Banditelli: Classified Employees Deserve Equitable Treatment

Income inequality was the buzzword of the 2016 Presidential Election, with Bernie Sanders coming from nowhere to close in on the Democratic Party’s nomination by his consistent emphasis on the disparity between the one-percent and the rest of us.  In higher education, increased tuition, increased spending and the need for more financial aid at many colleges and universities has underscored this income disparity. The level of debt has put thousands of students and their parents at financial risk and threatens the issue of long term fiscal viability of those institutions.

Nationally, there are many reasons for this income chasm, but it often begins with inequitable treatment in the workplace, where labor contracts can and should help to level the playing field.

Sometimes, however, the employer will actually make it worse.

Consider the situation at the Coast Community College District – and the way the administration has treated its classified employees in negotiating wages and benefits for those workers. In California, virtually all K-12 and community college employees, with the exception of faculty are classified employees.  The maintenance crews, the cafeteria workers, the clerical employees, the staff who work in Admissions and Records, in Financial Aid, in Veterans’ Affairs are all classified employees, as are the women and men who assist disabled students to get around the campus, take notes and “hear” the classroom lectures.

These employees have not received a raise in eight years although faculty and management have, and even the Board of Trustees voted themselves a 5% raise this year while continuing to deny any raise to classified employees.  And, the District has paid tens of thousands of dollars for studies comparing the wages of the classified employees to those in other comparable community college districts.  That study told the District that it was underpaying many of its classified employees, yet the District has continued to refuse to raise the classifieds’ wages, which begs the question why the District spent the money on the study to begin with?

In its continuing pattern of divergent treatment, the representatives of the Board of Trustees have insisted that the classified employees, who, by and large, are paid significantly less than administrative and faculty personnel, take cuts to their retirement, additional health benefits cuts and changes to long and short term disability, although the same demands were not made of the faculty or management.  In fact, the District agreed to a three-year status quo on health benefits for faculty.

Fairness demands that the District treat its employees, who are also taxpayers and members of the Orange County community, equitably.  Eight years is long enough to wait for a raise, when others have received pay increases.  The Coast Community College District has to treat its classified employees with respect, dignity and evenhandedness.

Nate Banditelli, Executive Director, Coast Federation of Classified Employees, AFT Local 4794.  The Coast Federation of Classified Employees, AFT Local 4794, represents over 700 classified professionals who support students in the Coast Community College District.

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org

  • I recall OCC used to be considered one of the highest rated Community Colleges in the USA. out of curiosity I decided to search for their standing now. Most sites rated on terms of affordability & grad rates. One site I found was https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-community-colleges/15076/#main-findings
    OCC was rated the following: TOTAL SCORE: 51.73; COST & FINANCING RANK: 94; EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES RANK: 651; CAREER OUTCOMES RANK: 174… Looks like a pretty bleak success rate. The only category within the top 100 was cost & financing which barely squeezed in at 94 out of 821 colleges OCC ranks 651 in educational outcomes I attended OCC in the early 1980’s as well as during 2006 & 2009 I recall the CIS department was good, but I also recall trying to sign up for a basic code writing class in 2010 as a continuing student with veteran preference the class was closed 5 minutes after open for sign up, I was told that a Corporation purchased most of the seats for their foreign students they want as interns.

    The campus is well maintained. I usually agree with LFOldTimer, but not in this case, how are you aware of the compensation rates at OCC vs the private sector? I find that too often when someone quotes Union rates of pay vs private sector is using (often) companies using illegal immigrants as cut rate labor.

    Perhaps the legislature is trying to get the cream of the crop teachers and to do that they are looking for incentives. But I believe the 2016 pay rate of over $60,000 to $70,000 for elementary & HS teachers should be incentive enough.

    I believe the day Administrators are paid the equivalent of what teachers are paid will be the day to talk about getting rid of public sector unions.

    • LFOldTimer

      Show me anywhere in the private sector where a custodian at a private school collects a nice pension on which he can retire at age 55, Dweeze? lol.

      Keep in mind that most teachers work 9 months out of the year. Many take summer jobs that supplement their incomes. When I was a kid teachers cops and fireman were very middle class. Today they make comfortable six-figure compensations putting most in the top 5% of income earners. On top of that they have bullet-proof job security unless they’re convicted of some really heinous crime. Iron-clad job security in bad economies is worth at least another $30,000 a year.

      Private sector salaries and benefits should be the gold standard for EVERYONE. Public sector workers shouldn’t be treated like a group of high-brow kings and queens. They put their pants and skirts on in the morning like everyone else. They’re not any more special than the next guy or gal. In fact, from a standpoint of competency most are deficient.

      • Tell me old timer, since when do 2 wrongs equal a right? It’s too bad that private sector wage statistics take low wage illegal workers into consideration.Everyone working in the private sector deserves a pension, medical benefits as well as a living wage. And I do not mean a 401k that only makes bankers money.
        Perhaps you may recall the birth of the middle class in the 1940’s to early 60’s, you know when a man brought home the bacon and a wife took care of the home? You know when housing costs were based on a single breadwinner, not how much the banks can get, It was a period when over 30% of workers had a union backing them up.

