Archive for March, 2014

We’re Here for You

Posted: March 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

We wrote before winter break that HR and the union have denied our use of the all faculty email list.  As such, it is very difficult for WWL to contact faculty on that rare occasion that it does, like when a new series of articles have been posted.

We are doing our best to reach you, by hand-entering faculty member’s emails.  However, many of the Cuesta department/division websites are woefully out of date, so we are missing a LOT of faculty, I’m sure.   It would be a great help if we had access to your division’s group email list.  If you could send those email group addresses our way, we would be very grateful.  Or, if not, perhaps you could post a note on your own division’s email group list every now and then to let them know of new posts on WWL.

We believe there are many reasons you might want to keep up to date with WWL. We were the first “news outlet” in the county to post the announcement of Gaye Galvan’s resignation from the board.  And, we are the first (I believe) to post the information about the new HR director (see below story).  We have some very good sources.

Our hope is that news and opinion here may spur some to action.  Perhaps our extensive coverage of why CCFT members should vote down the dues increase had a slight effect on the outcome of that vote  We don’t know.  What we do know is that we often provide the details, analysis, and history to help faculty make a more informed decision.  (By the way, we believe the members did the right thing in not approving that dues increase.)

So, hang with us.  Keep our web address handy:  You can check in every week or two to see what’s new.  Or–and this is the easiest way–just start following us and get the notices automatically.  We’re the only newsletter that all faculty get on any regular basis.  We’re here for you.

We’re What’s Left has just learned that William Benjamin, Executive Director of Human Resources, left Cuesta last week.   When the BOT in December 2013 terminated him, they did so stating that he would remain in his position until his contract expired at the end of this term.  Benjamin had enough accrued time and sick leave which allowed him to leave early.  And, he did.

The district did the unthinkable once again.  It hired Annette Loria as interim HR Director.  Most of you remember Annette Loria–and not fondly.  She was virtually run out of Cuesta on a rail after the huge arbitration that we, the prior union, won as we saved a faculty member’s job.  Loria, as HR Director, was largely responsible for the district’s taking this ridiculous matter to arbitration.  In many conversations with Loria, we told her that the district would lose (and lose BIG it did), and that if it was to be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars, the district would settle the matter with the union before the time and expense of arbitration.  Loria refused, saying, “Do what you have to do.”  We said “but, some of your district colleagues will be implicated and may go down” (Roanna Bennie, former Dean of Humanities, implicated in the unlawful behavior of the district, was one of those deserved casualties).  And, Loria said, “Do what you have to do.”  And, we did.  (All of this, of course, is documented in the transcript of the arbitration.)

Loria’s mishandling of Cuesta matters was well-known and widespread.  Both faculty and staff have their own stories to tell.  Further, she was named in the harassment/discrimination lawsuit currently facing Cuesta.  She was and is ill-equipped to handle this position.

If you had any doubt about whether you would support a Cuesta bond or not, this might clinch it for you.  It would seem impossible for any reasonable person to support a bond when the district chooses to flagrantly hand the administrative responsibilities of the very important Executive Director of Human Resources position to someone who has so little regard for taxpayers’ money.

And, then–the Board appointment of Richard “Dick” Hitchman to the Board of Trustees.  He states that he has “over 50 years in education.”  So, out of the five Board members, two are rehashed administrators (Alexander and George), and one has half a century of teaching.  Nothing like a fresh new voice for Cuesta.  Even though Hitchman’s Cuesta teaching experience is not necessarily a negative, stay tuned for more on why this may have been a very bad decision for the Board to make.  If you happened to read Hitchman’s comments in the Trib, he gave a glowing tribute to the college president.  Splat!!  What’s that?  Oh, nothing but a rubber stamp hitting the table.

Duty of Fair Representation

Posted: March 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

The Education Employment Relations Act (EERA) Section 3544.9 states that the “employee organization recognized or certified as the exclusive representative for the purpose of meeting and negotiating shall fairly represent each and every employee in the appropriate unit.”  A union can not refuse to represent a person employed in the unit in a contractual matter because that person is not a member of the union.

The union commits an unfair labor practice when it fails to meet its duty of fair representation. The Public Employees Relation Board (PERB) decides whether a union has failed to provide fair representation by considering whether the union’s conduct was arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith.

