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News: Update on PACCD Negotiations with Faculty Union

Pasadena City College continues to negotiate with the Pasadena City College Faculty Association in order to reach a successor agreement to the collective bargaining agreement that expired June 30, 2012. The Pasadena Area Community College District reports it has made significant movement in an attempt to bring the parties closer together. The district’s goal is to contain costs in light of severe state budget cuts so that PCC can increase the number of seats available to students.

The district has now released an updated report of its current offer to the PCCFA. In addition to the previously reported increased salary and benefits the district has offered to the PCCFA, the district has offered to add at least 277 sections to summer session. This is the same number of class sections that was offered in the winter intersession of 2012.

The college’s FY2012-2013 budget, adopted by the PACCD Board of Trustees on Sept. 5, 2012, included the state’s drastic funding cut of nearly $7 million. This cut and other factors forced the college to eliminate the extra classes in the winter intersession. This was one important reason why the board adopted a new student calendar that will begin the spring semester on Jan. 7, so that all current students can have access to classes and instruction and continue progress to graduation. 

“There has been a misunderstanding by some that saving the old winter intersession in the calendar would save the classes,” said Dr. Mark Rocha, PCC superintendent-president. “Unfortunately that was not the case. PCC was forced to join many other community colleges, including Santa Monica College, in cancelling their winter session classes.”

PCC’s decision to return to the traditional three-term calendar it had prior to 2004 will aid student success because all 25,000 students will be able to have the benefit of continuous instruction. Since the winter session calendar was introduced in 2004 during a time of state budget increases in a robust economy, PCC student success outcomes as reported in the Accountability Report of Community Colleges have declined or not improved, especially for the college’s most at-risk basic skills students.

The college has taken vigorous actions to ensure that no current student will have their progress to graduation delayed by the calendar change.

Even though the district has no funds in the budget to add sections for summer 2013, it has offered to the PCCFA to add summer sections in order to increase seats for students and in return for ending its opposition to the calendar change. “Faculty teach all the classes whenever they are scheduled,” Rocha noted. “After six months of negotiations it is time for us to come to agreement and move forward as partners.”

The district’s current offer to the PCCFA will expire on Nov. 5, 2012, the day before the election and the vote on Proposition 30. The reason for this deadline is that the district has already assumed passage of Proposition 30 into its offer. Proposition 30 will restore the cuts already made, but the funds are a promise – essentially an IOU from the state to pay the $7 million cut in June of 2013. This is why at its last board meeting of Oct. 7, 2012, the trustees authorized the college to borrow up to $10 million against previous state payment deferrals and the promised Proposition 30 revenue. Thus, the district planned its budget and developed its contract offer to the PCCFA on a “best-case scenario” to encourage the faculty union to come to agreement.

If the district and the PCCFA reach an agreement by Nov. 5, but Proposition 30 does not pass, the district will nonetheless abide by its current offer to the PCCFA.

“A long term agreement sooner rather than later has many benefits to faculty, staff, and students that go beyond dollars,” Rocha pointed out. “The sooner we agree, the sooner we can convert our time and energy to planning our future and working together to expand other sources of revenue.”

Recent polls indicate that Proposition 30 is not a cinch to pass. The district strongly supports Proposition 30 and the board and administration have been working for its passage. The reality is that if Proposition 30 does not pass, the budget consequences for all community colleges will be severe. The district will be unable to continue its current offer of increased salary and benefits should Proposition 30 fail.

Gail Cooper, general counsel to the district and a member of the district’s negotiating team, along with Bruce Barsook of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, point out that there is no advantage for either party to delay beyond the deadline.

“An agreement with the PCCFA by Nov. 5 will enable the district to lock in the benefits to all district employees of our current offer regardless of what happens with Proposition 30,” Cooper explained.

The district’s annual operating budget has been reduced by nearly $20 million over the past four years by the State of California. 

Despite this, the district’s offer includes a salary increase, the guaranteed continuation of 100 percent paid health and fringe benefits, a retirement incentive payment of 75 percent of an employee’s final base pay and the continuation of the overload (overtime pay) entitlement for all full-time faculty. In return the district has requested reasonable cost-savings measures that have been implemented at many other districts. These measures include a modest increase in class size so that up to 26,751 more seats can be created for PCC students while still containing costs. The PCCFA’s initial counteroffer requested an additional $7.3 million in salary and benefits, plus the cost of the retirement incentive, with no proposed cost savings and not a single added seat for students. 

The district’s current adopted budget shows that 90 percent of its operating expenses are spent on employee salaries and benefits, well above the state average of about 85 percent. The level of PCC’s salary and benefits is nearing the 92 percent level of City College of San Francisco. CCSF was recently declared financially insolvent by an independent audit and may lose its accreditation. The district’s offer to the PCCFA is balanced by maintaining and even increasing compensation to all employees while proposing realistic and reasonable cost-savings measures that restructure costs over the long term to preserve the district’s financial stability.

“We ask our colleagues in the PCCFA to fully consider in good faith the District proposal prior to the board’s deadline of Nov. 5,” said Geoffrey Baum, President of the PACCD Board of Trustees. Baum is also a member of the Board of Governors of the California Community College System and has a bird’s-eye view of what is going on in all California community colleges. “I can report that the district’s offer to its faculty is one of the best in the entire state. Many districts including some nearby have faced layoffs, program eliminations and salary and benefit cuts. Our board is proud of our financial stability and our ability to offer a contract that does right by our faculty—and all PCC employees.”

To date, the PCCFA has rejected most of the District’s offers, including all of the proposed cost savings.

The last negotiation meeting occurred on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012. Rocha attended and informed the PCCFA that the district had cleared its schedule for ‘round the clock negotiations through the Nov. 5 deadline. The PCCFA responded by informing the district it was unavailable for another meeting until Friday, Oct. 26, 2012.

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Release Date: 10/22/2012
Contact: Juan F. Gutierrez , Director, Public Relations
Phone: (626) 585-7315
Email: jfgutierrez@pasadena.edu