It’s my party, so I can say whatever I’d like, right?


I’m sure we all enjoyed that little extra 1% and 1% retro money in our paychecks this week. But, you know what? The union needs to be honest about all this. The EB has stated in writing that the raises were as follows:

2015-2016  5% increase for the full academic year

2016-2017  +1% for the full academic year

2017-2018  +3% starting in January 2018

Okay, fine. But, the last line makes it sound better than it is. If you get a raise of 3% for half a year, that equates to a 1.5% raise for the year. Yes, it will be part of the salary schedule as 3%, but we got screwed out of 1.5% for this year. So, in essence, we had to wait 2 years (2016-2018) to get an increase of 2.5%. The retro is simply our money that the district held on to for two years. You need to have an understanding of district budgets to see how this works. The district did just what it wanted: finished the contract before the end of the fiscal year, requiring that they only have to cough up 1.5% out of the 2017-2018 budget and push the rest of it into the next fiscal year.

And, no, we didn’t get a 9% salary increase over the last three years as CCFT published. We got 7.5% over the last three years AND we got 5% of it in 2015-2016 because the union traded away the full-time faculty hires that year for the raise. So, the district lost nothing. And, the faculty lost a lot. And, since this union president has been in office for 5 years, we actually have received a total of a 9.5% increase over that entire span– an average of 1.9% a year. Sounds pretty sucky to me. Must really sound sucky to the part-time faculty.

Oh, and speaking of part-time faculty, as you all know, the CCFT president begged members to vote in favor of the ratification of the contract in Spring 2016, saying that the union would fight for parity in October 2016 when it went back to the table. It didn’t happen then, and it hasn’t happened since. Why lie? Why fail the part-timers over and over again.

I wish better days ahead for our hard-working part-time colleagues.


As you all know unless you’ve been living under a rock, a major Supreme Court ruling is expected in June that, if it finds in favor of the plaintiff, Mark Janus, and it is predicted that it will, it will change the face of public-sector unions in America. And, California will be hit the hardest.

From the Sacramento Bee: “Mark Janus, a public employee in Illinois, sued his home state and local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) chapter over the requirement that he pay what are known as “fair share” fees to the union. Those fees help cover the costs of collective bargaining and other union engagement with management, something all employees benefit from. “

And, more: “While Janus is suing the state of Illinois, California is the state that will feel the biggest impact from the court’s decision. Roughly 18 percent of the country’s 14.8 million union members reside in California. And the state has the most government employees of any in the nation. It’s not surprising then, that California’s public sector unions are particularly strong and politically active, including those representing teachers, prison guards and law enforcement. They not only shape the debate on labor issues but also channel millions of dollars in support of favored ballot measures and politicians.”

Fair share fees at Cuesta

When CCFT was first able to use the “fair share” or “agency” fees legislation in our union when I was president, the EB, naturally, was ecstatic. We would finally be able to charge bargaining unit members who were not union members to pay their fair share for grievance handling and collective bargaining, services which all faculty benefited from. It was only fair. Agency fee payers were not required to pay for the political activities of the union, which resulted in discounted fees for fair share payers.

Of course, I believe in the efficacy and justness of the fair share fee and hope the outcome in June is not the expected one. CCFT is worried about the impact on our local, as it should be. On a personal level, I do not believe that CCFT deserves a fair share fee. It has driven our statewide salary ranking into the dumps since 2008. Further, a record number of union members have chosen to not be represented by the union in grievances and signed waivers to that effect, often asking yours truly to voluntarily help them through the grievance process, which I have happily done for almost 10 years since being out of office. Why does CCFT deserve a fair share fee, then? Why should we encourage faculty to join the union with results like the above? I also strongly believe that the statewide and national affiliates should use the predicted outcome to get their houses in order. As I’ve said before, they are becoming “the Man” we have always fought against.

Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers president, says repeatedly, “It’s not fair that we have to live paycheck to paycheck.” That might be easier for her to say than most since her annual salary, which puts her in the top 1%, is $472,197 plus hefty benefits and allowances, which brings her total annual compensation close to $600,000 or more.

Unions need to get back to their roots and out of their double-breasted suits. They also need to create policy that allows rank and file members a way to settle complaints against their local unions instead of only allowing internal grievances against the very Executive Board with whom members have a grievance.

