beast.  In the past, COPE has not been stressed that much.  I think the idea of trying to strengthen COPE was a good idea and the effort was a great success.  So far the number of ECCFA members who are going to donate to COPE through payroll deduction doubled as a result of the presentation at the meeting (from about 40 to about 80).  There were also several cash donations given after the meeting.  In my opinion, it was one of the most heartening displays of ECCFA morale I have ever seen.  Kim Tarver, ECCFA Secretary, deserves a lot of credit for the idea of highlighting COPE at the meeting.  As I mentioned at the meeting, of course, political actions by unions like ECCFA are problematic (ECCFA has a diverse membership).  However, after the way this was handled at the meeting, I think the ECCFA membership can rest assured that ECCFA’s now better funded political efforts will be handled in the best interests of the union. 

Teachers' Unions

posted Jan 15, 2017, 3:27 PM by Tim Malone

I want to start out with a vigorous defense of teachers’ unions.  Of course, ECCFA is a teachers’ union and teachers’ unions are much in the news.  Indeed, teachers’ unions in the news is one of the themes the “Dispatches” blog is going to attempt to follow with regularity.  It seems sometimes that the entire conservative movement abetted by the corporate media have teachers’ unions as their primary targets.  Our governor, Bruce Rauner, would like to do away with teachers’ unions (I know he doesn’t say it that bluntly, but come on…).  Look at what happened in Wisconsin under Gov. Walker.  This apparent aversion to the existence of teachers’ unions is puzzling since a quite compelling case can be made that teachers’ union have played a key role in making America great.  To be clear, teachers’ unions are a bedrock institution of American democracy.  No teachers’ unions no United States in the form we know it today.  Conservatives and their media minions couldn’t be more wrong on any topic than that concerning the role of teachers’ unions.  And, I think teachers’ unions have been somewhat remiss in defending themselves.  Make no mistake, this blog will defend teachers’ unions.

Welcome to the "New" eccfablog

posted Jan 14, 2017, 11:39 AM by Tim Malone

The "eccfablog" is back!  Over 5 years later.  The "Dispatches" blog is again up and updating the blogisphere about the Elgin Community College Faculty Association (ECCFA).  The last iteration of the blog existed during the 2010-2011 contract negotiations.  And while this renewal of the blog occurs during the 2016-2017 contract negotiations, hopefully this blog will now last... forever!
Does the new blog need a mission statement?  Well, to keep the ECCFA membership and the broader public informed; to present the ECCFA point of view on various issues both local and national.  And hopefully this blog will also entertain, inspire and tweek the imagination.
The eccfablog "Dispatches" is open to all members.  Tim Malone (me) is the editor.  If you want to propose and entry to the blog, send it to Tim Malone and he will consider it.  As of now, there is no comment function to the blog.  However, comments are welcome.  Send them to Tim Malone.  Well, here we go...
I want to give a shout out to Gary Christenson who did the previous version of "Dispatches."  I have left his work from 2006 to 2007 below.  Gary did a great job and I highly recommend that you read his entries.  It was history in the making and gives insight into what is happening right now.  Some things never change it seems...

Bargaining drags on...

posted Feb 19, 2011, 8:22 AM by Gary Christenson   [ updated Feb 19, 2011, 9:23 AM ]

The summary: Minor progress occurred  in yesterday's bargaining, with the ECCFA team preserving and signing off on maternity and adoption language. The ECCFA team also provided counters to the Board's zero stances on salary. Other items discussed at the table were rank and release time. By the end of the bargaining session, ECCFA negotiators informed the Board team that a ULP (unfair labor practice) had been drafted. Whether it will be filed or not with the Illinois Labor Relations Board depends on future efforts from the Board team.

Analysis: A hopeful sign in all of this is that the Board has called for a closed session of the trustees this coming Tuesday. Could it be that, having heard from students and seeing the growing vigils outside ICT-126, the message has gotten through that it's time to "save the semester" as our flyers ask? Time will tell, but I've been around ECC long enough to know that there's always room for optimism.

By nature, contract talks are frustrating enterprises. Everyone would like transparency, and yet successful negotiations can't occur if either side reveals its hand in public. Imagine trying to negotiate with a car salesman if he had already heard from your friends how much you are really willing to pay for a new car. We know that students are pressuring you for details, but if we told them that "X" was proposed, it wouldn't be long before the other team got wind of how "X" was being met by community opinion and our own members. So we ask for your patience a little longer.

