YVC faculty union demands transparency

YVC faculty union members
YVC faculty union members, students and advocates met during a press conference to demand transparency from the college administration. (Credit: Johanna Bejarano / NWPB)



Yakima Valley Community College faculty union members have voted no confidence in the college’s president Linda Kaminski. Union leaders say the administration has become unaccountable and is not addressing their complaints. But college representatives say meetings with faculty have taken place, and they are working to answer their questions.

According to the recent voting results, 88% of faculty union members voted “no confidence.” No union members voted “confidence,” while 12% abstained from voting.

In a recent press conference, faculty union members said there is no transparency in hiring processes, harassment is not being investigated properly and faculty are experiencing retaliation.

Rachel Dorn is the president of the AFT Yakima Faculty Union.

“We tried to talk to the board. We’ve had meetings. We’ve filed grievances. We’ve written letters,” said Dorn. “We’ve worked with mediators. We’ve filed unfair labor practices. All of this failed to result in meaningful changes.” 

Dorn said they have been asking the school to create and follow policies for promotion and hiring. She said they are not asking to make decisions but to know how those decisions are being made.

“We want this to be the best school in the state. But we can’t do our best if across the college, at both campuses, our employees are afraid to speak up,” said Dorn.

Union members also raised concerns about the closing of the BAS Teacher Education Program or BAS-TE.

“We are out here today because of the abrupt closure of the BAS, Bachelors of Applied Science, [the] teacher education program in March, the layoff of seven faculty for reasons not allowed by our contract and the administration’s misleading or outright false statements to the Board of Trustees and to faculty about both of these issues,” said Dorn at last Thursday’s rally.

Fernando Mejia Ledesma is the Communities for College Coalition funding project director. The organization advocates for racial and economic equity at community and technical college in Washington.

Mejia Ledesma says student leaders of the Coalition are organizing with faculty members to tell YVC administration they do not want the BAS-TE program go away.

“We have a teacher’s shortage in Washington State and we want to make sure that our community college continues to invest in that kind of program,” he said. “Because that’s an investment into our students, but it’s also an investment in our community.”

But Dustin Wunderlich, director of community relations at Yakima Valley College, said the education program has not and will not close.

“Our Bachelor of Applied Science and teacher education program is currently engaged in new opportunities that will continue to reflect teaching and learning best practices, along with excellent student supports,” said Wunderlich.

Wunderlich said in order to ensure continuity for students, the college is postponing the fall cohort of BAS-TE students and will accept applications, beginning February 2024 for the next teacher education cohort.

Wunderlich says students currently enrolled will continue their education during the 2023-2024 academic year.

“We will have students who are continuing on into their second year of the program next academic year, and then the following academic year, we will have a new cohort of students entering the program so we will be having students in our teacher education program on an ongoing basis,” he said.

Yakima Valley College Board of Trustees Chair Castulo “Cus” Arteaga wrote in an emailed statement that they “appreciate the work and leadership of President Kaminski.”

Arteaga also mentioned that meetings with faculty members have taken place.

“As board chair, along with the incoming chair, [we] recently met with faculty leaders at their request,” wrote Arteaga. “The college is providing detailed information to answer the three questions they asked related to college policies and procedures.”

Arteaga noted the board of trustees focuses on, “making sure that Yakima Valley College is fulfilling its mission to serve our students and to strengthen the entire Yakima Valley.”