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Campuses mark 1,000 Days of Shame

Members of the Massachusetts Community College Council (MCCC) held a demonstration before the Board of Higher Education meeting at Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown on Thursday, March 31.

The demonstration, which preceded a special meeting of the BHE, marked "1,000 Days of Shame."

"It's been over 1,000 days since full-time faculty and staff received their last pay increase," said Susan Dole, President of the Bunker Hill MCCC chapter. "And it's been over 1,000 days since June 30, 2002, when our last funded contract expired."

Three years ago, MCCC negotiated a one-year agreement with the BHE that recognized the state's financial plight and asked for raises of only 0.8 to 1.2 percent in seniority steps, but Gov. Mitt Romney refused to submit the contract to the Legislature for funding.

Dole pointed out that six years ago, faculty agreed to take on an increased teaching load, in return for a promise to maintain salaries comparable to other states. "But we have seen our economic condition continue to decline. The cost of living has risen approximately 9 percent since our last pay increase while, at the same time, community college faculty across the nation have received pay hikes averaging 14 percent."

The "1,000 Days of Shame" were observed on other campuses, including North Shore and Bristol community colleges.

Donnie McGee spoke as a faculty member, program coordinator, BCC alumna, union leader, mother of two BCC graduates, and concerned citizen, in Fall River:

The effects of this diminished support are devastating. Our libraries have had years in which no funding was appropriated, and adjuncts have replaced full-time faculty in record numbers. Last fall, nearly three-fourths of our courses were outside of the realm of full-time faculty assignments. And tuition costs have steadily increased -- now among the highest in the nation for two-year public higher education institutions. And today we are reminded that Governor Romney has refused for the past 1,000 days to honor a legitimately negotiated and signed contract for the faculty and professional staff of the MCCC. This contract amounts to about a 1 percent pay increase for these employees over the last three years and would not even account for cost of living increases.

Romney's refusal to fund this contract is a direct attack on the faculty, counselors and librarians who serve our students. His refusal to provide our colleges with the monies they need to operate is a direct attack on our college's mission.

It is beyond shame that our legislators and Governor Romney, in particular, should allow our dream to be so denigrated and our community college system to be under such attack. We are here today because we refuse to accept this assault.