Why are City College faculty standing up for a Fair Contract?
San Francisco needs high quality, accessible, public education to serve the needs of our diverse city. Nobody understands the educational needs of our students like City College faculty. As we have been negotiating a new contract with the District administration we have advocated for investment in the classroom. We have asked for the college to lower class size minimums to ensure we maintain diverse course offerings as we rebuild enrollment. Faculty salaries – currently below the level they were in 2007 – need to be raised so we can continue to attract the best qualified candidates to serve the students of San Francisco.
In response, Interim Chancellor Lamb and the Board of Trustees have presented a plan to shrink course offerings by 26% and eliminate the jobs of nearly a quarter of the faculty. Cuts like that will cripple our ability to provide for the educational needs of our students. Our question to Board president Rafael Mandelman is, if we shrink the college where will San Francisco’s students go for public higher education?
We have tried to get this message across for over a year now. Our members have been out in the streets conducting informational pickets, supported by students and community. Over 500 AFT 2121 members and community and student allies marched down Market street last November to draw attention to the District’s downsizing plan and bad faith bargaining tactics. We know that this is a critical moment for CCSF, and the status quo cannot limp on forever before irrevocable damage is done. That is why our Negotiating Team has called for a strike vote, after declaring impasse with the District in January. Subsequent mediation has so far gotten us nowhere. City College faculty, students, and the SF community have sent a clear message to both Chancellor Lamb and the Board of Trustees: “No More Business as Usual” until they settle a fair faculty contract.
We remain far apart from the District admin on several issues of vital important. AFT 2121 believes in equal pay for equal work! Sadly, CCSF treats some faculty differently. For example nursing instructors, and instructors in the trades classes at the Evans Campus, are paid as little as 2/3 the salary of other faculty. Part-time, contingent faculty at our college are also paid lower wages than their colleagues performing the same work. Our negotiating team has made clear that we need to make progress toward full equality in our contract. Our contract is a part of a larger picture: the fight against the contingentization of all labor and against privatization of our United States public education system.
Instead, admin’s bargaining team is pleading poverty, and insists on increasing the pay disparity between part-time and full-time faculty. At best this is a cynical negotiations stance, at worst an outright lie – the college is in a strong position to increase salaries, with nearly a $57 million budget surplus.
Our fight for a fair contract is representative of the broader fight for public education across America: In order to maintain high quality public education in San Francisco (pre K- 12 and beyond) we must put money in the classrooms and pay our educators enough to live in this City! Faculty became public servants because we want to educate students and going on strike is not a step we take lightly, as it will mean hardship for our families and missed days of instruction for our students. But withholding our labor is ultimately our strongest tool to defend City College for our students and for San Francisco. On Friday, March 11 we will march for the public education San Francisco deserves with faculty from all across California. Stand with us!