Hartnell president refutes faculty data
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Hartnell College faculty members complain that the school’s average professor salary ranks last in California, and demand more money. College administrators respond that the statistic is simply wrong, and say there isn’t any money to give.
Such is the nature of the contract negotiations stalemate at Hartnell, where about 100 unionized faculty members have gone without a contract since the 2004-05 school year. As classes started this week, faculty members have intensified pressure in order to win a retroactive pay raise of around 5 percent.
Negotiations are now at a deadlock and no new talks are scheduled. Faculty members vow to continue their battle for increased wages, and many believe a strike is inevitable.
“It’s going to happen,” says Lourdes Villarreal, an English professor who on Monday wore a big yellow button saying “It’s about respect.”
“You can only tell people so long, ‘You’re great, you’re great,’ but not offer more money.”
It is in this context that Edward Valeau, the president and superintendent of Hartnell since 1995, sat down for an interview on Monday morning. Flanked by Larry Carrier, the college’s vice president and Michael Foudy, the chief negotiator on behalf of the school, Valeau said the college is ready to keep the school open with replacement staff in case of a strike.
Valeau stressed that the 3 percent retroactive raise the college offered faculty for the 2004-05 school year, and a stipend of $140 per month toward health insurance, remains the school’s last and best offer.
“The college would like for faculty to accept the offer,” says Valeau. “The contract we’re talking about is three years old. We’d like to move forward.”
But that’s not going to be easy.
Faculty members have been bolstered in their negotiating positions by recent independent reports. In March, for example, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s office released a study that showed Hartnell’s faculty earned an average of $52,722. That puts them at the bottom of the list of 72 college districts statewide.
Then, in July, a fact-finding panel headed by attorney Joe Henderson cited the chancellor’s office report and found that the college had $993,000 in an insurance fund. That money, the panel decided, could be used to pay faculty the extra money it was asking for, including about $350,000 for the 2004-05 school year.
Valeau and his administrators insist that both reports are wrong.
Carrier says the actual average salary for Hartnell faculty in 2004-05 was $64,779. With a retroactive raise of 3 percent, that number would rise to $66,722, near the middle of the pack statewide.
As for the $993,000 in insurance money, Valueau says the
school has earmarked that to pay for previous Workers’
Compensation claims and benefits for employees who retire in
There is another point that Valeau does not dismiss, however. And that has to do with his own salary.
Many faculty members have openly snarled about the fact that Valeau earns more than $214,000 a year—more, they point out, than Vice President Dick Cheney ($208,100) or Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ($175,000).
Valeau says attacks on his earnings by faculty are understandable.
“It’s an age-old argument,” he says: “‘Look how much the president makes versus how much the workers make.’” His response is that his job is akin to that of a CEO, that his position has no guarantee or tenure, and that criticisms of his earnings do not take into consideration how many hours his job takes.
This attitude does little to ease the minds of faculty members like Lourdes. “I could support a president that would say, ‘These are hard times, we all have to cut back,’” Lourdes says. “Just some kind of symbolic gesture that says, ‘We’re with you.’”