By Erik Luna
After a four-month-long negotiation between management in the Los Angeles Community College District, the American Federation of Teachers Local 1521 Los Angeles College Faculty Guild was able to obtain a three-percent raise for full-time and adjunct faculty.
This will be the first raise faculty members in the LACCD will receive since 2008, which was less than one percent.
Faculty members will retroactively be paid starting from July 1 and will come out in their paychecks during the September paydays.
“It was a difficult negotiation (process). We tried to get this resolved by July 1, but we couldn’t because we had to wait for the two new board members to come on board,” Chapter President for East Los Angeles College and the Chief Negotiator for the guild Armida Ornelas said.
In addition of former ELAC President Ernest Moreno and Assemblyman Mike Eng to the LACCD Board of Trustees in mid-March, negotiations between the district and the guild were delayed by two months.
The guild is in charge of making sure that faculty in the nine LACCD campuses have a good work environment, that their wages are being met and if they are up-to-date with the changes in their health benefits.
The raise is the first step in a four-to-five year plan of the guild, with the end result being an 11 percent raise.
“One of the reasons we went for this raise was not only because the economy was getting better, but our salaries (compare to) other districts in the state,” Ornelas said during a faculty meeting in the F7 building.
“We measured it six-years later, 10 years later, 20 years later or when we’re getting ready to retire – our salaries were at least at the bottom third or bottom fourth quartile in comparison statewide.” Ornelas said.
Vice President of the Academic Senate Jeffrey Hernandez said that he didn’t know what to expect from the LACCD Board of Trustees. He heard there were other districts that were giving raises in the previous years and that they were considering a higher raise this year.
“The raise and the plan for additional raises helps ensure ELAC is successful in hiring new faculty and that supports the goals of the Academic Senate,” Hernandez said.
“We all owe a big debt to the hard work of our AFT leadership in negotiating the raise and building support for raises in future years. It is not easy for the district to manage these expenses with so many colleges relying on their balance (like ELAC) or running a deficit.” Hernandez said.
According to Hernandez, if the district does not implement the additional raises, the nine campuses in the LACCD would be in danger of having the lowest paid faculty members in the state, which would make it harder for colleges in the district to recruit the best faculty for students.
“Our contract has a salary reopener. Every year we negotiate our salary with the district for the following year,” Ornelas said. “However, given the recession of the past five years, it hasn’t been an ideal time for anyone to get raises.”
According to Ornelas, the faculty had to make sacrifices to what was the bare essentials. “Even before, when the district had money it was all going to construction for more classrooms for the students. That has always been the main priority,” Ornelas said.