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Pasco-Hernando college faculty at impasse in first-ever contract talks

The sides couldn't agree on rules for how to deal with employee discipline.

After unionizing in 2018, Pasco-Hernando State College faculty members hoped to complete their first contract ever this year.

Talks‚ which began in February 2019 — went “really well,” union president Caitlin Gille said Thursday, “except for these two issues of discipline and evaluations.”

This week, the bargaining team declared negotiations at an impasse.

The main sticking point has been over what types of rules will be incorporated into the contract for when a faculty member is accused of misconduct. The union wants “basic” language similar to what other colleges includes, Gille said.

The administration disagreed.

“PHSC’s proposals reflected its firm belief that the evaluation and discipline of faculty members is properly vested in the college itself,” Brian Koji, the school’s labor lawyer, said via email. “PHSC’s proposals in that regard mirror state law, which already affords discharged faculty members who hold a continuing contract the right to full administrative hearing to contest the discharge.”

The union, by contrast, requested to use an outside arbitrator who, “by definition, will be completely unfamiliar with PHSC, its mission, policies, and learning environment,” Koji said.

Gille said the union suggested arbitration over the terms. The college did not agree to that, and so they will take their positions to a state special magistrate for review.

After a hearing, the magistrate will issue a non-binding recommendation. If the sides do not accept it, the suggested resolution would go to the college Board of Trustees for a vote.

“PHSC is committed to continuing to work with the UFF on these and other issues,” Koji said.

Gille remained optimistic, though she said she was disappointed with the college’s refusal to pursue arbitration.

“We’re confident that cooler heads will prevail and the administration will come around, eventually,” she said.

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