February 2023 Advocate: District can afford healthy pay & benefit increases

District Budget

District’s strong financial position could easily provide fair faculty and staff pay & benefit increases

by Steven Lehigh, AFT 1493 Treasurer, CSM Economics Professor

Contract Year Salary Increase Inflation* Real Change Amount below 50% Law
2020-2021 5.67% 5.25% 0.42% $14.1 million (41.6%)
2021-2022 0.52% 8.26% -7.31% $15.7 million (41%)
2022-2023 5% 3.20% -5.71% TBD
2023-2024 3% 3.20% -5.81% TBD
2024-2025 3% 3.20% -6.02% TBD

Numbers in this table have been updated from a previous version. “Real Change” represents the additional amount that would need to be added to the salary increase to get us back to our 2019-20 salary, accounting for inflation.
* Inflation projections of 3.2% for 2022-23, 2023-24 & 2024-25 are the CPI historical average since 1913. See CPI Inflation Calculator
The District’s initial salary increase offer is 5%, 3%, 3% for the 2022-2025 contract

It is clear that when the district wants to prioritize something, the money is there… We must continue to demand that our district make faculty and staff a priority!

Faculty pay is being eaten away by inflation

At this point, everyone is aware of the impact the surge in inflation has had on cost of living the past few years: the data above illustrates the direct impact it has had on our faculty. In July of 2021, the last time all faculty received an across the board salary adjustment, it was an increase of just 0.52%. Over the course of the next 12 months, actual cost of living (inflation) rose an average of  8.26% and has continued to remain above historical averages for the first half of this academic year. Not only does the district proposal fail to address the wages that were lost, it is not projected to come close to closing the cost of living gap from where we were in 2019-20.

District budget is strong, but faculty and staff pay & benefits are not being prioritized

All of this while our district is in a state of financial strength. Revenues remain strong, colleges and the district all have healthy reserves, and the district continues to reallocate funds elsewhere while not meeting the 50% law, the requirement that community college districts must spend at least 50% of their educational expenses on classroom instructors’ salaries. (Read more on the 50% law and the district’s history of violating it.) It is clear that when the district wants to prioritize something, the money is there. With the rollout of our free college initiative (SB 893), $6 Million was allocated for the Spring semester alone and in budget meetings, the prospect of building in $10 Million to the budget has been floated for next year. And just last weekend, at the Feb. 4 Board of Trustees Retreat, different scenarios for the annual costs for the free college initiative were presented, which could potentially cost up to $23 Million for next year. Why the district can’t also meet basic cost of living increases for its faculty and staff has to be questioned. The union supports free community college, but there must be a sustainable funding mechanism and there is no reason free college or funding for other initiatives should come at the expense of faculty and staff.

The significant chunk of money being saved by not meeting the 50% law should be the starting point for meeting faculty cost of living needs. The salary proposal is just one illustration. Health care costs have continued to rise, the part-timer pay parity gap still has not been fully addressed (the district proposal also falls short) and additional part-timer health care coverage is also needed. We must continue to demand that our district make faculty and staff a priority!