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Clark College faculty union votes to authorize strike


VANCOUVER (Dec. 9, 2019) — The Clark College Association for Higher Education, the union for full-time and part-time faculty at the Vancouver community college, voted unanimously on Saturday to authorize a strike. The union has been trying to negotiate a new contract for more than 14 months that makes faculty pay more competitive with other community colleges and nearby K-12 instructors.

Saturday’s vote authorizes the CCAHE Executive Board to call a strike, although no date has been set. The union hopes that college administrators will now return to the bargaining table with a fair contract offer.

“The hope is that they come back to the table and start negotiating,” CCAHE President Suzanne Southerland, a communication studies professor at the college, told OPR after Saturday’s vote. “That’s been our hope this entire time.”

“At this point we really need to change the relationship between administration and faculty,” she added. “And we’re hoping that this strike vote will result in a better relationship between us so that we’ll have smoother negotiations in the future and come to agreement on things we need at Clark College, like competitive pay.”

The CCAHE, an affiliate of the Washington Education Association, reports the “last, best and final offer” from Clark College administrators is insufficient:

The Clark College administration is exaggerating the size of its faculty pay proposal by taking credit for the state-funded cost-of-living adjustment approved by the Legislature, which should be essentially automatic. In reality, the administration is offering a retroactive 1 percent above inflation for 2018-19 and 4 percent above inflation for 2019-20, which is not enough to make Clark College competitive with surrounding K-12 school districts or the private sector. Their current offer is nowhere near what our WEA colleagues at other community colleges have negotiated. In addition, the College won’t consider our salary proposal for adjunct professors that would link the part-time salary schedule to the full-time salary schedule. Clark College faculty deserve better.

The salary for part-time faculty is a huge sticking point. We need to do more for a variety of reasons, one of which is the fact that at the low rate they are currently paid, a percentage increase doesn’t equate to anything meaningful. In other words, 5 or 10 percent added to substandard salary is still substandard salary.

In preparation for a possible strike, CCAHE has set up a GoFundMe strike fund. Make a contribution here.

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