City College of San Francisco. (S.F. Examiner file photo)

CCSF faculty union votes to support strike if contract talks break down

City College of San Francisco’s faculty union Thursday announced that 92 percent of its members have voted in support of a strike, setting the stage for what union leaders say could be the first strike in the college’s history.

The strike vote announced by the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 comes nearly two months after the union first announced it was at an impasse with the college in contract talks. The union has been in talks with the college for around a year and without a contract for 9 months.

Union president Tim Killikelly said faculty pay is currently more than 3 percent below 2007 levels and the college’s proposals would leave the pay for many at 2007 levels for several more years, despite the rising cost of living.

In addition, City College officials are talking about cuts to college programs of around 26 percent over the next six years, although full details have not been announced, Killikelly said.

“We understand strikes have consequences for everyone, it has consequences for faculty, it has consequences for students, it has consequences for the city,” Killikelly said. “We understand that, but the situation has become intolerable over the past several years.”

City College officials released a statement Thursday saying they were “disappointed” by the strike vote.

College officials said the school is faced with sharply reduced enrollment and is working to prepare for a funding decrease of $24 million each year when additional stabilization funding provided by legislation from state Sen. Mark Leno ends after the 2017-2018 school year.

“We’re committed to finding a way to reach an agreement, but it must be done while recognizing that the college’s enrollment is significantly smaller,” City College’s statement said. “The bottom line: the district cannot commit temporary funds that won’t exist in three years for permanent faculty raises.”

Enrollment dropped after the Novato-based Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges announced in 2013 that it was revoking City College’s accreditation because of issues with financial accountability and institutional governance. The decision led to the appointment of a special trustee to oversee the college.

The district is currently in restoration status, meaning it is working to correct the deficiencies.

Killikelly said the enrollment decline was caused by a lack of public confidence due to the accreditation problem, and the board should be taking steps to recruit students and improve offerings, not making it harder for students to get the classes they need by making cuts.

“San Francisco is not 26 percent smaller than it was in 2007, in fact it has grown,” Killikelly said.

“People need to know that the college is open, the college is accredited, and the education quality has never been in question,” he said.

The college’s board of trustees was scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. Thursday in closed session to discuss labor negotiations.

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