And, the losers are . . . .The Part-time Faculty of Cuesta College

Posted: March 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

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.

——————————————————

**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)!”

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Comments
  1. arthurshere2012 says:

    Spot on, as always. Thank you for the brilliant reasoning and analysis. Though not a union member I am a unionist at heart and would have been willing to strike for a better deal for all of us. Part-timers are our backbone and they are really hurting these days. I would happily give up some of my salary increase in order for them to see more, as long as the deal is cut fairly and reasonably at the table. I feel very sad for many workers, including classified staff, here at Cuesta these days. It’s not pretty.

  2. Greg says:

    This article makes things sound much worse for PT faculty than the data supports. The most recent CFT part-time salary survey (July 2015) has 4 different salary categories. With the 5% increase, PT faculty at Cuesta will be near or above the median of the 72 districts in the state in all 4 categories. Some of the districts that rank ahead of us include office hour pay in the hourly figure, which makes their compensation look bigger per hour than for faculty at Cuesta.

    It’s hard to argue against increasing salary and benefits to PT faculty that are such an important part of the educational experience of our students, but PT salaries are currently competitive and well above the median statewide whereas FT salaries are not nearly as competitive.

    PT hourly with 5% increase:
    #1: MA step 3, minimum entry at Cuesta, rank 37/72
    #2: MA 9th semester, rank 20/72
    #3: highest non-PhD, rank 15/72
    #4: highest PhD, rank 14/72

  3. Greg says:

    This article claims that FT salary ranks 72/72. According to the most recent CFT salary survey data, Cuesta FT faculty rank 68, 61, 59, 61, and 57 out of 72 in the five different salary categories that CFT compiles. This is before the proposed 5% salary increase. A composite average of the five salary categories places us at 61/72 overall. This is nothing to brag about, is a definite slip from the mid 2000’s, and is woefully below the median of our 15 comparable districts, but it is not dead last out of 72. Cuesta only ranks 72/72 when comparing total compensation of FT salary+fringe benefits, and then only for those with multiple dependents.

    • mimmsy123 says:

      I’ve only used it because CCFT has used it; I’ve read “72/72” and “dead last” in more than one communication. Often, different statewide salary charts will list things in slightly different ways. Being 72/72 in salary AND benefits is even worse. Nitpicking either way, I think. But, if you’re correct, thanks! Accuracy is always our goal.

  4. Tony Hertz says:

    There are many numbers and mixed ways of calculations for the PT and FT disparity. The CCFT’s own website states that it’s 70 cents to a FT’s dollar: http://ccft.org/?page_id=74
    It could be anywhere from low to high 70%, depending on how it’s computed. The main thing is that there’s unequal pay for same work in our district – and nationwide, for that matter. A no vote on the contract makes a statement and calls for a differential salary increase.

  5. Guest says:

    Thanks for publicizing this important topic. Keep up the good work!

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