School Employees Take Pay Cut to Balance Budget

John Ferrara, El Vaquero Sports Editor

Management, faculty members and classified employees have agreed to make multiple sacrifices, through salary cuts and reserve contributions, in an attempt to balance Glendale College’s budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

“We took the concept of each group doing their share…. I think people understand that we’re in some really unique times. Everyone wants to be equitable in the process,” said Ron Nakasone, executive president of administrative services.

The Glendale College Guild, which represents the school faculty, agreed to a 3.95 percent pay cut and to contribute $102,789 of its combined $211,451 Blue Shield rebates from 2009 and 2010 toward the budget. The remaining $108,662 was contributed to the part-time faculty insurance pool.

Blue Shield of California, a private insurance company, is used by Glendale College as a health care plan for the school employees. At the end of most years excess money is returned by Blue Shield to the college as a rebate.

“If you add the reduction in summer and winter offerings, plus the 40 percent reduction in pro-rata pay for last summer, many faculty took a real salary cut of approximately 15 percent,” said Richard Kamei, sociology department chair and guild vice president. “I am proud to be a part of a union that sees beyond simple self-interest to provide some assistance to those in the most precarious situations.”

The management group, which consists of administrators, classified managers, and confidential employees, contributed $153,000 toward the 2011-2012 budget.

The proposal reduced the managment group’s salary by 4.5 percent throughout the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

Other contributions include the 2009-2012 unused funds from two furlough days and remaining funds from their 2009 and 2010 Blue Shield rebates.

Classified employees, who account for almost all non-teaching and managerial staff, have made multiple sacrifices to account for their share of balancing the budget.

The classified employees’ union, the California School Employees Association, has agreed to take a 2 percent pay cut and has contributed the remaining share of its 2009 Blue Shield rebate of $107,148 toward the budget.

“In the end, dollar wise we may have given more than our share, but we were trying not to have a large pay cut,” said Hoover Zariani, president of the classified staff union and director of the center for student involvement.

Classified employees also agreed to give $172,000 in reallocation funds, which are used for sample surveys, to ensure employees are paid at the appropriate level in comparison with other community college employees. Each budget year $50,000 is given to the classified staff, however funds had been collecting from previous years due to employees receiving appropriate pay levels.

The remaining share of the union’s $31,157 contribution credit from 2009-2010 and savings from two furlough days taken in 2010-2011 which added up to $126,378 will also aid the budget deficit.

Four additional classified employee furlough days were taken on Dec. 16, 19, 20, and 21 in 2011, which generated a school savings of $251,528.

“Furlough days came in handy, because they paid us over the Christmas break, now you just have to pay it back, it’s just like a loan … except there is no interest,” said Jeffrey Hechter, lead cafeteria cook and four-year employee.

“During Christmas that’s our paid vacation … we had extra days of vacation, but it wasn’t really vacation because we didn’t get paid for it,” said Zariani.

When California community colleges suffered an unexpected $149 million cut in February, Glendale College resorted to laying off 33 student employees. Because the budget cuts were made in the midst of the Spring semester, classes were unable to be cut and student workers suffered the impact. However student workers who were eligible, were moved to federal work study, and were able to keep their jobs.

“Every dollar that we save today, is a dollar that we’re going to have tomorrow, and tomorrow is when we think we’re really going to be at risk,” said Nakasone.

Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Federation of Teachers have agreed on a tax initiative that will raise as much as $6.9 billion per year, from the wealthiest 1 percent. Forty percent of this tax has been promised to be divided equally among community colleges. About $9 million would come to this college.

The initiative could be on the November ballot, and will likely only have to beat out civil rights attorney Molly Munger’s initiative, which focuses primarily on K-12 education.

“It is imperative that we get the tax initiative on the ballot … and then vote to pass it,” said Kamei.
Ground work is also being done by assemblyman Warren Furutani, for a bill that would call for automatic backfill in community college budget shortfalls in property taxes and enrollment fees.

Every year if there are shortfalls in the community college system’s budget, the colleges must suffer cuts. However an automatic backfill would force the state to find money to cover the shortfalls and spare cuts at the community college level.

“We’ve all been planning to get [the expected] level of budget, and it’s really hard to have to make these kind of cuts midyear,” said Nakasone.

All budget agreements made by Glendale College are unofficial until approved by the board of trustees.