EvCC teachers take their contract concerns to the board

Their union says negotiations have been disappointingly slow. The community college isn’t commenting.

EVERETT — It was an unusual show of numbers as well as pointed oratory.

At a meeting last week, roughly 20 members of the Everett Community College faculty appeared at a Board of Trustees meeting as their union president voiced their frustration over slow-moving contract negotiations.

They wore buttons, saying a cost-of-living increase doesn’t amount to a raise and urging support for the college’s counselors.

One recurring theme was raising pay for associate faculty, non-tenured instructors who receive considerably less than their tenured colleagues. Sixty percent of classes are taught by associate faculty, slightly above the national average of 58 percent.

“As the college continues to bargain, I would especially like its negotiators to consider those faculty who are the least fairly compensated at the college: our associate faculty,” union president Mike VanQuickenborne told the board.

“Many of these faculty teach the same complement of classes as a full-time instructor, yet get paid less than $40,000 on an annual basis, if they’re fortunate enough to put together three classes a quarter for three quarters,” VanQuickenborne told the board. “Even the few faculty who have become senior associates by going through a process that takes longer than the tenure process make less than $45,000 for teaching a full load of classes and holding office hours.”

College officials didn’t dispute the $40,000 average salary figure for those teaching three classes a quarter over three quarters. They say that salary would be earned over 150 days.

Cost-of-living increases aren’t keeping up with the reality of housing costs in Snohomish and King counties, VanQuickenborne said.

He contrasted “this resistance to paying the faculty a decent wage” with pay increases given to college President David Beyer over the past four years. The raises upped his salary from $186,664 to $240,000.

“In January, Dr. Beyer testified in Olympia that he does not want to see faculty have the ability to bargain local funds for salary increases, but he has no such problem having local funds enhance his own salary,” VanQuickenborne said. “This is unacceptable.”

The increase was 28 percent, which includes state-authorized COLAs, and is tied to retention and performance, according to the college Human Resources office.

During the same four years, salary increases for tenured faculty increased by 17 percent, college officials said. That includes cost-of-living increases and “turnover” money divvied up when their full-time colleagues retire or leave.

There are 18 tenured faculty who earn more than $100,000 for teaching and extra duties that can include teaching in the summer and such responsibilities as supervising College in the High School programs, advising and mentoring, college officials said.

“It’s definitely back to the bargaining table,” VanQuickenborne said after the meeting. “We just wanted to make our point that faculty is frustrated with the state of negotiations and we want them to listen to our concerns, especially with associate (instructor) salaries and the great economic pressure on them.”

VanQuickenborne said he’s optimistic the two sides can reach an agreement. He hopes negotiations can be wrapped up soon.

Even so, he can imagine the union continuing to air its concerns in a public forum.

“This was unusual,” VanQuickenborne said. “Depending on how things go in the next few weeks, it may be repeated with more vociferousness at the October meeting.”

College officials had no comment on the contract talks.

“Thanks for asking about a college response, but EvCC is declining to comment because the union negotiations are ongoing,” said John Olson, EvCC’s president of college advancement.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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