        • LFOldTimer

          Illegals generally work off the books, Dweeze. Their wages aren’t even entered into the stats. The government does NOTHING to enforce the laws.

          Look, an entry level job for a college grad only pays $13-$15 hr. A stupid 4-year degree (many of which are worthless in the job market) forces $50,000 of debt on some poor unwary kid with a degree in liberal arts or ethnic studies. IMO it’s borderline criminal.

          Bankers who feed the kids these loans can’t lose. If the kid defaults the loans are government guaranteed. No risk at all for Mr. Banker. He works hand in hand with the university president to sell worthless educations to stupid 19 year old kids. The university fills a seat in the classroom while Mr. Banker gets RISK-FREE loan money!!! LOL. It’s a scam, Dweeze!!!

          Look at the wages paid to university workers though!!! They’re all paid like rocket scientists with big fat pensions that will eventually only pay about $0.25 on a dollar because the money is running out fast.

          Feminism ruined it for women. Now the women have to bring home the bacon too to make ends meet. My mom’s generation had it made. The old man worked his fingers to the bone while mom stayed home and watched the soaps. Today women are slaves too, thanks to feminism.

          • I have known a number of illegals that used fake SSAN’s to work, predominantly in the food service industry. But I agree with the remainder of your comment with one small exception, it is not only 19 year olds that get screwed, there are also older people wishing to make a job change or whose jobs were exported.

          • LFOldTimer

            You’re right, Dweeze. Illegals either work off the books or engage in identity theft which hurts US citizens by messing up their official financial records that can take years to untangle and repair. The latter really compromises the integrity of our system. But the snowflakes don’t seem to give a damn about that.

            And you’re correct. Illegals stealing jobs hurts the young and the old. But mostly it hurts our own citizen underclass who cannot find a job and already suffer from the maladies of poverty.

            Anyone who promotes this type of nonsense cannot call themselves “Americans” IMO. They are traitors.

  • verifiedsane

    One solution would be to bid out the services to the private sector & dissolve the union…..let market forces dictate the actual worth & value of Classified Employees…After-all, it appears those union dues Classified Employees are paying aren’t doing all that much good anywise; except maybe funding one particular political party and their candidates…..

    • LFOldTimer

      Trump’s plan to bring in more charter schools (and thus more competition) is the answer. The public school clowns hate the aspect of competition because it means they would have to work and perform or look like incompetent clods.

      Simply compare the finished products of public and private high school education. About 90% of the private school students go on to college. Only about 50% of 4th year senior public high school students can read and write with the proficiency of an 8th grader in a private school.

      Incompetency has always been an arch-enemy of competition.

      • OCC is a beautiful campus well maintained by classified workers, which shows good production on the part of Classified Employees, yet, as I mentioned below the Educational Outcome rank is 651 out of 821 colleges seems poor production on the part of the Administration & Teaching staff, yet who is rewarded?

    • OCservant_Leader

      Another solution would be – dismantle the unions (AKA the middle class) and outsource to China /India.

      What could possibly happen??

      Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.

      We tried the Greed way & the Titons got richer and the workers got screwed every time.

      Just saying.

  • David Zenger

    Sorry, Nate, the “other public employees are getting a better deal” argument isn’t going to persuade the general public of some gross injustice.

    A gross injustice would be having to work until age 67 to support an army of public employees who get to retire at 55 or even 50.

  • LFOldTimer

    They already make far more in compensation than private sector workers with comparable skill sets and jobs.

    I heard on the radio yesterday that the liberals in Sacramento have proposed a bill that would exempt K-12 teachers with a FULL EXEMPTION FROM STATE TAXES after five years on the job!!! HA! I kid you not!!! What other vocation gets that sort of entitlement???

    We need to dismantle all public unions. The ‘pay to play’ scam they have going with the politicians has gone extreme. It’s nothing more than strong armed robbery of the common California taxpayers!!!

    These are robber barons! Not public servants!

  • RyanCantor

    “Eight years is long enough to wait for a raise, when others have received pay increases.”

    You could, oh . . . I dunno . . . leave and get another job.

    • Yes spend 10+ years paying into a Pension plan earning seniority and serving a business, then quit and start at the bottom all over again…

      • RyanCantor

        Exactly.

        If there’s a significant impediment to employees leaving, that’s actually an argument to pay them less, not more.

        • You sound like a mix of Paul Ryan & Eric Cantor, and thats not a good thing.

          • RyanCantor

            Nooooooooooo! You’ve made fun of my name! My name! I’m melting . . . melting . . . what a world, what a world . . .

            My argument trembles before your rapier like wit and towering intellect.

            Wait.

            No.

            It doesn’t.

            Act like an adult, Dweezle. If you can’t handle it, return to the ball pit from whence you came.