The union representing faculty at Clark College has set an official strike date, approving Jan. 13 should the union and college administration not reach an agreement this week.
The Clark College Association for Higher Education (AHE) formally announced the date in a Jan. 2 release. According to the release, during mediation earlier that day college administration “failed to respond to the union’s latest proposal,” with AHE President Suzanne Southerland calling the lack of a development “disappointing.”
“After we waited all day, the college administration had nothing new to offer,” Southerland stated in the release.
The release stated that if a tentative contract agreement isn’t reached by 5 p.m. Jan. 10, union members will strike starting the following Monday. Classes began this week, and the release noted that should a strike occur it would be during the week four finalists for the new Clark College president would begin visiting the campus.
The AHE had previously approved a strike decision unanimously Dec. 7, according to a prior release. Mediation between the union and administration picked back up later that month and into the new year, though as of press deadline an agreement still had yet to be reached.
In a letter published following the union’s strike date set, interim college president Sandra Fowler-Hill noted that classes would begin Jan. 6 as planned, adding that contingency planning was underway for what to do should a strike occur the following week.
According to negotiations history from the college, administration’s most recent offer featured a 1 percent permanent salary increase effective for the 2018-2019 school year and a 4 percent increase for the 2019-2020 year for full-time staff. The offers also included options for part-time staff based off of a percentage of full-time staff or a flat 6 percent permanent increase effective this school year.
Part of the union’s desires in the new contract was for better pay parity for part-time staff, though the latest offer wasn’t enough for what the union felt was “competitive, equitable faculty pay.”
“Proposals from the interim college president and the Board of Trustees have fallen far short of what’s needed to continue attracting and keeping qualified, committed faculty for Clark College students,” the AHE release stated.
As of press deadline college administration and the union were expected to have multiple mediation sessions throughout the week, including into the weekend, Clark College Spokesperson Kelly Love told The Reflector following a prior session Jan. 4. Details of how negotiations went or what a contingency plan for a potential strike were not available before going to print.