ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Union representing faculty and staff says the school violated collective bargaining agreements
The union representing faculty and staff at Northern New Mexico College has filed labor practices complaints over a plan for pay cuts and furloughs at the college, which has campuses in Española and El Rito.
The union says that Northern’s administrators violated collective bargaining agreements when they announced pay cuts of 2 percent last week to help make up a budget shortfall that could reach $1 million in the current fiscal year.
Faculty members would see the cut in their pay level, and administrators and other staff members would take the cut as five furlough days.
Tim Crone, a sociology and anthropology professor who is president of the American Federation of Teachers local, said the pay cut plan should have been negotiated with the union.
He said that before the pay cuts were announced last week, Northern administrators presented the plan as simply an idea under discussion. But at meetings last week with faculty and staff, the cuts were announced as definite. Crone said he objected on the spot.
The administration has already sent out a schedule of furloughs, he said Tuesday. Crone said Northern’s regents are scheduled to discuss the pay cuts Thursday at a meeting in Española and the college staff members intend “to be out in force.”
Susan Meredith Pacheco, chief of staff in the office of Northern President Nancy “Rusty” Barcelo, said the union hadn’t presented any specific alternative for budget cuts other than targeting the administration.
“I can tell you that we are pretty darn lean in the administration at this point,” Pacheco said.
She said the administration is seeking legal advice on the collective bargaining issues.
Pacheco added that one administrative area plans staff expansion: the business and finance office. “In fact, it’s to the point where it can’t keep up with the workload,” Pacheco said.
Domingo Sanchez III, who came on board as the college’s chief financial officer in January, said last week the budget problems are a result of funding cuts in recent years — although NNMC did not take a big hit in the recent legislative session — and problems with a software package used for the college’s financial management. The college has an annual budget of about $30 million.
Crone said the union is comparing the pay cuts to the federal government’s bank bailout.
“The people at the top made bad decisions, and everyone is having to pay for those decisions,” he said.
He also said the pay cut plan is like “a regressive tax.”
“It has less impact on someone making $200,000 a year than someone making $20,000 a year,” he said.
Crone said the union doesn’t have a formal plan yet for addressing the school’s budget crunch, but said “we know there is a lot of administrative fat at the college.”
He said a better idea is to have higher-level administrators take furloughs and to lay off some administrative staff and “focus the burden where the (college’s) economic crisis developed.”