Teacher’s union enters contract negotiations with district

Illustration by Serina Mercado
Illustration by Serina Mercado

Otto Pippenger 

Staff Writer 

On April 15, the City College Teacher’s Union, American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 entered “pre negotiations” for a new contract with the School District.

The college’s negotiators vowed to oppose what AFT 2121 President Tim Killikelly has called the “downsizing of City College.”

Both sides have publicized nonspecific “Sunshine Documents,” a National Labor Review Board policy requiring both sides to state their goals, which will be negotiated in the coming months. These proposals represent priorities rather than specifics and will result in an agreement through compromise.

The AFT 2121 document begins with 9 bulleted priorities, including restoring wage cuts, reducing class size minimums to allow for a broader range of courses attracting new enrollment, increasing the diversity of faculty, and providing new student services.

The first column of the union’s requests is “increased access to quality education” which includes protection from class cancellations, revised class calendars including the possibility of a compressed academic calendar of two, 16 week semesters, increased resources for low income and non traditional students, and increased flexibility in terms of faculty decision making.

The other titled “Retain and Attract High Quality, Diverse Faculty” asks for the restoration of new hires, and of reduced salaries through cost of living adjustments and salary advancement over time, as well as equality of pay for part time instructors based on workload.

The district proposal acknowledges the union’s goals, stating that they intend to “Move toward reconstituting a salary formula that enables faculty salaries to raise over time… within the context of the district’s financial resources.”

Sustaining accreditation highlighted fiscal management priorities to balance the budget, improvement of performance management, benefits packages, and enrollment management

In response to declining enrollment, the document states that the district will need to “balance fiscal prudence alongside the shared goal of fairness in compensation and benefits relative to bay Area Community Colleges.”

This will be the first new contract since the December 2013 agreement which was signed at the height of the Accreditation Crisis. The 5% pay cut from the 2013 contract has left City College’s educators earning 3.5% less than they did in 2007.

“What is also critical is that we understand that increasing enrollment is the future of the college,” Killikelly said. Though City College derives very little of its funding from tuition funds, last years enrollment drop forces City College to either adjust to a reduced student population or as AFT 2121 argues, take steps to rebuild its number of students.

The negotiation team will advocate for new hires and restored salary. “We think dramatic measures are necessary to help prevent the (enrollment) spiral we’re in.” Killikelly said. “We’re at 30/33% (enrollment) since 2011, down 160 full time faculty. We cannot pick up the slack in class and accreditation work without more people.”

The union negotiating team leader Chris Hanzo announced on April 15 that their priorities were to fight budget cuts and freezes, end the pay gap between lab and lecture courses for teachers, and request that teachers other than the negotiating team be allowed present during negotiations. Currently, lab courses are paid at ratios of .65, .75, and .85 to every dollar paid for the same amount of teaching time taught through lecture.

“They have allowed us- allowed us that is to be in (the first meeting of) negotiations because nothing substantial is on the table” said AFT 2121 Vice President Alan D’Souza to the crowd. “But we’re going to put the pressure on them. We’re going to be seen, we’re going to be heard. We’re gonna have a damn good contract at the end of this process.”

The pre-negotiation began with introductions, and a discussion of the closed door policy. District representatives expressed openness to public discussions, but not to changing the negotiation policy.

AFT 2121 scheduled several speeches from their membership. Hanzo introduced selab teachers who delivered testimonials about the dangers and difficulties of lab work, and the unfairness of pay disparity.

As Engineering Instructor Wendy Kaufmyn said “Some departments have a .65, a .78, .85- these don’t reflect workload difference, only how well those departments argued for equity… LA District (The Los Angeles School District) already has a lab multiplier of 1.0 for every lab course”

“This is a matter of equity” Kaufmyn said. “In this case, its absence. Simply make lab pay equal to lecture.”

An agreement is hoped to arrive before the end of the current contract on June 30. City College faculty will find out in the coming months what the next year’s contract will look like.

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