FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Union press conference announces one-day unfair labor practices strike
San Francisco—City College of San Francisco faculty, students and community supporters announced at a Chinatown campus press conference today that no classes will be held tomorrow at all nine City College of San Francisco campuses. However, they said, faculty will still be on campus. Instead of teaching, they’ll be walking picket lines in the first-ever strike of 1500 instructors, librarians, and counselors represented by American Federation of Teachers Local 2121. The unfair labor practices strike is the union’s response to more than a year of unsuccessful negotiations between the faculty union and college administration and occurs after the administration has engaged in numerous unfair labor practices, including bad faith bargaining and attempting to go around the union’s elected negotiations team.
“Faculty do not take this step lightly,” said Tim Killikelly, political science instructor and president of the faculty union, “but administration has left us with no choice but to take action, or risk losing the vital college that we love.” A major point of contention between administration and the union cited by Killikelly is an administration plan to reduce course offerings by 26% over the next several years.
Enrollment declined at the college after the ACCJC threatened to close the school in 2013, causing many students to end their education due to worry they wouldn’t receive credit or be able to apply for student loans. Since then, as California Federation of Teachers (CFT) President Joshua Pechthalt told reporters, “The San Francisco Superior Court found ACCJC broke four laws in its attempt to disaccredit the school; the US Department of Education has threatened to pull the plug on ACCJC’s authority as accreditor, and the state Community College Board of Governors is working on a plan to reform the agency in the short term and ultimately transfer the state’s community colleges to a new accreditor. Yet the administration continues to act as if ACCJC’s ideas about how to run the college are legitimate. This is a terrible failure of imagination and lost opportunity for the CCSF administration to map a successful future for the college and for San Francisco’s students.”
The CFT represents faculty in thirty community college districts, including San Francisco, and has led the fight to reform ACCJC’s arrogant and unlawful accreditation practices.
Killikelly sees a continuation of ACCJC practices in how the CCSF administration is negotiating with the union. Despite a massive reserve fund balance approaching 30% of the college’s budget, administration is hoarding the additional funding it is currently receiving from the state, rather than taking the opportunity to fund a diverse course schedule and restore salaries that will keep top talent in the College and in one of the country’s most expensive cities.
The faculty union is asking for restoration of the 3.5% pay cut faculty absorbed during the Great Recession and for 4% raises for the next three years, which will bring CCSF faculty to the median of Bay Area faculty salaries, in addition to rebuilding the college’s course offerings.
CCSF student Win-Mon Kyi said she supports tomorrow’s faculty strike because “A 26% cut to classes jeopardizes our future. Our campus isn’t going to look the same with a quarter of our faculty gone and resource centers further being cut. Diversity studies in particular are endangered. City College has the only Filipino studies department in the nation and we had the first LGBTQ studies program. These programs are in jeopardy of being eliminated and we are losing access to learning about our history.”
Win-Mon praised faculty advocacy for measures that will rebuild the college to serve as many students as it once did, such as a recently announced proposal by San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim to make City College free for all residents and workers in San Francisco.
Emily Lee, political director of the Chinese Progressive Association, noted that “CPA has struggled alongside City College faculty in the past to save the college when it was attacked by ACCJC. Now faculty are standing up to the administration for the college that our community deserves. In particular we rely on the ESL program to aid new immigrants to the city. It is a vital program that needs to be supported.”
Aaron Peskin, San Francisco Supervisor, voiced his solidarity saying “Faculty has stood with me and I’m proud to stand with faculty and students of City College of San Francisco.”
Hillary Ronen, an aide to Supervisor David Campos and AFT 2121-endorsed candidate to succeed him, announced at the press conference that Campos is introducing a resolution of support for the strike to the Board of Supervisors. Also speaking at the press conference were Associated Students leader Thomas Lee and Chinatown campus faculty member Fanny Law.
For more information about the strike and the issues that led up to it, go to aft2121.org. For more information on the long struggle for fair accreditation practices, go to cft.org.
The San Francisco Community College Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2121, represents certificated employees at City College of San Francisco. It is affiliated with the California Federation of Teachers, which represents more than 25,000 community faculty across the state and 120,000 education employees at all levels of public education.