Federation Asks District to Reopen Contract after May 2021 Revise
August 25, 2021 update to this story: During the last round of negotiations, the District refused to pass on the 2019/20 and 2020/21 COLAs. But, after many months at the table, the Federation negotiated into our contract a provision for a 2021/22 COLA, effective January 1, 2022. The 2021/22 state funded COLA is 5.07%, which is a combined and compounded 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 COLA. This COLA will be effective January 1, 2022. The Federation’s request to reopen the contract for the 2019/2020 COLA of 3.26% is still before the administration and BOT–we have not heard anything about their desire to reopen the contract to discuss the 2019/2020 COLA of 3.26%, which the district put in its reserves while our salaries lost ground to inflation. The District’s reserves are on track to grow from $28.5 million (2018/2019 actuals) to $46.8 million (2021/22 projected even after passing on the 5.07% COLA to all employees, not just faculty). Please get involved with the Federation so we can work together to address this problem.
At the May 17 Board of Trustees meeting, the Federation asked the District to reopen Article 10 in our Contract because of the improved budget conditions. We asked the District to pass on the planned state funded COLAs of 3.26% for 2020 and 2.31% for 2021. The 1.7% COLA for 2022, if funded, it is already in our contract.
The following provides some quick background for this ask: During the 2020-2022 Contract negotiations, the District contended that too much budget uncertainty prevented them from distributing state funded COLAs to its employees. When COVID hit, the District shifted to a narrative of budget cuts, deferrals, canceled apportionment payments, and even possible layoffs.
In the last eight months, the budget reality has changed dramatically. More than $85 million federal and state COVID-related dollars have flowed to El Camino to assist students (about half of that money) and the college during the pandemic.
At the state level, what was projected to be a budget deficit turned into a massive budget surplus. This surplus is now so great that the state outlined plans to fully fund the COLAs for 2020, 2021, and 2022. Deferrals too will be fully paid.
In light of the federal COVID assistance, improved state budget, and the District’s stated position at the bargaining table, we are asking the District to pass on the COLAs for 2020 and 2021. We believe, at a minimum, faculty deserve it and the District can comfortably afford the cost.
We are asking the Board of Trustees to support the reopening of Article 10 and the District to pass on the COLAs of 3.26% for 2020 and 2.31% for 2021 and would like to request your support on this petition to show our administrators and Board of Trustees that this is a serious and important issue for ECC faculty. See the email we’ve recently sent you.
We are currently in the early stages of gathering data on comparable community college districts that passed on state funded COLAs to their employees and have learned that our colleagues of the following community colleges received COLAs from their institutions: Cerritos College, Mt. San Antonio College, Los Angeles Mission College, Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles Valley College, Los Angeles Pierce College, Los Angeles Trade-Tech College, Los Angeles Southwest College, and Los Angeles Harbor College. Additionally, adjusting for cost of living, comparative salary data shows that over the course of our careers, El Camino College faculty rank as the 15th lowest paid in the California Community College system.
Furthermore, After adjusting for cost of living, faculty at ECC make the same amount as colleagues at Rio Hondo at the initial step, but our Rio Hondo colleagues make 12% more by step 13, and 13% more at the highest step. Colleagues at Long Beach City College make 24% more cost-of-living dollars at the initial step than we do! Faculty in the LA Community College system make 7% more than we do at the lowest step, and 20% more than we do at the highest step!
The state distributes COLA funds to employers with the recommendation that these state funds be passed on to their employees to keep up with rising costs of living. The work of El Camino College faculty, especially through this harrowing past year, has not gone unnoticed, and we are urging the District to pass on these funds, as prompted by the state, especially given the healthy budgetary outlook announced with the May budget revise. We also ask that you write to each trustee and request that they support the reopener. After seeing this data, it is evident that inaction cannot be an option. You may be interested in reading this CNBC article stating that prices have reached a 5% jump in a month.