MnSCU Board of Trustees Signals Readiness to Endorse Contract Agreement With Faculty; Seeks Statement of Support from Faculty Union

Posted: June 7, 1996

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

The Board of Trustees of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) today indicated it intends to endorse the tentative contract agreement reached between the Inter Faculty Organization (IFO) and MnSCU.

In a unanimous motion, the board said it plans to act on the contract at its June 19 meeting if the IFO signs a statement of support for a salary equity study and its implementation as provided in the contract.

That statement, to be signed by the MnSCU chancellor and the IFO president, declares that MnSCU and the IFO have been equal partners in negotiating the salary equity process and are willing to defend it against legal challenges, if necessary.

The Board of Trustees today directed the chancellor to inform the IFO that the board is prepared to endorse the contract if the joint statement is signed.

The salary equity study was undertaken to ensure that compensation for all state university faculty complies with applicable pay equity legislation.

The IFO is the exclusive representative for approximately 2,300 faculty at the seven state universities and at Minnesota State University-Akita in Japan. The tentative contract agreement between the IFO and MnSCU was reached in late April.

The board took the action today because of a lawsuit filed against MnSCU by several St. Cloud State University faculty members alleging that the system discriminates against women in pay. The suit challenges the salary equity study that the former state university system and the IFO negotiated in 1992 and implemented in subsequent collective bargaining agreements, including the current tentative agreement.

MnSCU was served with the lawsuit shortly before a May 15 meeting of the Board of Trustees. The board had been prepared to take action on the tentative contract agreement at that meeting. However, the board delayed action to review the suit and to clarify the position of the IFO, since it is an equal partner in the negotiations process.

After discussions with attorneys, MnSCU asked the IFO leadership to sign the joint statement of support for the contract and the salary equity review process.

"The statement is key to the strongest possible legal defense and ... MnSCU and the IFO need to be willing to defend publicly the legitimacy of the 1992 salary equity study," a board document states.

The proposed statement is as follows: "The chancellor on behalf of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and the president on behalf of the Inter Faculty Organization declare and agree that MnSCU and the IFO are and have been equal partners in the negotiation of all agreements related to the salary equity review process and that MnSCU and the IFO are willing to defend the legitimacy of the 1992 equity study and the system implementing the study, if challenged in court."

The IFO has declined to sign the statement.

"The board acted on the advice of legal counsel to protect the financial interests of the system and its students," Chancellor Judith Eaton said. "We want to resolve this issue, and we are working diligently to make that happen."

The contract agreement needs approval from the Minnesota Legislature's Joint Subcommittee on Employee Relations (JSER). If approved the the JSER, it will be submitted to the 1997 Legislature. (Once the contract is approved by the JSER, it can be implemented at the universities.)

MnSCU, a system of community colleges, state universities and technical colleges, serves more than 166,000 students in 46 communities around the state.