Oct 5, 2018 -- On Thursday, October 4, classified and temporary staff at Mendocino College held a Unity Rally to demand a 2.71% cost of living (COLA) increase, which the college received from the state. We'll hear from Toni Fort, chapter president of Local 1021, the union that represents temporary and classified, or non-teaching, faculty. Union members are unenthusiastic about one-time bonuses that do not improve their retirement. They worry that if they lose their COLA this year, it will set a bad precedent. Fort said that, although the number of temporary workers varies, there are between 250-300 such workers at Mendocino College. She herself is a temporary employee who has been working there for about 15 years.
In a statement, the college said the district has proposed a 2.71% one-time, off-schedule increase for permanent employees. In 2017/2018, the college received a 1.56% COLA increase from the state, which matched the pay raise for all listed employee groups except part time faculty, which received a 4.56% bump. Classified staff also received a one time payment of $500. In 2016-2017, the college received no COLA from the state. Some employee groups also recieved no COLA, but others got a 3% increase.
The college added that it is the district’s approach to always negotiate in good faith with all employee groups that engage in the collective bargaining process. Negotiations will continue next week.
In our second story, Sheriff Tom Allman updates the Board of Supervisors on the Measure B Oversight Committee meeting. Allman chairs the group that’s tasked with making recommendations to the board about what to do with the money from a voter initiative to raise taxes for mental health services and facilities. The committee has no authority to make decisions that have not been approved by the board.
Allman reported that the balance of the fund is $1,407,523, not including an additional $28,000 to Kemper Consulting Group to provide a mental health needs assessment. The sheriff encouraged the board to recommend increasing mobile mental health outreach teams from three to five, though his report was not a formal recommendation. The mobile teams accompany law enforcement on calls that may involve a mental health component.
Howard Hospital, both old and new, also came up in the report. Allman suggested the possibility of New Howard Hospital working through Adventist Health to add ten beds for psychiatric patients. An ad hoc committee, consisting of Dr. Ace Barash and Mark Mertle, is working with Jason Wells, the CEO of New Howard Hospital, on the details. And the question of what kind of facility, if any, will or will not end up at Old Howard Hospital lingers. "The elephant in the room is not the elephant in the room, because everyone is talking about it," Allman said.
Measure B Committee meetings are open to the public. The next meeting is on October 24 at 1 pm in Conference Room C at 501 Low Gap Road in Ukiah.