Archive for December, 2014

Clear as Mud

Posted: December 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

(The below is a reprint from December 17, posted on the recently formed wearewhatsleft google forum.  Discussion is happening!  Please join.

Follow this link to get started:  Just send an email to the forum and we will add you.  Under “Subject,” please include your name and department so we can identify you.  It is strongly recommended you NOT use your Cuesta email.

To post to the forum after you become a member, simply send an email using the link above and it will go directly to the forum.  Responses will come back in an email.)



Yesterday, we got a curious email about benefits from the union.  A faculty member wrote me the following yesterday morning:

“How come this sounds so shady to me.. I mean.. how come we didn’t have this money before??  This is a ton of money and just now they are finding it and giving it to us for insurance…”

Below is one of the questions I sent Debra Stakes:

1.)  Why do you say that the full-time faculty unused fringe benefit money would be returned to the district? It never has before.  If we have money left over, it’s ours.  It’s part of our compensation.

Her reply: “Everyone that is contractually entitled to receive an in lieu out of pocket payment will still receive that payment. The MOU does not change any agreements, promises or language in the current contract (which I did not negotiate).”

But, then, in her email to the faculty today, Debra said “The concept is that funds allocated in the budget as fringe benefit allotments but not used by faculty would be placed into a faculty insurance pool to be reallocated by CCFT. Such unused fringe benefit funds would have previously been returned to the District.”

These two statements seem contradictory to me; how about you?  Where is all the money for the pool coming from?  It must be coming from the new, tiered single payers who now will be taking home less in compensation than they were before.  Or, the part-timers.  For example, if the single FT payer is now paying $350 a month for a single, tiered insurance plan, the dollars remaining from that FT’er’s monthly benefit compensation will be going to the pool to offset other faculty members’ insurance costs instead of going to the faculty member herself.  So, that single faculty member will be making less in monthly compensation than her peer with a family plan.  While an insurance offset even for a year can be helpful, we can’t toss aside benefits dollars so cavalierly. In the past, we sometimes bargained an increase in benefits rather than an increase in salary: it is all compensation.  I’m not sure how those faculty can have compensation taken away from them.  It is listed on our paycheck as compensation; consequently, the removal of those dollars from some faculty will lower their overall STRS because their overall compensation is lower.

If I am incorrect about the above, I would like to know where the money is coming from.

2.)  If the above is true, do the single payers know that they do not now have extra money to take home?  Was this discussed?

No response

3.)  Why is this outside the TA?

No response

5.)  And, most importantly, why was this not brought to our attention before December 12?–before we all had to choose what we were going to do with our insurance?

No response

A change to benefits like the one above should be voted on and ratified by faculty, but it is not in the TA.  It is in an MOU on the HR website.  It is a temporary agreement for the 2014-15 academic year.

Where is all the discussion about these critically important matters?  I hope that all of you who see this pass it on to others, and those going to the meeting today (Thursday) at 3:00 p.m. get answers.

Encourage others to join the forum.  Another faculty member wrote to me today about the TA and asked, “Why would Debra agree to this TA??”  Truly, I must say that I don’t know.

Got insurance?

Posted: December 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

I include the below communication from Frank Clabough, long-time insurance provider for many Cuesta faculty.  As a personal testimonial, I have had to make a homeowner’s claim and an auto claim within the last year.  Horace Mann could not have handled my claims any better!  The process was fast, easy and uber professional–and, it gave me the financial reimbursement I was looking for.

I urge all of you looking for new insurance to contact Frank.


“Hello CCFT members!

Happy Holidays & Happy New Year.  Starting Jan 1, 2015,  I will also be able to offer classic auto insurance; high value homes that Horace Mann Insurance cannot write; stand alone host liquor liability; and, Event insurance, including parties, vendor booths, weddings, fundraisers, festivals, meetings and more.  Later in January I will also be able to offer more commercial insurance for CCFT members.  I am excited to be able to offer more & continue to offer competitive rates for auto, home, life & retirement annuities 403(b)!  Please also remember I write m/cycles, boats, travel trailers, motor homes, & mobile homes.  CCFT & Horace Mann have been working together for 15+ years helping you with your insurance needs.  Thank you for your business today, and please email or call with any questions you may have.”



Frank Clabough Ins. Svcs., LLC
805 614 9011
805 614 9016 fax
Lic# 0c12893
“Founded by Educators for Educators”

Securities offered through Horace Mann Investors, Inc. | Member FINRA | 1 Horace Mann Plaza | Springfield, IL 62715-0001 | 217-789-2500 |

Twenty Years

Posted: December 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

It was 20 years ago this year that Cuesta College Federation of Teachers was overwhelmingly voted in as the exclusive bargaining agent for all faculty.

Happy Anniversary.

Editorial: A much needed purging

Posted: December 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

Dear faculty friends,

Finally!  The non-progressive faculty have spoken!  They don’t want to receive our one-sentence email notification that we send out twice a semester about new posts from Peace and Justice.  I’m surprised it has taken so long.

