GCC officials pleased with contract 

61 faculty and two dozen staff members will see modest raises in long-delayed deal

  • PURA

For the Gazette
Published: 3/17/2016 2:15:43 AM

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Community College is among 15 state community colleges whose 61 faculty and two dozen staff members will see modest raises now that a long-delayed tentative deal has been struck between their union and the state.

The Massachusetts Community College Council and the union reached the agreement after lengthy negotiations which Thom Simmons, co-chairman of GCC’s business and information technology department and the president of the union’s local chapter, said spanned more than 50 meetings.

“It started six months before the prior contract even expired, so it’s been a year and a half,” Simmons said. “This was aggravating and frustrating, and it’s been a long time coming for all of us.”

GCC President Robert L. Pura said the three-year contract provides faculty and staff with a 2 percent raise in its first year, and 2½ percent boosts in each of the next two. It is retroactive to July 1, 2015.

He noted that the staff in the state’s community colleges are underpaid for the amount of work they do, and the main sticking point was making those compensation levels fair.

Salaries are typically 10 to 20 percent lower than community colleges in other states because of higher housing costs in Massachusetts, and faculty are required to teach more classes than their counterparts elsewhere in higher education.

“There were maybe 30 to 35 small changes to our existing contract, but that was the last issue we resolved,” Simmons said of the pay issue.

Pura added, “Throughout all the negotiations, it would be easy to understand levels of frustration around the state and among the faculty and staff of this college, but they were focused and committed to the day-to-day responsibilities of teaching and learning.”

Simmons noted the process took an “abnormally long time” to complete, to the point that the school’s trustees stepped in to try to prod the state negotiators forward.

“On a management level, we were all on the same side, saying let’s get this oJver with and get a contract,” Simmons said.

“These are our people,” Pura added. “We fully support what they do, not just because they work here but because of the quality of the work they do.”

Adjunct faculty, who operate under a separate contract that Simmons said was negotiated years ago, receive larger annual raises, but he expects the Baker administration will push to further reduce the size of public employee raises going forward.

Simmons said he expects the union’s membership will ratify the agreement by the end of the month.

“I expect it will go through. I know all the western Massachusetts schools are in support of it. We want to move on from here,” he said. “In another year and a half we’re going to be going through this again.”


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