Demonstrators march through the Mission District during a rally in San Francisco on May 6, 2021 to demand the end of layoffs for City College of San Francisco faculty. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
A majority of the threatened layoffs at City College of San Francisco may soon be rescinded, but the deal came with a financial cost since faculty face the prospect of pay cuts across the board.
The agreement, announced early Saturday morning, comes after days of bargaining meetings between City College of San Francisco’s faculty union and administration.
Union members have until Monday afternoon to approve the deal. If approved, the board of trustees will vote on the proposal later that day.
"This agreement allows the college to continue its mission as a community college by preserving classes that serve all our diverse communities," said CCSF trustee Alan Wong in a text message Saturday.
The proposed one-year deal means there will be no cuts for full-time faculty, and part-time faculty will mostly be rehired to their positions for the 2021-2022 school year. It also means fewer changes to class schedules and programs, preserving courses the community pushed to be preserved.
In exchange, all faculty will take a 4% to 11% salary cut.
"We're very happy that we've reached an agreement, but it actually is quite a painful agreement for our members," said Robin Pugh, a full-time instructor at City College. Her salary will be cut by about 10% this next school year.
"This is a very positive thing as painful as it is for our members, but it doesn’t mean that the budget problem is permanently fixed," Pugh said.
The deal is only temporary.
That's why, while the clock keeps ticking over the next year, the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 and CCSF administration agreed to work together to preserve classes they say are needed to continue serving San Francisco more broadly.
Previously, the union framed the cuts as a winnowing of the school's mission to a focus only on university transfer students instead of serving a broader community of older and returning students, or people training for new careers.
On Thursday evening in San Francisco, a "Fight Back for CCSF" rally, organized as an AAPI and Black solidarity action by the student-led CCSF Collective, saw students demand CCSF trustees cancel planned layoffs.
Demonstrators also turned the spotlight on the harm that class cuts may have on the city's immigrant communities in a time of rising anti-Asian hate, from Cantonese courses that train workers who help the city's Chinese community, to some English as a Second Language classes considered crucial for new immigrants.
"When I heard that the Cantonese program was going to be defunded permanently, my heart dropped," said Julia Quon, a doula and birth worker who was raised in the Sunset District, at Thursday's rally. "These Cantonese classes were not only a way for me to connect with my heritage, but also to connect with the families that I work with."
Quon started a "Save Cantonese at CCSF" group with her classmates and told KQED earlier this week that it shocked her to learn CCSF may no longer offer Cantonese — especially in light of ongoing attacks against Asians and Asian Americans.
"Cantonese classes are necessary in fighting anti-Asian hate because this language is spoken by so many residents in San Francisco," she said. "If people are able to communicate with these victims and survivors in their own language, it helps give people a voice. Imagine being attacked, and going to the authorities, and every single person there has no idea what you're saying."
The college is currently facing declining enrollment, with its population peaking at 100,000 students in 2009. But a subsequent threat to the college's accreditation, demographic changes in San Francisco itself and, finally, the pandemic, led to a decline in enrollment by tens of thousands.
That declining enrollment prompted a drop in funding. The previously announced faculty layoffs were designed to bring the college in line with a state funding scheme called the "Student-Centered Funding Formula" first implemented by state officials in 2019 that prioritizes funding not only by enrollment — as was the case previously — but also on calculations including "student success" as measured by certificates, associate degrees or students transferring to four-year colleges and universities.
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CCSF was given a reprieve from mandates to meet that formula until 2023 — but the college is now tasked with streamlining classes to ready itself for that date. Instead, school leaders may now turn to additional funding to buttress the college.
Wong, one of the college's trustees, said he is committed to honoring the tentative agreement to work on fighting for more funding for the college.
"Education is significantly underfunded in California," Wong said. "City College and our stakeholder groups need to work hard as a team to secure more funding from city, state and federal sources."
The CCSF board of trustees will hold a special meeting to vote on the agreement on Monday.
KQED's Emily Hung contributed to this story.
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