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Clark College faculty set strike date

Additional bargaining day set for Saturday

By , Columbian Education Reporter
Published:

Clark College faculty will strike Jan. 13 if their union and college administrators fail to reach a tentative contract agreement.

The Association for Higher Education announced Thursday that if a deal is not struck by 5 p.m. Jan. 10, members will begin striking the following Monday morning. A news release from the union notes that week is when four Clark College presidential candidates will begin visiting the campus for interviews and public forums.

The association is advocating for increased faculty salaries, including more equitable wages between full-time professors and part-time instructors. The average salary for full-time professors at Clark College was about $63,970 during the 2017-2018 fiscal year, the latest available data from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. That’s slightly ahead of the state average of $62,095.12.

Part-time faculty, who are paid by the course, saw pay rates slightly below the state average. Adjuncts made $3,565.33 for a single, five-credit lecture class taught over the course of an academic quarter, while the state average was $3,680.98.

Clark College’s latest offer would give faculty a 1 percent raise in back pay for the 2018-2019 school year, and a 4 percent salary increase to full-time faculty for the 2019-2020 school year. Part-time faculty salaries would be tied at a percentage of full-time faculty salaries, increasing over the next five years.

An alternative proposal would give part-time faculty a 6 percent salary increase in 2019-2020.

Union President Suzanne Southerland said last week that the college’s parity proposal takes too long to implement. The union said Thursday that the college did not respond to its latest proposal.

“After we waited all day, the college administration had nothing new to offer,” Southerland said in a news release. “That was disappointing. The students and faculty of Clark College deserve better.”

The union and college have been in negotiations for 15 months.

“Proposals from the interim college president and the Board of Trustees have fallen far short of what’s needed to continue attracting and keeping qualified, committed faculty for Clark College students,” union officials said in a news release. “Salaries lag behind other nearby colleges, K-12 public schools and the private sector.”

In an email to college students and staff Friday, Interim President Sandra Fowler-Hill said the college is “committed to our students to ensure they are able to start and successfully complete their studies in winter quarter.” She also noted that enrollment at Clark is projected to come in under budget for the winter quarter, which could strain the college’s budget.

“I recognize we begin this quarter with several unresolved issues at hand,” Fowler-Hill said. “I understand the uncertainty that it creates for our students and our employees.”

Negotiations will continue through the weekend, college spokeswoman Kelly Love said. She said the college is still working on a contingency plan for students should faculty strike. Classes will resume as normal Monday, the start of the winter term.

Columbian Education Reporter

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