Hero Letter 1

Posted by Debby on 6th March and posted in EDC 634

This is a letter to the past Academic Senate President. She has been involved in campus politics, budget reductions talks, accreditation issues, and much more. She is a small woman, but speaks very powerfully, always gracious, yet ready to back her arguments with facts. I am sure she doesn’t realize the mentoring role she has played for me as I have worked through issues on campus. This email to her is in response to a message she sent out today. She strongly feels that the faculty should delay the raise in July in an effort to solve some of the budget problems. Our classified staff has already voted to do something like this. This is not a popular position because the last contract was the result of a lengthy and often not pleasant negotiation process. Our district spent many years at the bottom of the pay scale for all California community colleges, and this contract brings us to the regional average over 3 years. July would be the 2nd raise. Her email is below mine.

I admire the way that you are able to so articulately advocate a position that is bound to be unpopular. I agree with you that these are extreme times and that extreme measures need to be taken.
I have had the opportunity to watch and interact with you many times over the last two years. This has taught me a lot about how to passionately make my views known while remaining gracious. You are always prepared with facts to defend your position and are able to accept other evidence and views as they are presented. You have set a high standard that others should strive to meet.
I hope that those watching you and Ron discuss opposing views in the faculty meeting last week can take a lesson in how to disagree respectfully. We need leadership like that to bring us through this crisis without turning on ourselves. However things turn out, my association with you has been a valuable experience. Thank you for that.
At 09:07 AM 3/6/03 -0800, you wrote:
At tomorrow’s Porterville College CCA meeting, I will introduce a resolution asking the CCA Steering Committee to begin negotiations to delay (not eliminate) the 7% salary increase that district faculty members are slated to receive next year.
Not for a minute do I think that district faculty members do not deserve this raise. And I deeply appreciate and respect the work of the CCA negotiating team that brought about the first fair contract that faculty in this district have had in many years. It is not my goal, and certainly not my desire, to undermine their agonizing, skillful, time-consuming work.
Nonetheless, unforeseeable events have overtaken us at Porterville College and in the Kern Community College District. No one could have anticipated when we voted for that contract only a few months ago that faculty at PC would be receiving March 15 notices, that so many of our colleagues would suffer contract reductions, nor that many others would be at risk of being bumped from their jobs. Nor could we have anticipated that valuable programs would be cut and valuable classified employees would lose their jobs. We could not even have predicted the magnitude of the cuts to our course offerings, cuts that place in real jeopardy our ability to provide our students with vocational training and the first two years of a college education. To make matters worse, we are not yet certain how much more deeply we may have to cut.
I know that some of you may not yet be aware of the magnitude of cuts referred to in the above paragraph, and are perhaps even less aware of the magnitude of the cuts that are anticipated at the district office and at the other two campuses-cuts that will affect us in very direct ways once district-wide bumping begins. I ask you not to take my word for the magnitude of these cuts. Inform yourself. Talk to our union representatives. Talk to members of the Budget Reduction Task Force (of which I am one). Talk to division chairs and campus administrators. Time is growing short to substantially reduce the damage-but it is not yet too late.
Ultimately, we need a district-wide solution to a district-wide problem. Management, faculty, and classified at all four entities must find a way to reduce the district’s personnel costs. Other cuts are necessary too-but 80% of our district’s budget goes to pay salaries. There is no way to reduce the magnitude of the crisis without cutting personnel costs. Classified personnel at Porterville College have taken the lead in reducing those costs by voting to offer a 9-10% pay cut through taking two days furlough a month without pay for the 2003/04 year. The rest of us throughout the district need to follow suit.
So tomorrow I will ask the PC faculty and the CCA to take a first step toward this district-wide solution. It is only the first step of many that we will need to take. But it is past time to begin, and I ask for your support.
To those who believe that this kind of district-wide solution is impossible, I can only say that we have not yet tried, and to give up without trying is simply unacceptable. Or to put it another way, “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up” (Anne Lamont).
Ann Marie

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