College Leader Says Faculty Grievances, Frustration Growing
Date, Shruti, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Shruti Date Daily Herald Staff Writer
The most recent delay in arbitration hearings for a grievance filed almost a year ago by the Harper College faculty is frustrating the head of the faculty senate, who says that the spirit of cooperation and morale at the college are on the decline.
Faculty members learned recently that a grievance involving medical insurance funds, filed in January 2000, won't be up for arbitration until February. In addition, two other grievances against the administration wait in the wings.
"The situation seems to be getting worse," said Julie Fleener, Harper faculty senate president. Fleener said on average the faculty senate filed one grievance every two years between 1994 and 1998, so three in the last 11 months is unusual.
"The number of grievances has increased," she said. "The atmosphere on campus is not good. The administration takes a win- lose position. There does not seem to be much collaboration."
For example, she said, Harper has continued to postpone the arbitration hearing to resolve a dispute about money saved after the college switched insurance providers from a self-insured plan to a Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan in late 1998.
Harper officials would not comment about specific charges in any of the grievances or about the atmosphere on campus.
"It is our practice not to publicly discuss issues during the grievance process," Harper officials said in a general written statement.
One official, however, offered an explanation for the delays in the insurance grievance hearings.
"It is simply a matter of getting everyone's schedules together," said Judith Thorson, vice president of administrative services.
The grievance, filed on behalf of 700 college employees, claims the college saved at least $1.1 million since it changed insurance plans, and asks the administration to provide proof that half of that money - $550,000 - is in a special account, reserved to offset future premium increases. The faculty said that this was the agreement struck when the college changed insurance providers in 1998.
The faculty senate originally requested arbitration this summer, after meetings with Harper President Robert Breuder ended unsuccessfully.
Arbitration officer Robert W. McAllister set Aug. 14 as the first meeting date, but the administration rejected it.
The Harper administration also asked to postpone an arbitration hearing scheduled for Oct. …