1:29 PM: Faculty members at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) and other schools in the Seattle Colleges District are rallying today on the eve of mediation in their contract talks. Main sticking point is money – the faculty have received only what their union calls “sporadic and small” cost-of-living increases in recent years.
We asked faculty member Tish Lopez to summarize what faculty members are seeking:
Lopez also says, “Currently, our salary is so low that most faculty cannot afford to pay rent for a typical one bedroom apartment in West Seattle,” adding that administrative salaries have grown while faculty salaries have not, and that they hope this walkout as well as similar actions at Seattle Central and North Seattle Colleges “will help to move administration to reconsider the asks from the union and that continued denial to do so” will be seen “as an attack on the quality of education provided and insulting to those who provide it.”
In a prepared statement, a district spokesperson acknowledges that the pay isn’t what it should be, and says the problem is that:
Community colleges in Seattle, Olympia, and the Tri-Cities all receive the same base funding per student. The funding formula does not account for our region’s high operating costs or the differences in cost of living. This is having a direct effect on the student experience and limits our ability to adjust wages. Our employees are doing similar work as other state employees across the state, yet they are denied an opportunity to have the same quality of life. A regional pay structure, like those instituted for the highway patrol and Washington State Department of Transportation, could provide the necessary relief. In essence, we believe that a state system that funds colleges at the same amount is inadequate for high-cost urban areas, such as Seattle.
The two sides have been talking for more than half a year; Seattle Colleges says its most recent offer includes “increases of at least 11.1 percent for full-time faculty and 7.8 percent for part-time faculty over the three years of the contract (July 2016 through June 2019).”
8:01 PM: Commenters describing themselves as faculty members take issue with the district statement about what it’s offering, as quoted above. Here’s the district statement, along with a statement we received from a faculty/union rep who e-mailed us about today’s rally, from which we also quoted: