Green River College faculty on strike over proposed program cuts

Faculty at Green River College walked off the job Monday, striking to protest a proposal by the college to eliminate 11 programs and courses to save money and saying they will only be off the job three days.

The college’s Board of Trustees on Monday voted to seek an injunction to halt the strike.

Five tenured faculty and one tenure-track faculty member at the Auburn community college could lose their jobs under the proposed cutbacks, as well as an unknown number of adjunct instructors.

Dozens of faculty members waved strike signs at the college’s entrance Monday morning, chanting and shouting. Drivers honked their horns and waved out their windows to show their support.

The college faculty have been in a long-running dispute with President Eileen Ely, and three times — most recently, this month — voted that they have no confidence in her leadership or that of the trustees. They say she is using state cutbacks as a way to gut the college’s United Faculty union, which is a chapter of the American Federation of Teachers Washington, and have filed unfair labor practice complaints against her.

Last year, as a cost-cutting measure, the college cut several programs — including an auto-body program run by the head of the college’s union.

The college says it must eliminate some programs because of state budget cutbacks and declining enrollment.

But faculty members argue that the college has mismanaged its money, pouring millions into new buildings and unnecessary remodeling projects.

It’s unusual for a union to go on strike when there’s no contract up for a vote. Striking faculty say they are putting a limit on the number of days they’ll walk the picket line in order to minimally disrupt students’ studies. The last day of the quarter is June 10.