By Marco Siler-Gonzales & Audrey Garces
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 2121 have declared a tentative one-day strike on April 27 in response to prolonged labor negotiations that have left faculty working without a contract for a year.
AFT 2121 president Tim Killikelly said if the executive board approves the strike on the 19th, the union intends to declare the April 27 as a day of action. “The district continues to negotiate in bad faith with us.” Tim Killikelly wrote in a faculty-wide email. “We will not sit idly by while they (the district) continue with bureaucratic delays and obstructionism.”
AFT 2121 and the San Francisco Community College District have agreed to release labor negotiations to a three member fact-finding panel, but first they must approve each other’s proposals and agree on a third neutral fact-finder.
The fact-finding party would conduct hearings on proposals and make a non-binding recommendation to the parties, to potentially resolve the prolonged, gridlocked negotiations. However, settling on the fact-finding party has proven to be an elongated process in itself.
“Although we have been officially released to fact-finding weeks ago, the process has yet to begin.” Killikelly wrote. “Weeks have gone by, and there is no agreement on a fact-finder yet.”
Both the district and the union have yet to settle on a fact-finding meditator. Both parties will meet next week to approve fact-finding mediators suggested by a state-mediation agency.
Faculty is legally allowed to strike on April 27 even if fact-finding is not concluded because a one-day strike is categorized as an unfair labor practice strike. This differs from an economic strike that only would occur after the fact-finding process and potentially could last until a settlement is reached.
“The district has not been negotiating in good faith with us,” Killikelly said in an interview on April 15, adding that he believes the district is acting under pressure from the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges’ (ACCJC) looming visit in fall 2016. “That’s illegal. The ACCJC is not allowed to be involved in contract negotiations.”
What’s on the Table
Interim Chancellor Susan Lamb sent out a college-wide email on April 12 outlining the last offer the district is putting on the table before the fact-finding process begins.
The new offer includes giving an equal percentage of salary increases for part and full-time faculty members that total 7.19 percent over the next two years. The district also is offering to provide one-time payments of 5.36 percent during the two-year period.
“Although we have been officially released to fact-finding weeks ago, the process has yet to begin.”
– AFT2121 President Tim Killikelly
Killikelly called the proposal “disingenuous,” saying the fine print states that the ongoing increase proposed by the district is only guaranteed through two-year contract and will disappear if certain criteria are not met.
Killikelly said, “3.7 percent of that money that they offered is just to restore us back to the 2007 salary, and then, on top of that, is a cost of living adjustment of 1.49, So that means, what they’re basically offering us will only be 1.49 percent ahead of 2007.”
Lamb claims their offer raises the total cost to $15.8 million and that is the maximum amount the college can afford. Prior to mediation, the district offered increases which would total $7.8 million.
Furthering tensions, AFT responded on April 13 through another faculty-wide email that claimed the union had not received briefing about the new financial offer from the district, and that the district had gone to the media to announce its new offer before AFT had time to review it.
“While the union has not been briefed on the so-called ‘offer,’ it seems clear that the 5.36 percent described in Lamb’s email is likely a 2.68 percent temporary bonus for two years,” AFT’s email stated. “As far as can be determined, base faculty salary would barely be above 2007 levels when the proposed contract ends in 2018.”
The email also stated AFT planned to file an unfair labor practice charge of bad-faith bargaining with the Public Employment Relations Board by the end of the day.
“Instead of dealing with us in a way that is transparent and wanting to engage us-—which is what they are supposed to do under the law—they clearly did not want to engage us,” Killikelly said.
Lamb sent out another college-wide email following AFT’s announcement that outlined reasons she is “concerned” about the chosen strike day April 27 which was scheduled to be the first day of priority registration and student elections.
“I would ask the faculty give fact-finding a chance before taking action that would have such a negative impact on these priority students, student elections, and priority registration,” Lamb’s email stated.
However, Killikelly said the first day of priority registration has already been changed and called Lamb’s email “phony PR to try to make (the union) look bad.” Killikelly said his impression is that student and community organizations have supported the union so far, and seven of the eleven board of supervisors have signed a letter in support of giving AFT 2121 a fair contract.
“If they want to avoid a strike, they know exactly what to do,” Killikelly said. “They know how they can come to us and try to negotiate a fair contract and act in ways that show good faith, but they’ve decided not to do that.”
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