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Chapter 4: The Staff

    •Romney Report (1996)
    •AdCom Rejects Change Team Recommendations (1997)
    •Staff Union Drive (1998)
    •Carol and Blair Brown Awards (1999)



Romney Report, 1996

Hampshire College Assessment: Community Building Project Final Report, by Patricia Romney, February 1996.

History of the Project

    In the summer of 1995, Gregory Prince, Jr., the President of Hampshire College, began discussions with Patricia Romney, the consultant. President Prince requested a study leading toward specific recommendations for improving morale, communication and administrative processes on campus. The consultant proposed a process of dialogue and assessment to which the President agreed, and at the end of the summer the consultation began. (p.1)

Recommendations

A. Recommendations that require minimal expenditures.

1. Mission, Vision, Planning and Setting of Priorities.

It is recommended that:
--A committee be established to begin the review of the report and proceed with decision making about the recommendations.
--A long range strategic plan be developed by the college. This plan should be the result of a process of organizational reenergizing starting simultaneously from the "top" levels of the organization and from "the bottom". The aim should include a concerted dialogue that defines goals and objectives, develops priorities, and clarifies plans...
--Decisions about college programs and expenditures should be consistent with the overall articulated direction and strategic plan for the college...

2. Communication

The flow of communication between senior administrators and staff needs improvement. Therefore, it is recommended that:
--The role and function of the vice-president be clarified.
 
AdCom is particularly important. It was noted that some budget members are not represented in AdCom and that the Schools have no direct representation in AdCom. When there is an empty position for some time communication is also interrupted, as with the now open Treasurer's postion. Therefore, it is recommended that:
--The role and function of the two AdComs (little and big) be clarified.
--The structure of AdCom meetings be improved to include dialogue aand planning...

In addition the flow of information and the lines of communication throughout the college need improvement. Therefore, it is recommended that:
--A monthly meeting of middle level managers be developed to exchange information and to discuss college program.
--An ongoing, twice yearly, new employee orientation program be maintained.
--An information packet about the college be prepared for each new employee and distributed to employees when they are hired...
--The administration facilitate an atmosphere of openness and information sharing on campus. Multiple sources of information sharing should be used--memos, the weekly bulletin, staff meetings, annual meetings.
--Staff be regularly informed about the college's ongoing financial and programmatic status...
--Confidentiality be clarified, regarding what it means, when it is needed, and how confidentiality and openness operate in various domains would be very useful.
--A speedy, specific, response to this consultation and the concerns of staff should be made...

3. Decision Making

It is recommended that:
--The college look at decision making and specifically at conflicts that occur between councils, boards, committees and administrative offices of the college...

4. Training

There is significant and wide ranging expertise within the institution, and the college can make use of this wisdom at little additional expense. Therefore, it is recommended that:
--The college initiate an ongoing training program for staff. The program should focus on using staff (and faculty) expertise and thus could be described as a staff educating staff program...

5. Campus Atmosphere

A concerted, cooperative effort throughout the staff is needed to decrease and interrupt the negativity, anger and rumors that circulate at the college. Therefore it is  recommended that:
--Staff use their energy to work directly with SAC to improve their representation and working conditions.
--Staff interrupt the rumor mill and the spirit of negativity when they see it in themselves or one another.
--Staff make every effort to note and speak about the positive aspects of working at Hampshire...

6. Staff Recognition

Given the high level of staff commitment and the staff's clear desire to be valued and recognized by the institution, it is recommended that:
--A no-cost, or low-cost program of staff appreciation be developed, sponsored by the administration and directed by the Office of Human Resources. Ideas brought up in feedback sessions include an Employee Recognition Bulletin Board or a designated parking place for a month, or a day off.
--The college authorize a formal, conservative program of comp. time which would be managed by department supervisors...

7. Workplace Democracy

Given the joint support of this principle by both administration and staff, it is recommended that:
--Workplace democracy continue to be strengthened at Hampshire.
--Staff who are unhappy with SAC or with SAC meetings take the initiative to meet and talk with SAC about their needs. The college should facilitate an exploration of the wishes of the community as to SAC's work. It may be that geographic representation is a central feature of the problem.
--Departmental supervisors, managers and department staff take the lead in project development and accomplishment, with input from top administration.

