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The Telescope

The Telescope

The Telescope

There’d be no Palomar without them; the Classified Employees union

Council of Classified Employees taking a group photo. Photo credit: Courtesy picture from CCE (sent by Anel Gonzalez)

Off to the side of the MD building’s maze-like second floor, students can find Local #4522 of the Council of Classified Employees (CCE) office. Inside, CCE local 4522’s President Anel Gonzalez, along with fellow CCE members, work together on behalf of all Palomar classified employees.

CCE is a union consisting of classified employees — Palomar’s custodians, programmers, admissions employees, student services employees, along with any other support role that doesn’t require certification like professors or counselors — and has been active for 37 years.

CCE negotiates work-contracts with Palomar administration that go over details such as wages, vacation time, and benefits for all classified employees, even if they aren’t a part of the union themselves.

They also help out Palomar students. They donate to the food pantry as well as support student activities like those done by the Pride Center, Veterans Resource Center, and Cariño Dream Village.

Anel Gonzalez has served as the Local 4522’s president for six years, and has been a part of the union for 10 years. She wasn’t always involved in the union and had been working at Palomar for 10 years prior to her involvement.

“At that time I didn’t know what [CCE] really meant,” Gonzalez said when talking about her early years before joining.

“I think the first time that I became aware…of the work that the union does…at one point they were talking about a lot of the categorical funded programs. So those are programs that are specialized like EOPS (Extended Opportunities Programs and Services), and TRIO, so things that are now funded with general funds. People were gonna get laid off, and so there’s all these things that were happening,” said Gonzalez.

Through CCE, the union has been able to achieve perks and benefits for classified employees.

“I think one of the greatest things our union has done is like make sure that anyone that’s an employee at Palomar, that’s in our unit, can actually seek their own education. So we have like negotiated so that people have professional development hours,” Gonzalez said. “So anybody can do it, not just for the union, but for their own personal [reasons].”

Since COVID-19, Palomar’s CCE local along with many other locals across have been struggling with vacant classified spots.

“We have about 80 vacancies which is really hard,” Gonzalez said. “Some areas have adjusted because of technology and stuff, but in some areas we are still missing people. And then in the end it affects students because if we don’t have enough staff to keep things open then the services aren’t there or our staff gets so stressed out because they’re doing 2-3 jobs.”

Despite the vacancies, Palomar’s CCE local still has been able to maintain members and, according to Gonzalez, has 85% of classified employees in the union.

Reasons why the remaining 15% haven’t joined vary. Gonzalez explained how some employees struggle with being able to afford the dues, which average out to $60 a month, while others find no reason to join as they still receive the benefits achieved by the union.

“But there’s that resistance. There’s always people that like no matter what they’re just not like gonna join … and some people don’t mind just having other people pay their dues which is a bummer,” said Gonzalez.

When asked by the Telescope on what she’d want to say to students, she emphasized the importance of unionization. “Join a union or make a union.”

“Si se puede,” said Gonzalez

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There’d be no Palomar without them; the Classified Employees union