Archive for May, 2013

From Debra Stakes: “On July 1, 2013, I will be stepping into the role of CCFT President, following a long successful
and hard to follow five years of leadership provided by Allison Merzon“:

Under this leadership, Cuesta faculty earned a new distinction: Almost dead last in faculty salary in one category; close behind in the rest.

“Maximum Initial Highest Non-Doctorate (HND) Salary: Cuesta College– $60,749″  Ranking: 70 out of 72 community college districts

“Maximum HND Salary” (this is usually the benchmark when looking at CCC faculty salaries): “Cuesta College– $94, 776” Ranking 59 out of 72 community college districts

Step 22 “Cuesta College– $94, 776” Ranking 46 out of 72 community college districts.  This is the best that Cuesta faculty salary showed: 46/72.  This is 10 ranking points lower than prior to our unionization.

Prior to our forming CCFT, Cuesta adhered to the Kern study, which published annual faculty salaries statewide.  Cuesta administration paid Cuesta faculty at the median of all the community colleges as determined by the Kern study even after the debacle that was Proposition 13 as I’ve been told.  Former Cuesta College President, Frank Martinez, often said the faculty salary schedule was “sacrosanct.” Well, under Grace Mitchell, the faculty unionized in one short semester.  Why?  Because we knew were better than “median,” than the average.  We knew that the district had the money and wouldn’t give us a well-deserved increase.

And, now, you’re settling for a salary range 10 points lower than before CCFT?  Where have you all gone?  Not all of you have retired, have you?  What about the rest of you, those who’ve been hired since 1994?  Of course, the economy has been terrible.  But, look at the whole Santa Rosa Salary Study.  See what other colleges have been able to do.  And, not all of them have just benefited from bonds.  But, then again, we have had a perfect storm of bad leadership from the Board of Trustees (who Ken Burt, CFT Political Director, said was the most anti-faculty BOT he had ever seen), to the multiple college presidents, VP’s, HR Directors, Deans, and, we’re sorry to say, faculty.  Put that all together, and it spells disaster.

Cuesta has the further distinction of being only one of seven of the 72 community college districts who got its last raise 5 years ago–in 2007-08.  And, of course, it is no coincidence that it was the prior union, which got the faculty its last raise in 2007-08.

We no longer have checks and balances. The union has cozied up with management, and division chairs are in bed with deans.  Who is there for faculty?  As we’ve always said, “You only need a union when you need a union.” Things may seem just fine on the outside–unless you need a union. Then, everything looks different.

Under this leadership, over 100 part-time faculty have lost their jobs.

Under this leadership, the lack of any salary increase, no matter how miniscule, has forced faculty to postpone their planned-for retirement (See related story, “Retirement May be Farther Away Than You Think,” April 8, 2013).

Under this leadership, the faculty have paid many thousands of dollars to the EB for services.  Even with that, Stakes reports that all of the below positions (which are all compensated) are open:

Vice President

COPE chair

Council of Representative Co-chair

PT Faculty Committee Chair

PT Liaison from the Council of Representatives to the EB.

Chief Negotiator

Communications Chair

Aside from the Secretary/Treasurer and Grievance Officer (we’re getting to them next), that is just about the entire EB!  This is spellbinding.  And, frightening.  When Stakes stated, “We need to fill these gaps in our leadership teams to be better able to serve the faculty,” did she mean, by implication, that if no one steps up, the union will be run by Stakes, Tomes, and Krulikowski?  Why is no one interested in participating?  The Council of Reps meetings are poorly attended, often commencing without a quorum, and a number of divisions don’t even have reps.  Some divisions list Council Reps who are members of the Executive Board.  But, according to a provision (written by the current union) in the CCFT Constitution, EB members must not be voting members of the Council (unless, I guess, they want to be :-/). This is one example of multiple violations of their own constitution.

Under this leadership, a minimum of 5 faculty (2 full-time and 3 part-time) have lost their jobs because of active hostility on the part of the union and collaboration with management.

From Denise Chellsen to the Council: “I also want to extend a BIG thank-you to Debra [Stakes].  Part of the reason we have so many open positions is due to the fact that Debra has held several of those positions and she has now stepped forward for a new role .”

Under Debra’s leadership, we have someone who, WWL believes, wants to do a decent job, but unfortunately, doesn’t appear to understand how all this stuff works.  She took on lots of union positions because no one else would step forward. What has been accomplished in these various positions?   (See “Death By a Thousand Program Cuts,” December 12, 2012, for our concerns)

From Denise Chellsen to Council Reps: “Thank you to Mark and Victor for continuing to serve on the executive board.  Both have clearly devoted a great deal of capable energy toward their positions.”

Under Mark Tomes’ leadership, the union’s treasury is in deep trouble.  According to Tomes, “the CCFT treasury holds $25,264.86 in it and is shrinking.”  The amount of money that CCFT is giving to itself is troubling.  The union president has 80%-100% reassigned time–without being chief negotiator.  For what is the time given?  What are the RESULTS?  The prior union president never had more than 80% reassigned time, which included her time as chief negotiator. You are paying more and getting so much less.

Under his leadership, several faculty members (no, most assuredly, not yours truly) re-joined the union in January, hoping to run for one or more of the open positions: president and secretary/treasurer.  Tomes and the union prevented these very capable faculty from running!  Tomes said that they they weren’t members long enough to run even though, according to the CCFT constitution, a faculty member must be a union member for 6 months prior to the beginning of the new term, which begins in July.  Remember, this is the new approach crew who ran its CCFT presidential candidate six weeks after she left her dean position. The hypocrisy is glaring.  And, you are being prevented a choice in leadership.

