Cerritos College Staff Rally for COLA+
April 25, 2022
At the corner of Studebaker Road and Alondra Blvd on April 20, a picket rally was held by Cerritos College professors and staff in demanding better contracts with COLA+.
Beginning at 5 p.m., approximately 100 participants – including a handful of students – stood at the four corners of the intersection holding and waving signs, chanting and spreading awareness and information on the situation at hand.
The group later marched down to the Conference Center on the northeast side of campus by the Student Services building at 7 p.m. to share comments at the last board meeting of the semester.
COLA stands for cost-of-living adjustment and is reported to increase 5.9 percent for close to 70 million Americans this year.
Speakers at the protest expressed their distress with the situation and the Board’s disregard for their worth. Many stated how they feel as though they are not being paid what they are worth, especially with conditions of the ongoing pandemic.
“I had to learn how to do Zoom, and I missed very important milestones with my children. I have to take care of the people I love,” a spokesperson for the College [who wishes to remain anonymous] said, “But I cannot do that if the district does not pay me what I deserve.”
They also mentioned that other colleges in the area, including Long Beach, El Camino and Rio Hondo City Colleges, have already received COLA.
Upon their open mic session during the rally, Union President and organizer of the rally, Dr. Lynn Wang, said that the Board of Trustees held a budget surplus of $10 million and rejected an offer for an additional $5 million to be added to their untouched reserves.
“The Board of Trustees has over $42 million in unspent reserves and gave themselves a 10% increase in their pay,” Wang stated, “but they can’t give us a better contract?”
Teachers and staff at the College essentially want a fair contract. Many of the faculty work part-time under contract but work full-time hours.
Professor Anthony Gonzalez, who teaches Mathematics, is a representing Senator with the Union and a part-time faculty member at the College.
Carrying his young daughter with him on his shoulders all night, Gonzalez said that he hopes the Board will listen to the concerns of their staff as they work hard for their students.
“We do a lot here at Cerritos,” Gonzalez said. “We don’t only want an increase in pay or better benefits, we want to help each other out. It makes me feel good that we can come out here as a collective and voice our concerns and possibly make a change.”
Upon arriving at the board meeting, members of the Associated Student Government for Cerritos College joined the group to share their comments at the meeting and express their solidarity with teachers and staff fighting for COLA during the rally.
“The employees of Cerritos College are the backbone of this institution,” member Hector Ledesma, environmental engineering major, said. “How can we expect to serve students without first adequately meeting the needs of our faculty and staff?”
“As a student, I will continue to stand in solidarity with our dedicated and devoted faculty and staff until their basic needs are met,” Ledesma concluded.