Eight months into negotiations, St. Petersburg College (SPC) reached an agreement with the newly-formed union representing adjunct faculty, resulting in a three-year contract with sections that addressed several of the educators’ concerns.
As the final step in the process, the contract was passed on to the school’s board of trustees for ratification. Union organizer, Jamaica Reddick, commended the administration for recognizing the importance of adjuncts in SPC’s overall operations.
However, the contract was rejected. Trustee Deveron Gibbons found fault with a particular section which stated that adjuncts would be paid $150 if a course is canceled up to two weeks before it starts. After dismissing this provision, he requested to have the union contract removed from the agenda.
“We have employees cleaning buildings, bathrooms and all kinds of other places. We have full-time faculty and other folks who have a tremendous amount of work to do all the time and none of them in the past five years have received one raise,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons suggested that the board meet with SPC President Tonjua Williams and the administration to clarify expectations before reopening negotiations. But this decision did not sit well with the union.
The union’s chief negotiator, Service Employees International Union organizer Rick Smith, pointed out that a request for a salary increase was not stated in the contract. He also revealed that every union he has helped included the standard $150 fee for scrapped courses.
SPC Vice President for Academic Affairs Matthew Liao-Troth, who was part of the bargaining team, said that he also was surprised at the board’s decision. Since this is the first faculty contract presented to trustees, the expectation was that they would want to spend more time to read and understand it.
When the meeting ended, Liao-Troth sent an email to adjuncts informing them of the decision and that the college is still willing to fully cooperate with them on the matter.