City College faculty strikes over pay

City College of San Francisco faculty members went on strike Wednesday morning for the first time in their union’s history to protest the administration’s salary offer to teachers, a union official said.

The one-day strike started Wednesday morning at several City College campuses around San Francisco, including the main Ocean campus.

American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 president Tim Killikelly said pay is currently 3.5 percent below 2007 levels. Meanwhile, the cost of living has skyrocketed in San Francisco:

“The college is at this crossroads.”

City College plans to cut the number of classes by 26 percent over six years, while the faculty want to grow enrollment to the level it was before an accreditation crisis that sent the school into turmoil.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges nearly revoked the college’s accreditation in 2013, citing issues with the school’s governance structure and its financial accountability. The revocation would have forced the school to close.

About 20,000 fewer students are enrolled at City College’s 11 campuses since the crisis.

College spokesman Jeff Hamilton said that is the reason for the cuts in the number of classes. The current schedule is for 90,000 students and the college needs to move a class offering to match enrollment of 70,000 students.

Hamilton said:

“It’s an ugly fact.”

A statement from Chancellor Susan Lamb said college administrators are offering a 7.19 percent increase in annual pay, with bonuses of 2.68 percent each year for two years.

Hamilton said faculty are requesting a 18.19 percent increase, which City College officials believe would bankrupt the college in three years.

Both Killikelly and Hamilton said Wednesday’s picket lines have been peaceful. College police have been monitoring the picket lines, according to the chancellor’s office.

California Federation of Teachers spokesman Fred Glass said:

“Picket lines are peaceful and spirited.”

Hamilton said college officials appreciate the peacefulness of the strike.

The statement by the chancellor’s office said though that the strike is illegal because it is during the negotiation’s fact-finding process. Union officials said they went on strike because of unfair bargaining practices by City College officials.

Killikelly said the union called the strike because college officials have allowed themselves to be influenced by the accrediting commission during contract negotiations, which he said is illegal.

College officials said they are disappointed the strike occurred Wednesday because it is the first day of registration for classes.

Students with disabilities, veterans, foster youth and Extended Opportunity Programs & Services students can register Wednesday. The EOPS program helps low-income and at-risk students.

All classes were canceled Wednesday and all campuses are closed and the doors are locked. About 250 people walked the picket line outside the main campus on Phelan Avenue.

Glass said:

“Even in the rain, people are out.”

After a rally at noon at the college’s Civic Center campus, picketing was expected to continue this afternoon, Glass said.