A year’s worth of unsuccessful labor negotiations could come to a head in a one-day strike next week at City College of San Francisco, where the faculty union and administration have found themselves locked in a stalemate over employee wages.
Both sides have accused each other of acting in bad faith. On Tuesday, a group of delegates from the American Federation of Teachers 2121 gave the final approval needed for the strike to occur next Wednesday over unfair labor practice. Prior to the vote, an attorney for CCSF called the forthcoming strike illegal, “highly ill-advised and counterproductive.”
The plan for the strike, which would be the first in the faculty union’s three-decade long history, was made public by the union’s executive board last Monday.
Two days later, CCSF officials publicly announced a contract offer to boost faculty salaries by 7.19 percent — an offer the union shot down, arguing the raise would amount to a 1.7 percent increase over 2007 wages unless enrollment increased at the school.
The college has experienced financial troubles in recent years, losing more than a third of its student population after the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges threatened to revoke its accreditation in 2013.
After announcing the strike, the union filed an unfair labor practice charge against CCSF with the state Public Employment Relations Board.
Among a series of allegations in the filing, the union charged CCSF with stalling the negotiation process, leaking their latest contract offer to the school community without giving the union sufficient time to review it and refusing to bargain with the union over teacher pay when relabeling courses from lectures to labs.
CCSF English Professor Jennifer Worley, who serves on the union’s executive board, explained the bargaining process on Tuesday to a room full of strike supporters including students and faculty before the union delegates unanimously voted for the strike.
“We are going in every week and talking to these mean people and their shark and asking them important things,” Worley said of CCSF officials and their attorney. “They’re coming in with these itty-bitty things. … They’re not moving on these important issues.”
Jeff Sloan, an attorney for CCSF, fired back at the union in a letter on Tuesday.
“Even if your vague accusations that the District has committed an unfair practice were clear and correct (which they are not), the Union has neither given the District an opportunity to rectify the alleged conduct nor made any allegations that suggest the District’s conduct is so serious or pervasive as to justify the threatened strike,” Sloan said.
Tim Killikelly, the faculty union’s head, also accused CCSF of being under the “unfair influence” of the ACCJC when determining its latest contract offer.
While it has yet to be seen whether the strike will come to fruition, the union seems to have the support of a strong contingent of CCSF attendees who have allied with students from San Francisco State University.
“For some students, the strike may come out of nowhere,” said Win-Mon Kyi, a political science student at CCSF, during Tuesday’s forum. “But we’ve been struggling for so long.”
Kyi called the administration’s push to increase enrollment “rhetoric” and questioned how the college could recruit more students while cutting more than 1,200 classes since 2012.
Shaniece Valencia, who attends SFSU and went to CCSF, said at the forum that students could use the strike as a jumping off platform for change. SFSU has been involved in its own financial struggle over the College of Ethnic Studies, where department officials have said the jobs of lecturers are threatened.
“We need to get the momentum going,” Valencia told her peers. “We’re definitely going to have a contingent from S.F. State at the strike.”
The current contract between CCSF and its faculty expired at the end of last June. The two parties have been in negotiations since January 2015, and are in a fact-finding process after a mediator decided March 24 that he could not bring the sides to a settlement.