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UPDATE: COC faculty rejects proposed contract

Union spokesman calls proposed 1.57 percent raise 'insulting'

Posted: June 9, 2014 10:06 a.m.
Updated: June 9, 2014 7:03 p.m.

Members of the union representing instructors at College of the Canyons have rejected a contract from the Santa Clarita Community College District administration, marking the first time in two decades the full-time faculty has voted down a proposed contract.

A full 85 percent of valid votes cast by the College of the Canyons Faculty Association were “no,” with two-thirds of voters citing money as the main reason, union organizers said in a news release issued Monday.

Faculty members say the deal proposed by the college would provide a cost-of-living adjustment of 1.57 percent. It would be their first raise of any kind offered in seven years.

For more than nine months, the Faculty Association bargaining team has been in negotiations with the district representatives. The association represents the college’s 175 full-time professors and has been operating under an expired contract since 2012.

“We are hurting,” said Vincent Devlahovich, president of the association. “The faculty doesn’t have the disposable income they used to.”

The union asserts that while administrators have given themselves regular salary increases over the past decade, members of the Faculty Association have spent the last seven years riding out the recession.

“California is recovering at one of the fastest rates in the country,” Devlahovich said Monday. “Now it’s time for things to change.” He called the contract offered by the college “insulting.”

College officials, meanwhile, call the proposed contract “fiscally prudent.”

“The real issue is that the faculty union voted down a fiscally prudent contract proposal,” said college spokesman Eric Harnish.

Explaining what he meant by “fiscally prudent,” Harnish said: “In line with resources available to us.”

Harnish pointed out that two other unions on campus accepted similar contract proposals offering increases that reflect cost of living increases. Separate unions represent the college’s part-time instructors and its non-teaching staff.

Harnish also pointed out that only a third of the faculty union members voted on the proposed contract last month.

And he acknowledged that the Wednesday agenda for the Board of Trustees meeting will include a proposed 1.75 percent increase to administrator salaries.

“The state has gone through some hard times that have affected our college,” he said. “A lot of colleges had (teacher) layoffs and furloughs. We didn’t.”

Asked when talks are expected to resume between negotiators representing the college and the union, Harnish said: “Both sides have earmarked a couple of dates this summer.”

Devlahovich, however, said the association has received no word of a scheduled meeting.
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