And, under his leadership, the union prevented a faculty member from joining the union.  First time ever.


Under Victor Krulikowski’s leadership, well, nothing has happened.  In the last couple of months alone, I have been involved in 5 grievance mediation sessions with faculty at their request.  Where was the union’s representation of these faculty? Why have these faculty had to go outside the union to get help?  Why have faculty been forced to court instead of to their union to get the fair representation that they deserve and pay for? (See the grievance officer’s work in “Erroneous Union Information Can Cost Part-time Faculty Their Jobs,” December 10, 2012).

It’s a good thing to thank someone for the work done for an organization. Faculty leadership roles are challenging, often fulfilling, and sometimes thankless.

Thanking for effort is different from thanking for accomplishment.  But, even so, one can see accomplishment from very different perspectives. When, however, a facade of accomplishment is lauded at the expense of faculty jobs and working conditions, without regard to the pain suffered by colleagues, We’re What’s Left must comment.

This 5-year experiment, called the new approach, has failed.  It has failed more quickly and more completely than some anticipated.  That is only painfully obvious.  But, yet, the supporters of it speak to its “hard-to-follow success.”  That may be expected, of course, up to a point. It is difficult for any of us to admit we were snookered or made a mistake.  So, we cling to the very thing that disappointed us so that we, too, are not seen as failures.  As those capable to be drawn in by lies.  As those who believed that the new leadership was the right change.  As the new union president was created and used by the wrath of those faculty who were justly dealt with by the prior union for their reprehensible behavior against their colleagues.  As the new union president, sadly, was flattered by a wanna be philosopher king who was tossed off the team by those of us who figured him out years ago.

But, even that can be overlooked–if we were only playing a political game.  But, this isn’t a game.  People’s working lives and futures have been destroyed–destroyed–by the vindictive, corrupt, and anti-faculty actions of this union leadership.  How do I know?  Because the faculty with those problems end up on my doorstep.  I do what I can but without union authority, I can’t do nearly enough.

We should all be insulted when we read the below.  It is an even greater insult to those whose jobs were lost:

“HUGE thank you to Allison for her willingness to jump into the fire and lead a major transformation of the union.  She has an incredible work ethic, great integrity,  and a great analytical mind. . .  [and has given] years of exceptional service to the union.” (email from a Council Rep to the Council)

We will never recover these past five years. The culture of the college is forever changed.  The faculty who lost their jobs will most likely not be back.  The money lost by faculty will never be regained.  Deans and chairs will continue to act as one at the expense of everyone–except the deans and chairs.

Unless.  Yes, unless you stand up and speak.  Unless you become unafraid.  Unless you remember that we used to know who our opponent, yes, I said, it, OPPONENT is.  It ain’t each other.  We may not be able to get the past five years back, but we can go forward from here.  Think independent.

Let’s continue to talk.  Thanks to so many of you who have continued to be outspoken in support of your colleagues and to those emerging from the shadows once again . . . . And, to those I never thought I’d hear from. 🙂

Says, CCCI President, Rich Hansen: “We have, in fact, become much more active at the state level since I last visited [Cuesta]. We have hired our own legislative advocate, David Balla-Hawkins, who worked for FACCC about ten years ago and then moved on to CFA, the CSU faculty union. We’re paying for this on a voluntary basis with each local contributing whatever it decides it can afford.”

So, for those of you who love the political element of unions, the above should please you.  And, for those of you don’t, it’s a pay-as-you-can system for the local.

You must have some questions.  What is involved in a de-certification process? What, then, is the process for affiliating with a new organization?  Does the contract remain as is?  Does the union leadership?

[Maybe it’s time to check out California Community College Independents (CCCI)  Maybe it’s time to be part of this association of independent bargaining agents for California community college faculty and join Santa Barbara, Foothill-De Anza, Santa Monica, Santa Rosa, and Hancock, among others.  Maybe it’s time to pay about half (or less) the amount you pay in union dues and get results.  Maybe it’s time to bring back Richard Hansen (Math instructor at Foothill-De Anza), President of CCCI, to Cuesta to inspire and motivate faculty about what’s possible. Maybe it’s time for a real change.]


I feel a sad bit of irony here. :-/

1.)  After our last post about the contractual requirement of the timing of evaluations, the CCFT Secretary/Treasurer, Mark Tomes, contacted WWL and said he didn’t realize that getting the peer evaluations in by the 13th week was mandatory.  Not only that, he was so sure of his stance that he had told his department for years that getting the peer evals in by the 13th week was optional.

2.)  CCFT Council Representative, Tony Rector-Cavagnaro, sent the following to union members yesterday:  “Sometimes faculty members are referred to by different designations and it can get a little confusing. To clarify the matter I compiled a brief glossary contain the prevailing faculty nomenclature (attached).”  While Tony was trying to be helpful, I’m sure, the only definitions of faculty designations that are correct are those in Appendix A of the CBA and have been since the beginning.  To alter the language in any way confuses matters even more and won’t hold up in case of any grievance question.

3.)  Once again, there have been faculty union members who haven’t gotten their ballots.  For this recent constitutional change election, faculty who did not get a ballot (not new approach devotees) have contacted the CCFT Elections Committee about this error and received an apology.  But, of course, it was too late; the election was over.