Why, thank you

Posted: August 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

Today, We’re What’s Left surpassed its highest number of views in 24 hours.  Our previous daily high was 266.  Today, we went well beyond that with 308 views: 307 from the U.S.; and, one from the Republic of Korea.  We’ve gone international!  We also received a new follower today.  Welcome!  You can follow We’re What’s Left, too. It’s easy.  That way you will get an email every time we publish a post, which, by the way, isn’t that often.

Thanks to all of you.  This seems to show that faculty are interested in what WWL has to say even though you may not always (ever?) agree with us.  Truly, we’re the only game in town.  No one else does what we do.

So, take it to the next step.  Action.  I’ve been repeatedly told that faculty are afraid of losing their jobs and ruffling feathers and just want to keep their heads down.  Others tell me that the faculty are just apathetic.  What will it take to move the faculty once again?  Might it come with the next paycheck when you see how much less you are bringing home? Are you not in enough pain yet?

Educate.  Agitate.  Organize.  You can do it again.  Let’s talk.

Very interesting blog post

Posted: August 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

The below link was sent to me this morning from a Cuesta faculty member.  Check out the comments to see how Cuesta is viewed throughout the state.  So very sad.


Welcome to Cuesta

Posted: August 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

As you know, the Executive Board voted unanimously to change the composite rate to the tiered rate for health insurance.  The voting EB consists of 3 officers and 2 Council liaisons: Debra Stakes, President; Nancy  Mann, Vice President, Secretary; Mark Tomes, Treasurer; Tom Patchell, Council Liaison; and, Cynthia Wilshusen, Council Liaison, Part-Time Council Liaison.  This decision was communicated to faculty on May 22.

The single faculty are cheering, I’m sure.  Because their fringe amount will pay for their full medical insurance, they will be able to take home money while their married (or domestic partners) and married-with-kids counterparts will be paying significantly out of pocket.  How in the world could the union have let this happen–now.

The current and fairly new EB VP has been pushing for this for many years and has apparently influenced the president because as we know, Debra had been opposed to tiered rates.  I believe faculty had been told that the union way was “one for all, all for one.”  Perhaps.  But, that isn’t the crux of the matter here.  Unions are about taking care of working families–especially now when same sex marriage rights and protections have happily allowed more couples to marry.  So, now we can say the following to the new, young married faculty member (gay or straight):

“Welcome to Cuesta.  You will now be broke having to pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket every month to insure your family.  Further, you will be broke because Cuesta’s beginning salary for faculty is the lowest in the state. And, in addition to that, you will be really broke because Cuesta faculty have not had a raise in almost seven years. Welcome to Cuesta.”

To impose this change in insurance now is, well, unconscionable.  When the first union voted for the composite insurance rate, it was probably the hardest decision we had to make.  But, it was the right one.  Sure, we heard the “breeder” argument (did you ever think that if there weren’t any breeders, none of us would have jobs?). But, nothing could convince us that any Cuesta faculty member should pay out of pocket for health benefits while other faculty took money home.

The union wants the district to approve a pool for insurance.  That is a good idea.  But, the union and the district are at impasse on 2013-14 negotiations, and as you heard Gil Stork say (in the same email that asked for a public apology from the union president (!), the district would not entertain a pool idea until the next round, which could be quite some time.  Someone please enlighten me about why in the world this new tiered rate would be imposed now.  Why not wait until faculty get a decent raise?  Why not wait until the insurance pool is agreed to?

Faculty have called me to ask wth is going on.  It was May 22 for goodness sakes, they said, that we heard about this–as the semester was ending and faculty were a bit distracted.  Faculty in some departments never heard about it from the Council Reps prior to that time.  These faculty should be outraged.  And, they should act on that outrage.  But, I don’t see that happening.

Cuesta faculty rights embarrassingly continue to plunge with no end in sight.  Single faculty should do the right thing–tell the union that the tiered rates should not be implemented until no faculty are paying out of pocket.  Tell the union to take increases for large lecture classes off the bargaining table (another favorite of the union VP and her colleagues on campus who teach large lecture classes) and apply that asked-for money (if agreed to by the district) to an insurance pot for all faculty.  No playing favorites for some faculty while others suffer. This shouldn’t be a single faculty thing or a coupled faculty thing.  This should be an equality thing.  Strength through unity.

Mother Jones says: Unions Should Brace Themselves for a Major Supreme Court Loss

| Thu Jun. 26, 2014 1:04 PM EDT

It’s official: The Supreme Court will wait until Monday, the final day of the current term, to issue its decision in Harris v. Quinn. As I explained in May, Harris is a blockbuster case that could, in a worst-case scenario, wipe public-employee unions such as SEIU and AFSCME off the map. And the chances of a damaging decision in Harris just increased—here’s why.

Heading into Thursday, the Supreme Court had Harris and three other cases left to decide. The justices chose to issue their opinions concerning presidential recess appointments (Noel Canning v. National Labor Relations Board) and so-called buffer zones keeping protesters at a distance from abortion clinics (McCullen v. Coakley). Justice Stephen Breyer, a liberal member of the court, wrote the Canning opinion; Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, took the lead in McCullen.

This makes it more likely that Justice Samuel Alito, who we’ve yet to hear much from, will write the opinion in Harris, which points to bad news for public-employee unions. “There’s almost no question [Justice] Alito has this opinion unless he lost his majority along way,” tweets Rick Hasen, a University of California-Irvine law professor. “Anti-union is his signature issue.”

