VANCOUVER, Washington — Teachers at Clark College went on strike Monday morning amid a continued stalemate over employee salaries.
This is the first time faculty at the Vancouver community college, which was founded in 1933, have gone on strike. Classes were canceled last week in anticipation of the strike.
Meanwhile, the college board of trustees met in executive session to discuss potential legal action and bargaining strategy. As they talked, more than 100 faculty members made a loop around the administrative building, holding signs and chanting. The cool morning and rainy weather hadn’t dampened spirits.
Sara Thompson Tweedy, a candidate for Clark College president, had been chatting with teachers on the picket line since 7 a.m. She said she’s been part of some “painful” negotiations in her career.
Both full- and part-time faculty represented by the Association for Higher Education are on strike.
Senseney Stokes, a photography teacher in the art department, says she’s frustrated by what she calls a declining lack of respect for instructors at Clark College. “I hope that this event will change the climate at Clark and remind everyone how important instruction is.”
“We recognize that a potential strike places stress on you, our student,” Interim President Sandra Fowler-Hill wrote in an email Wednesday night. “We are doing everything we can to find a resolution to this issue.”
Fowler-Hill said other campus services will remain open, including financial aid, advising, Workforce Education Services, the bookstore, the child care center, library, food pantry and food court. Many employees in those departments are represented by another union: the Washington Public Employees Association. That union represents all classified hourly and salaried staff, including clerks, office workers, custodians, paraprofessionals and more.
Clark College has 9,186 students, or the equivalent of 6,614 full-time students. That’s down from the 6,908 students administrators projected this quarter, for about a 4 percent drop in full-time enrollment.