We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with the adjunct faculty union at California College of the Arts (CCA), who have been negotiating their first union contract for two years. We are artists, writers, academics, designers, architects and community organizers who understand the important role CCA has in the Bay Area arts community, and critical point the college is at in its history.
As CCA moves forward with plans to close the Oakland campus and consolidate all programs in San Francisco to reshape the institution to be “flexible, sustainable, interdisciplinary, and ahead of its time,” according to a President Stephen Beal’s March 30, 2016 public letter, we are concerned that the focus on flexibility over job security for faculty will impede CCA’s stated goal of “producing the trailblazers of tomorrow who can solve the seemingly intractable problems of today’s society.”
If CCA truly believes in innovation with the intention to “strengthen the arts and cultural ecosystem of the Bay Area and San Francisco,” the College must not be an institution where the majority of faculty cannot afford to live near the cities they teach and students incur untenable debt.
The non-ranked faculty at CCA unionized to fight the College’s flexible work model, a model that relies on 78% of the faculty to work semester-to-semester without job security, benefits or a livable wage. How does the College justify the President’s $628,077 compensation package when the majority of CCA’s faculty earn less than $30,000/year without benefits, tuition has soared over $45,000 and a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco rents for $3490 per month?
If CCA cannot address the problems of today and provide quality, stable jobs for its own workers, how will they produce the problem solvers of tomorrow? Will CCA be a school that pays only lip service to its mission of social and economic justice? Will it transform into an elite vocational school feeding workers to the tech industry while displacing working artists from the Bay Area alongside communities of color and working class people? We ask, who is CCA and what is it becoming?
CCA administration maintains that a union contract will hinder creating a more diverse faculty body. If CCA had a real commitment to hiring more faculty of color and other minority groups in academia, it would have done so before the union election in 2014. The union is not responsible for the historic and ongoing nepotistic hiring policies that made the current administration and faculty majority white. The approach to diversity that CCA favors—temporary grant-funded positions or low paying precarious teaching jobs—reinforces structural racism.
We recognize and appreciate that the non-ranked faculty union is a coalition of workers with diverse histories and points of view that are assembling for the cause of social and economic justice. This diversity is their strength. Unlike CCA administration, the non-ranked faculty union is committed to ensuring systemic racial, class, and gender equity, not fighting it. This is best for CCA students, faculty and the arts ecosystem more broadly.
It’s time for CCA to stop resisting the union’s solutions to the escalating wealth gap in the Bay Area and to lay the foundation for a diverse faculty body.
The CCA non-ranked faculty are our colleagues, friends, family members, creative collaborators and mentors. They deserve fair treatment. They have devoted their lives to serving CCA students and it is time for CCA administration to reciprocate. We call on President Stephen Beal, Provost Tammy Rae Carland, and the Board of Trustees, to agree quickly to a union contract that provides job security, fair wages, benefits and a support for the faculty’s dedication to the next generation of artists, writers, and designers, and arts educators.
Join us in demanding a career path for teaching artists that will allow the Bay Area creative community to continue to thrive. Tell CCA President Stephen Beal, Provost Tammy Rae Carland, and the Board of Trustees to stand on the correct side of history.