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College Workers Demand Raises Equal to Faculty

Santa Monica College wants to eliminate from new labor contract a "me too" clause that would award the non-teaching staff a 1.25 percent raise. Faculty received the pay bump in August.

It's back to the negotiating table board for Santa Monica College and its non-teaching employees, who are seeking the same 1.25 percent raise doled out to faculty members this August. 

In their new contract with the local chapter of the Classified School Employees Association, college administrators want to eliminate a so-called "me too" clause that guarantees the workers the same benefits as faculty. That plan hasn't sat well with the union.

About 30 CSEA members picketed and reportedly walked out of the most recent Board of Trustees meeting.  

“We were promised, from the Board, equity across the board and from the top down,” said Bernie Rosenloecher, president of the local CSEA chapter, according to the student newspaper, The Corsair.

College officials say they are facing a precarious financial scenario unless voters pass Gov. Jerry Brown's November ballot measure to increase sales and income taxes to fund K-12 public schools and community colleges, known as Proposition 30.

The Board of Trustees adopted in early September a budget that assumes the measure's passage. It does include the "me too" costs sought by CSEA, said Superintendent Chui Tsang. 

CSEA also wants to extend vision and dental benefits for retirees from the age of 65 to death and has asked for $1,000 bonuses, half of which would be allocated if Prop. 30 passes. 

According to Tsang, the college has asked for a one-year delay in implementing the benefits, and has proposed a promise of no furloughs or layoffs in this fiscal year, salary increases of 1.25 percent and a $1,000 bonus in July of next year (part-time workers would receive a pro-rated bonus equal to the percentage of their full-time employee equivalent). 

"The College has a significant operating deficit requiring that we dip into dwindling reserves," Tsang wrote in a recent email. "This would be the fifth year that the District maintains the full employment of all permanent employees, despite the brutal cutbacks in state funding that started in 2009."

Talks between administrators and CSEA resume Friday. 

At previous Board of Trustees meetings this school year, CSEA members have said they're being treated "like second-class citizens." 

CSEA's contract expired June 30. The faculty's three-year labor contract is good through August 2013.

If Prop. 30 does not pass, adjunct instructors are likely to be impacted because the college plans to cut 500 sections from the spring semester, according to spokesman Bruce Smith.

The state's financial crisis and the college's uncertain financial future prompted trustees to cancel this year's winter session.

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Connie Lemke October 11, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Part 2 from above: In addition, the District never negotiates anything with one group without full knowledge of what it will cost to implement on all affected. There are no surprises. The money was not included in the current budget because the Board did not intend to abide by the CSEA contract. All these employees want is for the Board to keep its word and abide by the contract they signed. The Board would never suggest that the school renege on a contract with a supplier: they would expect to pay what is due. So why renege on an employee contract? Once a contract is reneged upon, how can anyone believe that any future agreement has validity? The fact that the District tries to bully workers into accepting less than they are due does not match the image SMC portrays to the public. If lay-offs occur, it will be because the Board chooses to save some money on the backs of the lowest paid group on campus, all the while saying that cuts will be equitable, across-the-board and shared from the top down. Which administrators are being threatened with lay-off? Connie Lemke Recording Secretary CSEA Chapter 36
Connie Lemke October 11, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Actually part 1 of previous post. There were over 70 people in that picket line. All together over 100 people participated during the evening. There were marchers from the SMC Associated Students, SMC Faculty Association, the California Nurses Association. CLEAN Car Wash Campaign, and other community supporters. CSEA represents 450 classified (non-faculty, non-management) workers: custodians, administrative assistants, plumbers, carpenters, specialists in financial aid, payroll, student services, parking enforcement personnel, and dozens of other job classifications. Most of these employees are full-time although some are part-time. They are the lowest paid group on the campus. These demands did not just come out of the blue. What these workers want is for the Board to honor the contract it signed with CSEA. That contract calls for CSEA to receive the benefit of any across-the-board wage increases and medical benefits awarded to any other group. When the Board recently signed the faculty contract, they did so with full knowledge that the CSEA contract would give those same benefits to its members.
MCF October 11, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Thanks to Bernie and Connie for supplying the details and the truth which were not accurately spelled out in the article and also to all of those who participated in the picketing, including myself.
Res October 11, 2012 at 10:41 PM
The board and president addressed the entirety of the SMC community and promised that we are a family and "any cuts would be equitable and across the board." We should all strive to act with *INTEGRITY* and that means honoring our promises of equity in the face of crisis. Re first comment from Mimi: The staff are very diverse and all contribute to making SMC excellent. Some adjunct work part-time and some classified staff have graduate degrees. It isn't about the hours worked or the exact role on campus; everyone deserves to be treated with respect and equitably.
MCF October 11, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Thanks Bernie and Connie for speaking the truth and standing up for our rights! Also thanks to all who joined us at the picketing event to give support...Fair is fair.

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