District rejects Union proposal to address possible budget deficit; set to impose huge salary cut

On December 12, 2012, negotiations between AFT and the District broke down over the Union’s proposal to a joint District/AFT effort to address the potential budget shortfall in the current year and extend the contract for 6 months. District representatives rejected our attempts to find common ground and indicated intent to implement an 8.8% additional reduction in faculty pay beginning with the next payroll. AFT will seek legal redress to stop this unilateral action and recover all lost monies for employees. 

 Why is the number so much higher than the previously reported 4.71% (annualized at 2.36% for 2012-13)? Because on Monday the District indicated that the continuing decline in projected enrollment numbers had nearly doubled the potential drop in funding for the year. The District now insists on an additional, full-year cut of 4.4% for 2012-13. With half a year left to collect such a cut that amounts to 8.8% in addition to the current 2.85% (or more) cut already implemented in faculty checks. Yes, that is a whopping 11.65%.

 AFT had proposed a similar approach to addressing the possible budget shortfall this year that it has employed with the District in each of the last four years. This process involved detailed reviews of the District budget and ways to mitigate each deficit by capturing savings through attrition and identifying one-time revenue sources. The District, under a new administrative regime, now rejects this approach and declares that for faculty, the potential deficit must be made up solely through wage reductions. This also helps explain why the District has been so delinquent in providing data and analysis of ongoing savings and other revenue sources:  It no longer considers them relevant to negotiations over potential wage concessions. 

 AFT has expressed its outrage at the District’s position and has stated our intent to fight the unilateral wage reduction. While we acknowledge and share concerns about the District’s ability to balance this year’s budget, the District is apparently unwilling or unable to find ways to lessen the impact on its employees.

 Under the circumstances, the Union has also withdrawn its support of the District proposal to transition to monthly pay. Though the parties agree that monthly pay for faculty is important for the sake of efficiency, better CalSTRS reporting, and cost savings to the District, the Union cannot move forward with such an agreement—already a hardship—while faculty must prepare to be docked well over 11% of each paycheck. Coupling the hardship of transition-to-monthly pay with an astronomical wage reduction is clearly unsustainable for faculty trying to survive in the current fiscal crisis. 

 While negotiations over these issues continues for another week, the District’s rejection of AFT’s offer signals the end of mutual interest negotiations at City College and likely charges of bad faith bargaining. We maintain that the move to cut pay prematurely and unilaterally is a violation of the contract and will be filing charges; the Union has for the last two weeks had our attorney at the table, who has been helping the team assess and reinforce our contractual and legal rights. This also opens up potential disputes over what provisions of the contract survive its expiration on December 31, 2012, although under current law virtually all rights and protections remain in place. 

 Know that AFT 2121 will do all it can to ascertain the impacts and to answer questions for faculty; we recognize the uncertainty and suddenness of this situation, and it is highly frustrating for all of us. 

 Thank you for your patience, diligence, and passion for our College and each other as we continue to navigate these most challenging times.

Posted in Negotiations

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