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National Faculty Association Investigates MCCCD Over Decision To Eliminate Meet And Confer

Last February, the Maricopa Community College District governing board ended a faculty bargaining process called “meet and confer.” Now, a national organization of faculty in Washington, D.C. is coming to Phoenix to investigate.

The community college board voted four to three to cut the meet and confer program, calling it an outdated policy. John Schampel is a biology professor at Phoenix College and the President of the Faculty Executive Council.

Along with eliminating meet and confer, Schampel said the board eliminated "any and all 'reassign time' from teaching for the faculty who were involved in that process, so that was the big thing that happened that raised eyebrows."

That process is known as shared governance and Schampel says reassign time "is a few hours that are taken away from teaching to allow faculty to engage in shared governance as part of their job to be able to work collaboratively with their administrative partner in being able to make decision about teaching and learning at the institution."

Hans Joerg Tiede is a senior program officer at the American Association of University Professors, the faculty organization that will be investigating the changes.

"We are concerned that the unilateral abandonment of this meet and confer provision in the residential faculty manual negatively affects shared governance at the colleges," Tiede said. "And I have not received a single response on behalf of the governing board."

Tiede said he did request a meeting with the District’s chancellor, but she has said she is unavailable.

"In response I asked whether she could designate another member, say the provost, to meet in her stead," Tiede said. "I have not received a response to that yet."

If the AAUP finds the Maricopa Community College District violated principles of governance, the college could be censured. But does that have teeth?

"It has teeth in the sense that it informs the academic community about the status for governance at the institution. We will inform the regional accreditor, which in this case is the higher learning commission — that body can decided to do what it wishes," Tiede said.

When the meet and confer provision was eliminated, Board President Lorrin Hendrix told KJZZ that once the fervor dies down, community college employees won’t see any major difference.

Requests for comment from the District have not been returned.

KJZZ is licensed to the Maricopa County Community College District.

Senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.