For professors and educators who work with and invest in the students at Cypress College, Fullerton College, and NOCE, an invisible Line of Demarcation exists that impacts them and their families every day. On one side of that map line is a comparable wage and healthcare for your family; on the other side, there is neither. For professors who dedicate themselves to students in these institutions, it has become a bitter pill to swallow when a simple two-mile drive to an adjacent college would afford the benefits North Orange County Community College District (NOCCCD) management continues to deny to its staff.
In rallying and by declaring a ‘”Vote of No Confidence” in NOCCCD trustees during Tuesday night’s board meeting, members of United Faculty NOCCCD sent a clear message they will no longer accept the devaluing of their efforts by accepting substandard compensation for their outstanding work. That compensation must include a fair wage and health coverage for family members; a benefit that most other college districts already offer.
Standing together, over two hundred United Faculty members participated in the organizing activity, lining the streets around the NOCCCD office, holding signs and waving to cars as they drove by and honked to signify their support for United Faculty.
During the board meeting, current students joined graduates from NOCCCD institutions to speak passionately about the transformational impact of the professors of NOCCCD.
Lead negotiator Mohammad M. Abdel Haq made his team’s concerns plain; “Our faculty is very frustrated, our patience is running thin, and the overall morale is at risk. NOCCCD faculty expected the 2018/2019 negotiations to be completed by the end of 2019. We request that the district fulfill its promises to us and do so as soon as possible.”
Graduate student Laura Kraft summed up the frustrations of many; “When I found out that my professors do not have family healthcare coverage provided for most others and are paid among the lowest in Orange County, I was disgusted.”
United Faculty echos that frustration; these equity issues have gone unresolved at the table for years. Nearby community colleges have already settled their contracts using the state-allocated Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). United Faculty NOCCCD President Christie Diep explained; “While district managers may believe salary offers that do not cover the cost of living are merely temporary placeholders, our members will remember such offers as permanent insults.”
That insult is magnified by NOCCCD’s policy of hoarding over 100 million in reserves; money meant to educate citizens in these communities. Such behavior suggests trustees and managers do not understand their fiduciary role and have defaulted to operating as a savings bank. At the stated required rate of 3% of revenue, the current reserve should be a fraction of what the district has amassed.
United Faculty’s enthusiastic participation in the rally and board meeting illustrated the depth of support members have for their bargaining team and the issues they have highlighted. It also serves as a warning to intransigent managers whose lack of attention to these matters of equity and fairness has only made them worse.