A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

Board votes to reopen AFA negotiations

Kevin Johnson
Faculty members voice concern in chalk over the salary negotiations with the District.

The Mahoney Library reading room at the Santa Rosa Junior College Petaluma campus reached full occupancy for the Board of Trustees meeting Feb.13 as the board voted to partially reopen contract negotiations between the All-Faculty Association (AFA) and the district, ending the impasse and signaling a move forward in the state mediation process.

Although the board did not reopen all articles in the faculty contract negotiations, they did approve to return to negotiation over some, including pay, benefits and disciplinary procedures.

The proposals are available for public inspection and the next step is to schedule a public hearing at the regular Board meeting on March 13.

Faculty members fighting to protect the Rank 10 method brandished picket-signs at the meeting, which read, “Administration 9 percent raise. Faculty 3 percent cut. You do the math!” and referred to the board’s recent vote to raise management salaries while proposing pay cuts to faculty members.

The dispute centers on the district’s plan to abandon the long-upheld faculty determination schedule, Rank 10, which aims to pay SRJC faculty members at the level of the tenth highest paying community college in California.

Julie Thompson, AFA chief negotiator and English instructor, read a statement before the board that argued Rank 10 was not the cause of the district’s budget woes.

“We will show that the district’s narrative is based on including the data that supports Vice President Roberts’ long-held goal of eliminating Rank 10 and excluding the data that clearly demonstrates that faculty salaries are not in fact responsible for the district’s budget problems,” Thompson said.

“The last several years worth of board agendas show the creation of one new position after another. It is this growth and the intended increased costs which weighs so heavily on the district’s finances, not Rank 10.”

Thompson said that while Rank 10 has proven to be “an effective tool for determining faculty salaries,” the AFA will continue to work with the district during the ongoing mediation process.

Karen Frindell Teuscher, AFA president and physical sciences instructor, argued against the notion that Rank 10 is unsustainable and used a graph to show what portion of the district’s budget goes to faculty salaries compared to other districts across the state.

According to Teuscher, the portion of unrestricted general funds that go to faculty compensation ranged from 55 percent at the high end to 30 percent at the low end across the California community college system. SRJC sits at 47.7 percent, slightly below the state average of 48.2 percent.

Mark Ferguson, AFA grievance officer, displayed a graph showing the percentage of the district’s unrestricted fund that goes to faculty compensation and how that percentage has steadily declined over the past decade to move below the state average.

Ferguson said he had been excited to begin teaching at SRJC in 2012 after teaching in Oregon, where Rank 10 is not implemented. “I had to fight year after year after year to keep up with the cost of living. It was miserable,” Ferguson said. “There were a lot of broken relationships.”

“I was so thrilled to learn I wasn’t going to have to do that here. Now it’s happening all over again and it’s heartbreaking.”

Employee of the month Guadalupe Quiroz, Testing Specialist in the department of Student Success & Assessment Services in Petaluma was also recognized at the meeting. Quiroz, who is a SRJC alumna herself, immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 1999 at the age of 13. She first began working for the SRJC in 2006 as a member of the ESL department.

“For the past eleven years it has been a pleasure to work with this college community,” Quiroz said. “I appreciate this acknowledgement and I consider it an inspiration for me. You have my gratitude, my appreciation, and my respect and my promise to continue the work of SRJC’s mission to success.”

At the meeting, Victor Tam, dean of science, technology, engineering & mathematics (STEM) and applied technology at SRJC, also announced to the Board that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded SRJC a $650,000 grant for scholarships in STEM. The grant is intended to provide financial support to low-income academically-talented students pursuing STEM degrees.

“This grant is the result of hard work from faculty across multiple STEM disciplines” Tam said.

The board approved a recommendation from the Curriculum Review Committee that included the revision of 95 existing courses, the addition or reinstatement of 28 courses and the discontinuation of six courses for the upcoming fall semester. It also added Public Health Science as an Associate in Science for Transfer degree starting Fall 2018.


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