Teachers vote on new AFT contract

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Faculty Members began voting on the new San Mateo Community College Federation of Teachers, local 1493 (AFT) contract, Sept. 6. After about one year of negotiations between the San Mateo County Community College District and the Union, a vote was finally put forth for the faculty at Skyline College, College of San Mateo and Cañada College. The vote deals with the issues of new wages and benefits for full time faculty members, and for the first time, part time faculty.”The process was slowed down, because it was very difficult to match the district negotiators schedules,” said Rick Hough, Skyline’s Executive Committee Co-chair, for the AFT. The AFT had a proposal ready early last year, but didn’t receive a counter offer from the SMCCCD negotiators until October of 2005. Both sides met shortly after to discuss their proposals.The state government gives district cost of living adjustments every year, these adjustments are based on how much it costs to live in each district, and this in turn helps determine how much districts employees should be paid yearly. Getting this adjustment in their yearly pay checks along with other health benefits was the first proposal by the AFT. “Teachers are at the heart of where the costs go [in the district],” said Hough. However the SMCCCD felt that this was asking too much and made a counter proposal.”Their initial offer was zero, no benefits, no salary, no nothing,” said Hough. The district did not willingly want to raise teacher salaries throughout the district wanting to keep the contract as is. The contract agreement up for a vote includes a wage increase of 4.92% for the current year, as well as raising the health care coverage for single, two-party and family health plans, so that less is paid out of pocket. According to the contract, teachers with families won’t have to pay any more than $40 per month, out of pocket for health care coverage. The 700 part time teachers that work in the SMCCCD are also being better represented in the new contract. They will also receive the 4.92% increase in wages and their medical stipend will also increase to $500 per six month period. Some teachers, both part time and full time were paying $200 out of their own pockets for health coverage that was only menially paid for by the SMCCCD.Even with the light turnout of teachers voting on the contract, the faculty seems confident that the contract will pass to their satisfaction. “We trust our representatives and our union,” said Mike Fitzgerald, Professor of Human Performance at Skyline. “Trusting their judgment is important.”After two days of voting, results should be released on Monday Sept. 11. “I think it’s a great settlement that will benefit the faculty, said Katherine Harer Co-Vice President and one of the contract negotiators for the faculty of the SMCCCD. “It was a long, hard struggle, but it’s a settlement we could all be proud of.”Check online for the results of the AFT vote at www.theskylineview.com