Union negotiates staff contracts, pushes salary increase

The American Federation of Teachers 1521A, which represents staff at Pierce College, organized a walk during the Wednesday board of trustees meeting at L.A. Trade-Tech to raise awareness of the ongoing struggle to reach a collective bargaining agreement over staff salary contracts.

Henry Chang, admissions and records assistant, described the negotiation process as delicate and private.

“The board is still in the middle of working it all out,” Chang said. “They are still negotiating it through and haven’t come to a solution yet. The negotiation process is very confidential.”

The walk was intended as a protest, and Los Angeles Community College District staff were invited to attend and express their views on the situation, which has left the salaries of contract workers’ undecided.

Members of the staff union such as data communications specialist Greg Whaling have tried to address the delay in the process to the board of trustees. According to Whaling the unions must go through a specific and often lengthy process before it can meet with the board’s approval.

“October 8 is when we sit down to negotiations,” Whaling said. “Both sides have to agree to meet and open the same article.”

According to Whaling, both the LACCD and AFT 1521A agreed to negotiate the issue of salaries.

“When both sides have signed off on the one article that’s been opened, then we all go to a board meeting. Their side and our side all sign a contract,” said Whaling.

Whaling said that even after the contract is signed, the process is still not done.

“This doesn’t mean the contract is settled. It has to go for ratification, then it’s sent out to all the members. Then the members have to vote if they accept it or not,” he said. “If all the members ratify the contract, it goes to the district, then to the board, then again all members sign. Once everyone signs in front of the board, the contract is now valid.”

During the process, union staff await the outcome of the opened article. AFT 1521A member and administrative secretary of academic affairs Isabel Real said the lack of increase in salary is one of the chief issues of the negotiations. Real said she hopes to see salaries rise to match inflation.

“Our union has not had even one salary increase in over two whole years,” Real said. “We are hoping to finally get a fair increase in pay to keep up with inflation rates, and to keep up with other districts in our area and to receive the equivalent pay.”