Yes, if and when Janus becomes the new law, national, state, and local unions will be receiving a lot less money. Maybe then, they will be forced to do what’s necessary to make bargaining unit members want to join the union. Right now at Cuesta? I see very little incentive to do so.


I will miss so many people that I have worked with over the decades and am so happy for those who have become lifelong friends. The best of times. And, yes there were the worst of times, too. The worst of those began some years ago when retired Social Sciences instructor, Peter Dill, was Academic Senate president. Because he entered into unethical and unlawful private faculty salary discussions with then college president Marie Rosenwasser, we as the union informed the Senate about this, and to their credit, they as a body issued a formal censure against Dill and required that he publish a written apology to the faculty. This was unheard of at Cuesta—never happened prior or since.

It was then that the campaign against me started in earnest. He and some of his fellow misogynistic cronies—you know who they are—began their own version of fake news and lies, which as they often do, take hold and spread. And, then the union won a major arbitration for a faculty member which brought others, unhappy with that decision, out of the woodwork. I am not one of those people who believes that things happen for a reason—except maybe this time. 🙂 Being voted out of the union presidency allowed me to go to law school, something which I would never have been able to do had I still been in union leadership. So, I say this: Although I didn’t feel so at the time, I am forever thankful that things happened as they did so that I could then pursue my second career full-time with vigor. And, since people have been asking, the harassment and retaliation lawsuit against the district and a faculty member has been resolved.


I have always paid for this WWL website and its domain out of my own pocket. It has had no formal connection to Cuesta College. So, I can say whatever I wish, within the law, of course. And, I just may continue to do so at least until my annual fee runs out. Or, not. You can still sign up to follow WWL if you wish to see anything that may happen to be published.

Why have I done this, taken on the role of watchdog for so long? Because someone had to. I truly hope that someone will take on this mantle and call out injustice whenever it arises. I hope that the culture of Cuesta will once again be comprised of fierce and passionate faculty leaders who will not be afraid to persistently stand against a college administration who treats faculty unfairly and disrespectfully. Perhaps your new college president will be different. I truly hope so. The campus climate always starts at the top.

So, I say goodbye. As editor of We’re What’s Left, I thank you for reading our newsletter in great numbers over the years. I thank you for your comments and your support and your interest. I wish my fellow retirees well in the next chapter of their lives. And, I deeply thank my division and my chair, Steve Leone, for the on-campus gathering as well as the off-campus party that was held for the English retirees. It was a pleasure to reconnect with so many whom I haven’t seen in some time.

Though I, as all do, have gone through some tough times here at Cuesta, they were very much in the minority. Most were wonderfully challenging, truly engaging, and character building.

It has been a privilege.


Post It

Posted: May 26, 2018 in Uncategorized

I’ve been told that some divisions/departments have not yet received and posted their DFEH poster about labor law, including whistle blower protection; safety on the job; and protection from sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

If you need a poster for your area, please let HR know. They should be able to provide you with one.


(Don’t want to miss a post?  Follow We’re What’s Left.)

CuestaCollege_logo_vert_fullcolor_whttxt Foundation

Before you go off to parts unknown, you might wish to make a donation to this very worthy scholarship endowment on the fourth anniversary of our collegeaue’s passing.

Gilette, J.tif_021043November 1962–April 28, 2014

Title of Endowment:


Endowment Established by: MATTHEW T. GILLETTE


To establish a perpetual scholarship fund to honor the memory of Jan Gillette, who overcame poverty and a fatherless childhood to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, an instructor, a founder of the Office of Employment Training, and founder of the Addiction Studies Program at Cuesta College.

Specifications for distribution of earnings (companion to ‘Article I. Purpose’ in Endowment Agreement Form):

The Janet Pollock Gillette Memorial Scholarship provides scholarships for students who want to pursue a career in Social Work or Counseling.

Qualifications to be met by recipient:

The student(s) awarded must be, or planning to be enrolled in at least 12 units, and maintain a cumulative grade-point average of 2.5 and indicate that they are pursuing a career in Social Work or Counseling. Preference is given to re-entry women who are minorities, disabled, or low income.

