COC adjunct faculty announces plans to strike during finals week

College of the Canyons

The union of approximately 3,000 members that represents College of the Canyons’ adjunct faculty announced plans to strike Monday, the first day of finals, according to the union’s vice president, Aaron Silverman.  

In response to the move, Eric Harnish, spokesman for COC, noted the college considers its negotiations with the adjunct faculty union complete as of the Santa Clarita Community College District’s “last, best and final offer” from the board, which was authorized at its Nov. 9 meeting. 

The union is seeking a 6% salary increase for the first year of the negotiating term, and a 6% increase for the second year.  

The college’s final offer included no raise for the first year of the term and a 5.26% raise for the second year of the term. 

A graphic posted Nov. 14 on Instagram by the professors’ union, AFT 6262, shows a woman sitting in a chair and holding a cup of coffee with the words, “When we’re on strike just do nothing.”  

The text below the graphic calls on all adjunct faculty members to support the union board’s decision, adding, “Never could doing so little accomplish so much.” 

The college’s response did not offer much promise for a potential salary increase for the terms in question. 

“Our focus right now is on minimizing any disruption to student learning, so we’ve reached out to students and asked them to let us know if they have heard from an instructor about their class being canceled,” Harnish said Friday afternoon. 

While the union provided the college with slightly more than the legally required 72 hours of notice, according to Silverman, Harnish said that individual professors aren’t required to notify the college as to whether they’re participating in the strike.  

There are currently 218 full-time faculty members at the college and 493 part-time professors who are assigned to teach this semester, according to the college. 

After COC was formally notified Thursday of the decision by the union’s governing board, an email from the college’s vice president of instruction went out asking students to reach out to the college directly at [email protected]. The college wants to know if students have heard from their instructor about class being canceled so it can arrange a substitute, he added. 

“Well, I don’t think it’s an ideal situation for anybody. We’ve heard from students who are concerned about how this could impact their grades,” Harnish added. “Again, by working to find substitutes, our goal is to make sure that students can finish their classes, get grades in those classes and continue working toward achieving their educational goals.” 

Silverman, an adjunct history professor who’s taught at the college for nine years, and has been involved in the negotiation process since 2018, said the district has been exhibiting “bad faith bargaining” throughout the process. 

Members of the adjunct faculty union voted to authorize the ability for the union to strike in October, but Silverman said the union board wanted to give the district time to offer the union something above the 0%, which has been the district’s position since the beginning of negotiations. 

“We understand the severity of the move, but at the same time, we delayed as long as possible because we wanted to give the district as big of an opportunity as possible to come back to the table,” he said, “because we are actually quite reasonable and we just simply can’t accept zero.” 

Harnish said the strike will not lead to any compensation changes for the two-year contract under negotiation, adding the board is already looking ahead to the next terms.  

“Looking ahead, the district has reached out to AFT,” Harnish added, “looking forward to starting productive negotiations regarding total compensation and other contract elements for the 2022-23 fiscal year.” 

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