B. Recommendations Requiring Financial Resources

    The recommendations in this section require funds, principally for new hires and additional consultation.

1. Improvement in Salary, Benefits and Overload

Given the high priority these issues hold in staff's morale and well-being, it is recommended that:
--Step raises be reinstated as soon as economically possible.
--A consultant be used to help the college review and revamp its grading system for greater equity, clarity and efficiency.
--The findings of this report be coordinated with the results of the survey on salary and benefits conducted by the Human Resources Department.
--Strategic planning include an assessment of when additional hiring can be done and in which departments new staff are most needed.

2. Mission, Vision, Priority

It is recommended that:
--A consultant be hired to shepherd the college through the development of a strategic plan which articulates program, development and spending priorities for the college.

3. Workplace Democracy

The college is in need of a staff member, with administrative rank and authority, who would facilitate fairness, workplace democracy, and accountability in the institution. Therefore is is recommended that:
--The college hire an ombudsperson (or reassign a current faculty or staff member to this function).
--The ombudsperson position be at least half time.
--Staff be centrally involved in the shaping of the ombudsperson's role and in the hiring of the person. (p.20-23)


 
AdCom Rejects Change Team Recommendations


"AdCom Rejects Change Team Recommendations," by Gillian Andrews. The Forward, v.2(11):1,5; Nov. 13, 1997.

    Laura Johnson has a metaphor for her participation in the Romney Report Change Team. She describes a time a few years ago when a repairman came to her house to fix her heater. Her daughter Delaney, who was two at the time, played noisily around the stranger until he got up, clamped a wrench to a nearby door, and turned to her. "I need you to hold this wrench for me," he said. "It's very important to my work."
    Delaney held onto the tool in silence as the repairman finished with the heater. When he was done, he thanked her. "You've been a real big help," he said, and unscrewed the wrench again.
    "That's what...the Change Team [is]," Johnson said. "We're Delaney holding a wrench next to a wall."
    That is the conclusion of a number of Hampshire staff who participated in the Change Team have reached in the last few months, watching the administration that commissioned them to make suggestions about improving campus morale and communication turn down each substantial proposal made by the team. Fighting and discontent on the part of the Change Team members, along with backpedaling on the part of the administration, have kept reports of AdCom's response to the Change Team's recommendations somewhat under wraps until now... (p.1)
    From the beginning, a number of staff and faculty raised issues about the methods and purpose of the Romney Report...But the Community Building Project went forward, and in February 1996 the Romney Report was published. Among its suggestions was that a "Change Team" of staff be formed to "begin the review of the report and proceed with decision-making about the recommendations." President Prince did so, hand-picking the ten original members of the Change Team from Physical Plant, the Admissions Office, the Library, Student Affairs, Public Relations and his own office.
    During 1996 this Change Team met weekly with members ex officio  [Treasurer] Peter Correa and [Director of Human Resources] John Falkowski. In November 1996, they produced a preliminary report that was sent to all Hampshire staff and to the Administrative Committee (AdCom).
    In February 1997, AdCom responded to the Change Team's recommendations with a memo which several Change Team members, including Linda Mollison and Johnson, say rejected the recommendations the Change Team felt were most important.
    "I felt [Prince] hooked on to a lot of easy stuff...a lot of things got ignored, dropped out, or basically belittled," Johnson said.
    For the most part, the recommendations that were ignored had to do with improved representation of staff in decision-making and better all-around recognition for staff. Among them were specific requests for administrative validation of Staff Advocacy Council's (SAC's) Workplace Democracy Statement, the creation of a uniform comp-time system in which supervisors would reward salaried staff who worked hard with extra time off, the creation of an ombudsman position to handle workplace disputes, employee permission to have a witness of their choice present during the grievance process, greater respect for SAC and the addition of a staff trustee to the Board of Trustees. AdCom's denial of these last three requests, which were seen as important to accurate representation of staff concerns, were among the most difficult for Mollison and Johnson to bear... (p5)
 


Staff Union Drive, 1998


The Community Voice
A Publication of the Hampshire Staff and Local 509, SEIU
Vol. 1, No. 2; June 1997

A Statement to the Community
As Hampshire staff who have been talking with people all over campus about organizing a Union, we have learned a lot these past few weeks. Through public events and individual discussions with people, we've come to realize the following:
 
1.     There is a widespread lack of confidence in the administration. Lots of people say that Hampshire just isn't what it used to be. The College has done such a good job teaching about social justice that staff here expect much more from their employer.
2.     Most people know at least one case of someone being badly mistreated at work. These are not just the typical minor irritations that come up all the time. These are serious situations of abuse, discrimination, or favoritism.
3.     Feelings range from simmering disappointment to open resentment about the difference between facade and reality. People point to the rejected recommendations of the Change Team, the difficulty SAC has had making itself a powerful force, the ignored vote on compensation plans as evidence that the college's rhetoric about empowerment does not extend to its own staff.
4.     There is widespread discussion - not just in connection with the Union drive - about the major problems facing staff at Hampshire. There is an overwhelming sense that "something must be done."
5.     A large number of staff have told us they would definitely vote for a Union. There is a small group of people who are clearly and ideologically opposed to unions. There are many other people who want there to be change but have legitimate questions and concerns about unions. They don't have any other serious proposal of what to do, and therefore feel conflicted.
 
To that group, we want to say that right now, with this organizing effort, we have our best chance to make sure Hampshire lives up to its values and its promise. Join with us. We want you to be involved to make sure that your worries about unions don't become reality here. We don't just want to vote in a Union; we also want to rebuild a community. That means we want this Union to be a model of democracy and involvement. It means we want a large vote for the Union, not just a simple majority, because the larger the vote the more respect we will have from the College when we begin bargaining a contract, and the more we can be sure that the Union will be truly representative of all staff. Give the Union a try.
 
WHY WE WANT A UNION
 
A number of staff at the college have arrived at the conclusion that the time has come to pursue a collective bargaining agreement with the administration. We see this as the one clear path towards constructive dialogue and a restoration of the dignity which has been eroded over recent years. Some of us have believed for years that unionization was an important protection, while others have been against unions in the past. All of us now realize that only through a collective bargaining agreement can equal treatment be assured and job security protected. Such an agreement would provide protection from unilateral decision making and would have been important to those who had their Hampshire careers unexpectedly cut short last year.
 
Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 509, has agreed to represent Hampshire staff should we choose to elect them. They are willing to commit whatever resources are necessary to protect our right to make this decision unimpeded, protect our right to organize, and to assist us in this process. Local 509 currently represents about 1000 employees at the Amherst campus of UMass and 300 employees on the Boston campus. SEIU represents other staff at Smith, Mt. Holyoke, Boston University, Brandeis, MIT, and many other colleges across the nation.
 
There is language included in the current draft of the Hampshire policy manual which states that the handbook "...is not intended to create any contract of employment".  This is an attempt by the college to clarify staff positions as "at will" employees. In other words, staff currently lack any guarantee of our benefits, wages, or job security. A union contract would provide that guarantee. The manual further states that, "Hampshire College reserves the right to vary from any policy or procedure when it determines deviation, modification, or change is necessary or appropriate." This language may be used to deny due process. The administration's negative responses to substantive suggestions made by the Change Team can only add to staff's vulnerability. These include rejecting the creation of the position of ombudsperson and refusing to allow a witness or support person to accompany staff to disciplinary proceedings.
 
For many of us compensation is an important concern. In light of the college's inability to recognize or fairly determine the value of our labor, we are having difficulties providing for ourselves and our families. Over two years ago there was a narrowly defeated union drive at Hampshire. Two weeks prior to the vote on the decision to unionize, the college informed staff that we were projected to receive a 5% raise beginning in FY 98. Some staff believed that they would not need a union (at least for the issue of wages) because the college would provide this pay increase, thus they did not endorse the union. That budget projection has now been altered and it appears likely that many of us will be receiving an increase significantly less than 5%. This is a clear example of why we need a legally binding collective bargaining agreement.
 
For the past seven years, we have fully realized that the college may not be well off financially. We have done our part to help improve the situation of the college by conserving resources and by putting in whatever time was necessary to complete tasks. Staff have waited far too long for the college to recognize that its financial security requires the counting of labor in the asset column and investing in this resource. The Olney job classification system (which the College uses to grade our jobs) has some serious flaws, not the least of which is that the system has been kept secret from most staff. At UMass, prior to when professional staff organized with SEIU Local 509, they worked under the same system. Since then, they have renegotiated the language, grade levels, and compensation associated with the system. As a result about 2/3 of the union members received pay increases.
 
Although we believe in Hampshire's mission and goals and appreciate the dedication of our supervisors, our peers, and the students we serve, there are serious concerns which must be addressed. We realize that the present system of administrative decision making no longer serves our needs, therefore, we seek a pro-active form of representation in which we can truly participate in the workplace decisions that affect us all. Some of the concerns that have been brought to our attention are: outsourcing, merit pay, workplace environmental quality, restructuring, respect for decisions made by staff committees, and overtime pay. When we unionize the administration will have to negotiate in good faith with us around these and other issues that staff feel are important. We have been studied, we have been surveyed, and we have participated on endless committees; we now intend to take action.
 
In the past, the administration has opposed any unions on campus, so we expect this organizing effort may be a challenging process, and, at times uncomfortable. We see no reason why this campaign should negatively affect any of the good relationships people have on campus. To assure this, we are asking the administration to respect our decision to organize, to refrain from unfairly influencing this democratic process, and to allow staff freedom to explore our options. We firmly believe that our actions are in the best interests of all staff, and ultimately in the best interest of Hampshire College itself.
 
We believe that it is pro-Hampshire to be pro-Union. We are committed to talking personally with every single union-eligible worker at Hampshire. Not only do we want to know what your particular concerns and ideas are, but we also want to use this opportunity to create real community at Hampshire. We want a Union that is strong, democratic, and responsive to all members.

[Signed by a group of 36 Hampshire staff members.]


 
MEMORANDUM
 
TO:                 Hampshire College Faculty and Staff
FROM:           [A group of 34 Hampshire staff members.]
DATE:           December 8, 1997
SUBJECT:     A Union at Hampshire College
 
Here are some of our arguments against a union at Hampshire College.
 
We have great benefits--vacation, sick time, tuition remission, ability to take classes and work toward a degree, flexible hours to accommodate individuals, the extra days thrown in here and there. Think about how often we have taken advantage of these "perks." Also, the college contributes a fair percentage for our health insurance and retirement plan.
 
For all of this, we pay nothing--NO DUES. A union will demand $30-$40 each month, and we'll be lucky to get the same package. THEY WILL NOT PUT MONEY INTO YOUR POCKET--YOU WILL PUT MONEY INTO THEIR POCKETS...
 
What will you get for your money? The union will not get you anything more than the college can give. Can you afford to give away $300-5400 a year?
 
If there is any money for compensation, we will receive it. A union CANNOT get you a raise if there are no funds. There are NO hidden funds. Every year we see what the budget numbers have been and are going to be, depending on enrollment, for the next few years, and we know the college is doing what it can to maintain financial sustainability.

A union CANNOT guarantee job security. If the college reorganizes and your job is eliminated--union or no union--the end result is the same.

We repeat--we have friends and coworkers that we respect and admire on both sides of this issue and we want that to continue when the vote is taken. We strongly believe that we all have the same goal in mind; i.e., to make Hampshire a better place for all employees--we simply differ on the method.
 
No working environment is Utopia. Hampshire like any other place of employment must work within budgets, policies, and procedures. However, at Hampshire, committees, where policies are determined, have staff representation. With a union we may lose this opportunity.
We prefer to work through SAC, whose effectiveness has increased since its inception. We do not want or need a union to speak for us. SAC with the full support of each and every one of us can continue to strengthen our "united" voice in approaching the administration. For example, SAC recently represented staff during the accreditation review and met with the executive committee of the board of trustees...
 


