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College, part-time faculty reach agreement

Union declared impasse in March over pay, seniority rights

Posted: July 12, 2009 10:21 p.m.
Updated: July 13, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
College of the Canyons negotiators and the union representing 450 of the school's part-time faculty members have reached a contract agreement that reflects a slight pay increase and progress on seniority rights.

"We made a few gains and decided that this was the best we were going to do," said Beverly Cope, president of Part-Time Faculty United.

Members of Part-Time Faculty United must still vote to ratify or reject the agreement, which was reached Wednesday.

If members approve the contract, it goes before trustees for the Santa Clarita Community College District, which oversees College of the Canyons.

"That could take a little while, especially over the summer," said Diane Fiero, assistant superintendent and vice president of human resources for the two-campus community college. "We hope to put it forward to our board in late August or September."

The union declared an impasse in March over pay and seniority rights, and a mediator entered talks in May. Contract negotiations between the two units began in June 2008.

Included in the agreement is a 1 percent pay increase, which amounts to less than a dollar an hour raise, Cope said.

"While it's not a lot, it's certainly a gesture on their part," Cope said.

When negotiations began, the union asked for a 2.5 percent pay increase. They also sought a grievance system for assigning and scheduling part-time faculty, Cope said.

That condition would go into effect in two years, Cope said.

Until the agreement last week, the union felt that the community college could dismiss a part-time faculty member without giving enough reason.

"Now if somebody feels they've been wrongly denied a class, we do have an avenue to pursue justice for them," Cope said.

The agreement comes at a time of uncertainty for community colleges, which are funded by the state. California is 13 days into the fiscal year with no budget.

COC and other California community colleges are currently reducing class schedules in a bid to deal with state funding cuts, she said.

Both sides said they were glad the contract standstill is over.

"We're pleased that this has been settled to our mutual agreement," Fiero said.

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