City College of San Francisco’s faculty union voted by a 92 percent margin to authorize a strike if necessary, American Federation of Teacher 2121 President Tim Killikelly announced at a March 10 press conference.
“It tells the district our membership is willing to go on strike, if need be,” Killikelly said. The union is still in the mediation process and must move on to fact-finding before the proposed three-day strike can take place.
If implemented, the strike would be the first in the college’s history.
Union representatives hope the sweeping results and record voter turnout will galvanize the district to renegotiate faculty contracts before a strike is actually called.
Last year, the union formed a strike hardship committee to help striking members meet life necessities, like rent payments or medical bills. Members voted almost unanimously to raise their own dues to protect faculty temporarily going without income. The committee meets regularly to discuss ways to allocate small grants and interest-free loans.
Cost of living is a top concern for union members, who say they receive the lowest wages of all California community colleges in one of the world’s most expensive cities. They are operating without a contract, with pay rates equivalent to 2007 levels.
“Everybody is so stunned by the cost of housing here,” Killikelly said. “Is it their plan to keep salaries the same, six or seven years in the future? This doesn’t sound like a long-range plan.”
City College’s administration blames a sizable drop in enrollment following the 2012 accreditation crisis for the budget cuts.
“We’re committed to finding a way to reach an agreement, but it must be done while recognizing that the college’s enrollment is significantly smaller,” City College said in a statement. “The bottom line: the district cannot commit temporary funds that won’t exist in three years for permanent faculty raises.”
Union members plan to march in support of public education and promote their cause March 11 during the annual California Federation of Teachers conference at the Hyatt Hotel.
Faculty members were arrested Saturday, March 12 while protesting the labor contract negotiations and other issues, according to Bay City News.
“Dozens of educators were arrested in downtown San Francisco following a rally that ended with a sit-in that blocked the office door of Jeff Sloan, the chief negotiator for the college’s administration, according to the faculty’s union,” Bay City News reported.