In a historic vote, the Board for the Maricopa County Community College District voted to end “meet and confer” process at their meeting in February.  Meet and Confer is a form of collective bargaining by which the district’s faculty association has input into faculty benefits such salary schedules, code of ethics, and workload.

The decision was opposed by the faculty association and allies in organized labor and resulted in a frivolous lawsuit claiming damages in excess of $850,000. Lest anyone confuse the faculty board’s motivation with benevolent concern with ensuring the more than 1,400 full-time faculty members of the district get a fair shake – it is important to note that each of the four executive members are claiming $150,000 worth of personal damages for each of them.  The other $250,000 are claimed on behalf of the association which pays the board to negotiate on behalf of its members.  That’s a lot of upside for association board members.  It is less clear how the rest of the 1,404 faculty members benefit.

Although the faculty association isn’t an officially recognized union, their actions leave hardly any room for distinction.  When the district board was discussing the policy change as a way to streamline faculty policy-making and save valuable county resources – the association immediately ginned up opposition by spreading fears of the worst-case scenarios.  Which was a convenient ploy to boost association membership – and dues.

A bureaucratic and “labor-intensive” process like meet and confer wastes time, money and resources – all of which could be directed into better compensation for faculty members who deserve it. Many communities and political subdivisions have eliminated meet and confer, and the alternative has proved to be far superior.

Individual faculty members communicate their individual concerns, needs, and desires to their management team.  Under this more tailored approach of employer-employee negotiations, compensation is based upon the merit and accomplishments of individual faculty members, not from the collective bargaining of a few well-compensated representatives who must negotiate for the lowest common denominator.

At the end of the day the board members are the elected representatives of the people and all college policy decisions are their responsibility.  They must balance the use of taxpayer dollars with the optimization of educational outcomes.  Eliminating meet and confer is a proven, common-sense policy decision that will better serve students, faculty, and taxpayers alike.

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The Arizona Free Enterprise Club is a free market policy and advocacy group dedicated to promoting a strong and vibrant Arizona economy.