Hocking College Board And Bargaining Unit Reach Agreement

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After several months of discussion, Hocking College's board of trustees has approved a new contract with the Professional Bargaining Unit (PBU) of the Hocking College Educational Association.

According to a release from the college, the new contract implements the following salary changes for the 2014 fiscal year: a change in the salary scale for bargaining unit members, in favor of those with master’s degrees or higher. A 1.5 percent across the board increase will also take effect for this year. The changes in salary will be retroactive to July 1, 2013. Fiscal Year 2015 and 2016 will each include a 3.5 percent across the board increase, plus a one-step advancement.

PBU members with associate or bachelor’s levels of education will be advanced one step, said Carl Bridges, provost of the college, meaning that many of them will be upgraded to a higher pay level.

"Most unions have what they call a step system, a grid which essentially helps determine what level of salary a person will be on when they’re hired," Bridges said. "In some situations that means some increase in salary."

Having started the process last April, Bridges said, the board and PBU took a new approach in terms of how they negotiated the contract with interest-based bargaining.

"Each side came to the table with different items," said Bridges, "and tentative agreements were compiled and brought to the board."

The process continued throughout the summer.

"We've been charging at it pretty hard," said Mark Yanko, president of Hocking's PBU. "This time we went a bit further, so this was one of the longer (processes) in terms of negotiating."

After both sides came to their own agreements, the board of trustees ratified terms and contract changes will take effect immediately, Bridges noted.

It was a professionally cordial process, in which both sides listened to each other, Bridges commented.

"I think Dr. Bridges really understood our concerns and he came to the table with fair compromises and good bargaining," Yanko said. "We worked very hard with the college this year to come up with a contract that was mutually beneficial. We were very pleased to work with the college's team. Each side came to the table prepared to rationally discuss our bargaining items in an atmosphere that was refreshingly open and respectful."

“Although facing an unprecedented economic climate in the State of Ohio, where higher education institutions must operate with fewer financial resources and greater efficiencies, we are pleased that we have been able to work together to negotiate a compensation package through collaboration with the Professional Bargaining Unit,” Bridges added.