Archive for March, 2016

Intrigue

Posted: March 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

A faculty member just last week received the below anonymous piece of mailWe apologize for the poor quality.  If in fact the information is true, it is the union, not Steve, who should have revealed it.  At the very least, it gives the appearance of a conflict of interest. At most, it is a conflict of interest.  In either case, it lacks the transparency that faculty deserve.Screenshot 2016-03-30 23.42.43

 

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Dear Faculty

Posted: March 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

Dear Faculty,

No one can make an informed vote without the truth.

  1. False: “Neither side can change their last best offer.”

Debra Stakes made that claim in today’s email. It is patently false. Bargaining a contract, in its form, is quite simple. Essentially, if each party agrees to it, and it’s not against the law, it can be negotiated. One can find this in any labor/management guide about impasse and what comes after.   This is federal law. For example, Joe Twarog, Associate Director of Labor Education and Training in the Massachusetts Nurses Association, makes it clear: “The union has no obligation to accept a final offer or to take it to the membership for ratification. Rather, the obligation to continue bargaining remains, despite the employer’s attempt to unilaterally terminate bargaining.” He further says, “Such a tactic usually occurs towards the later stages of the bargaining process, and is designed to intimidate and threaten the union team into accepting a substandard settlement.” This is only one example. The law allows and encourages further negotiation.

Both sides need to be sent back to the table to negotiate a fair and honest contract now.

  1. False: “No differential salary increase has ever been achieved simply through negotiations.”

Stakes made this claim in another email of today. I’m not sure if the rest of the negotiation team at the time when we got that differential increase through bargaining would be pleased to hear this false claim. But, I’m sure not. Keep in mind that during those years, I was one of the Vice-Presidents in California Federation of Teachers (CFT) under President Marty Hittelman. As such, I was fortunate enough to be privy to what was going on statewide. Because of my position, I was also able to work very closely with Carl Friedlander, President of the CFT Community College Council, in our bargaining work at Cuesta.

It’s been a number of years, so although every detail may not be on the tip of my brain, I will tell you this. Because of the extra dollars, including Prop 98 money, we were able to bargain health benefits for part-time faculty proportionate to full-time faculty. That was a huge step. We also initiated (or, possibly, increased) pay for part-time faculty office hours. Another big step. After that, Prop 98 money dissipated and went in different directions.

The extra differential salary percentage pay we achieved was done purely through bargaining and to attempt to say it wasn’t so is without merit. While we were very good at finessing in negotiations (I’ll leave it at that), the labor that achieved that extra $$ for part-time faculty, was all the team’s.

Parity Statement between CCFT and the district

And, regarding a parity statement between the district and CCFT, there most certainly was one. We created a committee of members from each side, did a large amount of statewide research, and wrote a statement. It was official, with each side signing off on it; both entities should have a copy of it, and it remains in place. Having conceptual statements (“we support this”) in a contract is nice but unnecessary; there is no holding the parties to these kind of statements. Before one disparages the work of another, the party might be well served to ask those involved what did or did not happen.

Both sides need to be sent back to the table and negotiate a fair and honest contract now.

Additional Points

  1. The union’s statement seems to be, “Trust us. We’ll get something for you next time.” Well, that may be true. But, part-time faculty need something next time and this time and for all time. Part-timers have been told to wait and wait. Just as we accuse management, and rightfully so, of not putting people first, I don’t believe we can trust the union to put part-timers first—because we haven’t seen it. The union could have done something this time. Why would the district be any more prone to agree next time? The union must do what it takes: bargain effectively, do a vote of no-confidence, or organize a job action if necessary. Without something, part-timers will never get ahead. Unfortunately, only certain things move the district to action. And, they often aren’t pleasant. Without them, the district has no incentive to do that right thing. If they know the union won’t follow through with its power, why would they change?

Some who disagree say, “It’s only one percent. Come on.” If that’s the feeling, then that can be said every time. Part-timers have not seen results under this union. And, they deserve that.

The union president thanked a full-time faculty member for her thoughtful email today. There is nothing wrong with that. But, she did not thank the part-time faculty for their thoughtful emails with opinions different from hers, did she? There is something wrong with that. And, it is revealing.

  1. Words of support for the condition of part-time faculty just don’t cut it anymore. The words must morph into action now. The money is there.

I know that faculty want more money now. We deserve it; I get it. But, I ask that you vote “no” on this ratification so that part-timers can have a chance. It doesn’t get any easier. It doesn’t require any less or more sacrifice at another time. The time is never right. Voicing a clear, united message to management has great power. They have gotten away with too much. They have taken away full-time faculty positions! (Truthfully, I can’t understand why there is no vocal outrage about that). Tell them that we have the power—then use it.

Send both sides back to the table to negotiate a fair and honest contract now.

Don’t Beg. Bargain.

Posted: March 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

The part-timers are on fire!  I hope that our full-time faculty can support our part-time colleagues.  A small increase in the percentage of pay for part-timers this year may not be the whole wall–but it is a brick.  And, we must start there to build.  They have been told for almost eight years to wait, that their time was coming.

The money is there.  The time is now.

Thank you!

