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.