A TA chronology plus

Posted: February 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

1.  Election outcome would have been different had one person voted “no” instead of “yes.”  Having a contract ratification vote this close is, well, unheard of.  It represents an unprecedented division among members on what the members want in their contract.  There is no unity.  While it is understandable that some faculty jumped at the chance of two 1% percent raises over 3 years because they thought they never would see a raise again, we commend those faculty who went for the long term principle instead of the short term pennies (btw, we received information on good authority that Gil openly told a faculty member that no one will be getting any other raises for at least a couple of years, until the bond money kicks in.  So, you know that big raise the union president told us more than once we’re going to get in 2015, in hopes of getting people to ratify the contract?  I hope you’re not holding your breath.).

2.  Election abnormalities (see “Election Woes,” February 3) acknowledged by union treasurer who says that we will “just have to do better next time” (Bush v Gore, anyone?).

3.  Election challenge filed, per the CCFT Constitution below: Article 9, “Elections,” Section 7. “Challenges to Election Resultsa. Challenges and objections on matters conducted by the Elections Committee must be submitted in writing, with a statement of supporting reasons and facts, to the Elections Committee within five (5) days of the action taken by the Elections Committee for which the challenge or objection is being made. The Elections Committee shall issue its written opinion regarding the challenge or objection no later than five (5) days after receipt of such objections. The Council of Representatives shall have the authority to overrule the opinion and decision of the Elections Committee.

4.  Challenge was timely filed within the requisite 5 days.  Union president claims that 5 days includes weekends.  Most know that 5 days is five “working” days.  A union president should know this, must know this.  It’s in the CCFT contract for goodness’ sake:

Appendix A, “Definitions:” C. “Day” is a day when the District office is open for business.

5.  Union president claims that challenger must be a union member.  See relevant section above.  Nothing is specified with regard to who may file a challenge.  See other areas of the  constitution which specify “member” or “fair share fee payer” when a certain category of bargaining unit member is meant.  Not so with Section 7.

6. The 3-person Elections Committee says it doesn’t know how to approach the challenge even though the union constitution spells it out in Article 9, Section 7.  Challenger of election is told to contact union president. Now, this is where the whole process seriously begins to fall apart.  The Elections Committee was created to have a buffer between the EB and the electorate to maintain neutrality and at least the appearance of propriety.  That did not happen here.  The Elections Committee did not abide by Article 9, Section 7, by not issuing an opinion on the challenge. Instead, the union treasurer responded to the challenger.  Do you see what is happening here?  The Elections Committee has no apparent knowledge or authority on matters like this and turns it all over to the EB, who by its own constitution, has no place in the matter and should have stayed completely out of it.

The union is flagrantly and openly violating its own constitution.

7. Union president is told that she is obliged to postpone the Board of Trustees vote on February 4 on the TA because there is an active challenge regarding the election.  Not only did union president urge the BOT to adopt the TA, she, according to a faculty leader, “bragged about winning the ratification election by two votes.” The union seems to be run by a tyranny of two: the union president and the treasurer.  Debra Stakes and Mark Tomes are the only two officers on the board. Someone suggested to us that since we are looking at Article 9, Section 7 of the Constitution, we might also take a look at Article V, “The Executive Board,” Section 8, “Recall of Executive Board Members.”

A Sunday Evening Tale

Posted: February 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

Remember when faculty were asked to take extra students in their classes when the budget was in bad shape?  You or your division had a choice about whether you wanted to volunteer or not?

Well, no need to worry your little head about that anymore.  Management will be making that decision for you now.  And, as an added bonus, you won’t be able to grieve it!  Because there will no longer be any such thing as union/management course caps in the contract.

The end.

Was it really worth it?

Election Woes

Posted: February 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

1.)  Fourteen ballots that were submitted were not counted in the ratification vote of the TA.  They were not counted because they were not signed over the seal on the large envelope.  However, as told to me by the union treasurer, one or more faculty who improperly filled out a ballot asked for a new one and got one after they had already turned in their ballot.  If you weren’t one of those faculty and you didn’t sign your name on the outside, your vote didn’t count–even though your ballot could have been verified another way.

