Welcome to Cuesta

Posted: August 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

As you know, the Executive Board voted unanimously to change the composite rate to the tiered rate for health insurance.  The voting EB consists of 3 officers and 2 Council liaisons: Debra Stakes, President; Nancy  Mann, Vice President, Secretary; Mark Tomes, Treasurer; Tom Patchell, Council Liaison; and, Cynthia Wilshusen, Council Liaison, Part-Time Council Liaison.  This decision was communicated to faculty on May 22.

The single faculty are cheering, I’m sure.  Because their fringe amount will pay for their full medical insurance, they will be able to take home money while their married (or domestic partners) and married-with-kids counterparts will be paying significantly out of pocket.  How in the world could the union have let this happen–now.

The current and fairly new EB VP has been pushing for this for many years and has apparently influenced the president because as we know, Debra had been opposed to tiered rates.  I believe faculty had been told that the union way was “one for all, all for one.”  Perhaps.  But, that isn’t the crux of the matter here.  Unions are about taking care of working families–especially now when same sex marriage rights and protections have happily allowed more couples to marry.  So, now we can say the following to the new, young married faculty member (gay or straight):

“Welcome to Cuesta.  You will now be broke having to pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket every month to insure your family.  Further, you will be broke because Cuesta’s beginning salary for faculty is the lowest in the state. And, in addition to that, you will be really broke because Cuesta faculty have not had a raise in almost seven years. Welcome to Cuesta.”

To impose this change in insurance now is, well, unconscionable.  When the first union voted for the composite insurance rate, it was probably the hardest decision we had to make.  But, it was the right one.  Sure, we heard the “breeder” argument (did you ever think that if there weren’t any breeders, none of us would have jobs?). But, nothing could convince us that any Cuesta faculty member should pay out of pocket for health benefits while other faculty took money home.

The union wants the district to approve a pool for insurance.  That is a good idea.  But, the union and the district are at impasse on 2013-14 negotiations, and as you heard Gil Stork say (in the same email that asked for a public apology from the union president (!), the district would not entertain a pool idea until the next round, which could be quite some time.  Someone please enlighten me about why in the world this new tiered rate would be imposed now.  Why not wait until faculty get a decent raise?  Why not wait until the insurance pool is agreed to?

Faculty have called me to ask wth is going on.  It was May 22 for goodness sakes, they said, that we heard about this–as the semester was ending and faculty were a bit distracted.  Faculty in some departments never heard about it from the Council Reps prior to that time.  These faculty should be outraged.  And, they should act on that outrage.  But, I don’t see that happening.

Cuesta faculty rights embarrassingly continue to plunge with no end in sight.  Single faculty should do the right thing–tell the union that the tiered rates should not be implemented until no faculty are paying out of pocket.  Tell the union to take increases for large lecture classes off the bargaining table (another favorite of the union VP and her colleagues on campus who teach large lecture classes) and apply that asked-for money (if agreed to by the district) to an insurance pot for all faculty.  No playing favorites for some faculty while others suffer. This shouldn’t be a single faculty thing or a coupled faculty thing.  This should be an equality thing.  Strength through unity.

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