Clark faculty unanimously approve strike in winter qtr.

Clark College Association for Higher Education news release, 12/7/19

Contact: Suzanne Southerland, 503-453-2825, or Rich Wood, 253-376-1007

Clark College faculty union members authorize strike

More than 300 Clark College faculty members voted unanimously Saturday to authorize a strike.

The Clark College Association for Higher Education (AHE) represents both full-time and part-time faculty members at the Vancouver college. The turnout for the strike vote was the largest ever for a Clark College AHE general membership meeting. 

The vote authorized the union’s “executive committee to call a strike in our fight for competitive pay and a fair contract. The timing of the strike will be determined by the executive committee in consultation with the Clark College AHE bargaining team.”

The union and the college administration have been in contract negotiations for 14 months.

“We need a fair contract with compensation that's competitive with K-12 and other community colleges -- compensation that will attract and retain the best faculty in our region for our students,” said Suzanne Southerland, union president. “As a union, we're all in this together, and that's what's going to lead to our winning a fair contract.”

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More than 300 faculty voted unanimously to approve a strike in the event that the College and the Board of Trustees refuse to reach a tentative agreement with the faculty union by winter quarter. 

What's at stake? 

In 2017-2018, our instructional unit was made up of 230 full-time and 245 part-time faculty. Today, we're made up of 188 full-time and 363 part-time faculty. This is an 18 percent decline in two years. We need to reduce the incentive for the College to rely on part-time faculty.  

School 

Top Salary 

Clark College 

$76,339  

Tacoma 

$97,140 

Mt. Hood 

$94,800 

Portland 

$91,000 

Clackamas 

$88,500 

With respect to full-time salaries, we're aiming for a salary schedule that will attract the best possible educators for our students.  We're working to link the full-time and part-time salary schedules so that the part-time salary is a percentage (we're aiming for 75 percent) of the full-time starting salary. Our adjuncts literally make half as much as full-time faculty teaching the same load.  

We've made every effort to come to an agreement including reducing our proposal by more than half. We’ve given up many negotiation items as well. Nonetheless, the College has declared their final offer which is 1 percent (2018-19) and 4 percent (2019-20) or 3 percent full-time and 5 percent part-time (2019-2020). This offer needs to double in order for our full-time top salary to reach the second-to-the-last top salary among our nearby community colleges with similar costs of living (see table above).  

Adjuncts need full-time positions and full-timers need more full-time colleagues to share in the work of shared governance, guided pathways, assessment, advising, innovating, serving on committees, mentoring, and developing professionally. Students need faculty who are present and valued. 

Bottom line: 

  • Link the part-time and full-time salary schedules at 70 or 75 percent of step A. 

  • Increase full-time salaries 

  • What's ahead: Meeting these goals will enable us to move forward with our ultimate objectives of equal pay for equal work for adjuncts (80 percent of the starting salary, protecting our full-time positions and winning full-time salaries that are comparable with our nearby community colleges). 

The College says that it doesn't have the money for raises. Now what?

Clark College administration has the money to negotiate competitive, professional pay for all full-time and part-time faculty members. This fight is about our college’s budget priorities: When it comes to the success of our students, what is more important than having qualified, committed, caring faculty? Quality faculty should be the top budget priority. As well, the College has received additional funding from the state that should be allocated to faculty.

  • Last year, Clark received $2.4 million extra in Running Start as a result of McLeary (Bellevue faculty received 80 percent of their extra Running Start funding last year -- Clark faculty received nothing).

  • This year, Clark will see $2.4 million extra in Running Start as a result of McLeary  

  • Next year, Clark will receive ~$1 million for Guided Pathways. 

  • Next year, Clark will receive ~$1 million for high demand fields.

  • This year, the state is fully funding our COLAs. 

  • Next year, the state is fully funding our COLAs.

  • The College has moved funds from instruction into the admin budget steadily for the last 10 years. We've gone from 230 full-time faculty two years ago to 188 full-time faculty today. We need to make sure these incoming funds land in the instruction budget.  

  • Our president's salary increased by 20 percent in the last 5 years. Faculty salaries increased only for inflation. 

  • The College just recently moved more than $5 million into their capital improvement budget. We can only assume that this money is for Boschma Farms.                                                                

What if the College threatens budget cuts?

It’s irresponsible for administrators or anyone else to threaten big budget cuts if we negotiate the competitive pay we deserve. Threatening budget cuts is both dishonest and disrespectful. The administration and the board of trustees at Clark are simply illustrating that they don’t want to invest in quality faculty – they have other budget priorities they believe are more important. Faculty at Highline, Bellevue and other colleges negotiated significant pay raises without budget cuts happening. Clark College can do the same.

Are there legal consequences for going on strike?

As a union, we decide what collective actions we are willing to take to get a fair contract. It’s our decision – no one else can decide for us. If we decide to strike, we’ll be taking the same action that our WEA colleagues in Vancouver and more than 15 other school districts in our region took last year. While we can’t predict what will happen if we vote to go on strike, none of the striking teachers in Clark County were fined, jailed or punished in 2018. The faculty at Bellingham Technical College went on strike for several days in 2013 before winning pay raises without any legal ramifications.

What about the impact on our students?

Strikes can be inconvenient for both students and educators in the short-term: schedules have to be adjusted, days made up, etc. Strikes are temporary, however. Standing united together, we have the power to win a fair contract and fundamentally change the relationship between Clark College faculty and administration for years to come. This fundamental change will be a significant benefit to our students. Faculty are who directly work with students every day. We know what our students need to succeed. 

What's going on with the nursing educator funding?

Nearly all of the other Washington state nursing programs have received their funding from the legislature. Clark continues to hold onto our nursing educator's funding. We've proposed an MOU that would allow the nursing educator funding to be released now, but the College refuses to sign it. A half dozen other colleges have signed MOUs to release nursing educator funds. 

More details about negotiations can be found at Negotiation Updates.

What's Happening

  • Ongoing Contract Negotiations

    Meet the Negotiation Team: April Mixon, Kimberly Sullivan, Kathrena Halsinger, Aaron Bingham, Suzanne Southerland and our UniServ staff, Candy Herrera are working hard to win a fair contract for Clark College faculty.
    Read More
  • Support each other--stay aware

    Did an anti-union group email you or send you a mailing lately? Here are the facts behind these groups and their attacks on public education and our freedom to negotiate fair pay.
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