SCCC agrees to 8.2 percent faculty wage hike over 4 years

Suffolk County Community College officials have agreed to Suffolk County Community College officials have agreed to a four-year contract extension that will provide faculty with wage hikes of 8.2 percent through August 2019. This is the science center on the Ammerman campus in Selden on Feb. 2, 2014. Photo Credit: James Carbone

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Nearly a year and a half early, Suffolk County Community College officials have agreed to a four-year contract extension that will provide faculty with wage hikes of 8.2 percent through August 2019.

Under the deal, full-time faculty will receive increases of 1.5 percent in February 2016; 2 percent in February 2017; 2 percent in February 2018 and 2.5 percent in February 2019.

The existing contract runs until Aug. 31, 2015.

SCCC president Shaun McKay could not put a price tag on the pact Wednesday, but said union concessions will offset pay hikes. "Both sides gave a little; this is a fair contract," he said.

The contract extension for the 485 full-time faculty and 1,500 adjunct teachers comes early because the college wanted to keep an existing contract provision, set to expire by the end of summer, allowing the college to increase individual class sizes by two students. The union wanted to negotiate the class size provision as part of an overall contract.

The new agreement would put the limit for most classes at 37 students, saving the college about $750,000 a year, officials said.

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"I think we have been sensitive to the college's needs during the financial uncertainties and we have come up with savings that we both can live with," said Kevin Peterman, faculty union president. "We want to have labor peace so we can plan for the next five years."

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's office has joint responsibility with the college for negotiating labor contracts. Bellone spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said the administration was "reviewing the contract."

The agreement must be ratified by college trustees, and Bellone must put forward a resolution for contract ratification with the county legislature.

Peterman said the raises were delayed from the fall so the pay hikes would only be in effect for half the school year. The union also agreed to give the college more flexibility to start the fall semester as early as Aug. 21. The current contract calls for the school year to start on the Monday of the week in which Sept. 1 falls.

The new pact also will allow the college to implement a paperless payroll system, which will save $500,000 a year, and to implement rules for a tobacco-free campus.

The new contract calls for adjuncts, who work part-time and are paid by the course, to get increases of 3.5 percent in September 2015; 2 percent in February 2017; 2 percent in February 2018 and 2.5 percent in 2019. The contract raises the number of credit hours an adjunct can teach each semester from eight to nine.

The faculty union's executive board already has approved the contract. Peterman met Wednesday with 120 faculty members in Selden and will hold additional meetings Thursday on the Riverhead and Brentwood campuses. Those meetings will be followed by a mail-in ballot, which will go out April 2 and be due back April 17.Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) said he has not yet seen the contract proposal but said the pact shows that the faculty union and college administration are "true partners" in moving the college forward.

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