Statement from Faculty Regarding Lay-offs at Bates Technical College

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April 22, 2010

Contact: Sylvia Watson, AFT Washington, 206-261-3603; 206-432-8084


On April 9, with little notice, the Board of Trustees at Bates Technical College called a special meeting when college employees were on spring break. The purpose: to take advantage of a technicality in a little-known law that allowed them to declare a "financial emergency" and thereby contravene portions of their contract with the faculty at the college. The vote was 3-1 in favor of the declaration. The board acted at the behest of the interim college president, Lyle Quasim, who had served on the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges when that board took steps to allow the colleges in the system to take this dramatic step.

Bates TC is the only two-year college that has taken advantage of this law by making a declaration. To date, the other 33 colleges in the system have worked within their faculty and staff contracts to deal with two years of state cuts. But unlike the other colleges, a portion of Bates’ budget deficit includes up to $1 million in accounting errors by their staff.

The Bates TC faculty union had stated in negotiations that they were willing to mitigate the impact of the budget deficit by offering to take days off without pay and other cost-cutting measures so that faculty ranks can stay strong to meet unprecedented high-enrollment demands. The college did not consider their offer before declaring the "financial emergency." In addition, the interim president of Bates TC took the most drastic measures he could by sending lay-off notices to 40 faculty, over 20 percent of the faculty at Bates.

During these tough economic times, all the state's colleges are fully enrolled. At Bates, students already have a one-year wait for some programs or are being referred to other colleges. Although the administration’s recent statement says it will actually lay off 25 faculty and staff, this step will still increase class sizes, create longer waiting lists, eliminate classes or entire programs, and potentially take students longer to graduate. Faculty do not believe that administration has looked sufficiently at options for cuts that would not impact students so directly.

Faculty leaders are also concerned that the lay-offs will allow the college to replace full-time, permanent faculty with temporary teachers. The faculty union is consulting an attorney about legal options.

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Note: Bates Technical College Board of Trustees has a board meeting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 27, at the downtown campus, 1101 So. Yakima Ave., Tacoma, WA 98405. Faculty will be attending this board meeting.