The faculty of the United Faculty North Orange County Community College District declared in a letter on Feb. 11 that they had no confidence in the in-district leadership. They are striving to get health insurance for dependents, wage increases in-line with an increasing cost of living and more.
Faculty and the district have been trying to negotiate a new contract since 2018. Since they were unable to come to an agreement, the contract that faculty was on expired in 2019, and is supposed to be renewed every three. At the moment, there is no contract since the faculty rejected a temporary agreement that would have extended their old contract.
The two parties reached an impasse in November of 2019, meaning that faculty and the district had been having meetings with no progress for so long that they needed a mediator to be sent out by the state in order to get anywhere. A mediator was requested and sent out in about 60 days. Since then, there has been one meeting that lasted about five hours.
The reasons for the lack of negotiation are plentiful.
Faculty in the district are provided with health insurance paid by the district; however, dependents are not covered by this insurance at all which is uncommon. Surrounding colleges like Long Beach, Mt. Sac, Santa Ana, districts provide their faculty with health insurance, or at least compensation for dependents however the NOCCCD doesn’t.
“It is common in our profession to have health insurance for dependents. Not having health coverage for dependents is what is an anomaly.” Said Sociology professor and lead negotiator for United Faculty Mohammad Abdel Haq.
Along with a lack of insurance for dependents, since 2018, faculty have seen no wage increases to adjust to the increasing cost of living. According to Abdel Haq, the district gets money from the state to compensate for the cost of living adjustment (COLA) every year. Since the district isn’t providing faculty with any raise, it means that they’re keeping the money.
Because of a lack of raise, faculty members are basically getting a cut to their salaries every year because the cost of living is going up while they are not receiving more pay to make up for it.
“For me, COLA is just number one. Because it is just the basics that any district should do,” said History professor and union member Josh Ashenmiller.
According to Abdel Haq, professors are now having to teach more classes than they are required to in order to provide for themselves and their families. This makes professors have less time to grade and provide for their students.
Because of this The North Orange County Community College District was contacted for comment but they are still on stand by.