Category Archives: laney college

LANEY CUTS BACK

  • 1. last night’s board meeting
  • 2. the district is illegal
  • 3. cycles of struggle
  • 4. cut the cops
  • 5. to those who lose it

  • 1. last night’s board meeting

    After years of mismanagement and blatantly illegal and wasteful spending, the District and the Board of Trustees want to solve their budget crisis on the backs of students and the workers who advise us, teach us, take care of us and clean up after us.

    Last week, word spread that the Board planned to eliminate the positions at Laney of 1.5 Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS) workers and cut 21 other positions at Laney from 12 to 11 or 10 months per year. Management approached individual classified workers to tell them about the cuts, in violation of SEIU 1021’s contract. We hear that the reason only Laney workers are being targeted is because Laney’s President volunteered to begin cuts at our school, even though Laney is structurally underfunded by the District to begin with.

    On Monday morning, the Chancellor’s office announced that the Chancellor planned to remove the cuts from the following night’s Board agenda, the result of a deal struck with the leadership of SEIU 1021. All three unions (PFT, SEIU, IUOE) recently started negotiations with the District on their contracts that expire on June 30. Historically, the District has “negotiated” with SEIU and IUOE by laying off their members. The unions’ staff and leadership then try to stop the layoffs by filing charges as they explain to members the need for concessions, that they are doing everything they can behind closed doors and in court, there’s only so much money to go around, how we need to take the fight to Sacramento, etc. etc.


    2. the district is illegal

    As there is “little resistance” to Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to raise community college fees from $26 to $36, it’s worth remembering how the District has wasted funds and broken the law, all while blaming “Sacramento” for its problems.

    • In 2009, the administration illegally gave itself a pay raise.  The Board refused to act, and later made the pay raise official.
    • In 2009, the Peralta Board of Trustees approved a no-bid contract with Chevron to install solar panels, “despite indications a bidding process could have saved the district $1.5 million.”
    • The District administration failed to file a federal IRS tax return in 2008-09, leading to a $228,520 fine. (Former Chief Financial Officer Tom Smith was finally fired and escorted out of a Board meeting by a Sheriff in Jan. 2010.)
    • District mismanagement and lack of Board oversight led to Peralta being placed on probation by the State Accreditation Commission. In 2010 the Board hired an audit team to put together its first budget in about 1 ½ years. The audit team has cost at least $750,000 so far, probably much more.
    • In July 2010 the Alameda County Grand Jury wrote that “The board as a whole has failed to provide the leadership for the district to which they were elected.” They also cited Board members’ repeated violation of District policies, like Trustee Marcie Hodge’s shopping sprees with a District credit card.

    Cuts are redefining the purpose of community college after previous waves of struggle by independent, militant social movements led by disabled people, single moms and Black working-class youth opened access to community colleges. They also used political demands to decide for themselves what they learn in class and how the school relates to their community.


    3. cycles of struggle

    DSPS workers say that cuts targeting their program are illegal as well. A federal mandate says that community colleges have to provide equal access for students with disabilities. This comes from the militant struggle of disabled people to force the federal government to pass Section 504, regulations that force any institution that receives federal funding to remove obstacles and provide equal access, regardless of cost, to people with disabilities:

    No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States…shall, solely by reason of her or his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

    In 1977, coordinated sit-ins across the U.S. took place to demand that the federal government create regulations to enforce the Rehabilitation Act passed in 1973. The San Francisco sit-in of as many as 200 people with disabilities lasted over a month, making it the longest sit-in at a federal building in U.S. history. Without caregivers or equipment, some risked death, but they were supported and cared for by broader circles of movements; Panthers served them meals.

    During the 1977 San Francisco sit-in for Section 504.

    This is the history that the District, Laney administration and Board of Trustees are trying to erase. When the threat of a civil rights complaint was raised at a  recent Peralta Board meeting, PFT-endorsed Trustee Linda Handy told people with disabilities and their advocates to “bring it on.”

