The following is from AFT Washington:
OLYMPIA (Jan. 27, 2021) — AFT Washington testified against Gov. Inslee’s budget during the first week of session because it called for faculty and staff furloughs, wage freezes and cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) suspension at Washington’s Community and Technical Colleges. Now a bill is being heard on Thursday in the Senate Ways and Means Committee to formalize those cuts.
AFT Washington urges all union members and community supporters to tell the Senate: “No cuts to public higher education!”
AFT locals are still reeling from the layoffs and other budget cuts made at their colleges this fall. Students’ needs are greater than ever. At the same time, the economic picture is not as bleak as it was earlier this year, and billionaires and large corporations are amassing staggering wealth. And yet, the Senate Ways and Means Committee is hearing SB 5323 on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 4 p.m. that would call for 24 mandatory furlough days for employees of higher education institutions and suspend the academic employee and classified staff COLA for the next two years. Essentially, the Senate wants to balance their budget on the backs of community and technical college employees and students.
(NOTE: The Washington Education Association is also opposed to SB 5323.)
TAKE A STAND — Please send in written comments before Thursday at 4 p.m. to the Senate Ways and Means Committee with a clear message: our colleges are already struggling, now is NOT the time for more cuts. Click here to submit your comments, and make sure you indicate your position is “CON” on SB 5323. Below is a template message, but please personalize it with your own thoughts and comments:
This fall, Washington’s Community and Technical Colleges’ budgets were strained to breaking by COVID impacts on enrollment and increased costs. In response, colleges laid off record numbers of faculty, student-facing staff, and other staff who keep our institutions running and provide direct student support. Budget reductions at colleges have led colleges to close programs permanently, cut student support, and cancel classes.
We are opposed to Senate Bill 5323. This bill represents a cut to the base budget of higher education institutions, which are already reeling from COVID-19 impacts. Furloughs for faculty mean fewer instruction days, threatening accreditation of programs and directly impacting students due to literally less access to their instructors. Keeping faculty and staff wages flat for two more years means cuts in colleges’ ability to recruit and retain qualified educators, creating long-term impacts for students in our colleges.
At the end of the day, students – especially the first generation, BIPOC, and other marginalized students who make up large percentages of CTC students – will be bearing the impact of these cuts. Research from the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges’ counselor taskforce, which reported their findings just last week to this legislature, as well as students’, faculty’s, and staff’s extensive experiences this year show us the same urgent picture: student needs, from academic to technology to career counseling to mental health, are greater than ever.
Community and Technical college students will feel the impacts of COVID-related cuts for a long time. The state used these austerity tactics in 2009. The impacts of those measures have been well documented, and are still felt today. Do not balance the state’s budget on the backs of low-income and students of color.
For more information about this effort, email Carolyn Brotherton of AFT Washington.
AFT Washington is a state federation affiliated with the 1.6 million American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. It represents about 6,500 members including faculty from community and technical colleges and pre-K through 12 classified employees. It also jointly represent professors at Eastern, Central, and Western Washington universities and The Evergreen College with the Washington Education Association. Learn more at wa.aft.org.