College of the Canyons Faculty Association members have been picketing on the streets and attending district board of trustees meetings to spread the message that they want a fair contract. Donning neon green-shirts and holding signs, the faculty voiced their support of their bargaining team and of the need to pay faculty professional salaries.
COCFA and the College of the Canyons, located in Santa Clarita, have been negotiating without success. A state-appointed mediator is attempting to help the two sides come to agreement. COCFA President Wendy Brill-Wynkoop says the district can afford their proposal and for faculty, it’s about respect and equity.
“Growth in salary is not the only inequity we’re dealing with,” she noted. “The full-time faculty are doing more with less. The number of full-time faculty grew 33% in between 2007-2018 and yet the number of administrators in the same time period grew by 98%. Administrators do not provide our students the resources and opportunities they need to succeed. Faculty are the most important resource.”
COCFA President Vice President Nicole Faudree noted that the district’s general fund revenue has increased by 40 percent over the past 10 years, and the average administrative salary has increased by 15 percent. “In stark contrast, the average full-time faculty salary has decreased by 0.07 percent.” COCFA is asking for a 5.5 percent salary increase.
While dozens of faculty stood outside in the rain of the last COC board of trustees meeting, eleven faculty took to the podium to share the impact they have on students and to urge for a fair contract. Others told their story online. Locally, the COC Cougar News covered the picketing faculty.
Biology professor Jeannie Charie told trustees that “the inequity in our institutional system is severely eroding faculty morale and motivation,” adding that her last salary increase of $4 a day is not enough.
Many shared how the college’s “stellar reputation” is based on the college faculty, who have been key to several successful initiatives and projects, in addition to making a tremendous difference in the lives of many students. Experienced faculty also noted that they still struggle to afford living in the Santa Clarita Valley and are concerned young faculty members can’t afford to live in the community and raise a family locally.
Brill-Wynkoop says the goal of the union’s proposal is to attract and retain the best faculty. “We want a fair contract that honors the expertise on staff now, and brings the best and brightest to our campus,” she said. “And we’ll do what we need to achieve it.”