The Palomar College Council of Classified Employees and campus administrators in San Marcos settled a contract and memorandum of understanding that moved the staff forward by three major steps. 1) The 385 unit members received a $2,000 lump sum salary increase and 0.72 percent, plus a 3 percent raise that faculty also received. 2) This first contract replaced a 25-year-old employee handbook. 3) The local won binding arbitration for grievances.

The outcome was a 180-degree turn from April, when administrators came to the bargaining table demanding a 10 percent salary cut and a cap on benefits. It also wanted a reclassification study that would have lowered salaries for 87 percent of classifieds. 

In his case, said local President Aaron Holmes, the study described only one of 13 functions he performs as an alternate media specialist. “As it is,” he said, “my position is probably about five grades below every other college in California. Their study would have dropped me another five grades.”

The local gathered strength through a recruitment campaign and by making non-members pay a fair share fee. Membership more than doubled. The classified also began to confer closely with faculty, who were also in negotiations.

“I sit on the faculty negotiating team as an advisor and they do the same on our team,” Holmes said. “That avoids doublespeak. Getting 90 percent of the people on campus together made us much stronger.”