Orange County Solidarity gets a contract in the Coast CCD
After three and a half years, faculty at the three campuses of the Coast Community College District have a contract. Rob Schneiderman, President of the Coast Federation of Educators, AFT Local 1911, calls that a victory by itself. The settlement turned back a concerted administration effort to take away hard-won benefits, and achieved economic advances that seemed impossible just a year ago. Highlights include a raise for instructors with lab classes. “They deserve the full amount paid to others,” he says, “but at least this time we went from 75% to 83% of pro-rata, and that’s a step on the way to full equality.” When negotiations began over three years ago, the district demanded a 20% cut in health benefits. In the final agreement, two of the three medical plans are unchanged, and the last had minor adjustments.
The difference Prop 30 makes
Overall, faculty got a 7% raise over three years, after many years with no raise at all. “The economy turned,” Schneiderman explains, “but what really made the difference was the Prop 30 money. We now have a revenue stream that’s reliable.” Part-timers won pay for office hours for the first time, from a fund the district agreed to create. Faculty have better scheduling language, and faculty requests will henceforth be honored. Staff also got two flex—or staff development—days, fully paid. Less than a year ago, the district called for state mediation and threatened that it would impose a contract with drastic cuts. The district chancellor even demanded that faculty work 17 additional days per year, with no compensating pay increase for it. Administrators sought to cap benefits, and force faculty to pay the cost of any future increase. “We went from all of that to a good settlement. It’s remarkable,” Schneiderman says.
What made the difference was solidarity. The local communicated regularly with members, and put news of negotiations in faculty boxes. Union activists went to faculty meetings to let people understand the problem of the district’s intransigence. Finally Schneiderman and local leaders approached their sister union at Newport-Mesa Unified School District. The union there made a commitment to put flyers in the boxes of all faculty, explaining the threat to impose the contract at Coast College. “High schools in that district are feeders for Coast College,” Schneiderman explains. “We told our trustees that we would go into those high schools, and after hearing about the conflict at Coast, students wouldn’t want to go there.” The tense situation at Coast changed completely. “One day we had a meeting with the trustees,” he says, “and the next I got a call from the chancellor saying that we had to get busy to get the contract settled. It’s been a long protracted battle, but we have come out as a stronger union.”
~ by David Bacon
Coast Federation of Educators Contract