Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

TM Digital Newsletter

TM TikTok

Faculty protests college’s decision to deny expected salary increases

Jasmine Martinez
“Withholding of C.O.L.A. is a form of embezzlement” read Walter Fernandez’s sign as Vice President of Business Services Felipe Lopez walked by. Faculty members, both part-time and full-time alike and union members were present, wearing red shirts at the Sept. 19 Board of Trustees meeting.

The Cerritos College Faculty Federation has been in negotiations with the district for 11 months now, but new information on an increasing annual budget has caused the CCFF to “mobilize,” said union member and professor Walter Fernandez.

The Cost of Living Adjustment is a benefit that ensures the value of money at retirement keeps up with the rate of inflation and it is being raised by 2.71 percent across the state. For Cerritos College, this translate to an about $14 million increase.

Many faculty members were upset that the budget increase would not be used to increase salaries of part-time and full-time faculty members.

Cerritos College Faculty Federation President Stephanie Rosenblatt said, “We’re going to have tons more money than we’ve had before. If we can’t work on it this year, when are we going to do it?

“We don’t want to take money away from the students, but we already have the largest class sizes in our area. Our faculty are super efficient,” she said.

The issue was brought up during the past Board of Trustees meeting held on Sept. 19. Many union members arrived wearing red shirts and carrying signs.

Part-time and full-time faculty members spoke during the meeting about issues they had with the negotiation process and budget issues.

Ralph Castellanos, part-time professor in the speech department, said that aside from working at Cerritos College he also works at six other campuses. He also said that he teaches between eight to 10 classes per semester and that, “like my colleagues, I’m struggling.”

Castellanos explained his issue with the inequity between full-time and part-time salaries. He said, “Our students need us, but we are stuck elsewhere just so we can pay the bills.

“Help us be here more, help us do more for our students. We all have the same goal: student success. Our significantly unequal pay is a barrier to us accomplishing this goal.”

Castellanos was met with applause when he said that “part-time professors and full-time professors are cut from the same cloth.”

Fernandez, who also attended the meeting, said of the union’s presence, “Yesterday’s mobilization was really to show the Board of Trustees how passionate the faculty are about certain points.

“We were also there to show the officers of the administration, the president, the vice president, the chief financial officer, that the faculty are not pleased and that we are willing to continue protesting and manifesting their views in the negotiations.”

Board of Trustees President Zurich Lewis, in reference of signs present during the meeting and emails among faculty and staff members, said, “I ask that all people use responsible rhetoric when we come up to these meetings rather than accusing us of embezzlement, rather than accusing us of being hypocrites and essentially oppressing the moral conscience of faculty.

“I think that goes far beyond the line of collegiality,” he concluded.

Rosenblatt said of Lewis’ comment, “I think he misread the sign, nobody accused anyone of embezzlement.”

Rosenblatt said she was surprised Zurich had read faculty emails as they were only sent among staff and faculty.

Fernandez said, “What we are asking for is not radical or outrageous, it’s actually considered normal. This is part of the frustration that faculty members feel and also that the campus seems to have a very healthy budget.”

Rosenblatt said that negotiations will continue until both parties are satisfied with the proposals. She said, “People are upset, and depending on how the district responds to our offers, people will either be [relieved] or they’ll get even angrier.”

Fernandez said he remains hopeful for a positive outcome of negotiations.

The next Board of Trustees meeting will take place on Oct. 3, 7 p.m. at the Cheryl A. Epple Board Room where the union is expected to be present.

Story continues below advertisement
About the Contributors
Carmelita Islas Mendez, News Editor
Jasmine Martinez, Editor-in-Chief
Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Talon Marks Picks TM Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Faculty protests college’s decision to deny expected salary increases