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GCC budget realities create tension

Summer school agreement satisfies some faculty members, infuriates others.

May 23, 2011|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com

Glendale Community College officials last week may have been able to extract deep pay concessions from instructors in order to preserve a scaled-back summer session, but some faculty union members reacted to the outcome with indignation, with one calling the process a “big sham.”

The college Board of Trustees on Friday unanimously ratified an agreement with faculty members that cut pay by 40% to salvage the summer school session. The deal also included an agreement to credit the $500,000 saved by the pay cut toward any budget reductions to be absorbed by adjunct instructors next fiscal year.

The emergency negotiations kept students on edge for weeks, with a deal announced just days before the start of summer class registration. And faculty members sent a flurry of messages over their email system, cataloging their disdain for how the negotiations, and pay concessions, panned out.

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Some instructors chided their bargaining representatives for bending under pressure from the college and not taking the agreement to union members for a vote.

“This emergency negotiations process has been a big sham,” one professor said in an email sent to the entire membership. “It has damaged the credibility of the Board of Trustees, the administration and most of all, the guild. The negotiations were conducted using reprehensible tactics to achieve a rotten settlement that was ratified twice in an undemocratic fashion.”

Summer school is now scheduled to start June 20, but questions about how many summer school classes would be offered, and how much faculty members would be paid to teach them, hovered for months. Facing cuts of between $6.7 million and $10.7 million to its roughly $85-million budget in the coming year, the trustees considered canceling the intersession entirely.

“The issue we are experiencing at Glendale [Community] College is not particular to our college, it is a statewide issue.” said board President Anita Gabrielian. “The budget crisis and uncertainties have forced us into this situation.”

The delayed decision heightened tensions on campus. Students feared they would not have access to courses they needed to transfer or graduate, while faculty worried about lost work. Various constituent groups weighed in publicly at board meetings and via email.

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