It should be noted that negligence or judgement errors have not been found to be enough to establish a violation of the duty of fair representation. It is also not a failure to provide fair representation when a union takes a position unfavorable to one unit member in order to protect the rights of other members.

PERB has ruled that the union decides who will handle a grievance. It is not a choice that the grievant makes. The selection of a grievance representative is an internal union matter and internal union matters are not subject to the duty of fair representation.

Arbitrary: A union’s conduct must be without a rational basis or devoid of honest judgement in order to be considered arbitrary.

A union can decide not to take a case to arbitration. The decision may not be made in an arbitrary fashion or be discriminatory or be made in bad faith. If a grievance screening committee decides that a case is without merit or unlikely to be successful or too costly or will injure other unit members, it may decide not to take the case to arbitration. The decision of the grievance review committee need not be the “best” decision, it need only have been made on a rational basis.

The union has no duty of fair representation in noncontractual proceedings such as in an employees’ discrimination suit or in a judicial or administrative proceeding to enforce statutory rights (e.g. layoff).

Some PERB decisions relating to the duty of fair representation are:

Employee does not have the right to arbitrate grievance; the union can refuse to pursue arbitration based on a determination that a favorable ruling would not be beneficial to the majority of unit members (Castro Valley Teachers Association 1980).

PERB has exclusive jurisdiction over Duty of Fair Representation enforcement; violation may not be litigated in court. (Council of School Nurses v. Los Angeles USD 1980).

Arbitrary conduct must include conduct that is without rationale and devoid of honest judgement. The union has latitude in the conduct of negotiations and is not required to justify every decision made at the bargaining table (Rocklin Teachers Professional Association 1980).

Prepared by M. Hittelman

Source: Pocket Guide to Unfair Practices, California Public Employees Relations Program, U.C. Berkley

I wept. You might, too.

Posted: March 15, 2014 in Uncategorized




Posted: March 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

When the previous director of DSPS, Pat Schwab, resigned in 2012, Gil Stork approved a new position, Dean of Student Services, and appointed Nohemy Ornelas (an internal employee) to fill that position as an “emergency” hire.  While a college can indeed fill an opening on an emergency basis, after the emergency is over, the position must be opened up to the rest of the college and the general public.  This has not happened.  Ornelas has been in the position over a year and a half without having to face a hiring committee.

I called the head legal counsel of the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and spoke to him about it.  He told me that, from the information I gave him, Cuesta does appear to be out of compliance and that an attempt to resolve the matter must be made at the college first before a formal complaint can be made at the Chancellor’s Office.

We have reported this situation to the Board of Trustees and the Academic Senate.  Nothing has been done to rectify it.  It looks like we are going to have to file a complaint with the Chancellor’s Office after all.

The position of Dean of Student Services should be opened up as the law requires. It is important not only to the college community but to the community at large that appropriate law is followed.

Cuesta may have received its accreditation, but that doesn’t negate the serious process violations that Cuesta continues to engage in.

Corey Robin in Al Jazeera America writes, “Academics write for the public more than ever before but are hampered by precariousness of their profession.”

It’s a good read.




Posted: March 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

We had the pleasure of seeing this film (sneak preview) at the SLO Film Festival on Sunday at the Fremont.  Anita Hill 20 years later.  Her hearings began on October 7, 1991 (As I looked back, I always wondered why I hadn’t watched those hearings live.  At the film on Sunday, I learned why.  That was the date of my daughter’s birth.  I guess I was busy).

Anyway, it was a very worthy film.  There was phone interaction after the film with the director, Freida Lee Mock.  She said that one of the primary intentions of the documentary was to show it in schools.  Maybe the appropriate Cuesta committee could snag it for a showing.  We’d all be better for it.

It opens March 21 at the Palm.  You should go see it.


ANITA tells the story of the young, brilliant, African American, Yale-educated attorney, Anita Hill, who accuses then Supreme Court Justice nominee, Clarence Thomas, of unwanted sexual advances during explosive Senate Hearings in 1991 and ignites a political firestorm about sexual harassment, race, power, and politics that resonates 20 years later today. ANITA is a dramatic look at the consequences to a private citizen acting out of a civic duty to “speak truth to power.” For the first time on film, Anita Hills speaks about her experience in the Senate Hearings, her impact on issues of sexual harassment, workplace rights for women and men, social justice, and equality. The film is about the empowerment of girls and women, and men, through the extraordinary story of Anita Hill. (IMbd)