 

The Community Voice
A Publication of the Hampshire Staff and Local 509, SEIU
Web Version
Vol.1, No. 10, February 1998
 
Election Results
The results of the January 30 union election are as follows:
 
Professional Staff
     1. Do you desire to be included with non-professional employees in a single unit for the purposes of collective bargaining?
     YES 7 NO 16 SPOILED BALLOT 1 NOT VOTING 3
 
    2. Do you wish to be represented for purposes of collective bargaining by SEIU Local 509?
     YES 10 NO 14 NOT VOTING 3
 
This means that professional staff will not be unionized at this time, and that their votes will not affect the outcome of the election for non-professional staff.
 
Non-Professional Staff
     Do you wish to be represented for purposes of collective bargaining by SEIU Local 509?
     YES 72 NO 72 NOT VOTING 8 CHALLENGED BALLOTS 9
 
This means that the outcome is still in doubt. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) must now determine the status of the challenged ballots. 3 were challenged by the Union because we believe two of the people who voted are confidential employees and one is a supervisor, and that therefore they should not be eligible to vote or to be in the bargaining unit. 6 were challenged by the NLRB because they did not appear on the voting list supplied by the College. The Union believes the College was wrong in not considering them eligible regular employees.
 
It will probably take a number of weeks before there is a final determination, but we are optimistic that when all the dust settles, we will have a union at Hampshire College... (p.1)
 
 



The Community Voice
A Publication of the Hampshire Staff and Local 509, SEIU
Vol. 3, No. 2; May 1998
 
NLRB Rules Against Union, but Organizing Will Continue

On May 18, 1998, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued its long-awaited ruling concerning the nine challenged ballots from the January 30 election. The Board ruled that the three people challenged by the Union as supervisory or confidential employees were not, and that their ballots would be opened. The Board further upheld the six other challenges, declaring that those people were either implicity excluded by the election agreement or were temporary employees. This means that, once the ballots are opened, the Union will in all likelihood lose.

We are deeply disappointed by the ruling, and disagree with some of the reasoning. Four of the six sustained challenges were of employees considered "casuals" by the College. The NLRB agreed with the Union that the College definition waas different from the legal definition, and that at least one of the people didn't even meet the College's definition. Nonetheless, the NLRB hearing officer believed the evidence showed that there was never any intent to include any people deemed casuals by the College at the time the election was set up. The Board's ruling concerning the supervisory challenge also seems contradictory and incorrect to us.

Despite our disagreements, the Union and the Organizing Commitee have decided not to appeal the decision. It is our belief that prolonging the legal process will not serve the best interests of the Hampshire community, and that a reversal is unlikely. This does not mean, however, that the efforts to improve working conditions, increase workers' power, and build awareness of the benefits of unionization are over.

On the contrary! Both Local 509, SEIU and the Organizing Committee have committed themselves to continue organizing around issues, to maintain and strengthen the organization that has been built, and, if appropriate, to seek another election in the future (by law, this cannot happen for at least one year)...(p.1)
 


The Carol and Blair Brown Awards, 1999


Office of the President
Hampshire College
December 9, 1999
 
Dear Members of the Hampshire Community:
 
In May of this year I announced at an all-staff meeting that Blair Brown, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Hampshire College, and his wife Carol had established an endowed fund to recognize staff members for extraordinary service to our college. Through this program Carol and Blair wish to express their gratitude and appreciation for the important role that staff members fulfill in the Hampshire community.
 
During the past few months a cross-section of staff members have attended focus group meetings to provide suggestions on how this recognition program should be structured and implemented. The members of the Staff Advisory Committee (SAC) along with members of the human resources staff have carefully reviewed and integrated employees' suggestions into the final program document attached.
 
Let me comment on several important features of this new staff recognition program:
 
•    The basis for awarding staff members under this program is their extraordinary effort in supporting a set of values, which we firmly believe helps deliver Hampshire's distinctive educational experience...
 
