City College faculty arrested in contract protest

City College of San Francisco faculty members were arrested Friday¬†while protesting, among other issues, the current direction of labor contract negotiations they’re embroiled in with the administration.

Dozens of educators were arrested in downtown San Francisco following a rally that ended with a sit-in that blocked the office door of Jeff Sloan, the chief negotiator for the college’s administration, according to the faculty’s union.

This comes on the heels of the faculty’s union, American Federation-Teachers 2121, announcing on Thursday that 92 percent of its members voted in favor of a strike if there is a failure in collective bargaining, which has been going on for more than a year.

Before the college’s faculty marched over to Sloan’s office, they were attending the convention of the California Federation of Teachers, an annual gathering of 600 union leaders and members, union officials said.

Other educators and labor supporters joined the faculty in the sit-in, which concluded with San Francisco police arresting the demonstrators at about 1:30 p.m.

California Federation of Teachers President Joshua Pechthalt said in a statement:

“Our action today … represents a statement by our members that California’s students – not only at City College (of San Francisco), but from preschool through university – deserve to be made a priority.”

Union officials said faculty at the two-year community college in San Francisco are being paid below levels in fiscal year 2007-08 after they took a voluntary pay cut.

Meanwhile, union officials said, the college is sitting on reserves that exceed 30 percent of the college budget. And the administrator salary budget reportedly leaped 29 percent overall during the past academic year.

The school also unveiled plans to shrink the college during contract negotiations, union officials said.

Malakia Finkelstein, an instructor who participated in today’s action, said in a statement:

“Our administration is planning to permanently downsize the college by enacted absurd across-the-board cuts even to high demand programs such as computer science.”

A spokesperson for the college was not immediately available for comment. Sloan was also not immediately available.

There has not been a date set for when a faculty strike may occur.

American Federation-Teachers 2121 president and instructor at the college, Tim Killikelly, said in a statement that educators would prefer not to go on strike:

“We would much rather be in the classroom. …¬†(But we were) willing to risk arrest today in order to defend the college that San Francisco deserves and we hope that drawing attention to our struggle with help our elected Board of Trustees come to their senses.”