Collective Bargaining at San Juan College?

In response, San Juan College Board of Trustees President John Thompson said it would be inappropriate for the Board to voluntarily recognize any group without an election.  Thompson went on to cite the San Juan College Labor Management Relations resolution that was adopted in 2004.  He says the group of faculty need to follow the prescribed steps to organize into a collective bargaining unit.

The San Juan Board of Trustees declined a request to recognize a group of faculty members who wish to be represented by collective bargaining.  According to NEA-NM, the President of the San Juan College Education Association Gerald Williams, asked the board to voluntarily recognize the faculty collective bargaining unit.

In response, San Juan College Board of Trustees President John Thompson said it would be inappropriate for the Board to voluntarily recognize any group without an election.  Thompson went on to cite the San Juan College Labor Management Relations resolution that was adopted in 2004.  He says the group of faculty need to follow the prescribed steps to organize into a collective bargaining unit.

The board was also asked to allow the faculty to participate in a certifying election with a yes or no vote.  The board took no action on the request, instead, referring again to the College resolution on Labor Management Relations and the steps to follow to take a yes or no vote regarding a faculty collective bargaining unit.

Below are additional statements and documents relating to this story:

Full statement from San Juan College Board of Trustees President John Thompson:

April 2, 2019

"On the evening of March 21, 2019, two faculty members, representing a group of faculty, sent each of the San Juan College Trustees an email message that basically asked (the Trustees) two questions:

1.     Would the SJC Board of Trustees agree to “voluntarily recognize collective bargaining at SJC for the faculty”; and

2.    Will SJC or the board of trustees “support the faculty’s right to participate in an up or down vote … to determine if they want collective bargaining on the SJC campus.”

 With respect to the first question, the Trustees discussed the following points:

·       It seems the question is not would the Board “recognize collective bargaining,” but rather will the board recognize some unspecified entity as the representative of the faculty – without an election – for purposes of engaging in collective bargaining with SJC. 

·       According to email, “signature cards” had been gathered “from a majority of SJC faculty who favor a vote to determine whether or not the faculty body wish to organize into a collective bargaining unit.” The email indicates that a majority of the faculty want a vote – not voluntary recognition. 

·       It would be inappropriate for the Board to voluntarily recognize any group without an election; the Trustees voted NOT to “voluntarily recognize collective bargaining at SJC for the faculty.”  The group of faculty wishing to engage in collective bargaining needs to follow the prescribed steps in the process to organize into a collective bargaining unit.

 

As to the second question:

San Juan College Board of Trustees adopted The San Juan College Labor Management Relations Resolution in 2004.  This document addresses the rights of employees to choose to organize – or choose not to organize – for collective bargaining.  It also sets forth detailed procedures on the process for holding elections of bargaining representatives. Any questions about what SJC’s position is on collective bargaining can be gleaned from that Resolution. Therefore, Board response to the second question would be redundant."

 

Statement from San Juan College President Dr. Toni Hopper Pendergrass:

April 2, 2019

 “As president of San Juan College, I follow the Board’s lead as they provide governance for the college.  I work with, and provide leadership to, faculty and staff as we pursue the college’s mission, vision and strategic plan.  This request and the Board’s decision does not change that.” 

 

Information from NEA-NM:

For Release, March 27, 2019 
Farmington, New Mexico

San Juan College Faculty Exercises Right to Collective Bargaining

Over 80 members of the San Juan College Faculty have filled out signature cards requesting that the San Juan College Educational Association (SJC-EA) represent them for the purposes of collective bargaining. This represents a majority of the faculty.

In a letter to the Board of Trustees, SJC-EA President Gerald Williams requested that the board consider voluntarily recognizing the faculty collective bargaining unit or at least to allow the faculty to participate (without putting up roadblocks) in a yes no vote in a certifying election. “Collective bargaining will greatly enhance the communication and decision-making process at San Juan College by allowing greater input by those who are charged with teaching our students”, Williams said.

According to the New Mexico Public Employees Bargaining Act (NMSA 10-7E-19) the Board must not: “interfere with, restrain or coerce a public employee in the exercise of a right guaranteed pursuant to the Public Employee Bargaining Act.” Nor may it “dominate or interfere in the formation, existence or administration of a labor organization.”

In an earlier collective bargaining effort, Williams reminded the Board that the college had spent over $150,000 in a failed attempt to dispute the composition of the bargaining unit. The faculty later suspended the move towards collective bargaining when the board responded to many of their concerns; and also terminated the previous college President.

Williams cited the needs of students, the quality of instruction and the college’s ability to recruit and retain high quality personnel as being reinforced through the faculty’s full input and participation through collective bargaining.

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