SHELDON—Northwest Iowa Community College and its faculty union have agreed on a new three-year contract.
The Sheldon-based college’s board of trustees on Monday, April 29, unanimously approved a collective bargaining agreement for fiscal years 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 with the Area IV Community College Education Association.
“We all have a shared interest in establishing compensation levels for all of our employees that recognize their expertise, their dedication, their contribution to the success of the college in order to attract and retain quality employees while exercising sound fiscal stewardship,” said college president Alethea Stubbe.
The board and the CCEA have used interest-based bargaining for many years at NCC during collective bargaining negotiations.
“This year, we continued our interest-based bargaining process by sharing our fiscal outlook, including our enrollments, including our revenue, our expenses, based on assumptions,” Stubbe said.
Health-care costs were part of this year’s collective bargaining negotiations between the board and the faculty union.
“We’re fortunate this year that those are a 1.93 percent increase, which is a small increase,” Stubbe said. “That had helped us be able to set the 2.64 percent increase in salary for our faculty this year.”
As part of the collective bargaining negotiations with the board, the CCEA requested a three-year contract. All of the union-ratified agreement’s information fits onto one page.
“We’re grateful to do that and set the base wage for the first year at $39,384.35,” Stubbe said.
Increases in that figure for fiscal years 2020-21 and 2021-22 will depend on the Consumer Price Index, which is “an indicator of ‘cost-of-living’ increases by measuring the prices of various goods,” Stubbe said.
“Individual years’ increases in salary will be set then each year as we know more about state general aid, about insurance and all of those things,” she said.
The total amount of increased wages for all of the college’s faculty members in 2019-20 is $85,482.06.
“We’ll present similar packages for the support staff and non-bargaining staff in May,” Stubbe said.
Board member Loretta Berkland shared her thoughts on the collective bargaining negotiations.
“Actually, it went so well this year they didn’t require my presence,” she said. “I am extremely pleased to have been on the receiving end of a lot of this information earlier and pleased that things went as well as they did.”
Berkland gave her opinion on why the collective bargaining negotiations have gone so well for years.
“The interest-based bargaining has just absolutely built a level of trust and a level of collaboration and collegiality that it has become relatively easy now to come to an agreement on what the interests of the college are and the interests of our shareholders and the interests of our faculty and the interests of our support staff are,” she said.
Mark Brown, NCC’s vice president of operations and finance, is the chief negotiator for the board. Stubbe; John Hartog, the college’s vice president of student and academic services; and Brandi Hansen, NCC’s director of human resources, also were part of the board’s negotiations team.
“It went so quickly that there wasn’t a lot of discussion,” Stubbe said. “It was more presenting information, sharing information, so two meetings — probably a total of two hours — and we were done.”
Board president Larry Hoekstra thanked the board’s negotiations team for its work.
“It’s valuable to be able to have that level of trust, like you said, to move forward on it,” he said.
STUDENT TUITION AND FEES:
The Northwest Iowa Community College Board of Trustees on Monday, April 29, unanimously approved an increase in student tuition for the 2019-20 academic year, but will not raise student fees.
NCC president Alethea Stubbe mentioned what the Iowa Legislature ended up doing for the state’s community colleges during its 2019 session.
She said the governor’s original budget recommendation was $4.7 million for community colleges.
The Iowa House of Representatives proposed $7 million for the state’s community colleges while the Iowa Senate originally agreed with Gov. Kim Reynolds’ recommendation.
“They ended up compromising on a $6 million increase for all 15 community colleges,” Stubbe said. “For NCC, this means an extra $136,080. This is the best we’ve seen in a while.”
However, a tuition increase for the Sheldon-based college still was recommended to the board.
“We’re grateful to be able to continue the work of building a skilled workforce for northwest Iowa, but in order to do that with quality and affordability, we are recommending a tuition increase to go along with that state general aid increase to cover our increased expenses,” Stubbe said.
Board members approved a 2.36 percent increase in tuition for 2019-20:
- NCC resident students will pay $173 per semester credit, an increase of $4.
- Nonresident students will pay $183 per semester credit, an increase of $4.
- Border-state students in Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota will pay $178 per semester credit, an increase of $4.
“We’re actually on the low end of community colleges,” Stubbe said. “We’re still a great value in higher education.”
She knows the board struggles with the decision every year of whether or not to raise tuition.
“We’re at a place where there’s not quite enough state general aid to cover the increased expenses,” Stubbe said. “I guess the Legislature has asked us to put a little bit more on the backs of our students.”