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Teachers Protest for New Contract

Education: Hundreds of union members rally outside a meeting Tuesday of the Ventura County Community College District trustees.


VENTURA — Hundreds of frustrated teachers staged a 3 1/2-hour rally outside the offices of the Ventura County Community College District on Tuesday while trustees and Chancellor Philip Westin met to consider a joint campus arrangement with CSU Channel Islands.

About 350 teachers union members showed up before the board meeting wearing signs that read: "Unfair!" "Settle now," "Put management on a diet" and "Would you want your daughter to marry a trustee?"

"We want to save this district for our students and our [complaints] go beyond our [unsettled] contract," said Larry Miller, president of Local 1828 of the American Federation of Teachers. "We're meeting here tonight because it's the first board meeting to occur since the faculty has come back from the summer. If we [don't settle a contract] then we'll be back the next board meeting and the next."

Nearly 400 union members voted last month that they had no confidence in Westin to lead the district. The district's more than 1,200 teachers and hundreds of classified personnel have been without a contract since June 30.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday September 11, 1997 Ventura County Edition Metro Part B Page 5 Zones Desk 2 inches; 44 words Type of Material: Correction
Teaching credits--A story Wednesday about community college teachers' contract demands incorrectly characterized how long it takes to earn enough teaching credits to take off a semester. The process requires instructors to teach extra courses over several semesters before they can take one semester off.

To the protesters' dismay, which they openly expressed with loud boos and hisses, the board voted 4 to 1 to raise the salaries Tuesday night of Westin and Deputy Chancellor Michael Gregoryk, each by 5.78%. Westin will now earn about $7,800 more, for a total of $142,803, and Gregoryk will earn nearly $7,000 more, to bring his salary to $127,559.

The jeers from the crowd did not change the poker-faced expressions of some members of the Board of Trustees. However, President John Tallman dissented in the vote, saying, "Now is the worst possible timing [for a raise]."

The trustees also approved a letter of intent to forge a partnership with CSU Channel Islands. The board instructed Westin to pass it along to CSU Channel Islands President Handel Evans to present to his own board Sept. 15.

The letter further commits the community college district to work together with the planned four-year university.

In addition to planning to join forces with the community college district, CSU Channel Islands officials are waiting to hear whether the state will fund the conversion of Camarillo State Hospital into a four-year university, to allow them to move students into the now-shuttered mental hospital for classes as early as January 1999.


Before the meeting, Trustee Allan Jacobs said the letter of intent, which was created following planning sessions Aug. 27 and Sept. 3, is meant to say, "Hey, long-term discussions are needed about the partnership, but we are committed to it."

Jacobs said there was no reason to get too detailed or be concerned about answering specific questions about the partnership until the CSU board votes on whether to make the merger official.

The wording of the letter shows the district's desire to plan curriculum in concert with the university and share space with CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo, including a proposal to move its district office headquarters to the site. Another big push for the project is to employ so-called "distance" learning, in which students could take many classes off-site, using television and the Internet.

Two key points of the joint operation would be to make higher education more affordable for students, who would pay the lower community college rate during their first two years, and to eliminate many of the paperwork hassles that occur when students want to transfer between a junior college and university, district officials said.

But not all of the task force's 15 members were satisfied with the nonspecific wording of the letter of intent, which was written by Oxnard College's new president, Steven Arvizu. Arvizu was the vice president of academic affairs at the newest Cal State campus, CSU Monterey Bay.

"Basically, the letter is just full of education-ese and bureaucratic [words]. Nothing substantive was set," said instructor Barbara Hoffman, who sits on the Ventura College academic senate and is a member of the partnership task force.


Wearing another hat, Hoffman spoke as a union member.

"It's really interesting how in one document [the letter of intent], there's all this pretty language about shared governance and mutual partnership. But there's none of that really going on in terms of negotiating [a contract] with the teachers union. If I were CSU, I'd wonder."

Among other demands, the union is asking for an annual increase in salary and benefits, a 20% reduction in workload, and improved health insurance benefits and pro rata pay for part-timers, who could earn hourly rates equal to those of full-time teachers.

The critical elements of the district's proposal include the "right of assignment," which means that the district could transfer teachers to other campuses; having supervisors, not peers, evaluate faculty; capping health care benefits; and doing away with "load banking," in which teachers are now allowed to teach enough classes in one semester that they can take the following semester off.

Trustees also approved salary increases for members of the classified personnel union, which includes maintenance and clerical workers.

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