Saturday, November 22, 2014
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College reaches impasse with faculty union

Antelope Valley College officials and the union that represents faculty at the college have mutually declared an impasse in their contract negotiations – an action that could affect district efforts to reduce spending in light of proposed statewide cuts to education.

Without releasing details of negotiations, district officials explained that in their view, the faculty’s fair share under the planned worst-case budget scenario for the 2011-12 fiscal year is approximately $3.68 million.

Officials acknowledged the faculty union was unwilling to agree to concessions to reach the target amount. They noted that other employee groups on campus would not have to pick up a larger share of cuts due to the impasse.

AVC will certify the impasse with the state Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), which is expected to assign a mediator to the case, according to Shane Turner, vice president of human resources. If mediation fails, the college will go to fact finding to review the district’s budget numbers.

By then, the college will have reached its last, best, final offer, according to Turner. If the fact finder finds in the district’s favor, the college will be able to implement its last, best, final offer.

That process could take many months, according to Shane Turner, vice president of human resources.

“It’s unfortunate,” college President Dr. Jackie L. Fisher Sr. said of the impasse. “This is difficult for all of us. The challenge before us is to plan for the worst-case budget scenario. That’s what the state Chancellor’s office and others have told us to do. Colleges statewide have responded by cutting thousands of classes and other measures.”

Fisher referred to recent comments made by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, who said he was “perplexed” by school districts that aren’t preparing for a state budget balanced strictly through cuts and no additional taxes or tax extensions.

"Are we all just hoping for the best?" Simitian asked at a recent Capitol hearing.

An all-cuts budget is expected to result in a loss of $8 million to $10 million for AVC in the budget year that begins July 1.

Fisher said college officials would continue to work toward budget reductions in the coming weeks in anticipation of massive state budget cuts.

“It’s the responsible thing to do,” Fisher said.