Santa Ana College and Santiago Canyon College faculty gathered in front of the Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCD) office to demand fair pay and protest a raise given to RSCCD Chancellor Marvin Martinez on March 14.
Santa Ana College faculty member Steve Bautista expressed his frustrations with RSCCD.
“I feel very ashamed of the proposal that they put before us, ashamed of how they’re treating their faculty members in a time where we’re coming out of a pandemic … they are really just trying to diminish the work that we do,” Bautista said in an interview with the Voice of OC.
Martinez received a 16% pay raise with a continued 8% raise over the next two years. By comparison, faculty receive a 4% pay raise annually. Although their current union contract is set to expire by June 30, district officials have not taken further action. As of now, negotiations for fair pay have reached an impasse.
Faculty frustrations stem from the district’s unwillingness to provide a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). While their current contract grants all faculty a 4% pay raise per work year, the 2022-2023 COLA provided by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office currently stands at 5.3% and is projected to increase to about 6.1%.
COLA funding is essential in ensuring academic employees can afford rising costs of living and transportation expenses. The district’s generosity in regards to administrator salaries, but not faculty ones, has left faculty members feeling undervalued by RSCCD.
In addition, counselors’ work hours have been a point of contention within the union contract. According to RSCCD spokeswoman Letitia Clark, the district is negotiating for counselors’ student-focused work hours to be raised from 25 to 30 per week.
Under the current union contract, counselors have a 40-hour work week and work a total of 192 days per work year, while instructors work 175 days. 25 of those hours are assigned to student-focused activities, defined in the current union contract as “counseling activity in which counseling service is provided to a student or students, including instruction, workshops, individual or group counseling,” while 10 hours are allocated to prep work.
Counselors argue the proposed demands directly obstruct their supplemental obligations, as many of them use direct student hours to provide a variety of programs such as teaching courses or special projects. Under the projected contract, counselors would no longer be able to use that time to run their programs and would have to work overtime to maintain them.
A document detailing the number of work hours of counselors provided by the counseling dean of Santa Ana College shows that only one out of 16 counselors completed the 25-hour threshold. However, according to Clark, counselors of the district claim that this document is misleading since much of the work within these programs also involved direct student work. In a phone interview with Clark herself, she mentioned that a point of discussion between counselors and RSCCD is how to better document these hours for more accurate representations of work hours.
Clark further emphasized that as representatives of their union, Faculty of Association of Rancho Santiago School District counselors have been giving formal arguments within board meetings and have “done very peaceful protests in front of the district office during board meetings.”
While all faculty members play an integral role in cultivating student success in tertiary education, according to some academic employees, the controversies over pay percentages and work hours reveal a dissonance in how district officials perceive the value of different faculty positions.
Kane Hong is a City News Intern for the 2022 spring quarter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.