RSCCD Faculty Rejects District’s Contract Offer

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Union Leader Kristen Guzman wears black in protest of faculty working without a new contract /Laura O. Garcia/el Don

After working for about a year and a half without a new contract, faculty from both Santa Ana College and Santiago Canyon College attended the Nov. 14 board meeting dressed in black.

“We are wearing black because we are mourning the loss of a fair contract, and we are grieving because we believe the board is not bargaining in good faith,” Kristen Guzman vice president and chief negotiator for Faculty Association Rancho Santiago Community College District, said.

The contract that was signed and ratified for the 2014-2015 academic year remains still in place until a new contract is ratified.

“We are united in our desire to have a fair and just contract. We are over 1700 strong and we have been working without a contract for the last 18 months. Now is the time to work together to reach an agreement,” Narges Rabii-Rakin, FARSCCD president, told board members.

Any discussion that they’re working without a contract is not true according to Board of Trustee member Arianna Barrios. When one contract ends if a new contract is not ratified, then they continue to work under the terms of the old contract that stays in place. “I’m really disheartened to see it being characterized as we’re refusing, that is absolutely untrue,” Barrios said.

READ MORE: Rift Widens Between RSCCD Trustees and Faculty Union 

District negotiators and RSCCD Chancellor Raul Rodriguez have both acknowledged that they owe faculty a pay raise, according to Guzman, but have chosen not to include it in their August paychecks at the new fiscal year.

“We’re all trying to figure out how best to get that as quickly as possible into the hands of our faculty since that is owed to them, Barrios said.

SAC counselor Mary Castellanos and engineering professor Susan Sherod joined Guzman and Rabii-Rakin in speaking out for a new contract.

Castellanos told board members she has been working for over 30 years and has never known a situation in which board members refused to settle their contract. “Before I retire, I would like to have my good faith in you restored,” she said. “I continue to teach and counsel students in good faith and I would like you to do the same. Please settle our contract.”

Several faculty members stated their desire to maintain their professionalism and avoid displeasing students.

“We’re not going to disappoint, or somehow leave our students in a lurch so we show up to work, we hold office hours, we teach our classes,” Guzman said, “and we really are hoping that the board will follow our lead …in terms of our professionalism.”