Community College of Philadelphia

Community College of Philadelphia. — TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO

The faculty and staff at Community College of Philadelphia have decided to go on strike.

“We held the vote tonight and better than 90 percent of our union that represents 1,200 faculty and staff voted to strike,” union co-President Junior Brainard said Wednesday night. “We don’t have a specific date for when we will walk out, but if we don’t see any progress in the coming days we will be on strike.”

The administration said in a statement that it is disappointed the Faculty and Staff Federation of Community College of Philadelphia AFT Local 206 decided to go on strike so close to the end of the school year.

“We fail to see any reasonable basis for a strike and are disappointed in the union’s decision,” the administration said.

A strike would halt classes for the college’s 27,800 students, and could delay the graduation ceremony.

The faculty and administration have been negotiating a new contract for the past three years.

Major sticking points in negotiations have been faculty workload and salaries.

Most faculty members currently teach four courses per semester. The administration wants each faculty member to teach five courses per semester.

The administration has offered to require new faculty members to teach five courses per semester and offer a $9,000 salary increase to any longer-serving faculty member who agrees to take on an extra course. The union has proposed that each faculty member be permitted to opt in to teaching five courses over a three-year period for extra money, Brainard said.

“We are looking for a reasonable workload to allow full-time faculty to meet the needs of the students and to not create a structure that will place a higher workload on faculty than any other community college in the surrounding area,” Brainard said. “And, quite frankly, we are looking for job security.”

Brainard said the union rejected a proposal from the administration that included a “management rights clause” that would give the administration control over things like class size and “the job security of our union.”

The union also has asked for more pay than the administration is willing to offer.

“We are looking for salaries to lift lowest paid workers out of poverty,” Brainard said. “We have full-time staff that have worked here for 20 years and still qualify for food stamps. We’re looking for our raises to not be taken away by health cares costs.”

But the administration says the union sought raises of more than 26 percent over the life of the contract -- demands the administration said would increases the college’s current costs by $82.8 million.

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