VIDEO: South Seattle College faculty rally for raises

(WSB photos/video)

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:

District statement
Faculty/union statement

11 Replies to "VIDEO: South Seattle College faculty rally for raises"

  • raywest November 17, 2016 (2:58 pm)

    They definitely deserve a raise as does the administrative support staff. I looked into applying for a job at one of the three campuses (South, North, and Central) and they pay significantly less than what I make now for the same level of work. 

  • Riverview neighbor November 17, 2016 (4:03 pm)

    As a 12 year faculty member at South, I can verify that the 11.1% figure is not correct. Faculty have never seen more than a 3% increase in the last 8 years. 

  • Union member November 17, 2016 (6:23 pm)

    Riverview neighbor is mostly correct. The offer has never been 11%. Since February,  the offer has been 3% to full time faculty and 0% for part time faculty who are the majority of teachers.

    Also, faculty didn’t walk for just raises. They walked for the workload inequity and part time faculty to have ability to teach more classes.

    WSB, you need to investigate better. Don’t follow the Seattle Times which printed a misleading article based on false information from administrators.

    • WSB November 17, 2016 (6:59 pm)

      UM, we don’t get our information from other publications, and if the Times (or any other publication) has published something, I haven’t seen it. As attributed, that’s what the statement from the district said, as received in response to our inquiry. Here’s the full PDF. So what we published is correct – that **the district says** it’s offering that number. That’s all I can do is quote and attribute, as we did with the faculty spokesperson. – TR

      • Riverview Neighbor November 17, 2016 (8:19 pm)

        Thanks, WSB, for posting the additional information that clarifies statements from the Union rep and misleading statement by the District rep.  If faculty were offered an actual 11.1% raise, we’d accept it in a heartbeat. 

  • South Faculty November 17, 2016 (6:45 pm)

    Agreed, the 11.1% error is not true. In fact it is misleading.

    I am also faculty and attended the budget presentation this afternoon. The real offer is 3.3% increase. To get up to 11.1%, it seems they include a previously bargained 1.8% COLA that happened to start July 1 of this year (part of last year’s contract but just happened to kick in on the first day of this new contract round).

    They make up the rest of the 11.1% by hoping the state legislature will add another 6%. 

    So here’s the math: 3.3% (real) + 6% (mythical) + 1.8% (past). 

  • Union member November 17, 2016 (8:19 pm)

    TR, then if you followed what “the District said,” you reported one side of the story without checking thE facts with the other side. That’s not journalism. That’s being PR to one side of an issue. Do journalism right.

    • miws November 17, 2016 (9:12 pm)

      Union Member, What’s your problem?


  • South Faculty Member November 17, 2016 (8:40 pm)

    I just read the district’s press release and am pretty upset by their Trump-like use of facts.  They’re offering us an 11% raise?  Really?  That’s news to us!  

    As others have said, the reality is that they are only offering full-time faculty 3.3% raise and a 0% raise to part-time faculty.  They are also doing nothing about the inequalities in our system.

    Here are some statistics that we’d like the West Seattle community to know about:

    1) Since 2008, faculty at South Seattle College have not been given a raise while top administrative salaries have grown over 25%.

    2) Starting faculty salaries at South Seattle College are 15% below the national average for community college faculty in metropolitan areas.  Currently, our salary is so low that most faculty cannot afford to pay rent for a typical one bedroom apartment in West Seattle. 

    3) The Seattle Colleges district treats faculty unfairly. Currently some faculty teach 15 hours a week and others 18-25 for the same amount of pay. We are asking for equal pay for equal work. We are fighting for fairness.

    Our students (your children) pay good tuition money. Most people are under the impression that when tuition increases, that money goes to faculty salaries. In actuality faculty do not see that money; it goes to administrator pay and the administrative costs of running the college.

    South Seattle College faculty don’t take the walk-out lightly, but if it means improving the quality of education and services for our students we will make that sacrifice. 

  • Union Member November 18, 2016 (5:49 am)

    WB, Thank you for updating your story and posting the documents.

  • SSC Faculty Member November 18, 2016 (11:09 pm)

    If we had been offered an 11% increase, we wouldn’t have walked out yesterday.  On campus at the rally we were shocked to hear that number come out, and worse, it showed up in news outlets around town, painting a completely false picture of what is actually going on.  

    Here’s the reality:  I am 37-years old, single, tenured, and have a PhD.  I have to live with a roommate in order to afford to live in West Seattle, and even then my roommate and I are fortunate to have a landlord who hasn’t hiked our rent yet.  My take home pay is ~$3200/month when averaged over the year, while a one bedroom apartment is typically $1800/month.  While I am scraping by for now, it is hard to imagine a future here for myself.  Where will I be 20 years, 30 years from now?  I would like to have a family; how can I possibly afford that?  Will I be able to retire?  Reflecting on my future this way fills me with dread and ties my stomach in a knot.  I feel the threat of tears from despair.  The district sees us as just numbers, but for us, this is our life.  

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