2021 Reopener Update #7

On Friday morning July 16, the joint FFAP/FCE bargaining team convened for what we hoped would be a productive bargaining session. But the administration team didn’t show up. We waited for two hours, staring at a screen that said, “Waiting for the host to join” as the administration team repeatedly called and texted individual members of our team demanding that we abide by ground rules we never agreed to. To say it was frustrating would be an understatement.

Prior to the meeting, we sent administration a proposal that included:

  • 3.7% COLA in 2021-22 and 2022-23 
  • $200 per month lump sum payments through June, 2021 (retroactive to April, 2020—a total of $3,000 for employees who worked every month of the pandemic)

We also had our first in-person, indoor solidarity event! A fantastic group of about 20 members came out to the AFT-OR offices to support the bargaining team. Two of us (Frank and Michelle) were in attendance at the solidarity event, and the plan was to provide real-time updates on bargaining and involve them in caucus discussions and strategizing. 

You can read the run-down of how events unfolded in this Twitter thread. Basically, administration demanded that we provide assurances that no one other than bargaining team members were in the meeting. Since they have repeatedly torpedoed the ground rules discussion (where the rules around observers would have been set), we’re under no obligation to provide such assurances, any more than we can demand that no one be present in their homes or offices during online bargaining meetings. 

Eventually it became clear that administration was not going to show up to their own meeting, and we believe this is grounds for another Unfair Labor Practice complaint (ULP), as it is against the law for a public employer to refuse to bargain collectively in good faith. When we notified them of our intention to file a ULP, they responded with “To be clear, the college did not refuse to bargain today” — a truly bewildering statement after an entire morning of them refusing to join the google meet that they set up and insisted we use for bargaining! 

So what comes next?

We think it is possible that administration will respond to our offer via email. If that’s the case, we’ll let them know that we look forward to further discussing it at the next bargaining meeting. We’ll continue to push for observers, but administration has made it clear that they are willing to grind negotiations to a halt in order to prevent members from seeing their attempts to cut our COLAs. And we know the most important thing to our members is protecting the COLAs we negotiated in 2019. 

We have to step up the pressure. Here is our plan, and how you can help:

  • Show your union support online! We’re asking every union member to download and use the Zoom/Google Meet backgrounds or add a solidarity message to your email signature. 
  • We will continue to live-Tweet bargaining sessions. Follow along and share your union support with your social media followers. Use the hashtag #NoCutsToCOLA
  • SAVE THE DATE for the next PCC Board of Directors meeting, August 19 at 6:00 p.m. We need to let the Board know that our members reject closed-door bargaining. 

We hope to have the next bargaining meetings scheduled soon and we will update members with more information when we have it. Thanks for your continued support – our solidarity is our greatest asset at the bargaining table!

2021 Reopener Update #6

We were pleased to see some movement in yesterday’s (July 8) bargaining session, with both sides inching closer to a deal. You can read the play-by-play on PCCFFAP’s twitter thread. Here is a summary:

Administration continues to be very concerned about enrollment declines, and doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge 1) the cost savings of facility closures, a hiring freeze, and cancelled sections, 2) the $54 million in federal relief money the college has received, or 3) the extra $21 million in unanticipated state funding the college will receive for the 2021-23 biennium. They want us to believe there is no money to honor their COLA (cost of living adjustment) commitments. Their first offer yesterday was:

  • 1.825% COLAs in 2021-22 and 2022-23 (an increase from their original offer of 1%, but not the 2.5% of salary that we bargained for in 2019.) 

Citing the 4.7% increase in the consumer price index, on top of the multiple challenges of the past year, PCCFFAP countered with:

  • 4% COLAs in 2021-22 and 2022-23, plus a lump sum payment of $200 per month through June, 2021, retroactive to April, 2020. (This would amount to roughly $3,600 per employee). 

The lump sum payment addresses administration’s oft-stated concern about federal relief money being one-time only. We get it. But we also think some of that relief should be passed along to employees who have kept providing services to students through a pandemic, social unrest and racial justice protests, and a climate crisis that has led to multiple hardships for members, from wildfires to ice storms to an historic heat wave. 

At the end of the meeting, administration presented a verbal offer of 1.825% COLAS, plus 0.675%/year in a lump sum payment. This gets us to 2.5%, but only 1.825% of that would be permanent. So, progress, but obviously we can’t accept what is essentially a cut to our COLAs. 

The meeting ended on a sour note as FFAP offered to set up the next meeting and administration staunchly refused, because they don’t want observers at the meetings. They stated,  “We are not going to continue having a conversation about observers.”

It’s very telling how administration doesn’t want observers. It’s almost like they know that their argument for cutting COLAs would not go over well with our members!

Remember to save the date for our in-person solidarity event next week – July 16 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (venue and other details TBA)

2021 Reopener Update #5

Thanks to the 100+ members who showed up for yesterday’s pre-bargaining rally and bargaining session! Sadly, the strong support for the FFAP/FCE bargaining team seems to have spooked the administration team, who were no-shows to the actual 1pm zoom bargaining session.

We had a feeling this would happen, as the administration team has repeatedly objected to the presence of (silent, off-camera, chat-disabled) observers because it would be too “disruptive.” It seems like the only place they are willing to make the case for cutting COLAs is behind closed doors.

As frustrating as it is to have bargaining proceed at this glacial pace, we are confident the momentum is with us, particularly due to your support. To keep the process moving, members of the bargaining team met with administration briefly and secured additional bargaining dates in July. Who knows, maybe they’ll even give us a proposal!

Stay tuned for more information about observing—we remain hopeful they’ll come around and make their nonsensical case for COLA cuts directly to you, the members—because sunlight is the best disinfectant!

Of course, the Federations are staying open to any communications from administration regarding changes in their position on cutting COLAs in the first place.

Want to help spread our message? Don’t forget to download and proudly display our new virtual backgrounds: “No Cuts To COLA!” and “Solidarity Forever.”