Posted: March 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

We’ve buried our past highest number of views on one day.  Our last post, “And, the losers are . . . The Part-time Faculty of Cuesta College,” garnered 358 views in 24 hours (March 3, 2016).  Our last highest number of views in 24 hours was 267 last year.

Obviously, this is a matter which is important to faculty.

Thanks for reading!  Our hope is to put out perspectives that you may not see elsewhere.

–The staff

P.S.  If you follow us, you’ll be alerted every time we post, which is not often–except at times like this. Oh, and read this about Hancock’s CFT part-time faculty union: https://wwl2.wordpress.com/2015/09/.  So much is possible.

EDITORIAL

Let me begin by saying this. It is difficult to drag money out of management whether the district is loaded or not. For that, I recognize the negotiating team’s work. But, no matter what, this union’s work fell short.

Of course, the full-time faculty might be pleased. Being at the top column/top step, I should be very pleased. But, I’m not. Had CCFT allowed me to join the union last year, I would be voting against ratification.

And, here’s why.

Five-percent salary increase

In a normal situation, a 5% salary increase, among other contractual gains, is pretty good—especially for some. For those full-timers like me, that increase comes to more than $500 a month, before taxes. But, for those part-timers who are making $30,000 a year or less, that 5% increase amounts to $150 a month, before taxes, or less. Truly, that ‘s almost nothing. After almost 8 years with almost no increase, it’s actually insulting to part-timers. This is where the union’s agreement falls short.

Expect management to fail part-timers

Some of us know how intransigent management can be in any movement toward increased salary and benefits for part-timers. We must expect that. If management was offering 5% for all faculty, the dollars which that amounted to should have been split out by the union—not a 5% salary increase across the board but rather a breakdown of those dollars. There are various ways to achieve this: 4% for full-time faculty, 6% for part-time faculty or some such configuration. Management would have eventually agreed to this. Part-timers could have gotten more than 5% and, more importantly, they could have made advances in the glacially-slow movement toward parity. Without a differential salary increase, there can never be parity.

This is what the union absolutely failed to address in its tentative agreement. It seemed it was greedy, greedy to improve full-timers’ immediate salary at the expense of part-timers’ long-term gains. It wanted to say, “See what we got you!”

Elimination of Full-Time Faculty Hires

As we all know, there are only three ways for part-timers to make substantive gains in their employment at Cuesta: be hired full-time, pick up extra classes if they aren’t at their 67% max employment, and move toward parity with full timers. The elimination of the new faculty positions denied those part-timers who applied for those positions a chance to be full-time and also prevented other part-timers from the possibility of picking up extra units.

Equally as important is the precedent this agreement set. To swap the quality of teaching and services through more full-time faculty for a salary increase shows who was in control—and, that was the district. Certainly, we had to make concessions in the past, but never were those concessions between negotiable (salary) and non-negotiable (faculty hires) items. This is quite unheard of.

The union’s responsibility is to negotiate a strong contract for all faculty. Management’s responsibility is to come up with the money to do so. We had always bargained on that premise, and quite successfully. Why should the union be pressed upon to do management’s job, i.e., find the money? Union president Stakes said that the removal of the positions was “much to everyone’s surprise.” Again, we must expect management to not act above board. But, we do expect the union to not agree to it.

The district had gone too far. It was at this point that a job action of some kind should have been called. That didn’t happen, and the “surprise” went unheeded and unchanged. Who is in control here? Bargaining is meant to level the playing field. This field wasn’t leveled. It was flattened.

Management Gains

Management apparently had enough money to make the Executive Director of Human Resources a Vice-President with at least a $30,000 a year salary bump. It then added a new Director of Human Resources/Benefits/Payroll position. It also applied some hefty increases to other managers. It’s not about the money. It’s about priorities. And, the district has decided what’s important to it.

What now?

Stakes said, “The current situation of low salaries took years to develop and will require more than one year to fix. We will not be able to correct past deficits, but will move forward to provide better overall compensation packages in the years to come.” Those “low salaries” developed over the 5-year (2008-2013) regime of Allison Merzon and her EB, which produced no monetary benefits to faculty during that span and whose practice continued with the current union until now (Do remember that all community colleges were grappling with the same budget crises). Cuesta full-timers dropped in rank among California Community Colleges from 35/72 to 72/72 in 7 ½ years.**  Frankly, I don’t know if we can ever fully recover.

Those who were hurt the most are our part-time sisters and brothers.

I hope the full-time faculty will pressure the union to reallocate these dollars in the name of justice and vote NO on the ratification of the contract.

I hope the part-time faculty union members come out in droves to vote NO on the ratification of the contract. Use the power of your numbers.

Send the union and the district back to the bargaining table to create a contract that benefits all faculty.

I urge the membership to vote NO on ratification of this contract.

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**A part-time colleague who contacted me the other day sent me this.  I had forgotten the exact email, but it gives the part-time statewide ranking in 2007:

On Mar 14, 2007, at 12:57 AM, MLA Rossa-Quade <mlarq@earthlink.net> wrote:

“Members,

I’ve just received some current CA community college stats.

1.)  Attached is the CFT Community College Council Part-Time salary study, completed 5 days ago.  And . . . . . Cuesta College part-timers look to be about 9th from the top in highest possible salaries in all (not only CFT) community colleges reporting (which is all but about 5)!”