LETTER: Disappointed with Administration in faculty contract negotiations

I would like to issue with clarity my regret after reading in Thursday's Seattle Times Seattle Colleges' position on the AFT contract for faculty compensation.

As a student, as a valued customer since 2012 who has purchased education from two other Washington state colleges, I insist that you accept in their entirety the terms proposed by Washington AFT in this round of negotiations and prepare to do so in future negotiations.

I was not able to attend my 2 pm Landscape Design class in good conscience as I am a state employee myself under a collective bargaining agreement with Public Schools. My class meets two evenings, and it's been keeping me busy. The Times article was unfortunately the first I'd heard of the contract negotiations.

I passed groups of educators picketing outside North Seattle CC today while driving between public K-12 schools I maintain as a staff gardener. In a state and city such as ours it is disconcerting any of them should need to lay a hand on a picket sign. I mistakenly thought the impact of their work in our communities is valued more than that.

It is because of faculty in Landscape Horticulture at South and meeting students in the program that I have my job at all. The skills I've developed come from the specializations of the instructors and the contacts made in the classes help connect students to job opportunities like the one I thank for my salary and benefits.

Faculty and classified staff positions with public educational and administrative bodies are the backbone of employment in virtually any economy. This is especially true in Seattle where private sector employment secured by candidates relocating nationally and globally is stretching our rich-poor gap at home and driving housing costs out of reach for the majority of wage workers.

Residents of Washington, of Seattle, of neighborhoods where a commute to your school is financially, practically and ecologically sustainable need these jobs. To the same end, they need the compensation to be sustainable: commensurate with the cost of living in a rapidly growing major metropolitan area of the U.S., where the cost of doing business is high in private and public sectors for evident reasons.

The increases of 3.7 percent for full time faculty and 2.6 for part time are insufficient. Any reference to a future legislative session can be easily applied to the previous one. The funding is available, and it's going to someone else based upon the rationale that faculty salary is not as valuable as administrative salary.

A final note I'd like to make is that the most difficult experience in my years taking courses at South was registration. I was prepared to attend at least one full school quarter prior to being cleared to register for classes. Transcripts submitted, fees paid, advising appointment complete.

In private sector terms, get the customers into the store so that you may sell them your products and services. Manage revenue streams sufficiently if lack of funding is going to be part of your rejection of a request for share of compensation.

Since sitting down in my first class, it's faculty who have made the experience valuable to my education and indispensable in my career. Please compensate them according to the terms currently proposed by AFT.

I have not completed registration for winter quarter. My employer pays tuition in full, but my frustration with the college above the program itself has me questioning if my education and those of fellow students is important to administration at all, and if so, in what way?

Regretfully yours,

Collin Coyne

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