Saturday, July 13, 2024

Labor legend Dolores Huerta marches with Pasadena ArtCenter faculty

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Workers’ rights pioneer Dolores Huerta joined labor organizers, state officials, faith leaders and faculty at Pasadena ArtCenter College of Design Thursday, June 22, to deliver a petition to the board of trustees calling on university’s leadership to negotiate a contract with the recently formed faculty union.

Last June the faculty voted to form the ArtCenter Faculty Federation, under the California Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, but the union and university management have yet to agree to a contract after months of negotiations in more than a dozen meetings.

Faculty members said they formed the union hoping to have more input in governance, secure better wages, build more job security, and create a more transparent path toward career advancement.

ArtCenter officials said they have a deal on the table addressing wages and career advancement.

“ArtCenter is making increasing progress toward our target of reaching a contract with the ACFF this fall, we are not by any means at an impasse,” ArtCenter President Karen Hoffman said in a statement.

“We have met with ACFF for 19 sessions so far, and have five upcoming sessions scheduled. We are encouraged that the climate of the bargaining sessions has steadily improved.”

The demonstration began with a rally outside the ArtCenter South Campus featuring Huerta, the famed union leader and United Farm Workers founder, former State Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, faculty union members, and student supporters.

“This organization here cannot function without the teachers, without the teachers they don’t exist,” Huerta said outside the ArtCenter building on Arroyo Seco Parkway.

“We just have to hang tough and not give up, we have to let them know we’re determined, and we have to get more allies to put the heat on them so they will sign the contract… the main thing to let them know is you will be here no matter how long it takes.”

Following the rally, dozens of supporters marched inside the building, filling the lobby where the board was having a meeting on the 4th floor. Huerta, Gonzalez Fletcher, and Thurmond went up to the board meeting to deliver the petition.

Shortly afterward, Hoffman addressed the crowd in the lobby, telling protesters that the administration heard their message. Hoffman invited the union bargaining team into the board of trustees meeting.

“We support ACFF’s June 21st rally, but we’re eager to return the teams’ focus back to the bargaining table so that we can reach agreement soon through productive discussion,” Hoffman’s statement continued. “Our community can be assured that we will work tirelessly to achieve a fair contract as we provide the best possible education for our students and serve as responsible stewards of ArtCenter’s future.”

According to National Labor Relations Board records, the union has filed three unfair labor practices complaints against the school —  two in January and another in April — claiming it made unilateral changes to terms and conditions of their employment. Those cases are still open.

ArtCenter officials called the allegations meritless and denied any wrongdoing associated with the complaints or any other dealings with the faculty or union representatives.

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