Moorpark College faculty holds demonstration outside campus in support of the union


Sally Ponce'O'Rourke, left, and Helga Winkler, right, both Moorpark College professors, demonstrate in front of the Moorpark College digital marquee on Tuesday, Nov. 19. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

By Ryan Bough

A group of demonstrators stationed themselves in front of the Moorpark College digital marquee at the crossroads of Campus Park Drive and Collins Drive on Tuesday, Nov. 19. Demonstrators were Moorpark College faculty members raising awareness to the rising tensions regarding the current negotiations with the Ventura County Community College District. Current negations revolve around salary, health benefits, as well as the new faculty contract.

Demonstration signs are leaned up against the Moorpark College sign at the front of the campus during the morning demonstration by some faculty members on Tuesday, Nov. 19. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Hugo Hernandez, a history professor at Moorpark College, talked about his goals for the demonstration which began around 8:00 a.m.

“Our goal out here today is to share the message that faculty is not happy with the process of negotiations, we have been negotiating in very good faith,” Hernandez said. “We have have been open to figuring out different ways to change our health benefits to reduce those costs.”

Tensions are especially high after the VCCCD Board of Trustees declared an impasse on negotiations. This means that the district has made its final offer and further negotiations are no longer possible between the district and union.

“It’s part of the process that would make a strike possible and it is part of the process that would enable, should they choose, to impose a contract on us,” Hernandez explained.

History professor Ranford Hopkins, who retired from the district after 28 years of employment then returned to Moorpark College to teach part-time, shared why he chose to partake in demonstrations.

“I’m out here as a retiree also because we did seem to have pretty good relations with our contract and our health benefits until now, so I want to support the new faculty that are coming up to make sure that they get similar benefits to what we have had in the past,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins also mentioned how the failure of the negotiations has affected staff.

“Morale has gone down at the college because of the negotiations and because of low salary, we didn’t get into this business to make money but we did expect to be reasonably compensated,” Hopkins stated.

Faculty members held multiple signs up, including one that stated the VCCCD faculty starting salary is ranked 70 out of 72 in California community college districts. This means that despite the district being one of the best in the state, it is one of the worst in starting salaries. Spanish professor Helga Winkler spoke about what disappointed her the most.

“We would like to have fair pay because we don’t have it currently,” stated Winkler. “It makes us feel disappointed because we are the ones who are doing the footwork, we are the ones on the front lines, and we want to do the best for our students and it’s better if we can afford to live in this expensive county,” Winkler said.

Richard Kemp a political science professor at Moorpark College stated that he has faith in the mediator board, since it is a state-appointed, neutral party. Kemp also spoke on his hopes regarding the outcome of negotiations.

Richard Kemp, a political science professor at Moorpark College, stands along Collins drive holding signs relating to the current contract negotiations between the VCCCD and teachers union, AFT 1828. The demonstration started around 8:00 A.M on Tuesday, Nov. 19. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

“Hopefully it won’t come to a strike, hopefully, the district will begin to realize that they awoke a sleeping giant,” stated Kemp.

The Moorpark Reporter will continue to provide an updated account on the current negotiations between the VCCCD and AFT 1828.