Teachers Demand Salary Increase From Trustees

Corinna Scott

More than 100 faculty members, many of them holding up protest signs, filled Kreider Hall May 19, making the board of trustees an unusually heavily attended event.

One of the signs showed Glendale with “zero percent” at the bottom of a list of colleges that have received pay raises.

The faculty guild is negotiating a pay raise with the board of trustees because they believe there was enough money in the budget for a pay raise, but the board and the administration had other priorities.

Also, there is a five percent reserve that Glendale has that the faculty guild wants the administration to spend on balancing the budget and giving pay raises to instructors.

“Our reserves are made up of savings, i.e. one-time funds that once spent do not get replaced, and should not be used to balance the budget or give pay raises as this only creates a bigger problem in the next fiscal year,” said Larry Serot, vice president of administrative services in an email.

“The guild only wants to look at one fiscal year at a time. The board and the administration must take a long term approach to the college’s finances,” Serot said.

Steve Marsden, a math professor and guild representative, made a presentation at the meeting that projected a mock-up of the popular Idiot’s guide series onto a screen titled “The Guide to Asking the Board of Trustees for Money.” Next thing up was a sign that said “It’s not about $$$. It’s about priorities.”

Amid laughter, Marsden said “Those of you who know me know that I have a good sense of humor, but tonight I have to be serious, because we’re at a critical stage of negotiations.”

“For the first time, in quite a while, the district set aside no money for staff pay raises. Now I’ve heard various excuses from blaming the budget committee, to blaming Larry Serot, to my own theory which I will share with you a little bit later.”

Marsden said later in the meeting that he feels that the board is using a “I’ll show you we won’t budget anything” approach. “I’ve been negotiating a long time and I’ve talked to enough knowledgeable people to know,” he said.

Marsden proceeded to show with charts that the numbers the administration was using did not add up. Also, he showed the board where it was specifically stated that the money had been spent before the pay raises could be made.

He said this faculty steps up to the plate when asked. “We voluntarily took a 1 percent pay cut,” said Marsden. “This year we brought in the enrollment numbers. The faculty needs to spend our time in teaching, counseling, serving our students, developing grants for innovative student programs, working on the upcoming accreditation, getting ready for graduation and not getting caught up in political action.”

He concluded his presentation by saying that the modest pay raises faculty would receive would be nothing compared to what could happen if morale was lost.

When asked what he thought about Steve Marsden’s and the guild’s theories, as to why the faculty has not received any pay raises, Larry Serot said via email:
“The college’s first priority is to students. This means first the instructional program, second adequate student services, third a clean functioning environment. In addition the college has a responsibility to maintain adequate insurance and to honor its contracts. Last year we gave our employees raises because we could afford to do so. The year before, we gave a 4.3 percent increase. In addition to pay raises we have also agreed to other cost items for our employees.”

In other news, during a presentation on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s May budget revise, college controller Ron Nakasone said there would be no increase in the enrollment fees at the state level. The governor is looking to stabilize the revenue with a with a rainy-day fund through the California Lottery that is proposed to break the cycle of deficit and stop cuts to education, law enforcement and other programs.

Given the state’s economic condition from January to May, the revise is actually very positive for community colleges.

“I think it shows a commitment for the governor and I think it shows that community colleges are very important,” Nakasone said.
While the budget revise has no impact on the tuition fees statewide, for Glendale Community College it will have separate negative effects.

Because the property tax shortfall, which funds community college budgets, Glendale will lose funding for up to 200 Cal Grant students if the revise is passed.

“The revise is not supported by Democrats or Republicans,” said Nakasone.

The Democrats in the state legislature are concerned that the revise will cut funds from various welfare and health care programs.

The revise contains an automatic 1 percent sales tax that is triggered if the legislature or the taxpayers do not vote in favor of the rainy day fund in the revise. The Republicans are opposed to the sales tax trigger.