District takes step back from unilateral wage reduction
Over several negotiations sessions in the past week and a half, AFT has pushed back on the District’s demand for a wage reduction to go into effect by July 1. The District had threatened to impose up to a 7.17% salary cut on faculty effective June 15th, despite having provided little concrete information about plans for savings or increased costs. The District had also argued that savings to close the coming’s year’s projected $14 million budget deficit had to begin with the adoption of the 2012/13 CCSF budget in July and that any possible agreement would need to be completed and implemented by July 1, trampling on faculty’s right to participate in ratification. In fact, as AFT pointed out, State law mandates a tentative budget by July that is “operational for three months” and a final balanced budget in September. Such a timeline would allow for continued negotiations to help close the District’s serious budget shortfall and for the Union’s process for approval and ratification of any tentative agreement at the beginning of the Fall semester. This week, the District expressed its willingness to work towards such a Plan with time for negotiations, Union approval, and a ratification process.
Numbers still slow in coming, but budget deficit worse than ever
Despite some initial progress last week, too little progress was made in this week’s negotiations to resolve outstanding questions about faculty costs in next year’s budget, including savings to be garnered through attrition and program cuts, or increased costs associated with health care, salary steps, etc. As the union has said repeatedly, we will not write a blank check to the District, and we must have accurate numbers in order to estimate and understand the budgetary impacts of any decisions. The process of analyzing some of these numbers, in fact, as well as some of the figures provided by AFT during negotiations, has demonstrated to the District that in some cases the numbers have been misconstrued or inaccurately projected.
The District continues to negotiate with employee groups at CCSF towards making “shared sacrifices” to close the budget gap, including cuts and wage concessions, as happened in each of the last three years. AFT has made it clear it must have more precise budget figures and assessment of faculty costs (and savings) to assess what wage concession might be needed to help close the District’s budget deficit. And, if other revenues materialize, such as from the parcel tax, any lost wages could then be refunded. Next year’s budget and projected deficit are based on a number of contingencies that could lead to wide-ranging variances, including the final state budget and November revenue measures, and any tentative agreement will likewise take these contingencies fully into account.
Parcel tax: One answer
New revenues are desperately needed for community colleges and to help close the ongoing budget deficit at CCSF. Last night, the CCSF Board of Trustees voted unanimously to place a parcel tax on the November ballot in San Francisco. The $79 per-parcel tax would go exclusively to City College, bringing in more than $15 million a year for 8 years. AFT has joined with SEIU to grow a broad campaign to pass the CCSF parcel tax. Your support is needed to help organize the campaign. Contact AFT to let us know you’d like to get involved.
We must not lose track of the primary issue in all of this: California’s increasing abandonment of public education and vital social services. Our union, especially our statewide California Federations of Teachers, is advocating for more funding for higher education in State Budget deliberations, for progressive taxation including the merged “Top Tier” revenue initiative on the November ballot supported by the governor and CFT, and other eventual reforms, including Prop 13 reform. In both the immediate and the longer term, we must fight against the ill-advised, governmentacidal austerity programs, restricting access to education, good jobs, the social safety net, healthcare, political influence, and the wealth we all help to create to a very few at the top. All of these activities—both short and long-term—are critical to reversing the downward slide.