SALINAS – The first strike by faculty at a California community college in more than 25 years succeeded in virtually shutting down the 8,000-student Hartnell College Friday – and the Hartnell College Faculty Association is promising to do the same thing in the coming week.
“I think this action shows that our faculty is serious. Certainly the students who were out here supporting us, know we are serious, because we’re doing this for them, too,” said Christine Svendsen, president of the Hartnell College Faculty Association.
The faculty, which picketed Friday and again on Saturday, received the full support of students, the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, and local teamsters who refused to cross picket lines to make deliveries to the college.. They will continue to strike in earnest beginning at 5:30 a.m. Monday, even as both the association and the district meet with a state mediator, who is expected at 10 a.m.
“We see this as a positive sign that a mediator is coming in,” Svendsen said. “But we don’t plan to return until we have a contract.”
Hartnell’s faculty has gone without a salary increase for three years and ranks among the bottom in salaries in comparison to the 72 other community college districts in the state. Meanwhile, Ed Valeau, the college president, has received an astonishing 83 percent increase in salary over the past six years.
In the meantime, the faculty association, which represents 104 full-time instructors, was bolstered by support from several other unions. Svendsen received a letter of support from Reg Weaver, the president of the 3.2 million-member National Education Association and the California Faculty Association, which represents 22,000 educators in the California State University system. On Sunday, the State Council of Education, the representative association of the 340,000-member California Teachers Association, also passed a resolution pledging its full support and resources for the striking faculty. State Council members also “passed the hat” and individually contributed $4,200 for the striking faculty.
The faculty association now has a website http://www.supporthartnellfaculty.com/
to help keep faculty and the community informed.