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The union representing Hocking College’s professional staff maintains that there’s has been a “consistent decline” in the number of fulltime faculty at the college since President Betty Young took office in 2015.

In addition, the union currently has at least four pending grievances that appear to be headed toward arbitration at the college.

Hocking had 158 professional bargaining unit positions in January 2015 (when Young became president), the previous Hocking College Education Association President told The NEWS in 2018. That number showed a steep decline to 40 such positions in 2018.

Current HCEA President Brian Alloway said in an email last week that Hocking now has just 36 fulltime faculty.

“Since 2015, we have seen a consistent decline in the number of fulltime faculty in favor of adjuncts and now administrative ‘program managers’ who teach classes,” Alloway explained. “Often, the academic programs are staffed only by program managers and adjuncts, with no fulltime faculty. Program managers have been tasked with a multitude of responsibilities, including traveling for recruiting new students, and cannot be 100 percent focused on student instruction and success in the classroom the same as dedicated fulltime faculty.”

That issue is the subject of one of the grievances, filed last year, which argues that Hocking is violating the terms of its contract with the union because of the erosion of fulltime faculty employed. The remedy it seeks, through arbitration (scheduled for this August), is for program managers to no longer have teaching/instructional responsibilities, along with other potential remedies.

Hocking College spokesperson Tim Brunicardi argued that the program manager model, which he said was “already in place at the time of the last contract” with the union, helps the college and its fulltime faculty’s workload.

“Program managers provide a host of duties that enhance the educational mission of Hocking College,” Brunicardi said. “They supervise the faculty, teach classes and market their programs. Program managers work 12 months a year, so they are on campus this summer focusing on recruiting students to make sure the nine-month faculty will have full classes in the fall.”

He added that Hocking’s “talented pool of adjuncts” also enhances the quality of education at Hocking. Brunicardi noted that the current contract with the HCEA “excludes” program managers from union membership.

Complicating matters is the fact that Hocking has denied a public-records request from union President Alloway for a full list of Hocking employees, along with their salaries and titles, going back to 2014. Hocking allegedly told Alloway that those records did not exist. The union is also awaiting a copy of the college’s 15th-day enrollment reports for all semesters dating back to 2014.

Two of the other three grievances that the union filed recently with Hocking, which Alloway said appear to be heading toward arbitration between the two parties, include:

• One alleging that Hocking College is failing to pay teaching staff for their development of new courses for an apparent new eight-week course model being worked on by the college. The union wants the college to provide payment for development of these courses “pursuant to the collective-bargaining agreement.”

• A third grievance alleges that the college is “unilaterally imposing eligibility requirements” for employees to receive HSA (health savings accounts) contributions. The remedy sought is for the college to immediately cease “imposing unilateral changes to the collective-bargaining agreement” and for the college to “make contributions to the HSA” pursuant to that current agreement.

Alloway had not provided a copy of the fourth grievance by The NEWS’ print deadline Wednesday.

The NEWS reported in late April that Hocking College had at least four highly placed administrators who were leaving the college, including the director of its new cannabis testing lab and laboratory science degree programs. That news, coupled with the sliding number of fulltime staff, and the Hocking Board of Trustees’ recent decision to award Young a $70,000 bonus, among other issues, has led to a significant amount of negative public sentiment toward Hocking, much of it expressed on social media.

Meanwhile, the Hocking Trustees meeting that had been scheduled for today (June 6) was cancelled at the last minute. Brunicardi said that the next meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. June 25 at the Hocking College Lodge. The meeting was cancelled, he said, because some construction is still happening at the former Starr Machine building on Sylvania Avenue near Buchtel (which Hocking purchased for its laboratory-sciences programs), where the meeting was supposed to be held.

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