District threatens to impose unilateral salary cuts on CCSF faculty

On Monday, May 14, 2012, after several hours of negotiations (and several months with no specific proposal), the District’s Chief Negotiator, Emily Prescott, notified AFT 2121 that the District is considering unilaterally imposing a cut to faculty salaries of up to 7.18%, effective June 15, 2012.

Needless to say, we are outraged by this attack on faculty rights and the negotiations process. AFT is reviewing whether the District’s precipitous actions are illegal and a violation of the contract, so as to pursue all available remedies to defend the contract and our collective bargaining rights. This includes the question of good faith bargaining prior to imposing a wage cut.

Following repeated failures by the District to provide budget and cost-out information essential to the negotiations process, AFT again refused to agree to unspecified concessions amounting to a blank check from faculty to the District. Negotiators once again presented a series of tentative CCSF budget projections for next year with a variety of inflated costs. Even at this late date, the District is failing to provide meaningful budget information and accurate projection of faculty costs, yet when we ask for accurate figures they respond with threats of a unilateral pay cut.

In recognition of the difficult bargaining situation and how little has been accomplished, AFT 2121 proposed a six-month contract extension to allow the parties to continue to move toward agreement while monitoring savings from cuts in faculty assignments this academic year and in the fall, and looking closely at the impact of the Governor’s proposed “May Revise” and eventual adopted state budget for 2012/13, expected in June. The District has rejected this outright.

Further, the District continues to reject AFT proposals to negotiate over health premium increases slated for July 1, 2012, despite our presenting detailed cost-out information showing that employer premiums are rising 2.7% while employee rates are going up 11.3%.

The District’s contracted legal counsel, Renne, Sloan, Holtzman, Sakai, LLP, appears to have taken control of all labor relations at City College. The Director of Employee Relations has been absent this semester, and for several weeks, AFT sat at the bargaining table with one of the District’s attorneys—but no District employee! Having an attorney on contract act as Chief Negotiator for the District is unprecedented and, in our view, unjustified. When AFT represents faculty in grievances, two attorneys are present—but again, no one from District Administration. Currently, we are aware of up to four attorneys from this one firm who are working in the District.

As further evidence, last week Interim Chancellor Pam Fisher was unwilling to meet with AFT without one of the attorneys present. There has been a longstanding practice of AFT 2121 meeting with the Chancellor and top-level administrators on a monthly basis to discuss issues of mutual concern, always without attorneys present.AFT is demanding a full accounting of the hundreds of hours of legal fees spent by the District this year, all largely unbudgeted in a year in which the budget has been the essential question. Attorneys should not be encumbering employee relations and driving up administration costs at any time, but most especially during this extreme financial crisis.

In this latest negotiations development, the District is invoking the “trombone clause” in Article 21, whereby faculty are guaranteed their fair share of new revenues. The flip side is that if revenues decline, so can faculty compensation. Of course, faculty compensation has already declined in recent years through the loss of assignments, wage give-backs, lost steps, and increased hikes in healthcare premiums, all of which has saved the District millions of dollars. In fact, as the District is fully aware, the faculty’s proportionate share of the CCSF salary/benefit “pie” has declined to about 64% which amounts to a loss or underpayment to faculty of roughly $3 million annually.

The District is invoking the “trombone clause” based on the $11.9 million in lost revenue from 2011/12 despite faculty having already negotiated and addressed lost revenue for the year with the March 12, 2012 agreement ratified by faculty and the Board.

AFT 2121 acknowledges the troubling economic times and the tremendous difficulties of the current budget crisis. We all have an interest in the District’s fiscal stability. Faculty have made tremendous sacrifices in wages and working conditions. However, we refuse to simply write the District a blank check based on inaccurate numbers. Instead, the District is moving precipitously, proposing to slash salaries without sufficient analysis of costs or appropriate consultation. Negotiations for next year must be based on timely, accurate information relating to the following: the Governor’s May Revise, this year’s state budget as passed by the state Legislature in June, savings captured from cuts already implemented or underway, and possible new revenues with passage of ballot measures in November 2012.

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