TAMPA — Faculty members at Hillsborough Community College are not happy about the 3 percent raises they are being offered, especially not when the school's president is getting a 28 percent pay hike.
Professors said they were never given an opportunity to negotiate the raises. It was 3 percent, take it or leave it.
"We're supposed to go into good-faith negotiations based on how much money the school has," faculty member James Fatherree said. "Instead, they said, 'Here's a number. Here's what we're going to give you. We're not going to discuss it.' "
The administration had budgeted a certain amount for raises, and the faculty union's request goes beyond that predetermined amount, HCC spokeswoman Ashley Carl said.
"The only other available fiscal resources come from tuition increases, and we don't feel it's appropriate to put salary increases on the backs of our students," Carl said.
The faculty union filed notice of an impasse with the state Public Employees Relations Commission on Nov. 7. Faculty members then asked to put the resolution process on hold, allowing them to complete the semester.
Faculty got no raise in base pay in 2009 or 2010, instead receiving a $1,000 payment each year, plus $30 for each year of employment, according to HCC's website. In 2011, they received a 2 percent raise. Data for 2012 were not available, but Fatherree said he recalled getting a 2.5 percent increase in base pay.
"I'm way behind where I should be or where I expected to be when I took this job," said Fatherree, a professor of earth science and environmental science.
The average faculty salary in 2011 was $52,076, according to the HCC 2012 Factbook. About 47,000 students attend the college, which has 315 full-time faculty members.
When the college gives the faculty lump sum payments instead of base pay increases, it weakens the faculty members' earnings over time, Fatherree said.
"All that many of us are asking for is some catching up so that our base pay gets back to where it should be," he said.
HCC administrators received an average raise of 3 percent this year, the same offered to faculty. But faculty members noted the large increase this year in president Ken Atwater's contract.
Atwater got a 28 percent increase in base pay, a hike that raised the average administrative pay raise to 3.335 percent, according to an October faculty newsletter. The faculty union is asking for an equivalent pay hike.
Atwater's base salary for 2012-2013 was $234,600, and his total compensation was $315,133.That ranked him 16th among 28 state college presidents.
HCC faculty salaries rank in the bottom one-third of those for community colleges in the state, and the administrator salaries are 100 percent more than the average faculty salary, the HCC Faculty United Service Association's October newsletter said.
After the end of the semester, the state will send a list of qualified special magistrates to the faculty and the administration. Once a magistrate is selected, they will make a recommendation on the contract issues.
The HCC board will then hold a public hearing to resolve outstanding issues and make a final ruling that cannot be appealed, Carl said.