Classified employees protest, walk out on BOT

Santa Monica College Classified Employees and their supporters protested the Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday over alleged contract violations and potential austerity measures that may result in layoffs next year. About 30 members from the Classified School Employees Union gathered at the Bundy Campus and held signs that read “Honor Your Word” and “Shame on You,” before the meeting.

CSEA members perform the non-administrative, non-teaching roles at the college like grounds keeping and building maintenance. They allege that revisions made by the board were done “away from the table” and violate the negotiated agreement reached by the two parties each year.

Proposals at the meeting included a removal of two sections in the contract—one granting raises and another that allows CSEA members to receive the same health benefits granted to other unions.

“This ‘me too’ clause is a contractual provision wherein an employer promises a union that it will receive the benefit of any better deal that the employer might later reach with another union,” according to CSEA’s website.

The Board mandated that CSEA give up this “me too” obligation in exchange for no reduction in positions barring the passage of Prop 30 as a result of the cancellation of the winter session.

“At the last myself and other classified staff pleaded with you to fulfill obligations and honor the contract you have with classified staff. Either due to apathy, arrogance, or both, you decided to renege on those obligations,” said classified employee Willis Barton.

Board member Dr. Susan Aminoff explained that the Board made these decisions as a last resort in an attempt to prevent layoffs.  “My number one priority is to keep people employed,” said Aminoff.

Extra pressure has been placed on the classified employees since the college approved a 2012-2013 budget that includes a contingency plan where employees may suffer layoffs if November ballot initiative Prop 30 doesn’t pass.

“We were promised, from the Board, equity across the board and from the top down,” said Bernie Rosenloecher, the president of the local CSEA chapter.

Members of the union assembled and walked out of the meeting after Louise Jaffe discussed contract specifics “away from the table.”  According to Rosenloecher, this is in violation of their protocol.

Other items discussed at the meeting included a resolution in opposition to Proposition 32, a ballot aimed to stop union contribution to campaigns and a conclusion of work on the roof of the college’s Bundy campus building.