    We need to be equally brave in our defense of movement victories, especially in a time of austerity. It’s expensive for the state to continue to expropriate surplus value as the rate of capital accumulation declines. We refuse debt, we refuse schools that exist solely to make us good workers and governable subjects, and we refuse to allow capital to “cut” the lives of single moms, disabled folks and poor people when it runs out of ways for us to produce value for our masters. And to do all this we need to recompose ourselves to defend each other, take control of our schools, win the social wage we need to take care of ourselves and ultimately to destroy the state: Laney cuts back.


    4. cut the cops

    Students and cops have nothing in common. We mourn the life of Guy Jarreau, Jr., a member of the Napa Valley College Black Student Union and childcare worker who was recently murdered by a cop while shooting a music video.

    Later in the agenda on Tuesday, the Board approved a new contract with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department to patrol our campuses. This is the same agency that arrested and beat us during the Oscar Grant protests, that surrounded Wheeler Hall in riot gear during our friends’ occupation, that patrols our neighborhoods and runs immigration status checks as part of the “Secure Communities” program. We want these armed men to stay away from us and stay off of our campus.

    Instead, the cops are a typically wasteful arm of the District. The Sheriffs are one of the few areas of the budget that come from the discretionary unrestricted general fund, meaning that the Board has the freedom to replace the pigs or remove them altogether. Instead, the Sheriffs went $1 million over-budget in 2008, a fact that was only discovered when outside auditors dug through the District’s records over a year later.

    On Tuesday, the Board approved $2.67 million for Alameda County Sheriffs, $415,920 for Securitas thugs and $354,000 for student safety aides. Here’s a breakdown of where the Sheriffs budget is going:

    Position Number of Employees Salary Benefits Total
    Lieutenant 1 $139,035 $82,617 $221,652
    Sergeant 1 $114,562 $69,053 $183,615
    Deputy 7 $671,880 $426,319 $1,098,199
    Sheriff’s Technicians 5 $279,869 $29,349 $309,218
    Secretary 1 $50,004 $154,319 $204,323
    Total 15 $1,225,350 $761,657 $2,017,007

    Other costs:

    Overtime $158,077
    Indirect costs $284,579
    Insurance $83,481
    Supplies $124,374

    One man, this Lieutenant, makes more than any worker at Peralta, including faculty, classified staff and custodians. And while the Sheriffs’ secretary may need therapy to cope with taking orders from uniformed men with clubs, over $150,000 in benefits for a single person seems excessive as the District demands health care givebacks from classified workers at the bargaining table.

    Kids from the Laney Child Care Center walk out on Oct. 7, 2010.


    5. to those who lose it

    District-wide, there were 1,992 fewer students on January 23, 2011 than there were on January 20, 2010. Every semester, we watch Laney deteriorate: fewer class sections, fewer students, overworked custodians struggle to pick up all the discarded plates, papers, cigarette butts. And it’s sad to watch the organizations that are supposed to represent our interests manage their own decline. But we fight for ourselves, our friends who have already been pushed out, and the single moms, disabled students and custodians in struggle.

    Advertisements

    Peralta custodians in struggle

    [pdf version]

    Custodians are an essential part of our school. Without custodians, trash would pile up, bathrooms would be unusable; our campus would completely fall apart. You may have noticed that this process has already started, but it’s not happening because custodians are lazy. Instead, it is a result of harsh cuts imposed by the administration of our school. These cuts have given custodians an impossible workload.

    Some issues affecting custodians:

    • Furloughs:  Workers are forced to take 6 days off work per year–unpaid.
    • Speed-up: One worker is assigned to an area where there used to be three workers.
    • Limited workforce: Laney’s custodial staff has been cut from 28 to 12 — and four are subs!
    • Subs:  Peralta is refusing to hire subs because they “don’t have enough experience”. Subs are supposed to become full-time after half a year. The shortest time a sub has worked is 2 years.

