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Allan Hancock Part-Timers Demand New Contract

Frustrated part-time faculty and staff at Allan Hancock College working without a new contract for several months protested at Tuesday night’s College District Board of Trustees meeting.

Contract talks have dragged on for months with the key issue pay increases for part-time faculty and full-time classified staff employees.

Waving signs and cheering on supporters, those looking for a more acceptable contract offer made their demands clear to the Board of Trustees.

“Please direct your negotiators to agree to the pay increases, its the right thing to do”, said Vibiana Sabedra of the Democratic Club of the Santa Maria Valley, “two, agree to the increased hours formula for office hours, and three, agree to increased pay for counseling staff.”

The Part-Time Faculty Association is seeking a 4% pay raise and the union representing about 250 classified employees want the same 3.5% increase given to full-time faculty last year.

“We were offered initially 2.9 percent per FTE (full-time equivalent) for our unit and we feel its a matter of equity”, says Regina Smith with the classified employees union, “we are not worth anything less than the full time faculty or part-time faculty.”

Others who spoke Tuesday night told Trustees part-time faculty and classified staff agreed to wage cuts or freezes at the height of the recession.

“As the economy starts to pickup the first people that should be made up to are those that fell behind when the economy was tough”, said Tim Allison with the Tri-County Central Labor Council.

“We sincerely believe that these educators and counselors form the backbone of this institution and deserve to have their demands met because they are reasonable”, Sabedra told the Trustees.

The Part-Time Faculty Association declared an impasse on November 24 in its contract talks with AHC negotiators, one of several points made by AHC Part-Time Faculty Association President Mark Miller.

“I am not here to point fingers”, Miller told Trustees, “our differences are not great, nor are they insurmountable, and I am confident they can be resolved.”

Here’s the full text of Mark Miller’s presentation to the Board of Trustees:

“What are we asking for? A small increase in pay, 4%, very modest when you consider that compared to nearby community colleges such as Cuesta or Santa Barbara or Ventura, we are still underpaid, we are asking for a simple and common sense approach to office hours for part-time credit faculty, based on the office hours received by our full-time colleagues: The typical full time instructor teaches 5 classes per week and has 5 office hours per week. We are suggesting that a part-time instructor who teaches one class will have 1 office hour per week; 2 classes, 2 hours; 3 classes, 3 hours. We fail to understand why our students should have less opportunity to meet with and get help from us than do the students of our full-time counterparts?

Then there is the plight of the part-time counselors, 14 people whose pay is so low in comparison with their colleagues who do the same work that it almost defies my ability to describe it”, Miller said, “a full time counselor is paid at the same rate as a full-time classroom teacher. But a part-time counselor is paid not at the rate of a part-time teacher in the classroom, nor even at the rate of a part-time teacher in a lab. They are relegated to the lowest rung of the salary schedule, activity rate.

And yet there is no sign on the door of a counselor’s office that says, “Part-time counselor within.” The student expects, and receives, the same service from a part-time counselor as a full-time, and this enormous disparity in pay cannot be allowed to continue.

It has been pointed out to me that this issue affects only a small part of our bargaining unit. But injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. If impasse is to be resolved, this is one injustice that has to be addressed.

In the past, this Board has stood up for its part-time academic employees: When we conveyed to you how important seniority rights were to us, you responded by saying you were willing to work with us and find a solution. The result: We now have true seniority rights, a system that is not only working well but is the envy of other units like ours. I can’t tell you how proud I am when I go to a conference or a convention and have people seek me out and tell me how wonderful they think our whole collective bargaining agreement is and that they are using it as a model in their own contract negotiations. That is something for us all to be proud of.

Last year, we told you it was time to place the state parity funds on the salary schedule. You again showed vision and leadership by doing so. You showed that you were committed to your part-time academics by promising to pay us at a higher rate even if the state money does not come through. That took courage, and I commended you for it then and I commend you for it now.

So I am here tonight to ask you to once more stand up for the part-time academic workers at Allan Hancock College. Show them what their hard work and dedication means to you. There are part-timers who have worked here 10, 20, 30 years and more. They often labor in obscurity, with little support or recognition. Why do they keep coming back, year after year? We all know it isn’t for the money. They do it because they love their work, they love our college and they love our students. Now is your chance to show them that you appreciate their dedication and sacrifice by giving us the fair contract we deserve.

My hope is I can come here in January and say, “Board of Trustees, you did it again. You stood tall once more for your part-time academic workers.” I hope we can all work toward making that happen. Let’s start 2015 on the positive note it should start on. Our community, our college, and our students deserve no less.”

Its unclear when contract talks between the two labor groups and AHC management will resume.

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