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Strike threat looms over Clark College as classes begin

As students and instructors returned to Clark on Monday, news of a possible strike loomed over campus. We at the Indy know that students have lots of questions. We will be working to keep our community updated. Here are answers to some questions you may already have.

I heard there might be a teacher strike at Clark College. What does that mean for students?

Instructors at Clark say they will strike starting Monday, Jan. 13 if college officials don’t offer an additional wage increases  by 5 p.m. on Jan 10. If instructors strike, students won’t have classes — either online or in person. During a strike, instructors would unpublish their classes in Canvas and they wouldn’t show up to face-to-face classes. 

Why is this happening?

Negotiations between Clark officials and instructors started in June 2018. The college made its “last, best and final offer” for faculty raises in November. Instructors voted Dec. 7 to approve the possibility of a strike. The two sides met Dec. 27, Jan. 2 and Jan. 4 but didn’t reach an agreement. Negotiations are ongoing.

Faculty and the college have resumed bargaining, but have yet to reach an agreement. 

What is the college’s offer as of Jan. 6?

The administration has published their most recent offer online. The offer has two possible options. 

It would give full-time instructors a retroactive 1.0% permanent salary increase for 2018-2019 and a 4% permanent salary increase and 3.2% cost of living increase for 2019-2020. The state already allocated the money for the 3.2% cost of living increase. 

The college has offered the union two options for part-time instructors.

The first offer ties adjunct salaries to full-time instructors, giving part-time instructors approximately 70% of a full-time instructor’s salary over a five-year period. 

The second offer for adjuncts is a 6% permanent salary increase and 3.2% cost of living increase for 2019-2020 .

How much do instructors make?

The union argues instructors at Clark make less than Washington K-12 teachers and colleagues at other area community colleges.

Salaries at Clark vary widely and depend on many factors, leaving some instructors to make much less than others. 

In 2018-2019, the median actual pay for the highest paid group of instructors, full-time tenure track faculty, was $79,000. The median pay for the next highest group, full-time non-tenure track instructors, was $68,500, according to public salary records the Indy obtained in a records request.

A new tenure-track instructors made about $55,000 per year in 2018-19.

And some faculty make far more than that, by teaching additional classes or shouldering additional responsibilities.

Among the top 20 highest paid employees at Clark, 13 are tenured instructors. They made between $110,000 and $130,000 per year. 

The college pays part-time instructors, also known as adjuncts, based on the number of credits they teach. An adjunct English instructor who taught 15 credits per term in fall, winter and spring would earn about $33,000 per year—about half the salary of a full-time teacher.

How long would a strike last?

That is unclear. In fall 2018, K-12 teachers from local school districts held strikes that lasted from a few days in Vancouver to 12 days in Battle Ground.

Correction: An earlier version of the article referred to the “median annual salary” for full-time tenure track faculty. It should have said “median actual pay,” which can be higher than annual salary.

One Comment

  1. Dee Anne Finken

    This is a well-reported and well-written story, Jeni. Nicely done.

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