    Here’s what custodians have to say:

    §     “The campus is growing–but the custodial staff is not. Instead, we are shrinking.”

    §     “The district office at Laney has 3 custodians assigned to it. The entire E building has 1. That shows you their priority. The administration doesn’t care so long as it doesn’t affect them.”

    §     “We aren’t given enough people to do a good job — they work us like galley slaves.”

    §      “…and they wonder why we’re always tired and sick — we’re overworked.”

    §     “When the administration looks at their budget, they cut part-time faculty and custodians. They think we’re dirt — that we are expendable.”

    §     “The administration is trying to make us pay for their mistakes with their budget.”

    Students and custodians working together against cuts at the University of Washington.

    These cuts are not unique to custodians — all sections of Peralta are under attack. It is especially important that the most precarious people of the school — including custodians, students, part-timers, classified staff — stand together to fight back.

    Cuts mean war. Time to fight back.

    This flyer was written together by custodians & students at Laney College.

    Laney College Student Unity & Power

    SUPPORT OAKLAND REBELS

    [Oakland 100 Support Committee]

    Legal Update: Friday Arrests & Court Dates

    On Friday, former BART cop Johannes Mehserle was given a jail sentence of 2 years for the ‘involuntary manslaughter’ of Oscar Grant. Subtracting time served and ‘good behavior’, Mehserle will be back on the streets in as little as 7 months.

    Community members took to the streets in protest, and after the cops sealed an entire city block off, calling it a ‘crime scene’, 152 people were arrested. That is more arrests than ANY other Oscar Grant-related protest as of yet.

    Most arrestees have been cited on misdemeanor charges and released. Those folks all have mass arraignments in the first week of December. We will be calling for a mass show of court support for those days. Stay Tuned.

    Six people continue to be held, and each have arraignments scheduled for this coming Tuesday, November 9th. Please come to court to show support for people who stood up for justice, spoke truth to power, and continue to be punished for it. The following are their court times and departments (rooms, all at Wiley Manuel Courthouse @ 661 Washington Street in
    Oakland):
    9am, dept. 107 – 1 person
    2pm, dept. 107 – 1 person
    2pm, dept. 112 – 4 people

    Finally, Raquel Sharp is being charged criminally with a misdemeanor as well as civilly (being sued) for events on the night of Mehserle’s verdict (July 8th). Raquel has asked for as many people as possible to show up to her pre-trial TOMORROW morning, 9am in Department 104 at Wiley Manuel Courthouse on the corner of 7th and Washington streets in Oakland (661 Washington).

    Support the Oakland Rebels! Stay strong!
    -the Oakland 100 Support Committee

    PS-As always, we’re fundraising! All donations directly support people who’ve been charged with crimes related to protesting for justice for Oscar Grant and against racist police brutality. More information and online donations can be made here:

    http://supporttheoakland100.wordpress.com/supportdonate.

    Laney Faculty Senate resolution on budget cuts (and District response)

    Occasionally we are publicly reminded that these schools are actually workplaces for waged and unwaged workers (parents with kids in childcare, students). Contract negotiations are one of those times.

    Click here to read the District’s opening offer to the three Peralta unions – the Peralta Federation of Teachers, SEIU 1021 (classified staff) and IUOE 39 (maintenance/janitors) – each of which is in the opening stages of negotiating successor agreements to their three-year contracts.

    Resolution on Budget Cuts

    Passed by the Laney Faculty Senate on October 19, 2010

    Whereas, the Peralta Community College District administration has asked the Peralta colleges to cut up to 350 sections from the Spring 2011 schedule, and

    Whereas, the colleges of the Peralta Community College District were previously required to cut 303 sections between Fall 2009 and Fall 2010 semesters, and

    Whereas, student and instructional support services (including counseling hours, library hours and tutoring services) have been significantly reduced in an effort to cuts costs, and

    Whereas, the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees has specifically requested that budget cuts take place as far away from the classroom as possible, and

    Whereas, in the last two years, district administrators have taken inadequate leadership in finding ways to reduce administrative costs, receiving up to a 16% unilateral salary increase, and only agreed to take furlough days after getting concessions from the faculty and classified unions, and

    Whereas, since July 2010, the Peralta Community College District administration has hired new vice chancellor/associate vice chancellor positions (student services, governmental affairs, educational services) without following an open hiring process, and

    Whereas, since July 2010, the Peralta Community College District administration, using general funds, hired a director of the Peralta Foundation with a $100,000 annual budget, and

    Whereas, in the last two years, with the exception of one college, there have been no reductions in administrative staffs at the college level and there have been increases in administrative staffs at the district level, and

    Whereas, the Peralta Community College District has determined its highest priorities to be Career Technical Education, Foundational Skills and Transfer Education ; therefore,

    Be it resolved, that the Peralta Planning and Budgeting Council prioritize all spending and cuts according to these areas, and

    Be it resolved, that the Laney College Faculty Senate requests that the district and college budget advisory committees recommend ways to reduce spending on administrative offices, and

    Be it further resolved, that the Laney College Faculty Senate requests that the district and college budget advisory committees consider consolidating and sharing administrative duties within the district as a way to reduce administrative costs, and

    Be it further resolved, that the Laney College Faculty Senate requests the Chancellor provide a written explanation of the justification for hiring three high-level administrative positions without following the recommendation of the district budget committee or using an open hiring process as stipulated by board policy.

    Continue reading

    The Peralta Report: “Laney College students protest budget cuts, storm Peralta Colleges district headquarters”

    [via The Peralta Report]

    Laney College students protest budget cuts, storm Peralta Colleges district headquarters

    Students at Laney College Children's Center walk out and join rally on campus during the October 7 Day of Action.Students at Laney College Children’s Center walk out and join rally on campus during the October 7 Day of Action. Photo Credit: A Better Laney

     

