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.

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