Education

Cuesta College teachers will get a raise under salary agreement

Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California, is still accepting registration for classes ahead of fall semester, which begins August 13, 2018.
Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California, is still accepting registration for classes ahead of fall semester, which begins August 13, 2018. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Cuesta College and its faculty union have reached a salary agreement that will result in a 4 percent increase over two years, pending a vote of union members and approval from the school's board of trustees.

The increase comes after the district and union met with a mediator in late February — the third time an impasse has been declared since 2013 — but were unable to reach an agreement based on the fact-finder report.

The two sides reached a compromise during a face-to-face negotiation and avoided a potential faculty strike, said Debra Stakes, an earth sciences professor who serves as president of the Cuesta College Federation of Teachers.

The union had previously requested a 2.5 percent salary increase (5 percent over two years), while the district offered a 1 percent raise.

"Four percent over two years is pretty good," Stakes said. "It was better than we had asked for. And the fact that we get it over two years means that faculty can go back to their classrooms and just worry about teaching for a while, which is the other thing I wanted to accomplish."

The agreement includes the following:

  • A 1 percent on-schedule salary increase on all faculty salary schedules retroactive to July 1, 2016

  • A 3 percent on-schedule salary increase on all faculty salary schedules retroactive to January 1, 2018

  • Temporary faculty who have an assigned teaching load of 20 to 39.9 percent will receive 0.5 office hour per week beginning fall 2018 semester

Stakes said more than half of the classes currently offered at Cuesta College are taught by part-time faculty, and only full-time faculty members have been compensated for meeting with students during office hours. Under the new agreement, all faculty will be paid for time spent in office hours.

Once the ratification vote is complete — it must be submitted by April 25, Stakes said — the agreement will go into effect and faculty will get retroactive pay added to their paychecks.

"We’re really committed to having that happen this semester," Stakes said. "But all of the salary enhancements that we won are permanent enhancements to our salary schedule, so they don’t go away."

Cuesta College assistant superintendent/vice president of administrative services Dan Troy said the school is committed to providing fair compensation for all employees, "especially given the local cost of living and inflation."

"The district feels this agreement is fair and fiscally responsible to the taxpayers, given the college's enrollment challenges and lack of growth in total students, which is the primary driver for increased state funding of ongoing dollars," Troy said in a statement.

Cuesta College reported in January that it is projecting a $551,000 budget deficit for the current fiscal year as enrollment has dropped and mandatory spending has increased.

Stakes said with the recent hiring of Jill Stearns to become Cuesta College's next president before the 2018-19 school year, the union felt it "was important to start with a clean slate."

The current two-year agreement will end June 30, and Stakes expects to start negotiating a new deal next fall.

"The new president has a pretty good track record of being very collaborative in dealing with faculty," Stakes said. "It seemed like we should keep our powder dry and just see what we could close with and then start again."

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