Members of the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 union held signs that read “money in the classroom not in the bank” outside City College of San Francisco’s Chinatown campus building today as President Tim Killikelly announced that 92 percent of his members voted in favor of a strike.

Union president Tim Killikelly announces that 92 percent of the City College faculty are prepared to strike. Photo by Gabriella Angotti-Jones
Union president Tim Killikelly announces that 92 percent of the City College faculty are prepared to strike. Photo by Gabriella Angotti-Jones

No strike date has been set, but the vote makes it more likely that the school’s teachers will walk off the job this spring.

“We hope the strike does not occur,” Killikelly said. “We want to have a plan that works for active growth for the college.”

The strike authorization is based on economic issues – the reality of faculty living on low salaries in high-priced San Francisco.

Kate Frei, ESL instructor at the Chinatown campus, said the union and the district are still going through mediation.

“We’re still in that process,” Killikelly said. “We’re not supposed to speak about the last couple of sessions. But the sessions we had before got us nowhere, so the proposals they had put on the table are really unacceptable.”

Since 2007, faculty salaries have decreased 3.5 percent, according to Killikelly.

“How is that in the interest of students in the community to not have competitive salaries for faculty?” Killikelly asked.

Local 2121 members are also angered by the administration’s plan to cut classes by 26 percent.

“The Board of Trustees need to understand that there will be no more business at City College,” Killikelly said. “They need to make sure that faculty is paid a decent wage so we can live here in the city and provide the services and the great educational opportunities we’ve always done and we stand united with students and communities.”

At least 11 Local 2121 members were lined up at the strike-vote announcement expressing their concerns.

Lu Marla Dea is an ESL instructor. “Who’s being hurt the most are the students and the community,” Dea said. “Downsizing the college and keeping salaries low for faculty is hurting all of the students, and especially students who need us, so this is very important for the Board of Trustees and the district needs to listen.”

Eva Cheng, academic advisor at the Chinatown campus, says she wants the next generation of faculty to have better pay than she has. Photo by Gabriella Angotti-Jones)
Eva Cheng, academic advisor at the Chinatown campus, says she wants the next generation of faculty to have better pay than she has. Photo by Gabriella Angotti-Jones)

Academic counselor Eva Cheng was soft spoken, yet her face expressed hopefulness as well.

“I love City College, and I love my colleagues and students,” said Cheng, who will be retiring this semester. “I want my colleagues to have a better retirement and a better income than me.”

City College’s Employee Relations Office published in an open letter on March 2 that said: “We hope they will reconsider. A strike will have a severe impact on our students by disrupting class schedules, graduation, and possibly their ability to transfer to four-year institutions. Our students need less uncertainty, not more.”

A Board of Trustees meeting was held on Ocean Campus at 4 p.m. to discuss AFT 2121’s collective bargaining agreement as a closed session.

“The reality is that the college is facing a funding decrease of $24 million each year when Senator Mark Leno’s bill—which gave us three years of stability funding—comes to an end,” The Employee Relations Office said. “The bottom line: The District cannot commit temporary funds that won’t exist in three years for permanent faculty raises.”

“We would like to work with administration on having an enrollment plan instead of plans just to cut,” Killikelly said. “That’s not the right message to be giving to the community.”