GCC budget realities create tension

Glendale Community College officials last week may have been able to extract deep pay concessions from instructors in order to preserve a scaled-back summer session, but some faculty union members reacted to the outcome with indignation, with one calling the process a “big sham.”

The college Board of Trustees on Friday unanimously ratified an agreement with faculty members that cut pay by 40% to salvage the summer school session. The deal also included an agreement to credit the $500,000 saved by the pay cut toward any budget reductions to be absorbed by adjunct instructors next fiscal year.

The emergency negotiations kept students on edge for weeks, with a deal announced just days before the start of summer class registration. And faculty members sent a flurry of messages over their email system, cataloging their disdain for how the negotiations, and pay concessions, panned out.

Some instructors chided their bargaining representatives for bending under pressure from the college and not taking the agreement to union members for a vote.

“This emergency negotiations process has been a big sham,” one professor said in an email sent to the entire membership. “It has damaged the credibility of the Board of Trustees, the administration and most of all, the guild. The negotiations were conducted using reprehensible tactics to achieve a rotten settlement that was ratified twice in an undemocratic fashion.”

Summer school is now scheduled to start June 20, but questions about how many summer school classes would be offered, and how much faculty members would be paid to teach them, hovered for months. Facing cuts of between $6.7 million and $10.7 million to its roughly $85-million budget in the coming year, the trustees considered canceling the intersession entirely.

“The issue we are experiencing at Glendale [Community] College is not particular to our college, it is a statewide issue.” said board President Anita Gabrielian. “The budget crisis and uncertainties have forced us into this situation.”

The delayed decision heightened tensions on campus. Students feared they would not have access to courses they needed to transfer or graduate, while faculty worried about lost work. Various constituent groups weighed in publicly at board meetings and via email.

Speaking just a few hours after the board sealed the deal Friday, math professor and incoming Faculty Guild President Isabelle Saber said the faculty had conceded more than its share to make summer school a reality.

“This is a pivotal moment for the board to change course and stop the faculty bashing in public and private,” Saber said. “If they don’t take that opportunity, then it will be on them because we have done everything we can to reach out in public and in private. We are not in a school yard any more, and it is time for all of us to be grown up and work for the good of the college and the students.”

College administrators and board members acknowledged the dissent, but said they have long enjoyed a strong working relationship with the faculty guild, one they expect to carry on into the future.

All groups on campus are affected by the budget cuts, including the management staff which just accepted a 6.5% pay cut for the coming fiscal year, they added.

“It is hard for the board, it is hard for the faculty, it is hard for the [classified staff],” President/Supt. Dawn Lindsay said. “Nobody likes to take money out of their paychecks, but that is the reality of where we are.”

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