Attachment “A’ Developed By/With:

Matthew T. Gillette


The Board of Trustees of the San Luis Obispo County Community College District affirms that no person shall, on the basis of race, color, religious beliefs, gender, national origin, ethnicity, age, mental or physical disabilities, veteran status, sexual orientation, or marital status be unlawfully subject to discrimination under any program or activity of the San Luis Obispo County Community College District

Voter Guide June 2018

Posted: May 26, 2018 in Uncategorized

CFT Voter Guide

So long, Gil Stork

Posted: May 26, 2018 in Uncategorized

Reprinted below is a recently submitted Tribune letter-to-the editor:

“College presidents are all about legacies. Gil Stork is no different. He, too, wants to leave a legacy at Cuesta.

In lockstep with the company line, Board President, Barbara George, said that Stork’s contract “amendments” of a $51,000 stipend and a $10,359 boost to his $217,545 current salary were consistent with past practice for retiring presidents. Just because this was past practice doesn’t make it right. Cuesta’s enrollment is in the tank and keeps dipping. The buck should stop with Stork. But, instead, the buck ended up in his pocket.

Add to that that the District gave faculty a golden handshake but disallowed it for classified staff, saying it was not cost-effective. The Board refused to give the neediest employee group—the support staff that keeps the college running—the perk that faculty got while the president got a sweetheart deal.

If Stork wishes to leave a positive legacy, I would urge him to accept the money bestowed upon him by the Board and donate it to scholarships for Cuesta students of color; and, include classified staff in the handshake as the ethical and financially responsible thing to do. Come on. Leave a real legacy. One that money can’t buy.”

Election, Anyone?

Posted: May 11, 2018 in Uncategorized

Is CCFT doing any political work at all?  Any endorsements they want to pass on from the state? How about initiatives?  How about some very important local elections?



Image  —  Posted: May 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

Editorial: No union for me

Posted: April 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

For many years now, faculty member, June Beck, has publicly posted that I should “get on board” and be part of the union work instead of pointing out problems as I see them.  Well, June, I need to say this.  For ten years, this union has not allowed me to join.

For those of you who don’t know this silly saga, spearheaded by Mark Tomes and Allison Merzon, the union told me, after I was out of office, that I owed CCFT $180 for cell phone use.  And, they created a new clause just for me in its Bylaws: that if anyone owes the union money, she can’t be a member.  It didn’t, however, supply me with sufficient information I needed and asked for to see if they were correct.  Even so, my former treasurer wanted me as a member so that I could vote on important issues and gave a check to the union for the full $180, just in case it was her accounting error (which it wasn’t).  The union refused the check, saying it had to come from me directly (which it didn’t).

So, just very recently, as I sent in, once again, my membership application to the current treasurer, the union rejected it, and had their lawyer write me a letter, saying now there was another reason I couldn’t join. I offered to give them what they asked for, ludicrous as it was, but they did not accept it.

So, their actions have forced me to file an Unfair Practice Charge against the union with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).  This is so pathetic–and corrupt.  Members need to know that the union will be spending–and has already spent–a great amount of money–your dues money–to their lawyers to keep me out of the union.  I guess I am so scary that they didn’t and don’t want me anywhere near it.

I will not let this matter drop.  It is wrong.  And, it is important enough to pursue so that this or something like it, won’t happen to other faculty. I will keep faculty informed as this matter goes through PERB, including posting here verbatim the long letter from the union, giving me the two reasons I am not allowed to join.

So, June, that’s the story.

Cuesta? No Show

Posted: March 16, 2018 in Uncategorized
  • All San Luis Obispo high schools and Santa Maria high schools
  • Some K-8 schools in the county
  • Cal Poly

All of the above had planned, creative, and powerful activities for National School Walkout Day, March 14, 2018, to demand school safety and common-sense gun reform.

Cuesta?  Nothing. Zero. Zip.  How embarrassing. How wrong.

Somehow, once again, Cuesta is out of step.

We so hope the Cuesta students, faculty, and staff are planning a local action to be part of the national, student-sponsored March For Our Lives action on March 24, 2018.

WWL would be very happy to be part of the publicizing of an event through this blog and our Facebook page.  Just let us