The team remains energized by the support of ECC faculty and students. Please look at our Facebook page if you haven't to see the many comments of support. And then review that page again when you hear a slur or negative comment from a community member. It will help to remind you why you work in education and that you are valued.

Speaking of education, the Board team has tried to compare ECC with surrounding school districts in making fiscal points about hard times. Most of our Board members are former public school teachers, so perhaps it's natural for them to make such an analogy, but it's false. First, ECC is a standout institution among colleges, enjoying record enrollment statewide and nationwide. We are in a population corridor that grew 27.7 percent in the last 10 years. So it's not just a recession driving folks to our doors. They're moving here and staying here.

Second, ECC is an academic gem, the gifted kid on the block. We've been able to attract a strong, even stellar faculty because we worked for decades building an appealing contract. I can think of no other community college that has an MD teaching anatomy full time and acting as chief negotiator for the faculty. What other community college has successfully gone up against Ivy League schools in mock trial? Our students take classes from faculty who have published books and articles, won national teaching awards. I once overheard one of Gail Shadwell's students telling another student excitedly, "My teacher wrote the damned book for cryin' out loud!" Our students can take history and political science from a faculty member who holds both a PhD and JD.  And a computer science major at ECC might end up in a class taught by Mark Pelczarski, whom Wikipedia mentions as the developer of one of the first Apple paint programs, as well as the guy who computerized the studios of Jimmy Buffet and Dan Fogelberg. Not too shabby.

Doesn't sound much like my high school, that's for sure. Remind your students of who we are, but I'm guessing they already know.

Board turns against faculty and students

posted Feb 17, 2011, 9:27 AM by Gary Christenson   [ updated Feb 17, 2011, 11:44 AM by Tammy Ray ]

As you may have heard, the Board team offered a zero percent increase for a second time last night, this time extending zeroes over three years and denying any step and lane movement.
The proposal sent faculty into immediate "work to rule" mode in which only contractual obligations will be fulfilled and faculty will immediately halt any extra work.
With all Board proposals finally on the table after months of talks, Dr. Luis Martinez, ECCFA chief negotiator, summed up Board offers so far as "a great big zero."
To date, all monetary proposals from the Board, including full-time and adjunct salaries, as well as overload and summer school pay, have been no increase. 
The Board's rationale for these proposals is--you guessed it--"hard times," but times that aren't too hard to give the college president a 10 percent retroactive raise and raises to administration (in some cases, multiple raises).
We are rapidly learning that this is a board that values archways over learning and fancy median strips more than students. The task now is to teach them that people, not bricks and mortar, are the true foundation of a college.

ECC faculty meet with college president

posted Feb 9, 2011, 8:18 PM by Gary Christenson

In a special meeting called by ECCFA leadership, ECC president David Sam addressed a barrage of questions from faculty about the lack of progress in contract negotiations.

During the meeting, in which comments were both civil but also blunt, several faculty wanted to know why the president hasn't been actively involved in bargaining, with Sam responding that contract negotiations is a matter between the ECCFA and the Board and that he wasn't one to micro-manage. 

Others in attendance reminded him that faculty are now seeking his support  in moving negotiations forward in return for the support they have shown him during the last four years. Still other faculty rose to warn the president that the goodwill atmosphere that has been enjoyed in recent years is now in jeopardy as the Board demonstrates what is increasingly perceived as a disregard for the role of faculty and instruction.

ECCFA chief negotiator Luis Martinez started off the meeting by relating an example of how bad relations between the two sides have become. While answering questions earlier that afternoon from a student government organization, Martinez said  that a member of the Board team, unbeknownst to the students present, was in the room taking notes.  Sam attempted to defend the practice by saying anyone can sit in on an open meeting and that the Board was simply trying to gather information to stay current on bargaining issues.

Several faculty openly acknowledged that they understood the difficult spot the president was in but also reminded him that the college president has a responsibility to advocate for his faculty.

Sam stated that he heard the message and would relay it to the Board. He also praised faculty and the vital role they play, saying he too wants this over so that faculty can concentrate fully on what they do best, teaching students.

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