Op-Ed: GCC administrators are getting off easy

I am writing in response to the Aug. 24 article, “GCC slashes budget.” If 115 classified employees are permanently reduced, it will have a damaging effect on the lowest-paid Glendale Community College employees, but even worse, for the students.

If the board approves these cuts, these offices may be closed in January (illegal, according to our contract) and again in August 2013. It was reported that college Vice President Mary Mirch “quietly choked back tears” at the podium, but these tears seemed disingenuous to many.

Mirch proposed these cuts, citing a “lack-of-work issue” due to cutting winter session and offering one summer session instead of two. However, there has been a classified staff hiring freeze for years, many vacant positions remain unfilled, and we work hard during January and August.

There is no rhyme or reason as to why certain departments would be reduced when others would potentially have the same supposed reduced workload. By cutting only certain classified employees' assignments, the administration pits us against each other, fracturing the California School Employees Assn. and its motto of “in unity.” Isn't this what the government is doing, dividing the lower-middle class in an attempt to deflect attention away from the abuse of power by those in charge?

Mirch stated that the reduction of these 115 classified employees will only save the college $250,000, a tiny percentage of the deficit. And administrator positions are not being reduced, even though a one-month reduction of their six-figure salaries would save the college much more money than making classified staff shoulder the brunt of the cuts.

Interim College President Jim Riggs responded to a question about why he is being paid significantly more than his predecessor with, “I'm not making what I'd like to be making either.” Imagine your boss responding this way after threatening your job stability. True, managers have agreed to a 5% cut. Meanwhile, the proposed one-month reduction equals an 8.33% cut. For many, that means deciding which utility bill not to pay.

The News-Press story quotes Vice President Ron Nakasone as saying cuts “are going to have to come out of paychecks.” Instead, he said cuts “are going to have come out of somebody's paychecks.” The “somebody” most affected would be classified staff and students, not upper management.

I understand cuts have to be made. However, they should be temporary, all employees should pay an equitable share, and decisions should be made in the best interest of the students. As Mirch stated, “this sucks for everybody.” True, but it sucks for those making this proposal far less than for classified employees and impoverished students.

The CalWorks program, slated for reduction, helps students with minor children who receive welfare benefits. The funds GCC receives for CalWorks cannot be allocated anywhere else. More than 1,500 students, including political refugees and domestic violence victims, are served by CalWorks. CalWorks is audited by the state. These audits also affect funding and can take place any time, including the months the office would be closed.

CalWorks stands to lose $16,000 in funding if these reductions take place. Additionally, the recently renovated Garfield campus offers noncredit English-as-a-second-language, general education development, parent education and basic computer skills classes. Students depend on these services to become citizens and to find employment. Our entire community suffers when we hurt our neediest students to save such a tiny percentage of the budget.

Cutting employees' workloads and services to students further erodes the stability of the middle class, hurts the poor and causes the community to suffer. Instead of the crocodile tears of out-of-touch upper management, we need well-developed plans to benefit the students, the community and the hard-working employees of Glendale Community College. I urge all of you to attend the board meeting at the college, scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10.

SARAH BLACK, an instructional services administrative assistant at Glendale Community College, is one of the 115 classified employees slated for reduction. She can be reached at sarahjblack8@gmail.com.

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