IFO Negotiations Proceed to Positional Bargaining

After 5 months of Interest Based Collective Bargaining (IBCB) behind us, the IFO and MN State negotiating teams have officially transitioned into Positional Bargaining.  Back in May, both Negotiating Teams agreed to open this round of bargaining with an IBCB process that involves the two parties engaging in discussions related to contractual items of mutual interest that typically do not involve economic items. We have participated in some version of an IBCB process in each of the last three contracts and this method of negotiating has proven to be both productive towards an overall settlement and effective in clarifying contractual language. Once again, this round of IBCB has been productive, producing seven tentative agreements that are beneficial to our membership.  However, both parties have agreed to transition into the more traditional method of negotiations called “positional bargaining.”

One of the fundamental goals of positional bargaining for the IFO Team is to ensure all new and continuing resolutions from our Delegate Assembly (DA) are on the bargaining table for consideration. As of Friday, November 3, both parties had exchanged opening proposals and the interests of our faculty, as expressed through DA resolutions, have been presented.  As in past rounds of bargaining, management’s initial economic proposal provides for a modest salary increase but the proposal excludes our members with adjunct and community faculty appointments from receiving any pay increases in the new contract. This tactic has been tried before and the IFO has refused to settle a contract without equitable pay raises for all members in our bargaining unit.   

In addition to fighting for competitive wages and benefits, the IFO continues to represent faculty interests on key issues facing our institutions - a quality education for our students, academic freedom, fair and equitable treatment of our members, and a strong role in shared governance.  These issues are increasingly being challenged and the challenge will likely intensify in the future.  It has long been one of our strengths as an organization to maintain and improve the role faculty play in educating our students.

A successful round of negotiations can be measured against three variables: 1) what did we get; 2) what did the employer get; and, 3) what did we keep out of the contract. The first two variables are always reflected in contractual history and communicated as part of the ratification process.  However, the language we are able to avert generally remains obscure; the untold success of the IFO’s bargaining history is the amount of management’s proposed language our organization has kept out of the contract. 

Our next bargaining session is scheduled for the weekend of December 8 & 9. We also have bargaining dates scheduled through the end of the spring semester.  It is our intent to get a contract settlement as soon as possible, however, the Negotiating Team will not settle unless we determine the settlement is in the best interest of our membership.

Brent Jeffers

Chair, IFO Negotiating Team