OC faculty members demand better pay

The Olympic College faculty members who picketed outside the Bremer Student Center on Friday, March 10, said they are no different from their counterparts teaching at community colleges across the state.

They feel they are all getting “a raw deal,” in the words of one professor.

Thirty-five faculty members and supporters gathered during an early morning session and 26 more demonstrated at lunchtime hoping to raise awareness to some surprising statistics.

Surprising especially to some of the students.

“I would have thought these teachers were getting paid well,” said Amy Powell, after hearing from some of the instructors. “They’re dressed fairly well and they have their degrees. I think they should be getting paid more.”

The numbers presented to the curious told a sad story. Full-time faculty pay has declined by one-third since 1970 when adjusted for inflation. A bill cleared the House in Olympia during the recently completed legislative session by a wide margin that would have granted community college instructors an eight-tenths of 1 percent salary increase annually. However, it died in committee in the Senate, English professor Nathaniel Hong explained.

“It makes sense they should (get the raise),” said student Caleb Murray. “I hope Olympia does listen to what they have to say.”

“Students, oftentimes, you can hear an audible gasp when they hear some of these figures,” said Hong who also serves as the president of the college’s faculty union. “They don’t have a clue that they’re making more at McDonald’s than the person teaching them sometimes.”

Hong said he hopes to see instructors at other community colleges in the state make as much noise as OC faculty have.

“We’re trying to light a small fire here,” he said. “We would like to see this go statewide.”

The frustrations of the faculty members are aimed not at the OC administration, which Hong said has been very supportive, but rather with the Legislature, who has full control over the matter.

The picketing was a show of solidarity between full-time and “adjunct” professors who can earn a maximum of 75 percent of a full-timer’s pay.

“Historically, (the gap) has been used as a wedge between ... the 344 part-timers who teach 44 percent of the classes and the 103 full-time faculty members,” Hong said. “(Adjuncts) are deeply mistreated.”

Lori Vail, one of the adjuncts at OC, carried a “Will Teach For Food” sign at the rally. Vail said she earns $14,000 annually and commutes to Bremerton from Seattle.

“What I earn only pays for food in my family,” she said. “The sign is not a joke.”

Susan Digby is a full-time professor at OC but lived the life of an adjunct in California.

“You work just as hard as you do full-time but you get paid about half,” Digby said. “When you think about equal pay for equal work, the adjuncts are really getting a raw deal.”

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 28
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates