Guild Strives to Minimize Adjunct Wage Cuts

Nov. 11, 2009

Adjunct faculty at GCC have sustained a 3.76 percent decrease in salary due to scarce funds allocated to California community colleges. State community colleges were originally scheduled to receive an estimated $130 million in federal stimulus money this year, but funds were reduced to $37 million and a further cut to $35 million. Glendale’s share amounted to $549,000. There are an estimated 600 adjunct faculty and 220 full-time faculty at Glendale.

Because part-time faculty account for the majority of teachers, the Glendale College Guild is working to negotiate with the Glendale Community College District to prevent any further cuts to the wages of part-time faculty. The guild represents both full-time and part-time faculty at the college, and is responsible for negotiating the salaries, benefits and working conditions of its members.

“We are discussing cutting full-timer salaries so that part-timers do not sustain any further cuts,” said Guild Chief Negotiator Isabelle Saber.

Saber said that the guild has committed to exempt part-timers from any further cuts due to the significant cuts they have already sustained.

The reduction in parity funds for part-timers resulted in the cut to part-timer salaries.

Instructor Denise Robb noted that part-timers receive no benefits, earn just a few hundred dollars a week and get paid only for the hours they teach.

“I might spend seven hours creating an exam …. I might spend an entire weekend … grading papers. You don’t get paid for that,” she said. “You only get paid for the [hours spent] in the class.”

Robb works full-time by teaching part-time at GCC, Pasadena City College, L.A. Trade Tech and UC Irvine. She teaches Political Science 106 at GCC.

The union recently submitted a proposal to the district that would have, among other conditions, reduced the salaries of full-time faculty by 1 percent. The combined reductions from the salaries of all full-timers would have then contributed to the pay of part-timers.

The proposal was rejected by the administration, so the guild is currently in the process of negotiating another proposal to submit to the district.

With the college currently under a hiring freeze, the retiring of full-timers also presents a problem because the college cannot hire full-timers to fill open positions.

According to Guild President Ramona Barrio-Sotillo, “The district has been wanting to get [full-time faculty] to retire so [full-timers] are retiring.”

To make up for lost full-time faculty, the college has to add more adjunct faculty, though the cutting of classes results in the cutting of adjuncts.

“It’s a really vicious cycle,” Barrio-Sotillo said. “But it’s not exclusive to Glendale. [California community colleges are] all in the same boat.”

Guild budget representative Sarkis Ghazarian said that adjuncts at Glendale have also lost hours.

“Every time a class is cancelled or not offered, the teacher who was going to teach that class is not going to get paid. And most of these cuts have affected adjunct faculty,” Saber said.

Though full-time faculty have not sustained as significant a cut in wages as adjuncts have, they are also affected by the budget crisis.

“The hit for full-timers has been that our wages have not kept pace with inflation for the last several years,” Saber said. “The last real raise was in 2006 to 2007. Since then we have had no increase … and now [the district] wants us to actually [impose] a reduction in our salaries.”

Because full-timers receive priority in teaching classes during the shorter semesters, both full-timers and part-timers are left to compete for the classes they wish to teach. The decline in class offerings during the short sessions has also affected full-timers who are left with fewer courses to teach.

Full-timers were scheduled to receive a 1 percent pay increase last year, but because the college district claimed a fiscal emergency, the raise has been deferred.

Though the guild has gone through previous economic downturns, Barrio-Sotillo and Saber both said that the current economic situation is one of the worst in the guild’s history.

“The closest we encountered to this was when Proposition 13 passed in 1978,” Barrio-Sotillo said. “We had people that lost their jobs. But since then, even the recession in the early ’90s, isn’t like this.”


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