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COC, part-time faculty at impasse

Seniority, salary top list of contract negotiation issues

Posted: July 10, 2009 2:44 p.m.
Updated: March 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Contract negotiations between the Santa Clarita Community College District and the union representing 450 part-time faculty members are at a standstill over pay and seniority, college officials said Thursday.

Part-Time United Faculty began contract negotiations with the college in June 2008.

Faculty members are asking for a seniority list to determine who would be laid off first if necessary, said Beverly Cope, president of Part-Time United Faculty.

The college is able to rehire professors without taking into consideration merit or seniority, she said.

“They feel that they need total control over being able not to rehire a part-time faculty member with no cause,” Cope said.

Putting together the priority list is a no-cost issue to the community college, she said.

The college gives priority to the 200 full-time faculty on the available classes to teach, said Michael Wilding, vice president of student services.

“The issue here is they want us to use seniority as a criteria in making those second-draw assignments,” Wilding said.

While the college understands the organization’s position, it prefers using expertise instead of seniority because it benefits the students more, Wilding said.

The organization is also asking for a 2.5-percent pay increase, Cope said. They were able to negotiate for a 1-percent raise until the impasse was declared Friday, Cope said.

Starting pay for part-time faculty is about $56 an hour and goes up to $63 an hour, Cope said.

The requested raises come as part-time faculty members are paid for their teaching hours, not for any office hours they hold with students or the time they spend grading papers.

“We’re really working three or four hours for that hour,” Cope said.

The college offers a three-step pay scale, while other community colleges offer 12-step scales.

“You only move forward on the salary scale for a couple of years and then you come to a dead stop,” Cope said.

Wilding could not comment on the specifics of compensation, noting pay negotiations have been under way since the state budget was approved.

The next step is bringing a mediator to work through the issues.

In the meantime, Cope wants to get the word out about the impasse and the union’s concerns.

“We’re still in the process of informing our members about what the situation is. We want to see what the response is,” Cope said.

Wilding said he expects the mediation process to begin in the next month and a half, and that the college remains patient, but confident a solution will be reached.

“This will get worked out,” he said.

Cope wants the situation to be resolved as soon as possible.

“We’ve been at this for 10 months. We’re just trying to get to the end of it,” Cope said.

The organization’s first contract in 2005 also went through the mediation process, Cope said.



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