On October 1, the Federation bargaining team met with PCC administration expecting a counter-offer to our Sept. 20 proposal. (Background here.) Instead of a counter-offer though, the administration insisted that the resources just aren’t there for a meaningful Cost of Living Allowance (COLA). Though a bit closer now, our proposals still remain far apart, with the Federation suggesting a $40 million monetary package increase over two years and the College offering $17 million of increase.
In order to address the employees who are suffering the most with housing and other economic stressors, the administration verbally proposed restructuring steps by reducing the top 8 steps for Full Time Faculty and Academic Professionals (APs) and redistributing those wages toward employees on lower steps. Their proposal did not address part time faculty at all.
I guess the silver lining is that we all agree that those on lower steps are hurt disproportionately by the College’s failure to keep up with the cost of living in Portland. And for what it’s worth, the Sept. 20 Federation proposal included a significant COLA for everyone but especially those on the lower steps.
Under the administration’s proposed system, employees at the top steps could advance a step while seeing their salaries decrease. The Federation responded strongly and unequivocally that this would not be acceptable to our members.
Then the administration stated (falsely):
As a reminder, the cost of living in our region has increased by 18.3% since 2011 (source here), and during that time PCC’s Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) has increased by only 9.25%.
This is a good time to remind everyone that STEPS ARE NOT COLA. By design, our step system starts employees below market value, rewarding those who work at the college for a long time by bringing them up to market value at the top step – sometimes it takes 17 years to get there.
And while none of us are in this for the money, there is a trade-off involved. We might accept a lower salary because we believe in the mission and are passionate about students. We might like having union-negotiated paid time-off, job security, or some combination of those things. But to treat employee steps as COLA is a pure bait-and-switch.
Administration promised a written offer on Friday. We’d love to have a crowd there to send a strong message:
We demand a reasonable COLA.
Steps are not COLA.
Sign up to attend here.