CTA announces union elections

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By Aletheia Meloncon

By Aletheia Meloncon

Union Elections were held on April 30 to elect officers for the Riverside Community College District’s California Teachers Association.

The results displayed a change in the presidency and other positions looking to take on a new focus.

The position of president which has been held by Karin Skiba, associate professor of art for the past couple of years, was filled by former Treasurer Dariush Haghighat, associate professor of political science.

Skiba did not run again so she could return to her passion: art.

“As a visual artist I have made art professionally for 30 years, being involved in the union as president I have not been able to work in my studio for four years.” Skiba said.

“Because of the time spent dealing with union issues and teaching,” she said.

Skiba had only intended to service for one term, which then grew into two terms.

She intends to return to her studio and proceed with her art work.

The positions that were on the election ballot were president, treasurer, secretary.

The vice presidents would represent for each of the campuses.

Virtually all the tops spots had newly elected officers.

Skiba contributes this change as encouragement from the statewide CTA to bring new faces as part of their board.

“When I began as president the CTA encouraged all new officers to groom people as their successor and to always bring new energy,” she said.

Her new successor Haghighat has been the treasurer for the RCCD CTA and has the experience to lead the union forward.

He outlined his top priorities and new ideas to help move the union progress.

The outline included closing the widening gap between part time and full time faculty, as well as creating new committees to deal with other issues such as job protection, working conditions and academic freedom to shared governance.

“My main goal and the top priority list is the part time and full time faculty,” he said.

“I would also like to have an ad hoc committee to talk about other issues such as office space, inauguration of the new chancellor to making Linda Lacy, interim president, permanent and to making sure faculty had due process with grievances,” Haghighat said.

Some of these issues must be approved by the Board of Trustees, but it is the process that is most important to Haghighat.

Haghighat recently expressed his concern that the gap between part time and full time faculty had been increasingly widened referring to this dispartiy as part time faculty working as cheap labor.

He also stated that some faculty are expecting a guaranteed cost of living adjustment from the Board of Trustees.

It may not happen though with the expected budget cuts that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to make.

“We need a strong CTA that is about ‘all faculty’ and that their rights are absolutely protected so that we can establish a solid constructive relationship based on shared governance” he said.

Former president Skiba was confident of Haghighat’s ability to guide the union into the next phase.

She will also be helping him with the transition from treasurer to president of the CTA.

“Haghighat is ready to move into the position of president and take the RCCD CTA into the next phase as we move into three colleges and grow our member ship, he and I will work together to transition and I will sit on the board as a past president,” Skiba said.

The other new officers elected were treasurer Amber Casolari, secretary Shari Yates, vice president of the Riverside Campus, Mark Sellick, vice president of the Norco Campus, Joe Ekstein, vice president of Norco Campus and Fabian Biancardi, of the Moreno Valley Campus.

Sellick shared what he would address as key issues.

“My plan is generally to defend faculty, create clear lines of communication between the CTA and our constituency and to make certain that we get a contract that reflects the work of faculty and closes the gap between full and part-time faculty,” he said.

There are other positions on the RCCD CTA but election results were only given for the positions mentioned.

According to the RCC Web Site, The RCCD CTA is selected by the faculty as its collective bargaining agent under the provisions of Senate Bill 160.

It represents the faculty on salaries, fringe benefits, and professional matters related to working conditions.

It also voices professional concerns in the legislature and the courts, in contract talks, and before the Board of Trustees.

Whenever decisions on working conditions are made that affect personal and professional well-being of faculty members, the CTA represents their interests.

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