Chairwoman Shapira, Chancellor Greenstein, governors, university presidents, and guests. My name is Ken Mash, and I am the president of APSCUF, the association that represents the faculty and coaches at our State System universities.
I would like to begin today by thanking the chancellor, Assistant Vice Chancellor Mbuu, Presidents Fiorentino and Patterson, and all of the administrators who worked with my colleagues to reach an agreement in principle for the faculty.
And while we disagreed considerably (and still do in part), I think that there are some important things in this agreement that will reflect well on all of us.
It was a product of months and months of hard work by a lot of people, and I know that my faculty colleagues appreciate the commitment of those at the table to do what is in the best interest of all — especially our students.
I can say similar things about the negotiation of the contract for the coaches. There has been a lot of progress made on some very important issues. There are only a few issues remaining, but one of those — job security — remains a serious problem.
Chairwoman, chancellor, and governors, your negotiators have made it clear they will not budge on an issue of fundamental fairness.
I have not made a habit of speaking about specific contract issues at board meetings. But this issue is one that seems to defy all logic, runs counter to basic issues of public employment, and is truly NOT about money.
We are told that our coaches are protected better than any unionized or nonunionized coaches in the country. That isn’t true. At least one faculty contract in the country still covers coaches. But even so, bear in mind that the bar is pretty low. And it is not a righteous position to compare yourself to the bottom.
Our coaches are not looking for tenure. And right now — in our current CBA — they can be eligible for a two- or three-year rollover contract. But to get these contracts (and let’s remember that no System coach is going to be paid out millions of dollars for the last year of their contract), coaches have to be on probation for FIVE years.
Other than faculty, what other unionized worker has to wait five years? But coaches are not faculty, and the commitment made to them does not come close to the commitment made to faculty. And the coaches are not asking for what the faculty have.
What do they want? They want the five years to be a more reasonable three years.
What do they want? They want their renewal decisions to be based on the evaluations they must complete every year. Right now, they can be nonrenewed for such “reasons” as “we want to go in another direction” — even if they have had positive recommendations for the year.
What do they want? They want the ability to grieve nonrenewal decisions should they be problematic.
What do they want? They want contract language that says that a nonrenewal decision cannot be arbitrary or capricious. They want language that says — for goodness’ sake — that the decision cannot be discriminatory. That is right: The System wants to maintain its right to be discriminatory in nonrenewal decisions. How is that defensible?
But I apologize. The coaches are not seeking all of that. They are only seeking some progress on job security.
It should not be OK to have your representatives bang on the table and announce that this will not change. It just is not right. It is not a good way to treat people.
I sincerely hope there is some reconsideration of the position. Who knows? Maybe the coaches will settle without this. After all, when the minimum salary is below the poverty line for a household of two, people can be forgiven for wanting a bit more to put food on the table. But that will never make it right.
And it certainly leaves a bad taste in the mouths of both my faculty and coach colleagues. Governors, I certainly hope you can put the word in for how you believe that those who are primarily responsible for the well-being of our wonderful student-athletes be treated with just a little more respect. After all, the System’s negotiations team represents you.
Thank you for your time.