A week ago, we got a TA. Yeah --"what the heck is that" is exactly what I was asking myself when the phrase was first thrown out. The first thing that came to mind is the one that teaches lab and discussion sections. But no, it's a Tentative Agreement. Between the bastards on the Board, and ourselves, the saintly faculty.
Reactions from vocal faculty have run the gamut. Some of them seem honestly paranoid, seeing every move as part of a conspiracy. A few of them seem greedy, and if those comments were made public it would certainly lend credence to the Board's assertion that the faculty are greedy and lazy. The majority see the TA as an okay contract, and see how unlikely it is that we could do any better at this point.
There is a meeting (going on as I write this) for faculty to vote on ratification. I submitted an absentee ballot because 1) I can not see dragging Emma to yet another late afternoon meeting and 2) I had already made up my mind to vote for ratification. There isn't anything that anyone could say about the proposal that would change my mind.
And the reason for that is not because I think it's a great contract, but rather because I think if we do not ratify this TA we will lose the incredibly great support we've had from the community. A huge number of people in this community have taken classes at the college, and many people in this community have AA degrees from the college. And even more important, these people have encountered faculty who cared and supported them in their education. When we voted to strike a week ago, the community ended up on our side. Even the local newspaper, which publishes a blog by one of the anti-public-education trustees of the college, published editorials that did not support the Board.
That support brought the Board back to the negotiating table with a proposal our team felt they could TA. If we do not vote to ratify this TA, we will lose that support. We will look greedy, even if in the details we aren't being greedy. Perception is way more important than reality in politics.
One of the most unhappy things to come of all this is how the culture at the college has changed. This college had a rough time a few years after I was hired: a president who had been in place for 30 years was replaced with such an awful president that the whole college rose up to get rid of him. Over the last ten years, the college culture slowly recovered, and the faculty began to trust and work with the administration. In just the last few years, collaborative efforts between faculty and administrators have created a Math Lab and a Writing Lab, both staffed with full-time faculty volunteering their time. That culture of collaboration and volunteering has evaporated over the last six months of negotiations, and based on conversations with other faculty, it won't be coming back any time soon. That's very unfortunate.
I, however, am happy to be moving into a part of the school year where I can go back to anxiety dreams about teaching, rather than anxiety dreams about striking.