California’s budget crisis, and the subsequent slashing of government institutions, such as public universities, have caused an increasingly watchful eye to be turned towards public employee salaries.
During an investigation into public employee compensation, the Roundup acquired the salaries, before taxes, of all non-classified faculty and staff members employed by the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) during 2010.
Professors teaching in the LACCD have the opportunity to join the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union.
Union members have not received a pay raise in recent years, according to Don Sparks, union representative. The last raise given to union members occurred in 2008 and was .64 percent, according to Sparks.
“A lot of teachers could be making more money working in industry,” said Elizabeth Cheung, professor of industrial technology, describing the pay cut she took to work as a professor. “I felt like I wanted to do something that was more rewarding.”
Richard McMillan, instructor of history, has been teaching at Pierce for the past 15 years and said he enjoys the benefits that come with being a tenured professor.
“I had the responsibility of a family,” said McMillian.
When non-classified employees are hired by the district they are ‘rated-in’ to determine the amount of their salary. Several factors are considered during this process including the amount of time, spent teaching in the district and the amount of time spent in the profession.
Employees can move higher in the rating scale by remaining in the district longer, taking more classes and completing degrees. They are also paid more when taking on extra assignments such as becoming chair of a department.
Most professors are paid for 10 months of work, while administrators are paid for 12 months of work.
Community college professors are not the only professors able to join unions, however.
The average salary of a state university professor is $95,652, according to Mike Uhlenkamp, spokesman for the state university chancellor’s office.
“In the history of this country, the unions made the middle class of this country,” said Don Sparks, AFT chapter president. “Everybody needs a job and needs to put food on the table, unions guarantee a decent living.”
Two Pierce College employees, one a professor, the other an administrator, make more than $170,000 a year, according to the report.
There were also several employees in the LACCD who made less than $30,000 a year, due to a leave of absence or other factors.
Across the state, several cost saving measures have been implemented including limiting the number of units students can take and reduced funding for athletics.
New fees have also been implemented including the recent $10 fee increase and the additional increase, which will start during the summer.
A single session at Pierce College costs the college approximately $5,000, according to Ken Takeda, vice president of administration services.
“Teachers are able to directly impact the lives of students,” said Cheung. “The key is attracting and keeping good teachers.”
Included in this salary report are any additional projects the staff member may have taken on, including the duties of department chair.
The report includes all payments made to non-classified professors and administrators during the 2010 year.
Staff members, adjunct professors and classified employees were not included in the report.
Pension benefits are paid based on an employee’s base salary not on additional assignments taken on such as summer school.