El Camino faculty gathers in “Educational Campaign” on campus

El Camino College American Federation of Teachers gathered on campus in response to the faculty being denied Cost of Living Adjustment in their salary.
The El Camino College Federation of Teachers (the Federation) and their supporters gather outside the ECC Administration Building in an effort to draw attention to the ongoing contract negotiations with the college and the Board of Trustees around COLA, or, the Cost of Living Adjustments, in what they called an “educational campaign”, on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. “The Federation has worked for several months to reopen Article 10 (Compensation) of our 2020-2022 contract with the goal of negotiating the 2019/2020 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of 3.26%,” a Federation press release reads. Photo by Jose Tobar/The Union Photo credit: Jose Tobar

The El Camino College American Federation of Teachers gathered on campus in response to the faculty being denied Cost of Living Adjustment in their salary.

The attendants carried signs and noisemakers on Sept. 30, while walking around the campus shouting chants and wearing red.

Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is the increase or decrease in how much it costs to live in California. The state calculates this amount each year and workers have this percentage added to their salary so their pay goes as far as it did the year before.

According to a handout the El Camino College Federation of Teachers (ECCFT) passed around at the event, “In the fiscal year 2019/2020, the ECC District received a 3.26% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to its general fund from the state.”

This document also said that even though ECC receives COLA every year, they did not use it “to raise the hourly and salary schedules of employees,” from the 2019/2020 year, this is unlike other CA community colleges.

A group of El Camino College Federation of Teachers and their supporters March through the ECC campus in solidarity over
A group of El Camino College Federation of Teachers and their supporters March through the ECC campus during a planned demonstration dubbed by the union as an “educational campaign”. After months of ongoing negotiations the union and the district have not reached an agreement over the Cost of Living Adjustment proposed as a retroactive 3.26% COLA increase to their salaries, according to a union press release. In its stead, the district offered a one time payment “significantly less than the District has received from the state,” the same press release reads. Photo by Jose Tobar/The Union Photo credit: Jose Tobar

The educational campaign started with a walk, after a short address from the ECC Federation of Teachers President, Kelsey Iino.

“Just so you know, the negotiating team is going back to the table, on Monday. So hopefully this is effective, if it’s not effective we are going to do this again next Thursday,” Iino said.

Union members and supporters painted signs and distributed red t-shirts with the union’s logo and other graphics, beforehand. Noisemakers were also provided. Signs lined the walls outside the Federation office with slogans such as “Fund Education not Lawyers,” and “Be Fair Share COLA.”

Kelsey Iino ( counseling office ) speeches before the demonstration start.
El Camino College Federation of Teachers President, Kelsey Iino gives a brief speech to the union’s members and supporters outside the Federation offices in the Communications building at ECC. Days before a planned demonstration had been announced by the union scheduled to take place on campus grounds on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, over the ongoing contract negotiations between them and the college. “Just so you know the negotiating team is going back to the table, on Monday. So hopefully this is effective, if it’s not effective we are going to do this again next Thursday” Iino said. Photo by Mari Inagaki/The Union Photo credit: Mari Inagaki

“So the goal is that way back last, last year, the state gave the school 3.26% Cost of Living money, which should have gone to the people who work here. However the school at that time said that they couldn’t give it to us because of uncertainty, and all this other stuff and they did their budget but, it turned out their budget was fine and we feel that we should get that retroactively,” Evelyn Uyemura, Humanities professor said.

The educational campaign group walked around the campus, making noise and shouting chants while stopping at different places around campus to give speeches. These stops included the front of the library and the administration building.

“The team goes back to the negotiating table on Monday, so hopefully this event helps educate others so there’s change,” Iino said.

The educational campaign group walked around the campus, making noise and shouting chants while stopping at different places around the campus making speeches and such. These stops included in front of the library, administration, and even across the street from Humanities.
The El Camino College Federation of Teachers March across the ECC campus in an effort to raise awareness through their “educational campaign” about the ongoing Cost of Living Adjustment dispute (COLA) on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. Chants like “What do we want? COLA!” and “When do we want it? Now” could be heard from the crowd of union demonstrators holding signs. Photo by Jose Tobar/The Union Photo credit: Jose Tobar

The group also looked for support from the traffic. Car horns honked as people drove past signs asking the cars to, “Honk for Teachers.” The Educational Campaign ended with the group returning to the Federation Office and Iino saying a few words about the event.

“Even with the five percent we get in January, the district will still have 38% in their reserve. The legal requirement is five percent, the recommended requirement is 12-15 percent. Why are they saving all this money? Because they’re worried about enrollment. Well, who drives enrollment?” Iino asked.

“We do,” the group said in reply.

There were more than just union members and ECC faculty at the Educational Campaign, as other individuals attended the event to show support.

“We have friends and spouses and family,” Jessica Padilla, biology professor said.

People from other districts also came to show support for the teachers. Los Angeles Unified School District teacher, Justin Hovs, has had to deal with his district stopping COLA distribution after the 2008 recession.

“I’m an LAUSD teacher and so I’m out here in solidarity with the teachers and staff of El Camino College. And we strongly believe that they should get the COLA raises as well,” Hovs said.

Editors Note: Errors in a photo caption were corrected Oct. 5 at 10:09 a.m.

Headline was edited for clarity Oct. 6 at 9:58 p.m.