2.)  Also confirmed to me by the treasurer: He used the December 31 payroll information to determine who to send ballots to.  That means that part-time faculty union members who taught in Fall and aren’t teaching this semester got ballots.  He said the union didn’t want to wait until the updated Spring personnel list came out on January 31.  It “would have been too late for when we wanted the election results.”

When 2 votes separate an outcome, the process must be impeccable.  And, it wasn’t.  Oh, no, it wasn’t.


(More to come soon. I have lots of papers to grade tonight :)




Clear as Mud

Posted: December 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

(The below is a reprint from December 17, posted on the recently formed wearewhatsleft google forum.  Discussion is happening!  Please join.

Follow this link to get started: wearewhatsleft@googlegroups.com.  Just send an email to the forum and we will add you.  Under “Subject,” please include your name and department so we can identify you.  It is strongly recommended you NOT use your Cuesta email.

To post to the forum after you become a member, simply send an email using the link above and it will go directly to the forum.  Responses will come back in an email.)



Yesterday, we got a curious email about benefits from the union.  A faculty member wrote me the following yesterday morning:

“How come this sounds so shady to me.. I mean.. how come we didn’t have this money before??  This is a ton of money and just now they are finding it and giving it to us for insurance…”

Below is one of the questions I sent Debra Stakes:

1.)  Why do you say that the full-time faculty unused fringe benefit money would be returned to the district? It never has before.  If we have money left over, it’s ours.  It’s part of our compensation.

Her reply: “Everyone that is contractually entitled to receive an in lieu out of pocket payment will still receive that payment. The MOU does not change any agreements, promises or language in the current contract (which I did not negotiate).”

But, then, in her email to the faculty today, Debra said “The concept is that funds allocated in the budget as fringe benefit allotments but not used by faculty would be placed into a faculty insurance pool to be reallocated by CCFT. Such unused fringe benefit funds would have previously been returned to the District.”

These two statements seem contradictory to me; how about you?  Where is all the money for the pool coming from?  It must be coming from the new, tiered single payers who now will be taking home less in compensation than they were before.  Or, the part-timers.  For example, if the single FT payer is now paying $350 a month for a single, tiered insurance plan, the dollars remaining from that FT’er’s monthly benefit compensation will be going to the pool to offset other faculty members’ insurance costs instead of going to the faculty member herself.  So, that single faculty member will be making less in monthly compensation than her peer with a family plan.  While an insurance offset even for a year can be helpful, we can’t toss aside benefits dollars so cavalierly. In the past, we sometimes bargained an increase in benefits rather than an increase in salary: it is all compensation.  I’m not sure how those faculty can have compensation taken away from them.  It is listed on our paycheck as compensation; consequently, the removal of those dollars from some faculty will lower their overall STRS because their overall compensation is lower.

If I am incorrect about the above, I would like to know where the money is coming from.

2.)  If the above is true, do the single payers know that they do not now have extra money to take home?  Was this discussed?

No response

3.)  Why is this outside the TA?

No response

5.)  And, most importantly, why was this not brought to our attention before December 12?–before we all had to choose what we were going to do with our insurance?

No response

A change to benefits like the one above should be voted on and ratified by faculty, but it is not in the TA.  It is in an MOU on the HR website.  It is a temporary agreement for the 2014-15 academic year.

Where is all the discussion about these critically important matters?  I hope that all of you who see this pass it on to others, and those going to the meeting today (Thursday) at 3:00 p.m. get answers.

Encourage others to join the forum.  Another faculty member wrote to me today about the TA and asked, “Why would Debra agree to this TA??”  Truly, I must say that I don’t know.

Got insurance?

Posted: December 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

I include the below communication from Frank Clabough, long-time insurance provider for many Cuesta faculty.  As a personal testimonial, I have had to make a homeowner’s claim and an auto claim within the last year.  Horace Mann could not have handled my claims any better!  The process was fast, easy and uber professional–and, it gave me the financial reimbursement I was looking for.

I urge all of you looking for new insurance to contact Frank.


“Hello CCFT members!

