Death by a Thousand Program Cuts

Posted: December 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

Where to begin, where to begin.  Remember when George Bush was president, and it seemed like every day he did something which caused you to say, “Seriously?’ or worse.  You just couldn’t keep up with the daily outrages.  Well, here at Cuesta it seems that nearly every day a new outrage is born.  It’s hard to stay on top of it unless, of course, you’re the one in pain.

Last Friday, another long-time Cuesta faculty friend and colleague told me he was being let go.  He was the latest in a growing list of faculty who had lost their jobs. He said that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if Cuesta didn’t get reaccredited: we would have a different BOT, a different set of administrators, and a new budget.  What is so remarkable about this faculty member’s statement is that not too long ago a statement like this would have been unthinkable. But, this is what it’s come to for a growing number at Cuesta.


As you all know, the union has no successful plan, perhaps no plan, to forestall the devastating cuts planned by Gil Stork.  This has been painfully evident for some time now.  They continue to ask faculty for suggestions.  At this point in the game?

Recognizing this and putting aside political differences so that faculty can stay employed and successful programs can be retained, I offered my help to the union: I volunteered to be chief negotiator for the union for this round of negotiations.  My offer was rejected.


On October 1, I sent my offer to Debra Stakes, current chief negotiator. I said, “I would like to offer to be chief negotiator for this round of negotiations.  As you might know, I was chief negotiator for 12 years and forged some very difficult contracts, even getting us a 1% raise during the very difficult budget years of 2003-04 when other cc’s were laying off faculty and cutting faculty salaries.  If the union accepts my offer, I would like to bring in one or two of my prior team to assist.”

Stakes responded, saying she would have to ponder my offer.  I saw this as a positive step.  She said, “ This is an interesting offer and I am not shrugging it off.”  She went on to further say, “I am having the most trouble with other members of my team.”  (The other two team members are Allison Merzon and Dawn Brown).  Stakes’ statement was a bit alarming.

Since I hadn’t heard back from her about my offer by October 15, I wrote back.  She replied, saying, “I appreciate the follow-up. I will decide on Thursday based on what happens on Wed. I might just resign from the team, and then you can do whatever.”  That would shake my faith a bit.

Stakes then responded on October 18: “I want to thank you for the provocative offer, however, I truly feel that it would be counterproductive at this time.”  Saying my being on the team would be “counterproductive” would mean that productive efforts were occurring.  As we all know, that was sadly untrue.

As the situation became more dire, I continued to offer my services, up until last week–no response even this time.

In the midst of all this, it was reported to WWL on good authority that after a recent BOT meeting, Merzon went into the office of a top administrator and said the stress was too much and she was resigning as CCFT president.  Apparently, she changed her mind.  Nonetheless, that unsettling feeling grows.

Recent minutes of CCFT announce that Merzon wants to “transition off the bargaining team.”  Even with this, the union was unwilling to take my “application” to the team that needed a new member.  Of course, no one can guarantee successful negotiations.  But, I thought my experience and history could help.  I thought that one usually takes all the help one can get in these kinds of situations.

I was accused not long ago by one of you of holding a “vendetta” against this current union.  Vendetta?  I have no time on my hands for a vendetta; I am too busy assisting faculty.  It is this current union that has held a vendetta.  They have rejected my offer to help–because of pure politics.  They will allow you or your program to disappear–because of pure politics.  Their embarrassment at their failure has stood in the way of faculty jobs.

The former team member and I who would have joined the team have ideas to present–two of which would save the district a sizable amount of money with no faculty losing their salary.  Sound intriguing?  Well, apparently those ideas will not hit the bargaining table.

My offer to help still stands.

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