Labor officials can only hope Hasen is wrong. Alito is strongly anti-union. In the 2012 case Knox v. SEIU, Alito essentially invited labor’s foes to challenge the basic model of public-employee unionism, in which non-union employees can be made to pay dues to a union for bargaining on their behalf, representing them in grievance issues, etc. Harris makes such a challenge; it’s what Alito asked for.

Unions like to call those non-member payments “fair share” dues. If it’s the union’s job, they reason, to represent all members and nonmembers in a unionized workplace, then all those workers should pay their fair share for that representation. Conservatives—and Alito—say fair-share fees violate the First Amendment rights of non-union workers.

The outcome in Harris could cut a number of ways. The Supreme Court could uphold the lower court’s decision dismissing the suit—a big union victory. It could strike down fair share fees—the equivalent of Congress passing a national right-to-work bill. (Right-to-work laws ban unions from collecting those fair-share fees from non-members.) Public-employee unions would survive that decision, but it would be a blow. The court could also effectively enact right-to-work nationwide and kneecap a union’s ability to exclusively represent employees in a unionized workplace. That would be catastrophic for public-employee unions.

If there’s any judge who might go that far, it would be Samuel Alito.

Link  —  Posted: June 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

For Us All: A Love Letter to Our Students from the English Department, On the Occasion of the Isla Vista Shootings, May 2014

UCSB is a research university. That means faculty are engaged in pursuits they feel passionately about, whether they are contributing to research on aging, or trying to understand why the arts have been so valuable to our species as to have been, forever, our companions. These preoccupations often seem to take priority over teaching and getting to know our students. We teach a lot of large lecture classes. We dream about sabbaticals. But UCSB promotes undergraduate research as a way of involving undergraduates directly in that part of our mission, and we also teach (and wish we could teach more) small seminars, and we work with our undergraduates in labs, through internships or research assistanceships, on senior theses, in campus activism, on committees. We don’t always know our students’ names, but even if we don’t, we know our students’ faces. You keep us thinking about what matters, about what we need to learn, and what kind of knowledge we need to make, for the future. You keep us young. We hope we give you things too—a feeling for what a body of knowledge is, and can do; ways of thinking, making and doing that change your brains and minds forever, so that all we’ve learned in the past can be part of what you will take into the future we won’t otherwise be able to share with you. Our minds and our hearts are so much more entwined than we realize.

What the faculty have learned in the aftermath of the Isla Vista shootings is how much we love our students. Perhaps love isn’t the right word for the bonds that link people who think, learn, and work together, who share interests, even fascinations. We need a richer lexicon to describe these relationships. But we will use the word because it expresses something of the intensity of our concern, regard and gratitude for you.

We love you. You are part of us, and we are part of you. We know learning is difficult and that you manage a lot of boredom and anxiety every day. We know we don’t always connect well with you, as people or as experts in our fields. But when news of the shootings spread, we were desperate to know whether or not you were okay. We emailed you, telephoned you, scanned news sources, hoping you would not be among the dead and injured, feeling dreadful because we knew somebody had to be among the dead and injured, someone who was smart and hopeful, someone who was important. We’ve been so relieved to hear from you, so worried when we haven’t. We didn’t hear back from Chris Martinez, a brilliant, kind young man, an English major. We’ve all been overtaken by our feelings. But we are glad to know, and want you to know, both the living and the dead, how much you mean to us.

Research on social connectivity is growing more brilliant every day. There is still much we don’t know about how feelings and ideas become, or always already are, communal phenomena. But we know that feelings and ideas are transpersonal. And so we know, partly because we are part of a knowledge-making community, how really true it is that we are all affected by the shootings, how much we have reached out to each other, and how long it will be before we can enjoy again the shockingly good fortune of being alive. We are just so terribly sorry for those who had to leave us before they were ready.

Please be well. If we can help, tell us, and we will tell you. If you need peace and quiet, we will be respectful. If you want to cry, we will cry with you. We will protest the unfairness of life right alongside of you. Please be well. Remember that we love you.

Cuesta’s current dean of Student Services, Nohemy Ornelas, is one of the two finalists at Allan Hancock College for the vice-president of Student Services position.  Second-level interviews, including a campus forum and a formal interview with administration, occurred yesterday.

You might recall our post of March 12, 2014, “Violation” http://wwl2.wordpress.com/2014/03/.  In this post, we discuss our concern, which we voiced to the Chancellor’s Office, that Ornelas was not hired at Cuesta in compliance with appropriate standards.  Part of this position includes her supervision of DSPS, a position for which she apparently does not have necessary qualifications.  So, she is appointed dean by the President; begins supervising DSPS; slices and dices faculty and staff at will, making DSPS almost unrecognizable; allows morale to plummet to new depths; and, moves on!

We hope her interview went well.

UPDATE: Ornelas got the position at Hancock.


Flex Days Placement

Posted: May 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

If you haven’t yet returned your survey to Patrick Len regarding flex day placement, we urge you to not support “moving in-semester flex days to the week before the start of instruction.”  This is something the prior union fought hard against and won.  It was the district’s wish to get faculty to campus earlier than they needed to be per their contract by having more flex days prior to instruction.  There is no valid reason to do this.  There is no reason for faculty to come to campus prior to DReaD (District Required Day).  All necessary flex activities can be done after the start of the semester if faculty so choose.

There most likely are other reasons to not support this change, but the above is one that faculty may not have thought about.  We are getting no increase in any compensation whatsoever.  Why should we continue to give to an institution who places so little value on our work?  Why should we be on campus before we need to be?

I can never figure out why the October flex days are always on the table.  They are perfectly situated–for our students and for us–between Labor Day and Veterans Day.  They’re also a great time for fall retreats.

The survey ends tonight at 11:59 p.m.  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GRLJ3FD