TODAY at 3pm: California College of the Arts Workers Close Out 4-Day Unfair Labor Practice Strike with Lively Rally and March with Students
Students are showing up in force to support striking staff and adjunct faculty even as administration continues to dodge questions about their own excessive salaries, college priorities
**MEDIA ADVISORY FOR FRI., FEB. 11**
Contact: Jennie Smith-Camejo, email@example.com, 510-710-0201
This afternoon, California College of the Arts (CCA) staff will be concluding the final day of their four-day unfair labor practice strike to the beat of drums and a march around the campus and surrounding Potrero Hill neighborhood, following a speak-out for students, staff, and faculty who feel gaslit and exploited by administration, and will cover the front door with personal messages for CCA administration. The strike has been met with an outpouring of support from students, faculty, and the community, manifested in nearly $20,000 in donations to date to the strike fund they set up last week, appearances at rallies on the strike lines from elected officials, and strong participation from students that has grown throughout the week, including over a dozen who shared their experiences of feeling used and disrespected by CCA administration at a speak-out on Thursday.
WHAT: CCA staff strike, with sympathy strike participation from students, adjunct faculty, and ranked faculty. Activities for the week listed here.
WHEN: Friday, Feb. 11. Picket line 8am-5pm; community speak-out (including students) and march beginning at 3pm, followed by students, staff, and faculty papering the building with messages for administration.
WHERE: CCA San Francisco campus, 1111 8th St, San Francisco, CA 94107
WHY: CCA administration continues to violate federal labor law while slow-walking contract negotiations with their staff.
VISUALS: CCA staff, faculty, and students marching on picket lines, chanting, screen-printing signs urging CCA to settle a fair contract, papering the doors with messages, and other creative strike-related activities.
The strike could have been avoided, had CCA administration decided to get serious about reaching agreements on their employees’ key priorities after they voted by 97% to authorize a strike in December. Instead, classes have been cancelled, studios and facilities shuttered, services interrupted, and their staff, faculty, and students are speaking out to news media and on social media.
“I am here today on strike really for the students first and foremost. This is really a CCA strike. The staff got this started by voting to strike, but it’s really staff, adjuncts, and students who are out today to say that CCA needs to change,” said Piper Alldredge, who has worked in the model shop at CCA for four years and is a member of the staff union bargaining team. “They need to change the way they approach their relationship with their faculty, staff, and students. This is an unfair labor practice strike, because CCA has violated the law. We’ve been negotiating for almost 2.5 years at this point–it’s time for a fair contract that raises the wages for the lowest paid workers at CCA. Some are making less than $40k a year and trying to live on that here in the Bay Area. It’s time for a contract that acknowledges the vote we took in April 2019 to unionize. We demand a contract that gives us a say in our working conditions.”
CCA staff will continue to hold the picket lines from 8am to 5pm outside the San Francisco campus today. They will hold a community speak-out at noon today, hearing from students, staff, faculty, and alumni, as well as artistic activities related to the strike at various times throughout the week. Adjunct faculty are participating in a sympathy strike, cancelling classes and joining the picket lines. Monday, an overwhelming majority of ranked faculty members signed a letter to CCA administration urging them to settle a fair contract with staff and adjuncts and pledging not to cross the picket line, instead participating in strike-related teach-ins and pedagogical activities.
Key priorities that administration has not adequately addressed in contract negotiations include livable wages—though CCA President Stephen Beal is paid more than any other administrator of a private Bay Area college, behind only the president of Stanford, roughly 2/3 of full-time staff are considered low-income by Bay Area cost of living measures—and job security, as well as input into decision-making. CCA’s economic proposal keeps many workers living paycheck to paycheck and is far below the rate of inflation. Salaries for the entire unionized workforce is less than 10% CCA’s $108 million budget, and the raises proposed would cost less than 1% of CCA’s budget.
CCA’s public relations team has pushed back on reporting about administrative salaries, pointing to a 25% pay cut they voluntarily took in April 2020 “for the remainder of the fiscal year” (which ended June 30, 2020) as they were laying much of their staff off. However, they have been less forthcoming about the fact that the president taking a 25% pay cut to a $580,000 salary is little comfort to a staff person making $50,000 a year and facing a year-long furlough. So far, they have provided no evidence that the pay cut is still in effect and have not made their 1099s from FY 2020-2021 public.
Students and alumni have sent hundreds of emails to administration urging them to settle a fair contract immediately. At least 15 local elected leaders, including nine of the eleven members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Assemblymember Mia Bonta, have publicly urged CCA’s administration to settle a fair contract with staff and adjunct faculty. SF Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton, District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, and Oakland City Council President Pro Tem Sheng Thao have all joined rallies this week.
Instead of investing in its own workforce, CCA has decided to tie up its money in a “campus unification plan” — a real estate venture similar to those that recently bankrupted and nearly shut down San Francisco Art Institute — underscoring the need for involvement in institutional decision-making. CCA’s Potrero Hill campus, has already been mortgaged as collateral for $30 million in debt the tuition-dependent college has no realistic way to repay, given their actual fundraising record. They also entered into an ethically questionable deal with a Texas real estate developer whereby CCA financed the construction of dorms by requiring students to live in them at rapidly increasing rent as a condition of enrollment—except when they are kicked out with no recourse.
“I got here on a full ride from a community college. I’ve lived on the streets since I was 13 years old,” said student Benjamin Chun at Wednesday’s rally at the Oakland campus. “This school promised me glory and riches. Then a year after I got here, at the beginning of covid, they said get out of the dorms, and they cut my housing. When I tried complaining about it, they threatened me with expulsion. I’m the evidence of the financial mishandling of this school. For the first year [after] I was kicked out, I was living on the street.”
SEIU Local 1021 represents nearly 60,000 employees in local governments, non-profit agencies, health care programs, and schools throughout Northern California, including seven private colleges and numerous community colleges. SEIU Local 1021 is a diverse, member-driven organization with members who work to make our cities, schools, colleges, counties, and special districts safe and healthy places to live and raise our families.