Happy Holidays & Happy New Year.  Starting Jan 1, 2015,  I will also be able to offer classic auto insurance; high value homes that Horace Mann Insurance cannot write; stand alone host liquor liability; and, Event insurance, including parties, vendor booths, weddings, fundraisers, festivals, meetings and more.  Later in January I will also be able to offer more commercial insurance for CCFT members.  I am excited to be able to offer more & continue to offer competitive rates for auto, home, life & retirement annuities 403(b)!  Please also remember I write m/cycles, boats, travel trailers, motor homes, & mobile homes.  CCFT & Horace Mann have been working together for 15+ years helping you with your insurance needs.  Thank you for your business today, and please email or call with any questions you may have.”



Frank Clabough Ins. Svcs., LLC
805 614 9011
805 614 9016 fax
Lic# 0c12893
“Founded by Educators for Educators”

Securities offered through Horace Mann Investors, Inc. | Member FINRA | 1 Horace Mann Plaza | Springfield, IL 62715-0001 | 217-789-2500 | horacemann.com

Twenty Years

Posted: December 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

It was 20 years ago this year that Cuesta College Federation of Teachers was overwhelmingly voted in as the exclusive bargaining agent for all faculty.

Happy Anniversary.

Editorial: A much needed purging

Posted: December 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

Dear faculty friends,

Finally!  The non-progressive faculty have spoken!  They don’t want to receive our one-sentence email notification that we send out twice a semester about new posts from Peace and Justice.  I’m surprised it has taken so long.

This little “protest” seems so sad and so ridiculous.  For one thing, all these faculty have to do is delete the email. Don’t we all get emails we don’t want to read?  But, they want to make a public statement.  I’m all for making a statement.  But, it seems that their statement may be that they don’t want to hear the truth.  Perhaps they’re embarrassed that they selected a do-nothing union, so they attack the messenger.  I don’t pay hundreds of dollars of fees to a union every year for its effort; this is not grade school.  I pay for results.  Don’t you?  A colleague of mine once said to me that had he been told the questionable caliber of so many people he would be working with in an institution of higher learning, he wouldn’t have believed it.  Another colleague just emailed me about today’s display and simply said, “Our faculty are sheep.”

And, the funny thing about it is many will still be coming to this site to read the posts because the web address is public, of course.  This site is growing in readership all the time.  Since my post last Thursday which sparked all this, the site has gotten 425 hits.  The first day the post came out, it received 273 hits, 38 hits an hour as the website dashboard tells me.  Since the inception of this newly formatted We’re What’s Left, the site has received, as of today, 7011 hits (our records are always open).  So, that would tell me that faculty seem to be quite interested.

Another funny thing–today we got a significant bump in hits: 81.  I guess what they say is right: there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Let’s see.  Who stands out on this list:

Faculty who were responsible for the unlawful termination of a long-time, part-time faculty member.

Faculty who were on the losing end of a shameful arbitration against another faculty member.

Faculty who are embroiled in a lawsuit.

Faculty EB member who had a Mitt Romney sign in her backyard during the last election and was called out on it.

And, conservatives. Most of them far-right.

So, if you are reading this, are one of the above, and somehow missed the clarion call to remove your name from this committee newsletter’s email notification, please send us an email, and we will remove you at once.

Because now we will not have to hold back.  Are you ready for the ride?  We can speak freely about issues that matter to all faculty–whether they think so or not. I’m hoping that now that the group has been culled, some of you may feel more free to speak out and join the conversation.  I was recently contacted by 9 part-time faculty, none of whom I have ever met, who were so very concerned about their plight at Cuesta as part-timers and asked for help.  They need a voice.  They have none.  No one talks to each other much anymore about issues that WWL takes on.

I would like to say in closing that I’m sure there are those out there who are still saying I am writing about these issues because I lost the 2008 election. If you think that, you’re pretty darn silly.  I have won far more than I have lost and always move forward.  I am, however, very sad about what has happened to the glorious union that so many of us worked hard to bring about.  It has all but disappeared.

I do this because someone has to, and I apparently have the stomach for it.  And, as some of you know, because I was no longer in office, I was able to do something I wanted to do for a long time–go to and graduate from law school as I continued to teach full-time.  My hope is to work with public employees who have been let down by their union and/or their employer and who need legal help.  I believe there is a great need in our county for that.

Thanks to many of you for your unwavering support.  Happy holidays!