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Showdown at COC

Board of trustees approves administrative raises despite faculty union members’ protest

Posted: June 12, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 12, 2014 2:00 a.m.

David Stevenson, at podium, speaks to the board of trustees at College of the Canyons as his fellow Faculty Association members stand in support, most wearing black, behind him on Wednesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.

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On the heels of an overwhelmingly rejected contract offered to the instructors at College of the Canyons, the college’s board of trustees approved raises for administrators Wednesday night in front of more than 100 angry, disappointed and frustrated faculty members.

The board approved a 1.75 percent salary increase for administrators. Arriving at that decision, however, was not without opposition.

The confrontation between administrators and members of the College of the Canyons Faculty Association began when communications professor David Stevenson stood before the COC Board of Trustees with an army of more than 100 faculty union supporters behind him.

He and the supporters, most sporting a uniform of black shirts proudly punctuated with a union button, showed up to put the college board on notice: “We remain united in our advocacy of equitable compensation,” Stevenson said.
It was standing room only for members who came to show their support.

“We mark tonight as the turning point for our unity as a full-time faculty,” Stevenson said. “No longer will we assume that our interests and values are well represented by district administrators.”

Stevenson told the trustees he wanted them to know three “important messages:” to explain why the union rejected the board’s “insulting” contract offer, to show their disappointment at the board’s agenda item involving administrative raises and to give notice that its relationship with the board is forever changed.

“We are here to make clear to you — the elected officials who hold the public trust — that morale at COC across all represented groups is at its lowest in the district’s history.

“The campus climate is toxic,” Stevenson said.

It was revealed Monday that faculty members 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.

Before trustees approved the raise Wednesday, however, trustee Joan MacGregor wanted the issue discussed.

“I feel everyone here at the college is deserving of an increase in their salaries,” she said. “It’s been hard on families and hard on everyone.”

Founding board member Bruce Fortine said he was pleased to see such support among faculty members.
“To take time to come to this meeting ... that does show commitment,” he said. “And it shows commitment to the college.”

When the board approved the raise to administrators, the faculty union members left the building immediately.

“That was our show of solidarity,” Stevenson said outside the meeting.
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