Faculty Agrees to 1 Percent Pay Cut

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Six weeks of salary negotiations came to an end Oct. 27 with an agreement between the college and the Faculty Guild for a one-year 1 percent pay cut and an increase in health insurance deductibles and prescription medicine co-payments.

The tentative agreement was approved by the board of trustees during its monthly meeting. The pay cuts alone are expected to save the school about $600,000 this year, according to Larry Serot, executive vice president of administrative services.

“The negotiation teams did a fantastic job,” board member Anita Gabrielian told union representatives during the meeting. “I have to commend you for your open mindedness and your tenacity. You represented your members very well.”

The pay-cut proposal was first brought before the board on April 21 but negotiations between the the California Federation of Teachers (the Faculty Guild) and the California School Employee Association (CSEA), began on Sept. 1. The Guild and the CSEA negotiate a compensation package with the District each year, but this year’s negotiations were “especially difficult” because of the fiscal crisis, said Serot.

The District was faced with huge shortfalls this year and decided to approach the school’s faculty with a pay-cut proposal. Serot represented the District during the negotiations.

The upcoming winter and spring sessions were “saved” with the money from the pay-cuts, according to Serot. The District also granted staff two extra vacation days for 2003/2004 and “agrees not to seek any additional classified employee layoffs in the 2003/2004 fiscal year,” according to the tentative agreement.

All sides agreed to return to the table if the school received a reduction or addition of over $250,000 from the state and for the first time, a task force has been created to begin work on contract negotiations earlier in the year.

“Our faculty made a significant gesture,” said Serot after the meeting. “There are (other community colleges) where the faculty have refused to contribute or participate despite the fiscal crisis and the turning away of students. Our faculty works for the general welfare of the institution.”

The approval of the compensation agreement did not dominate the meeting and in a more jovial moment, board member Ara Najarian, who is a former football player, congratulated the Vaquero football team on its first victory of the season. “It takes a lot of guts and internal fortitude to get your butt kicked three or four weeks in a row and pull it all together for a victory.”

The Board also approved $11,848 for renovations of the girls’ softball field.