Archive for December, 2012

Some of us are going into this holiday season less merry than we should. Why?  Because some of us won’t be back to teach or provide service to students in the Spring.  Since we began publishing WWL in 2009, we have lost over 100 faculty members, most of them part-time.  Did you know that?  That isn’t even counting the current program removals and cuts.  So many people have been let go from Cuesta.  Where did they go?  How have their lives changed?  Who cares?  We care.  We will be back in January (maybe before), telling it like it is.

P.S. Since we started this blog in November, as of today, we’ve had 892 views on our site.  Awesome!  Let’s keep it going.

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Death by a Thousand Program Cuts

Posted: December 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

Where to begin, where to begin.  Remember when George Bush was president, and it seemed like every day he did something which caused you to say, “Seriously?’ or worse.  You just couldn’t keep up with the daily outrages.  Well, here at Cuesta it seems that nearly every day a new outrage is born.  It’s hard to stay on top of it unless, of course, you’re the one in pain.

Last Friday, another long-time Cuesta faculty friend and colleague told me he was being let go.  He was the latest in a growing list of faculty who had lost their jobs. He said that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if Cuesta didn’t get reaccredited: we would have a different BOT, a different set of administrators, and a new budget.  What is so remarkable about this faculty member’s statement is that not too long ago a statement like this would have been unthinkable. But, this is what it’s come to for a growing number at Cuesta.

OFFER REJECTED

As you all know, the union has no successful plan, perhaps no plan, to forestall the devastating cuts planned by Gil Stork.  This has been painfully evident for some time now.  They continue to ask faculty for suggestions.  At this point in the game?

Recognizing this and putting aside political differences so that faculty can stay employed and successful programs can be retained, I offered my help to the union: I volunteered to be chief negotiator for the union for this round of negotiations.  My offer was rejected.

HISTORY

On October 1, I sent my offer to Debra Stakes, current chief negotiator. I said, “I would like to offer to be chief negotiator for this round of negotiations.  As you might know, I was chief negotiator for 12 years and forged some very difficult contracts, even getting us a 1% raise during the very difficult budget years of 2003-04 when other cc’s were laying off faculty and cutting faculty salaries.  If the union accepts my offer, I would like to bring in one or two of my prior team to assist.”

Stakes responded, saying she would have to ponder my offer.  I saw this as a positive step.  She said, “ This is an interesting offer and I am not shrugging it off.”  She went on to further say, “I am having the most trouble with other members of my team.”  (The other two team members are Allison Merzon and Dawn Brown).  Stakes’ statement was a bit alarming.

Since I hadn’t heard back from her about my offer by October 15, I wrote back.  She replied, saying, “I appreciate the follow-up. I will decide on Thursday based on what happens on Wed. I might just resign from the team, and then you can do whatever.”  That would shake my faith a bit.

Stakes then responded on October 18: “I want to thank you for the provocative offer, however, I truly feel that it would be counterproductive at this time.”  Saying my being on the team would be “counterproductive” would mean that productive efforts were occurring.  As we all know, that was sadly untrue.

As the situation became more dire, I continued to offer my services, up until last week–no response even this time.

In the midst of all this, it was reported to WWL on good authority that after a recent BOT meeting, Merzon went into the office of a top administrator and said the stress was too much and she was resigning as CCFT president.  Apparently, she changed her mind.  Nonetheless, that unsettling feeling grows.

Recent minutes of CCFT announce that Merzon wants to “transition off the bargaining team.”  Even with this, the union was unwilling to take my “application” to the team that needed a new member.  Of course, no one can guarantee successful negotiations.  But, I thought my experience and history could help.  I thought that one usually takes all the help one can get in these kinds of situations.

I was accused not long ago by one of you of holding a “vendetta” against this current union.  Vendetta?  I have no time on my hands for a vendetta; I am too busy assisting faculty.  It is this current union that has held a vendetta.  They have rejected my offer to help–because of pure politics.  They will allow you or your program to disappear–because of pure politics.  Their embarrassment at their failure has stood in the way of faculty jobs.

The former team member and I who would have joined the team have ideas to present–two of which would save the district a sizable amount of money with no faculty losing their salary.  Sound intriguing?  Well, apparently those ideas will not hit the bargaining table.

My offer to help still stands.

Update: Outlook Access to WWL Link

Posted: December 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

This is what we’ve heard.  Julie Hoffman, Senate VP, replied:

“Just to let you know, I  am the site administrator for our Senate group and I did not block anyone’s access to anything.  I tried your link from my computer and it works fine. I accessed my email through the Citrix portal, so perhaps if the person was accessing email from the Cuesta network there may be some kind of security block. Not sure what a “Content Advisor” is but it may be a filter  that the person has on their browser. Computer services should know if it is a network thing or not.”

