As Spring quarter approaches, Clark College faculty and administration remain locked in a stalemate regarding negotiations for increased faculty salaries. Throughout Winter quarter, Clark’s Association of Higher Education (AHE) organized several faculty events to show solidarity and raise awareness.
On Friday, April 5 faculty and AHE representatives are coming together again in an ‘act of solidarity.’ Participants will meet in front of Hanna/Foster Hall on Clark’s main campus at 8 a.m. before marching to a nearby park to hear a number of speakers. Around one hundred faculty and supporters are expected to attend, according to Communication Studies professor Suzanne Southerland.
“The goal of our march is to communicate our demand for fair and professional pay,” Southerland said. “We want the community to know that our higher educators deserve fair compensation. Even at the top of the pay scale, Clark professors are making 20 percent less than K-12 teachers with comparable education and experience.”
Friday’s event is the latest in a series of attempts by the AHE to raise community awareness and get the administration to listen to their struggles. Throughout Winter quarter the AHE organized the ‘wear red for ed’ campaign and at several of the Board of Trustees meetings faculty showed up en masse.
During Winter quarter the AHE also conducted a workplace psychological health survey of Clark faculty, to which 65 percent of faculty responded. At the March 13 Board of Trustees meeting, AHE President Kimberly Sullivan shared a number of statistics from the survey, which paints a shocking image of how faculty members feel about their jobs:
- 72 percent of faculty feel marginalized at Clark
- 69 percent of faculty feel disrespected at Clark
- 81 percent of faculty experience or have experienced anxiety and/or depression related to their jobs
- 22 percent of faculty drink or use medication in response to conditions related to their jobs
- 43 percent of faculty work other jobs in addition to their position at Clark
“Look at us,” Sullivan said at the meeting.
In the last negotiation session with the AHE, the administration’s negotiation team offered a one percent raise to all faculty, a deal many faculty view as, “a slap in the face.”
“The college needs to re-prioritize the budget. Your budget reflects your values,” Southerland said. “If Clark is committed to hiring faculty that reflects the diversity of its student population, they need to offer fair and equitable compensation so that we can attract teachers who don’t necessarily come from a privileged background.”
According to an email from the AHE, speakers at Friday’s event will include Shannon Walker, president of the SW Washington Central Labor Council. Along with Cager Clabaugh, president of the local chapter of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
Faculty and AHE also have the support of Jobs with Justice, a national union rights organization and the Camas Education Association (CEA). Shelley Houle, the CEA president will also be in attendance.
“We must come out and support each other,” the email reads. “Our community is supporting us – let’s show them that we’re supporting each other.”