Winter of Discontent

Winter of Discontent

Faculty demands more shared governance at PCC

By Nick Smith 03/28/2013

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After voting “no confidence” in Pasadena City College President Mark Rocha, members of the PCC Faculty Association (PCCFA) are again crying foul.   

This time, teachers are objecting to statements made by Rocha, who claimed faculty grievances are related mostly with contract negotiations within the teachers’ union, a contention that the PCC Board of Trustees supports.

“The board also recognizes that the current circumstances of our faculty union negotiations being in impasse contribute to heated emotions and strong words,” reads a statement from the board.

“These remarks are unfortunate because they do not factor in the full spectrum of grievances and concerns that faculty, staff and students have expressed at many shared governance committees and Board of Trustees meetings,” according to a March 18 PCCFA statement.

The PCCFA and the Pasadena Area Community College District (PACCD) have been unable to reach agreement on contract terms — one major sticking point being a three-term academic calendar, which excludes a winter term. PACCD has set a March 28 deadline to reach an agreement, after which Rocha’s administration may implement its own terms, giving the FA a legal basis to strike.

“[It’s] about the deeper problem of the deliberate destruction of the democratic process, the fear and corporatization on campus and overall mismanagement, which is leading to a decline in student transfer rates and PCC’s overall reputation,” said Melissa Michelson, a PCC teacher and member of an ad hoc faculty committee, an informal group comprised of faculty members attempting to restore shared governance of the campus, according to Michelson.

A union meeting last Thursday was called to discuss a list of grievances related to the board’s actions, including increased class sizes (to make up for eliminated winter classes), lost faculty income and the school’s apparent disregard for shared governance.

“There is a statistically significant inverse correlation between class size and both retention and success, psychology instructor Julie Kiotis said at Thursday’s meeting. “We are literally putting students in positions just to pay for classes that we know they will never, ever pass. If I were the students, I would be furious,” she said.
The PCC Associated Students two weeks ago also voted “no confidence” in Rocha.

PCCFA will be filing a complaint with the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) over the school’s cancellation of winter classes, also known as Winter Intercession.

According to PCCFA President Roger Marheine, a hearing has been scheduled for July 8.

“Thus far, the Board of Trustees has been in denial,” said Marheine. “Its members have failed to take shared governance seriously, [and] have turned a deaf ear to the cries of faculty, students and staff.”

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