SCCC union questions deal with outside firm
Board renews contract for PR work
SCHENECTADY COUNTY The Schenectady County Community College’s faculty union is raising concerns about the college extending its deal with its outside marketing firm.
The SCCC Board of Trustees voted recently on a new contract with Gramercy Communications at a rate of $3,000 a month from Nov. 1 through next August. The Troy-based company will focus on all media relations including planning and writing and distributing press releases, pitching stories to reporters and editors and assisting with promotion of special events and other activities, according to the board resolution.
Other duties are preparing for public meetings, reaching out to the community and providing strategic communications and business counsel.
College officials first brought on Gramercy in the spring to help with marketing efforts because they had a lot of activities happening, including the new student housing facility that opened across the street and the 12,600-square-foot music building addition to Elston Hall. The company assisted with promotional efforts.
SCCC President Quintin Bullock said the jobs of the college’s in-house, four-person marketing staff would not be eliminated. Instead, there will be a splitting up of duties. Gramercy will focus on “external communications” such as interacting with local media, while the existing marketing staff will focus on internal communications on campus.
SCCC Faculty Association President Lenore Horowitz, professor of math, science and technology, said in an email that the roughly 80-member union is not convinced that “these services are necessary in such difficult economic times considering the college already has full-time personnel performing similar services.”
Horowitz added that the union is concerned with the monthly fee and how it might affect future budget needs at the college. The faculty is preparing for another round of contract negotiations and wants to know if it will receive more compensation “or will we be informed, as was the case in past negotiations, that the college budget cannot support equity increases for SCCC faculty and professional staff.”
“SCCC has consistently ranked close to the bottom salary scale among the 30 SUNY community colleges state wide and we are eager to begin the process of gaining some ground through this year’s negotiations,” Horowitz added.
The average salary for a full-time professor at SCCC was $63,000, and the only places with lower salaries are Herkimer County Community College and Sullivan County Community College, the union wrote in a memo during its contract negotiations. Also, the faculty union does not have automatic “step” raises built into the contract for each year of service.
Getting a new contract was a contentious process after the last agreement expired in August 2010. The board in May 2011 rejected a deal that would have contained a 2 percent pay increase on the grounds that other unions had received only a 1.5 percent increase.
The process went to an arbitrator, which in January recommended that the faculty get raises of 3.5 percent for the first two years of the deal and 4 percent for 2012-2013. That nonbinding recommendation was rejected and in May, the Board of Trustees approved a three-year contract with the union that contained 1.5 percent raises each year retroactive to 2010.
In other SCCC news, the SUNY College and Career Counseling Center will be moving from its facility at 129 Emmons St. into space at Center City.
Bullock said the center, which is funded by SUNY and administered by SCCC, needed some more room in a central location and the downtown Center City location was the perfect fit.
The second semester is the target date for the move.
This will join the other education space being used by SCCC. The college in 2011 began leasing 20,000 square feet of space that includes eight classrooms.
In June, the college announced that it would lease another 11,000 square feet of space to add classrooms, faculty offices and work space, and common areas for students.