Thanks, Julie. So, the error is somewhere in the system.  All I know is this: 1.)  I still can’t access it; I receive the same message, “Content Advisor will not allow you to see this website”; I’ve been denied access before, electronically and on-campus; I was able to access the link on Outlook through the Citrix Portal at home last night but not since;  I have never received this particular message before; and, both Mac and PC users experienced similar issues.  I thank those of you who wrote and said you had no problem accessing the link from campus; others of you who could not access it and still can’t; and, still others of you who hadn’t been able to but are able to now.

We all have experienced these kinds of problems–often.  One of you suggested that the problem was probably more one of incompetence than anything else.  That may be so.  When we were in negotiations some years ago, we often speculated about the district’s actions: was it malice, or was it incompetence?  Invariably, it was a mixture of both.  I still hold that to be true most of the time.

“Dear WWL,

Thank you so much for the clarification of reassignment rights; however, the excuse of misunderstanding is unacceptable.  My contract rights have been violated numerous times– correspondence to our dean is repeatedly ignored or flatly denied, even when  contract excerpts are cited in complaints.   Where do we go from here?”

Can any of you out there offer this colleague any advice?  It would be great if we got a productive dialogue going.

Part-Time Faculty: A Must Read

(especially if your job is in jeopardy.  
Well, that means all of you, then)


Once again, the union grievance officer, Victor Krulikowski, has given out erroneous information at yet another Council of Reps meeting.



The contract says the following:

5.12.5 When the District is unable to make an overload assignment of regular faculty or an initial assignment of temporary faculty in a subject or service area at a level equivalent to the 
highest percentage of assignment during the prior four semesters (e.g., 40%) at Level
 Two or Level Three as appropriate, the District will apply the criteria set forth in section 
5.12.6 in considering the assignment of eligible faculty and/or other candidates in the 
subject or service area.

5.12.6 The criteria to be applied where required by the provisions of section 5.12, inclusive, in 
order of consideration, are (a) educational preparation, specialization, and recency in discipline, (b) comparative quality of teaching or service performance as documented by evaluations, (c) recent and previous teaching experience in the subject area of the class 
or experience in the service area, (d) diversity, and (e) the cumulative number of
 semesters employed as faculty in the District. Criteria (d) and (e) are reversed in order of
 consideration in the assignment of temporary faculty pursuant to section 5.12.4.3.

5.12.6.1 It is understood and agreed by the District and the Federation that the District
 has the discretion to place differing values on the application of the elements 
within each of the criteria of section 5.12.6.14.



Krulikowski said the following (again) at the November 29, 2012 Council Meeting:



”Krulikowski reported that he has been receiving many inquiries into how seniority plays into reassignment of classes. He stated that the contract places very little emphasis on seniority; seniority places fifth (as cumulative number of semesters taught at Cuesta College, in section 5.12.6 of the contract) in a ranked list of reassignment criteria. When a part-time faculty member reaches Level II, they are subject to all the same criteria as other Level II faculty members. One Council member remembered that when the contract was being developed there was a value set on recent graduate work in the discipline, favoring new hires over long-time faculty members.  It was noted by many Council members that current practice does not always follow the contract.”

Whaaaat? This is an amazing reporting.  For those of you who don’t know–and maybe even for those of you who do–you need to hear the truth once again.  Reading this will take some time, but your job may depend on it.


Yours truly, as union president and faculty member of the first CCFT bargaining team in 1994 was one of the primary writers of the original contract (including 5.12 above).  After the first contract was signed and ratified, I became chief negotiator of all subsequent contracts until 2008.  I tell you this only to let you know you have been snookered.

Part-timers–how many of you will be losing your jobs because this union doesn’t understand the contract? The original bargaining team spent about 6 full months on Article 5.12.5-Article 5.12.6 alone.  Why? Because we wanted to protect our hard-working part-time faculty.  We honed this criteria into a comprehensive and highly reasonable document that both CCFT and management could agree to. So, why in the world, does this current union not understand this?  Or, why hasn’t it asked for help from past grievance officers who have been willing and able to assist?  Instead, this union played free and easy with your jobs.

HISTORY: The five criteria were a workable compromise between management and the union.  CCFT wanted the criteria ranked; we wanted to make seniority the top criteria.  What resulted was a well-crafted contract section that ends up with just about the same result–but using a different path.  The words “in order of consideration” was a concession to management who didn’t even want seniority in the contract! (Never forget how anti-labor this county is). But, the words are essentially meaningless; think about it.  Yes, the district needed to look at the criteria in that order but didn’t have to apply them in that order (5.12.6.1 above). THE CRITERIA WAS NEVER, EVER RANKED.  The current union has all the minutes, and we’ve passed on this information more than once. They have chosen to not hear it.

