Chemistry professor Dr. Greg Baxley speaking to the board of trustees during the February meeting.
Photo by Alexander Bissell/Photo & Video Chief / Cuestonian
By Austin Brumblay
Cuesta faculty showed up in force to the February Board of Trustees meeting bearing their unifying red shirts in response to the ongoing struggle for equal pay.
During the public comment portion, faculty addressed the trustees about the continuing discrepancies between the pay of Cuesta instructors versus other community college institutions.
“We’re going to work to contract this term, we’re not going to go above and beyond and step up in ways that make a great college…that’s what you’ve forced us into,” said Dr. Greg Baxley, Cuesta chemistry professor.
This outcry comes in the wake of the protest held early in the Spring semester, where faculty gathered en masse to express their displeasure of the pay gaps and the insufficient one percent salary increase the Cuesta administration proposed.
Baxley referenced data at the meeting provided by the Cuesta College Federation of Teachers which stated the average salaries of 10 other local community colleges — where Cuesta ranked last.
According to data, it would take over an eight percent salary increase to Cuesta faculty to meet this average. The CCFT has proposed a 2.5 percent salary increase, according to Dr. Debra Stakes, who is the president of the CCFT.
In contrast, Cuesta educational administrators have salaries within two percent of the average of the 10 other institutions, according to the CCFT data sheet.
Frustrated instructor, Stacy Millich addressed from the podium about the sinking morale of her fellow staff members.
“We feel devalued and underappreciated… [instructors] still love teaching but they’re losing love for Cuesta,” she said.
Millich went on to declare the board does have the power to correct the situation and implores them to “fix the Cuesta family.”
The CCFT created a petition in early December, regarded as the “Work-to-Contract” campaign, where signed members agreed to no longer perform uncompensated work and only work to what is contractually required. One hundred and sixteen faculty members have since signed the petition.
The administration has responded to the requests of the CCFT:
“The district has fiduciary responsibility to proceed cautiously with increasing expenditures in the face of declining enrollment and the rising cost of CalSTRS,” said Dan Troy, Cuesta’s assistant superintendent. “We have offered the faculty an offer similar to what other campus groups have accepted [or] received for the year 2016-2017.
Baxley stated that the faculty doesn’t begrudge the administrators and their salaries, but that the faculty should be afforded a fair salary as well.
“Other colleges have figured out how to deal with this, we’re trying to figure out how,” Baxley said.