Contract Negotiations Update

2017-2019 Contract Negotiations

by Brent Jeffers, IFO Chief Negotiator

 The IFO-MnCSU Master Agreement is negotiated every 2-years in conjunction with the Legislative budgetary cycle. The current contract will expired on June 30. Both Negotiating Teams of the IFO and Management agreed to open this round of bargaining on May 16. The parties will begin negotiations with a form of Interest Based Collective Bargaining (IBCB). This process involves the two parties engaging in discussions related to contractual items of mutual interest and typically does not involve economic issues.  We have participated in some version of an IBCB process in each of the last three contracts; this method of negotiating has proven to be both productive towards an overall settlement and effective in clarifying contractual language. When we met in May, each side proposed a list of items and then by mutual agreement, the parties will proceed to discuss selected items using IBCB’s problem-solving style of bargaining. The IFO Negotiating Team believes that this is the best approach to open this round of bargaining.

Related to the contract, MnSCU and the IFO have executed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that ensures the allocation of professional development money for the 2017-2018 academic year. As faculty plan their professional development activities for next year, many rely on funding for the 2017-2018 academic year. Professional Study and Travel (19B) funds, as well as funds provided for Professional Improvement Grants (Article 19, Sec A) and the similar professional improvement funds for Community Faculty (Article 10, Sec J) are not guaranteed and do not automatically continue; the funds must be negotiated every two years. The professional development funds are an important benefit and many faculty appreciate a seamless continuation of these funds despite the status of current contract negotiations. Historically, while the parties have been engaged in bargaining for a new contract, we have reached an agreement to continue to fund professional development activities pending the outcome of negotiations. Our agreement to continue professional development funding for next year was signed last week.

The 2017 IFO Negotiating Team has been working since November preparing an opening proposal for the 2017-2019 contract. This process includes the development of both language and strategy for the upcoming round of bargaining and our decisions are guided by all the new and continuing Delegate Assembly resolutions. The IFO staff and your campus representatives on the Team have worked diligently and we are eager and prepared to begin negotiations.