•    Many focus groups have suggested that nominations for team awards should be encouraged, especially instances of staff members forging cooperation and teamwork across different departments, schools and functional areas.
 
•    A selection committee--consisting of one member of AdCom, one dean, one student and 3 staff members--will review the nominations and make recommendations to the President, who will then make the final selection. Shortly, staff will be asked to nominate staff members to serve on the committee. The committee will be formed in the course of February, which will leave it sufficient time to review nominations prior to the award ceremony in May. In the future, we hope that past awardees will agree to serve on the selection committee.
 
I hope that you are as excited about this program as I am. We all wish to thank Carol and Blair Brown for their thoughtfulness and support of our staff members...
 
Sincerely,

Gregory S. Prince, Jr.




Hampshire Staff At Its Very Best:
The Carol and Blair Brown Staff Recognition Award Program

This program will recognize staff members who--individually or as members of a team--have made an exceptional contribution to Hampshire College. In very special ways these employees are living the Hampshire Values. They are shining examples of what Hampshire Staff can be when they are at their very best.
 
Chairman and long-time member of Hampshire College's board of trustees Blair Brown and his wife Carol wish to recognize and provide encouragement for staff as they play their essential part in the Hampshire community. More than merely taking care of administrative tasks, staff hold together the College structure of students, parents, faculty, alumni, administration and curriculum. As they interface with multiple constituents, they significantly affect how the Hampshire educational experience is delivered. The institutional culture comes to life through the way our staff members act, communicate and care vis-a-vis all those whom they support.
 
In the words of Carol and Blair Brown:
"No school or college can function, let alone flourish, without the dedication of staff. We recognize the dedication that has helped Hampshire grow and flower."

--Annual Awards presented in May
--All Staff, Faculty and Students are encouraged to make nominations
--All Staff members except senior administrators are award eligible
--Awards will be significant and be derived from the special endowment by Carol and Blair Brown
--Awardees will have a choice between a cash award or a personal development grant
--Send nomination forms to Human Resources
--Direct any questions to Staff Advisory Committee or Human Resources


"Living the Hampshire Values"
 
1. Going the extra mile
Hampshire strives to take its place as the country's pre-eminent liberal arts college. To make this happen is a tall order for our small community that has limited resources. Employees who "go the extra mile" to get a job done, who are there for others above and beyond the normal call of duty are showing that they have taken a personal commitment to preeminence at heart, no matter what.

2. Innovative thinking
The value of "Experimentation" is deeply rooted in Hampshire culture. This means: innovative thinking along new lines, trying out a creative idea not yet proven, creating new programs that enhance the luster of the College, the courage to re-think a process or solution where few have gone before you. And then to follow the idea through to the point of a truly useable innovation!

3. Caring attitude
We feel that Hampshire must be a special place for our main constituency, i.e. our students. A "caring attitude" is particularly important in light of our efforts to improve our student retention rate and to strengthen our multicultural fabric.  Fostering a caring attitude is equally desirable among staff, faculty and students. A positive and constructive mindset regarding all of our people and the institution is a strong foundation for our future.

4. Team working
A key feature of the Hampshire experience is "inter-disciplinary" learning. This idea translates into thinking and cooperating across boundaries. Staff members supporting each other, reaching out to help beyond their own area of responsibility, teaming-up across departments to get a job done, and forging cooperation with internal or external groups in the pursuit of excellence are desirable team-working behaviors.

5. Continuous improvement
As a young, independently funded institution we constantly look for ways to improve our efficiency. This orientation toward continuous improvement in everything we do will help reduce operating cost and alleviate pressure on our limited budget and, in turn, on the continually rising cost of the education that we provide.
 
6. Service to the community
Hampshire has a tradition of encouraging active service to the community. Naturally, this begins with service to the Hampshire Community itself through active participation in committees, and by helping to advance important causes such as diversity on campus. The idea of "service" also permeates the physical boundaries of the campus. Such outside engagement carries Hampshire's philosophy of "to know is not enough" beyond the campus and helps build Hampshire's reputation as a socially responsible contributor to society.

 

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