Welcome, everyone, to the start of a new academic year. The MCCC has lived through year one post-Janus and so far, things are holding steady. Yet now is not the time to become complacent. The threat to collective bargaining is as great as it has ever been.
Our hard-won beneﬁts – health insurance, vacation accrual, sick time – are losing ground against the tide of wealth consolidation into fewer and fewer hands. The 2% raises given to us by the governor, despite the strongest economy in over a decade, doesn’t even cover the cost of living increases. Yet more is being demanded of us. Reassigned time that members have received for decades is suddenly eliminated. Consolidation and reorganization are leading to retrenchments. Every year, more full-time work is eliminated and replaced with unbeneﬁted gig work. Do more with less we are told.
At my campus, the afternoon cookies and coffee, the tiny show of regard for the hours of meetings and heavy lifting of programs expected of us, has been eliminated. One of the elevators, the only one to the fourth ﬂoor where resides the only ofﬁce in the building for adjunct faculty, doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked for weeks. All the drinking fountains are covered over with plastic wrap. No one know when or if the water will ever be safe again to drink. No one has a clue when the elevator will be working again. The college has no funding for “hospitality,” or, it seems, for basic operations and repairs.
As the governor and some in the legislature drag their feet or otherwise just don’t feel any sense of urgency to try to get our measly 2% raises funded, despite it being a year and a half overdue, others have decided that now is the time to add insult injury and try to cap our sick leave.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Carlos Santiago has come to recognize that something must be done about the steadily widening gap between those whose achievement have been going up steadily over the past two decades, even as for others the decline has been equally as steady. Because of the role the community colleges play in the education of students of color in the Commonwealth, it is the community colleges that must do the heavy lifting to close this gap.
Once again, we the educators in the community colleges are expected ad-dress the gross education inequities that decades of neglect has caused, even as the neglect continues — 500 days without a cost-of living raise, no potable water in our buildings and no way for some of us to get up to our ofﬁces. Now seems like a good time to remind everyone that the working conditions of educators are the learning conditions of students. It is not just the faculty and professional staff who are harmed in the push toward replacing full-time beneﬁted work with underpaid, unbeneﬁted work. Students are equally harmed.
Now, therefore, more than ever, is the time for organized labor to rise again and reclaim the potency of collective might. We have seen the power of collective action from West Virginia to Arizona, from California to Hong Kong. Just imagine what can be achieved if the 6500 dedicated faculty and professional staff
of the commonwealth’s 15 community colleges were mobilized and activated for our collective common good and the good of our students. Just imagine it…