SEIU-backed college staff ends strike empty-handed

Approximately 120 staff members conducted a four-day strike against California College of Arts.

The strike did not result in a contract, which is still under negotiation.

Strikers representing the California College of Arts (CCA) have called off their four-day strike on Friday after failing to resolve their demands with the college administrators.

The CCA employees are affiliated with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1021.

The strike's ending was announced on the picket line at the college's San Fransisco campus despite the union not having a finalized contract, local news outlet KRON4 reports

120 members of the unionized staff announced the strike in a press release last Tuesday. It was the reportedly first private college strike in California since 1976.

According to the release, union members accused CCA of continuing to “violate federal labor law while slow-walking contract negotiations with their staff.”

Livable wages were a matter of discussion in negotiations. The union asserted that 40% of full-time staff make less than the Bay Area "self-sufficiency" wage that is set at $55,000 per year.

[RELATED: Striking workers union, Columbia University reach tentative agreement on $140 million demand]

The contract would serve as the first between the administration and the union, which 74% of CCA staff voted to join in 2019.

Ninety-seven percent of staff voted to authorize the strike, KRON4 reported.

CCA Senior Library Technician and union secretary Amber Bales summarized the concerns in the SEIU-issued statement, citing broken labor laws and extensive contractual negotiations as faults of the administration.

“CCA management and their lawyer will tell you this is a normal negotiation process, but it’s not. It is completely dysfunctional,” Bales stated.

The strike was organized to situate "staff, faculty, students, and supporters" on the picket lines for 9 hours a day beginning on Feb. 8. In addition to physical support, the union encouraged students and adjunct faculty to form a "sympathy strike" alongside the staff.

According to CCA spokesman David Owens-Hill, the school had met with SEIU Local 1021 25 times and is still pursuing negotiations.

[RELATED: Student workers union made new COVID demands as classmates returned to campus]

“Since negotiations began in late 2019, CCA and SEIU Local 1021 bargaining teams have met more than 25 times,” Owens-Hill told Capitol Weekly, “and negotiations are currently active. Progress has continued despite the disruptions of the pandemic.” 

Owens-Hill told Campus Reform, “CCA remains ready and willing to negotiate as frequently as needed to achieve a fair and mutually beneficial collective bargaining agreement with our unionized staff."

“The college has a comprehensive proposal on the table that provides wage increases for our valued staff while also maintaining our ongoing commitment to student financial aid and a financially sustainable future for the college," he continued. 

A Collective Bargaining Fact Check, published by CCA, argued that the allegations proposed by the union are "without merit." The document also challenged the claim that the strike was supported by “97%” of staff, responding that the group of union members who voted only comprised a minority of staff.

The SEIU did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment.