The Monterey Peninsula College faculty, of which I am a member, have been without a contract since June 2013. That year, and the year before, the faculty agreed to pay cuts of 2 percent to help the college get through financial difficulties. Also that year, we got a new president, Walt Tribely, and a new HR director, Susan Kitigawa. Since their arrival faculty have not been able to achieve a current contract–it will be four years in June!
In the school year 2013-14, the college continued to claim a “structural deficit” but the end-of-year actuals showed almost a million dollars in new money. Faculty filed a grievance to get the 2% cut from 2012-13 restored and an additional 1% owed by contract’s salary formula. We had to go to mediation to get a 1% raise that was contractually owed.
In 2013-14, the college requested more sacrifices and offered no raises. The faculty had agreed to a considerable compromise on health care. In the midst of voting on the contract an email from the state surfaced that showed the president had lied to faculty about the state of the college’s budget. Early in the year he had claimed the state had put the college on warning about the budget and he used this as leverage to force concessions during negotiations. While faculty were voting we discovered the state had written to him and said that in fact the college was not under warning and that employee salaries were not at all unusual–in fact, they were below average. This discovery ended negotiations that year and the contract was not approved.
In 2014-15, the district negotiators continued to seek concessions and offered nothing in return.
In 2015-16, faculty learned that the college budget actuals again showed new money and our salary formula dictated a raise of 4.39% retroactive to June 2015. But the college refused to honor the contractual obligation and we had to grieve. Again it went to mediation. The mediator agreed with faculty but because we are out of contract we couldn’t go to binding arbitration. In order to give our faculty the first meaningful raise since 2007-2008 we agreed to 3% when we were owed 4.39%, and we agreed to defer it–with 1% in 2016-17 and 2% in 2017-18, and we agreed to remove the salary formula from our contract.
Each of these years the college has claimed a structural deficit anywhere from $1 million to $2.5 million. Yet again in October, 2016, the college revealed that its end-of-year actual for 2015-16 showed $2.5 million in unspent money, despite a budget for 2015-16 that projected a $2 million deficit. Thus, the college missed on the budget projection by $4.5 million on a $35 million dollar budget. And in negotiations for 2016-17 they continue to maintain that the college is in deficit and they continue to seek workload concessions that will lead to larger class sizes, faculty with more classes, and less time to grade and prepare for class. All of these clawbacks will hurt students.
On April 21 the college regressively bargained: they had a 2% raise on the table going back to October and had not brought salary up all year during negotiations. At that meeting they said they could not offer any salary increase to full-time faculty and a 1% raise only to part-time faculty. Throughout negotiations that year the district had sought to coerce unpaid work from part-time faculty who are among the lowest employees of the college, have no job security from semester to semester, and who are only paid for the time in the classroom (no pay for time spent grading or prepping).
We had been fighting to get the district to recognize long-time part-timer faculty by allowing them to receive two-year extended contracts if they had a positive evaluation record and had taught at the college for at least seven years, but the college refused to do so. We also had fought to ensure that part-time faculty who often teach at two or three colleges just to survive would not be required to do unpaid work, but the college continued to seek language that would allow them to coerce part-timer faculty to do unpaid work like program evaluation.
To give you some perspective: a part-time faculty person makes about $3,000 for a semester-length course. To make $50,000, they would need to teach 17 courses. They get no benefits. Plus, they are prohibited from teaching more than three courses/semester at any one college. Fifty percent of our courses are taught by part-time faculty.
The salary for our faculty is 61st out of 72 community colleges in the state and we are the lowest paid faculty in the area: as much as $10,000 a year lower than Hartnell and Gavilan, and nearly $20,000 less than Cabrillo and Foothill.
Meanwhile, this year the college has embarked on an ambitious expansion of administration and is in process of hiring five new deans and a new vice president for planning. It has reclassified the director of the foundation as a vice president, giving her a $100,000 raise. They are spending over $800,000 a year on lawyer fees. They ignored faculty’s recommendation to bring in the state accountants to get an objective fiscal audit that would tell us the true state of the budget.
On May 5 after leading us to believe they wanted to make a deal, they gave us a last and best final offer that includes all kinds of workload concessions that are bad for students as well as other clawbacks in benefits, with no proposed raise to the salary schedule. They are offering some raises to coaches and some small pay for part-time office hours; that’s it.
Please come out to support us at the next board meeting, 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 31, at the Marina Center, 289 12th Street, Marina, room MA-404. Public comment starts at 1:30.
Also, the board has scheduled an “emergency” meeting for 8 a.m. Tuesday to evaluate the president. That meeting is at MPC’s Sam Karas Room, next to the library. We fear that they are going to extend President Tribely’s contract! This would be a huge mistake.
Please share with friends who care about labor and education. And if you can come to either meeting to speak or show support, we appreciate it.
Haffa teaches at MPC and is a member of the Monterey City Council.