By Khalida Sarwari
Clad in blue shirts and handing out flowers, about 50 members of the West-Valley Mission Community College District faculty union, the Association of College Educators AFT 6554, gathered outside the West Valley College boardroom March 20 to rally before a private hearing between the district administration and the union’s executive board members. A lengthy mediation session followed the hearing.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll soon come to a resolution that supports the faculty and allows us to continue to focus on the students in the classroom,” said faculty union president Ann Marie Wasserbauer, who described the session as productive.
The March 20 proceedings followed a union vote taken last week in favor of a “strike hardship fund,” a reserve unions set up to provide financial assistance to union members who go on strike.
Contract negotiations between the college district and the union have been at an impasse since May. The two sides are locked into a dispute over contract negotiations. The union asserts the administration, despite having millions of dollars in reserves, is asking for concessions from faculty members in exchange for a raise. The union also claims that in recent years, the administration has been shifting rising health care costs to faculty and that it proposes organizational structure changes that would significantly limit faculty input in decision-making.
Another mediation session is scheduled for March 27.