So on Tuesday, the union plans to march from CCP to City Hall, where members will display protest signs as CCP president Stephen Curtis is grilled by City Council on budget matters. The union's concerns, which I'll get to in a minute, are not insignificant, but neither are the job perks they seem to take for granted.
Let's start with free time. Full-time hourly staff receive up to 52 paid days off per year, plus a four-day workweek for 15 weeks during the summer.
Who wouldn't kill for that kind of wiggle room?
CCP also contributes 10 percent of a full-time employee's annual salary to a 403(b) retirement account (for part-timers, it's 5 percent). And the retirement accounts are fully vested from the start date of participation.
And I thought most employers had done away with such things.
As for tuition remission, all full-time staff, their spouses/domestic partners and kids may attend CCP for free. Ever since the benefit launched in 2007, the college has funded a total of 355 classes and 40 degrees for employees and their dependents. If anyone opts for classes elsewhere, CCP will pay a stipend toward those tuitions, too.
As someone who's losing sleep over college costs for my kid, all I can say is Oh. My. Goodness.
Then there's health care. CCP pays 100 percent of the premium for medical, prescription-drug and dental-insurance coverage for its full-time employees and all of their family, including domestic partners.
This is one area, though, where CCP is finally crying "Uncle!"
In its negotiations with Local 2026 for a five-year contract, CCP has asked members to pay a deductible of $100 in the first year for single-person coverage; $300 for family. In years two through five, the deductible would rise to $300/$900. Compared with what many Americans pay for health-care coverage, CCP's proposal is beyond reasonable, as is its offer to establish a $15,000 pool to defray deductible costs for low-paid workers in financial hardship.
But bio prof John Braxton, the union's co-president, says that his members will pay the deductible only if CCP's suggested five-year pay increases are guaranteed.
It's a whopper of a raise: 10.5 percent over five years - but contingencies kick in if funding from the city and state dip by more than 2 percent. In that case, CCP would want the option of cutting sabbaticals, freezing pay raises and increasing the number of part-time workers.
Any of which seem likely, given budget cuts from Harrisburg and City Hall. So the 10.5 percent offer is sleight-of-hand, given it'll probably never be realized.
Although Braxton says he won't negotiate the contract in the press, he conceded that his union's stand is not "rigid" and it would like to keep talking, if only CCP would talk back. A CCP spokeswoman says that the school is waiting for the mediator to call everyone back to the table.
If they ever get there, Braxton will surely point out, as he has so many times already, that CCP's Curtis makes about $275,000 a year - more than Mayor Nutter ($170,935) and Gov. Corbett ($174,900).
"If he took $100,000 less, he'd make what the mayor is making. He could put the difference into the medical fund" to beef up the proposed $15,000 to help lower-paid workers, says Braxton. "Mayor Nutter took a pay cut to share the pain. Dr. Curtis should do the same."
I don't know about $100,000. The man's been at CCP for 13 years, for heaven's sake, and oversees 2,000 employees and 37,000 students. Compare that to the $600,000-plus paid to Temple president Ann Weaver Hart, or the $1.3 million to Penn's Amy Gutmann, and Curtis certainly doesn't seem overpaid to me.
But, sure, maybe a furlough day or two from Curtis would be a gracious gesture to pull everyone back to the bargaining table.
Where I hope union members will admit how good many of them already have it.
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