By Annette Mullaney
A last-minute deal between City College administrators and faculty union AFT2121 in early May averted layoffs of 163 full-time positions, hundreds of part-time positions, and drastic cuts in classes.
Under the deal, faculty agreed to take 4-11% salary cuts, saving the district $9 million. In return, the district kept all of the 163 full-time faculty who had received notices of potential layoffs earlier in the year.
The district also agreed that the schedules for Fall 21 and Spring 22 will be at least 89% of their Fall 2020 levels, roughly 11% larger than the initial schedule published in February. Student services will also be retained at 100% of their Fall 2020 levels.
Union members approved the deal with 82% in favor, with 79% of members voting.
If the smaller schedule and layoffs of full-time faculty had proceeded, AFT2121 calculated that 477 part timers would have lost their jobs. The minimum schedule guarantee means that fewer part-time faculty will be cut, though final determinations will not be made until the fall schedule and 2021-22 budget is finalized.
Currently, the college’s Fall 2021 schedule lists 307 fewer credit and noncredit courses than Fall 2020.
According to AFT2121 President Malaika Finkelstein, 11 ESL part-time teachers and 37 in other departments have not received assignments for the fall. “Our agreement was a major win,” said Finkelstein in an email. “But I don’t want to paint too rosy a picture. We did not guarantee work for everyone who needs it, and there will still be layoffs.”
The cuts are intended to partly close a $22 million budget deficit. Faculty, representing 59% of personnel costs, agreed to shoulder 59% of that deficit, or almost $13 million. $4 million was reduced through retirements, leaving $9 million in salary reductions.
City College administrators will also have their salaries reduced by 9.4%, according to a May 21 press release from the college.
When potential layoffs were announced earlier in the year, the district had cited a $35 million budget. However, during negotiations with AFT2121, the administration accepted adjusting that estimate down to the $22 million figure. In a May 11 press release, the college said that the prior higher estimate was because the College had “proceeded very conservatively with its budget estimates.”
At the May 10 Board of Trustees meeting where the deal was approved, Finkelstein called attention to the adjustment, saying, “Next time, and there will be a next time, remember whose numbers were reasonable and whose numbers were inflated.”
The faculty’s salary concessions will save jobs and classes for the 2021-22 academic year. However, the agreement may only delay layoffs and cuts by a year as they do not address the college’s structural budget deficit. “It plugs an immediate hole, but there will still be a need for ongoing funding,” said AFT2121 in a statement on its website.
“It’s a one year agreement,” said Trustee Alan Wong in an interview with The Guardsman. “We’re going to be in the same budget issue again, next year.”
The union thinks the budget deficit could be adjusted down further after accounting for a state cost of living adjustment and increased local sales tax. Finkelstein estimated the deficit is actually around $16 million with these revenues and other adjustments.
The college is also seeking additional funding, to close the gap. Trustees and City College administrators have been in talks with Supervisors Gordon Mar and Hillary Ronen, and submitted a request for $30 million over two years in emergency funding from the city through the city’s Workforce Education and Emergency Fund (WERF). The board has also passed a resolution urging the city to provide the needed funds.
“The board has gone on record in support of additional city funding for City College of San Francisco, and we all are working very hard on those efforts,” said Board of Trustees Vice President Tom Temprano.
Faculty, students, and community members, meanwhile, have made videos asking supervisors to support WERF, which Finkelstein will submit to the Board of Supervisors during public comment.