This little “protest” seems so sad and so ridiculous.  For one thing, all these faculty have to do is delete the email. Don’t we all get emails we don’t want to read?  But, they want to make a public statement.  I’m all for making a statement.  But, it seems that their statement may be that they don’t want to hear the truth.  Perhaps they’re embarrassed that they selected a do-nothing union, so they attack the messenger.  I don’t pay hundreds of dollars of fees to a union every year for its effort; this is not grade school.  I pay for results.  Don’t you?  A colleague of mine once said to me that had he been told the questionable caliber of so many people he would be working with in an institution of higher learning, he wouldn’t have believed it.  Another colleague just emailed me about today’s display and simply said, “Our faculty are sheep.”

And, the funny thing about it is many will still be coming to this site to read the posts because the web address is public, of course.  This site is growing in readership all the time.  Since my post last Thursday which sparked all this, the site has gotten 425 hits.  The first day the post came out, it received 273 hits, 38 hits an hour as the website dashboard tells me.  Since the inception of this newly formatted We’re What’s Left, the site has received, as of today, 7011 hits (our records are always open).  So, that would tell me that faculty seem to be quite interested.

Another funny thing–today we got a significant bump in hits: 81.  I guess what they say is right: there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Let’s see.  Who stands out on this list:

Faculty who were responsible for the unlawful termination of a long-time, part-time faculty member.

Faculty who were on the losing end of a shameful arbitration against another faculty member.

Faculty who are embroiled in a lawsuit.

Faculty EB member who had a Mitt Romney sign in her backyard during the last election and was called out on it.

And, conservatives. Most of them far-right.

So, if you are reading this, are one of the above, and somehow missed the clarion call to remove your name from this committee newsletter’s email notification, please send us an email, and we will remove you at once.

Because now we will not have to hold back.  Are you ready for the ride?  We can speak freely about issues that matter to all faculty–whether they think so or not. I’m hoping that now that the group has been culled, some of you may feel more free to speak out and join the conversation.  I was recently contacted by 9 part-time faculty, none of whom I have ever met, who were so very concerned about their plight at Cuesta as part-timers and asked for help.  They need a voice.  They have none.  No one talks to each other much anymore about issues that WWL takes on.

I would like to say in closing that I’m sure there are those out there who are still saying I am writing about these issues because I lost the 2008 election. If you think that, you’re pretty darn silly.  I have won far more than I have lost and always move forward.  I am, however, very sad about what has happened to the glorious union that so many of us worked hard to bring about.  It has all but disappeared.

I do this because someone has to, and I apparently have the stomach for it.  And, as some of you know, because I was no longer in office, I was able to do something I wanted to do for a long time–go to and graduate from law school as I continued to teach full-time.  My hope is to work with public employees who have been let down by their union and/or their employer and who need legal help.  I believe there is a great need in our county for that.

Thanks to many of you for your unwavering support.  Happy holidays!



Posted: December 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

The vice-president and secretary of CCFT, Nancy Mann, has resigned both posts as of January 1, 2015.

There’s More

Posted: December 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

After reading the TA (Tentative Agreement), I can now say that my understanding as posted prior, was, unfortunately, correct.  And, there’s more.

1.  “The District and the Federation agree that any revision to the division workload, including course caps/maximum enrollment in compliance with 5.8 shall be implemented by the District and shall not be subject to negotiations.”

The union has given up its legal right to negotiate course caps!

2.  The Workload Committee is being raised from the dead with members appointed by the union, senate, and district.  The Academic Senate has no role whatsoever under EERA in faculty workload, yet that is now changed at Cuesta.  The Committee will be chaired by the VPAA.  If there is no agreement on FTEF/FTES targets, “the Vice President of Academic Affairs shall set the targets for each division.”

Since the union has given up its right to negotiate load to a committee, the Academic Senate–not our exclusive representative–has an equal vote on a purely bargaining matter.

3.  Temporary faculty office hours can no longer be counted as flex credit.

4.  And, as we told you, “There shall be no negotiation re-openers for the 2014-2015 academic year.”

These two 1% increases are all we’re going to get from 2013-2016–a three year span.  As a local example, I think Poly is getting something like 8% over three years, and that was low.  These are not uncommon figures for those community colleges who bargain multi-year contracts.  If you’re going to give up the right to bargain for the current year, you normally want to get something for it.

5.  Finally, is the following language regarding the 2014-15 salary increase of 1% clear to you?:

“Unit members employed as of January 20, 2015 shall be eligible for this increase.”

Yes, the devil is in the details.


Posted: December 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

I have been contacted by faculty (not the usual suspects) this morning who say that faculty should strike. I must tell you that only the union can call a legitimate strike. If you “strike” on your own, you put yourself at jeopardy.

I was also reminded that managers recently received a 5% pay increase.

Members have the power to vote “no” on the agreement. You can send the union back to the table until they agree to something that helps faculty.  It can be scary to give up the short term gain, no matter how small, in favor of holding out for the long term victory.  But, that’s how change is made. You won’t have another chance until the 2016 contract.