So, what does this all mean?  It means that back then we were trying to satisfy the long-time need to hire Cuesta part-timers into full-time tenure-track positions AND recruit more diverse faculty–both essential goals.  Look at the criteria closely–which the current union should have done.

You notice that it says, “Criteria (d) and (e) are reversed in order of consideration in the assignment of temporary faculty pursuant to section 5.12.4.3.”  You can read yourself that the reversal in Level 3 assignments allows current pt-ers to increase their entitlement before Cuesta hires new part-timers from the outside. Hella good policy.

Look again at 5.12.6 b-c (above): the language protects current part-timers, of course.  Intentional, folks.  You put criteria b, c, and d together and you have seniority.  Criteria “a” protects recency (because we weren’t a “feather-bedding” union) and criteria “e” protects diversity–because we were committed to it.

If you need further convincing that 5.12.5-6 is all about hiring from within, look, lastly, at 5.12.6.1:  “It is understood and agreed by the District and the Federation that the District 
has the discretion to place differing values on the application of the elements 
within each of the criteria of section 5.12.6.14.”

Wow, so what does that mean?  It means that the manager who makes that ultimate determination better well have a good reason for doing it or be prepared to be grieved.  I can remember like it was yesterday Ann Grant on management’s side of the table, saying, “Geez, that’s going to be really hard.”  And, I replied, “ that’s why you get paid those big bucks.” My reply was far from original, but we all got the message.  And, we signed the  agreement.

This current union has absolutely no understanding of this.  Your jobs could be in jeopardy because of this lack of understanding and their telling part-timers that the list is ranked and that seniority doesn’t matter.  Are you kidding?  What are unions about except seniority.  We finessed our way into a phenomenal contract which allowed management to save face.  Success all the way around.  This contract section, by the way, happened to serve as a statewide model.

And, how about the Council member’s comment above from the November 29, 2012 meeting?: “One Council member remembered that when the contract was being developed there was a value set on recent graduate work in the discipline, favoring new hires over long-time faculty members.”  This is a bizarre recollection.  Recency had a place, of course, but never over long-term part-timers.  Apparently, this person “forgot” that the list was never ranked but rather a pro-forma concession in bargaining–put it first to make it look like that means something.

And, a member of that original bargaining team is on the current Council.  I wonder why he didn’t explain the above.  Guess he forgot.

You must demand that your union is accountable to you and your jobs.  If the above criteria was misapplied, you may have lost your job for nothing.

Marshall Ganz

Marshall Ganz

The following opinion piece was submitted to WWL by a full-time faculty member:

“Grassroots organizations grow stronger to the extent that their leaders go out and engage more people. It’s all about building as broad a base as you can. The right seems to get it much more about being committed and cooperating with other committed people, and going out and evangelizing. There is an evangelical spirit in their movement that is a great strength to them. And there hasn’t been a whole lot of that on the liberal side.”

Marshall Ganz, PhD

The Power of Real Grassroots Leadership

Barack Obama knew he needed the advice of  Marshall Ganz.  That is why President Obama followed Ganz’s organizing and training model in the 2008 election. Evidently the CCFT Executive Board is unfamiliar with the work of the brilliant Marshall Ganz. During the last general election cycle, the CCFT Executive Board voted to endorse David Baldwin for BOT Area 2 without involving the members. According to COPE Chair (and now Vice-President and Chief Negotiator), Debra Stakes, in an email written to a concerned member about the endorsement of David Baldwin: “Right before the end of the semester the council was introduced to two candidates, including Baldwin. There was a straw poll. It went to the EB. We knew about Barbara George. We feel that David would be an advocate for unions and their perspective.”

My first response to that was “Really?” So a small group of leaders got together and “decided” what was best for ALL the members of CCFT. The EB made a choice to exclude the members from the endorsement process and they endorsed Baldwin and gave him money even before the filing period closed. The COPE Chair even knew there was another very viable candidate, yet she and the other members of the EB chose not to even invite her to ask for the endorsement. Stakes now denies knowing that Trustee George (who captured over 62% of the vote on November 6, 2012) was running. How can we possibly trust this current leadership when they aren’t even honest with their own members?

The story gets even better. Without any input from the members, the EB voted to give Baldwin at least $5,500 toward his campaign. Anyone who knows anything about elections knows that Baldwin didn’t have a chance of winning this election. Why would the EB throw away nearly all the money in the COPE BOT Candidate account on a candidate that wasn’t going to win? Many members have questioned the EB members about this but they refuse to provide an answer.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Marshall Ganz is a senior lecturer in public policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He worked on the staff of the United Farm Workers for sixteen years before becoming a trainer and organizer for political campaigns, unions and nonprofit groups. He is credited with devising the successful grassroots organizing model and training for Barack Obama’s winning 2008 presidential campaign.

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