    Demanding no more budget cuts, staff layoffs, or fee increases, Laney College students held a noontime rally on the main campus quad on October 7. Some later marched to the Peralta Colleges district and briefly occupied the Chancellor’s office.
    Coinciding with a National Day of Action in Defense of Education, the “Speak Out” let any student share how education budget cuts affected them. At the bottom of the event’s stage was a banner that read, “Free Speech Zone,” mocking a policy proposed last spring that critics said would limit free speech on the campus.
    While most talked about budget cuts have affected them, their families and classmates, the overall emphasis of speakers was the press need for organization.
    “This is exactly what we need to do to let our voices be heard and to show the powers that be that we are organized and we are one,” said Jurena Storm, a student member of the Peralta Colleges Board of Trustees. Storm left the rally early to attend a program at College of Alameda that featured a mass graveyard for education.
    Laney College Black Student Union member Timothy Killings told students to take charge of their education’s by being actively engaged in the colleges’ governance, and retaking control of the school.
    “First thing we need to do is clear up the misconception that our school is run by the Board of Trustees,” Killings said. “This is our school.” Killings criticized a new fee policy that dropping students from their classes if they do not pay their fees promptly.
    “People being dropped out of their classes for not paying a $17 health fee,”
    In between speakers, the rally’s emcee, former Laney BSU President Jabari Shaw, rapped the song, “Chop from the Top.” The song – based on a popular chant at Peralta board meetings last fall – became a budget cuts anthem of sorts last spring.
    “People have called the cuts a tragedy,” said Peter Brown, an instructor in the machine technology department. “A tragedy is when someone is hurt and no one benefits. But when someone benefits, that’s not a tragedy, that’s a crime.” Brown’s comment was a reference to Senator Diane Feinstein’s husband, Richard C. Plum, a UC Regent who has profited while the tuition has skyrocketed, along with others who benefit while people suffer.
    Shaw then introduced the next speaker, a challenger for the Peralta board facing a two-term incumbent in the November 2 election, adding, “We’re trying to get rid of the incompetents.”
    Monica Tell, a former Laney College student running in Trustee Area 3, introduced herself as a person who grew up in Oakland that is “going to fight the good fight to represent you.”
    Student Adon Ortega, an intern with Californians for Justice, encouraged students to sign a petition about financial aid issues and the district’s new policy.
    “People are supposed to pay fees, and use financial aid, but financial aid doesn’t come until weeks after,” Ortega said.
    Student Jevon Cochran, a member of Laney’s Student Unity and Power (SUP), called for repealing the new fee policy and for cuts from administrators.
    “When these cuts started to come down, they gave administrators raises,” Cochran said. Last year, the Bay Area News Group revealed that former Chancellor Elihu Harris gave raises to administrators against board policy. When trustees found out, instead of repeal the raises, trustees ratified the decision. “They didn’t think it was fair that (Peralta) administrators didn’t make as much as other (districts) administrators. But it’s fair for students to get kicked out of school and it’s fair that workers lose their jobs?”
    Administrators need to fight against the cuts, also, Cochan said, calling on students to go picket the district’s headquarters. “We’ve got to take it to the state and to the administrators too. Let’s march!”
    The rally abruptly ended as about 30 students marched from Laney’s quad, down 8th Street towards the district’s headquarters chanting, “No cuts! No fees! Education should be free!”
    The group burst into the the Peralta District’s headquarters, interrupting a Benefits Fair for employees. Corporate representatives from CostCo and 24 Hour Fitness appeared stunned as students marched past before doubling back and entering the offices of Chancellor’s staff.
    Staff quickly called Peralta Police Services – a contract of the Alameda County Sheriffs Office – whose offices are housed in the same building. Students continued chanting, demanding to see trustees.
    “We should stay here until the Chancellor agrees to meet with us,” Cochran said.
    Deputy Glen Pace, entering the offices at that same time responded, “Here’s the agreement, you have thirty seconds to leave.” The scene greatly resembled the April 22 board meeting that was shutdown by student’s protesting the closure of the College of Alameda Children’s Center. The group left the building a minute later, while sheriff’s locked and blocking the entrance.
    Students marched back to Laney, with many taking public transportation to join the demonstrations taking place at UC Berkeley.

    The Peralta administration is dropping students – but we can stop them

    THE PERALTA ADMINISTRATION IS DROPPING STUDENTS…

    …BUT WE CAN STOP THEM!

    In defiance of student protests, Peralta administrators implemented a new fee policy that is a direct assault on our right to an education. Students who can’t pay their fees before the start of classes are being automatically dropped. This new fee policy is an attack on Peralta’s most vulnerable students: the working-class, immigrants, single parents and students of color. It’s the gentrification of Peralta.

    Applying for financial aid is complicated and confusing, especially for people going to college for the first time. This and problems in the Laney financial aid office mean that many students receive our aid money late or not at all. Without financial aid, we have no choice but to pay our fees late, and Peralta drops us.

    The administration’s decision to solve their budget deficit through cuts in critical areas has worsened the situation. With insufficient funding and underpaid, overworked staff, student questions are not being answered, assistance is not being provided, and applications are not being processed.

    Laney is a COMMUNITY college, meaning that it should be run by current and future students, staff and teachers – the community, in our own interests. By implementing a policy which will push out working class black and brown students, the administration has betrayed its responsibility to protect student interests. To keep this campus accessible to low-income students of color, we need to fight back.

    • ALLOW ALL STUDENTS TO ADD AND ATTEND CLASSES!
    • FINANCIAL AID NOW!
    • IMMEDIATE FREEZE ON LAYOFFS, FURLOUGHS, AND CUTS TO CLASSES!
    • REHIRE ALL LAID OFF WORKERS!