Join AFT Yakima Faculty at May 11 press conference, board meeting to protest program closures, layoffs
The following is from AFT Yakima Faculty, Local 1485:
YAKIMA (May 10, 2023) — Fed up with the actions of an increasingly unaccountable administration, AFT Yakima Faculty, Local 1485, held a vote of confidence in the college’s president, Dr. Linda Kaminski. The vote follows several years of the administration’s anti-transparent actions, including lack of transparency in policies regarding faculty hiring and tenure, concerns from faculty and staff who were unable to have their harassment claims investigated or tracked, closure of essential programs, and a general lack of communication and transparency between Yakima Valley College’s administration and the college community of students, staff, and faculty.
The American Federation of Teachers faculty union, which represents roughly 300 full- and part-time faculty at Yakima Valley College, is holding a press conference Thursday, May 11 at 12:30 p.m. to announce the results of the vote and speak about the issues which led to it being held.
TAKE A STAND — AFT Yakima Faculty is asking students, union members and community supporters to come to the press conference on the northeast corner of 16th Ave and Nob Hill at 12:30 PM on Thursday, May 11. The union is also asking those interested to attend the Board of Trustees meeting later Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. in Room 122 of the West Campus Conference Center (building 38) on the Yakima Valley College campus.
At a meeting of the union membership, on April 12, a vote of confidence was held on Dr. Kaminski’s leadership. After the final tally, 88% of the membership in attendance voted that they had “no confidence” in Dr. Kaminski’s leadership of the college. No members voted “confidence” in Dr. Kaminski’s leadership, and 12% abstained from voting.
“We didn’t want to do this, but all of our other efforts have failed,” said Rachel Dorn, AFT-Yakima Faculty president, “We have been trying to reach out to the school leadership and the Board of Trustees about our concerns for over a year, but there has been very little dialogue and we get the impression that leadership is not taking these concerns seriously.”
Throughout the year, AFT-Y has been bringing attention to issues ranging from a lack of policies around promotion and hiring, to concerns over the college’s failure to follow policies related to reporting and investigation of harassment and retaliation.
“We’ve lost valuable members of our YVC community due to the college administration’s inability to follow or enforce these basic policies,” said Steve Rodrigue, Physics and Engineering Instructor at YVC.
Most recently, the YVC community has been upset by the sudden closure of the Bachelors of Applied Science in Teacher Education (BAS-TE) program, whose graduates are helping to fill in the shortage of K-12 teachers in the region. After finding out about the proposed closure and the layoff of a beloved faculty member, students, faculty, and community members attended the March Board meeting in an attempt to prevent the Trustees from voting for the closure, which faculty say was unwarranted and contrary to the needs of the program and its students. The Trustees approved of the closure and layoffs before hearing from students and supporters.
“The Yakima Valley needs this program and it needs quality instructors.” said Julie Schillreff, Education Instructor at YVC.
At the May 11 Board of Trustees meeting, the faculty union is asking the public to come and support the seven full-time instructors whose contracts were non-renewed at the board meeting in March. The college did not follow the contractual process for non-renewal of Special Faculty faculty, claiming, instead, that the faculty who were non-renewed were designated as “temporary,” a category of faculty that is not defined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
AFT-Y has filed grievances protesting the closure of the BAS-TE program and the non-renewal process for the impacted faculty.
“Through anti-transparent hiring processes and her [Dr. Kaminski’s] influence on the makeup of the Board of Trustees, she has created a college structure and culture that does not allow for shared governance,” said Vicente Lopez, faculty counselor at YVC.
Liz DeVilleneuve, another faculty counselor, said, “The college speaks about diversity, equity and inclusion but doesn’t follow through in its actions. Harassment and retaliation are not seriously addressed, and the Board does not hold the president accountable.”
In the wake of accusations of retaliation from staff and administrators, YVC employees at all levels feel that speaking out puts their jobs at risk.
“It’s the culture of intimidation and fear, the perception that if you speak out you risk being retaliated against and possibly losing your job,” said Shannon Hopkins, English Instructor at YVC.
“Faculty, via tenure and via their union, are the YVC employees best positioned to bring these concerns to light, because it is harder to retaliate against us for speaking up for the good of our students and the college,” said Tim Jeske, Political Science Instructor at YVC.