Community College Council of the California Federation of Teachers American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
Fall 2008 Volume 20, Number 1
P R O M O T ING P AR T- T I M E F A C U LT Y RIG H T S
How new law will affect adjuncts Beginning in January,
adjuncts will be permitted to teach up to 67 percent of what constitutes full-time employment for a contract faculty member. Although this may seem like a small percentage increase, it’s a big deal to Sarah Harmon, an adjunct instructor of 10 years who teaches at two Bay Area campuses, Cañada College and San Jose City College. She is a member of two local unions, the San Mateo College Federation of Teachers and the San Jose/Evergreen Faculty Association. Because of the passage this summer of AB591 (Dymally, D-Los Angeles), adjunct faculty like Harmon have reason to celebrate this landmark legislative victory that will allow some faculty to teach more hours in one location. “This change will give me more options because I won’t be restricted to teaching only 3-unit courses,” she says. Harmon, who teaches Spanish, a
Counselor Sandra Rodrigues at Skyline College says the extra hours will really help at semester “crunch times.”
sharon beals photos
Union wins new law raising part-time load to 67 percent
Sarah Harmon, who teaches Spanish in two districts, can now teach two 5-unit first-year courses instead of a 5-unit and 3-unit class with different preparations.
15-unit discipline, would have liked to teach two 5-unit firstyear courses but is not able to with the 60 percent restriction. “With a 5-unit and a 3-unit course, I have different preparations, so being able to accept two first-year courses will reduce my workload.” It will also cut her commute time. “If I can teach 10 units in one place instead of my usual 8 units, I won’t have to travel to another district to pick up a 3unit class just to be able to earn enough to live on,” she says. “It’s nuts to be running around like this.” Faculty in other disciplines with 5-unit courses, such as ESL and math, will similarly
benefit from the opportunity to increase their load. Even in disciplines with different loads, faculty will be able to add more
composition class. “This could be a good way to supplement my income, since I’m currently limited to teaching six units in the district,” says William Zhangi, from the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild. In 18and 21-unit disciplines, faculty can teach two additional units, such as a 2-unit activity class. Sandra Rodrigues, a Puente counselor at Skyline College, and a member of the San Mateo Federation, says, “I’m really excited to know that part-timers will have the possibility to work additional hours, especially at those ‘crunch times’ at the beginning and the end of the semester when students need all the help they can get.” Currently, Rodrigues is limited to an 18-hour week. “I always have students coming in, and even being on campus just two more hours a week, I would be able to counsel four
“If I can teach 10 units in one place instead of my usual 8 units, I won’t have to travel to another district to pick up a 3-unit class just to be able to earn enough to live on. It’s nuts to be running around like this.” – Sarah Harmon, adjunct Spanish instructor units, translating into higher earnings. In 12-unit disciplines, adjuncts will be allowed to teach 8 units, for example, a 5-unit ESL class and a 3-unit
more students. I know that with the students I work with, if they hadn’t received the extra support we give them, they might have dropped out.” See 67 percent, back page
Adjunct faculty suffer first and most when hard times hit For full-time faculty a very bad budget year such as this one means a loss of purchasing power due to an inadequate — or non-existent — pay increase. It may also mean reduced opportunity for “extra” assignments, as colleges trim their instructional programs in response to anemic growth funding even in the face of robust enrollment demand.
who are struggling with the EDD bureaucracy. Some full-timers with extra assignments may want to consider temporarily waiving their rights to or offers of assignments in order to minimize the cuts to those part-timers who are financially dependent on their community college assignments. Obviously, specifics vary from district to district, contract to contract, department to department, faculty member to faculty member. Certain districts are considering retirement incentives for fulltime faculty. While real or imagined financial savings are the usual motivator for incentives, in circumstances where retirees are not immediately replaced, a larger-than-usual number of full-time retirements can help cushion part-timers against job losses.
Carl Friedlander, President, Community College Council
But part-time faculty really bear the brunt. Commonly used modifiers like “temporary” and “contingent” take on stark reality as part-timers lose assignments and, in some cases, their livelihood. For many adjunct faculty, part-time teaching at one or more community colleges is not an “extra” assignment to supplement or complement a full-time career; it is the primary source of income, and that income is at risk. What can we do to mitigate the danger? First and foremost, part-timers and full-timers must join together in the fight to lower the undemocratic two-thirds requirement for state budgets and taxes — and, in the meantime, ratchet up pressure on resistant legislators so that the two-thirds threshold can be reached. Locals that have negotiated seniority and rehire rights of various types must be vigilant to see that contractual provisions are followed; locals that have been unable to secure such agreements need to continue and intensify their efforts. Part-timers (and the Employment Development Department!) need to be educated about eligibility for unemployment benefits, and direct assistance should be provided to displaced adjuncts
“For many adjunct faculty, part-time teaching at one or more community colleges is not an ‘extra’ assignment to supplement or complement a full-time career; it is the primary source of income, and that income is at risk.” I hope that the pessimistic scenario I’m envisioning here turns out to be way off base, that the era of expanding opportunity for part-time faculty continues, that the focus of our concern remains on declining full-time/part-time ratios. But the dire economic news suggests that our full-time/part-time ratios will start improving — for all the wrong reasons. Under these circumstances, we need to start thinking about how we can best minimize the pain that contraction inevitably causes.
Kay Ryan, a 30-year teacher of remedial English at the College of Marin in Kentfield was named the 16th Poet Laureate of the United States. The 62-year-old poet, a member of the United Professors of Marin, Local 1610, has won numerous honors including the nation’s largest poetry award, the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Ryan’s compact poems are full of wit wordplay. In an interview with the New York Times, she said, “An almost empty suitcase, that’s what I want my poems to be, few things. The reader starts taking them out, but they keep multiplying.”
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Her sixth collection of poetry, The Niagara River, was published by Grove Press in 2006. An editor there told the San Francisco Chronicle, “Kay is a wonderful teacher, and teaching remedial English has made her pay attention to the essence of words.” The president of Local 1610, Ira Lansing, told the Part-Timer, “It is an honor to have a poet laureate in our ranks. I am pleased to think that the United Professors of Marin may have contributed to a work environment for Ms. Ryan that has allowed her to reach the pinnacle that she has obtained.”
Lance Iversen/SF Chronicle
Marin adjunct Kay Ryan named U.S. Poet Laureate A CAT/A FUTURE A cat can draw the blinds behind her eyes whenever she decides. Nothing alters in the stare itself but she’s not there. Likewise a future can occlude: still sitting there, doing nothing rude. From Elephant Rocks by Kay Ryan, Copyright © 1996 by Kay Ryan.
News from part-timers around the state
FreewayFlyers North Orange makes improvements to salary schedule for non-credit faculty
Ventura adjuncts win vote for department chairs and affordable health insurance
Part-time faculty in North Orange County won some advances for non-credit faculty, reports Sam Russo Sam Russo, president of Adjunct Faculty United, Local 6106. Noncredit faculty now have two columns and two steps on the
Adjunct faculty in the Ventura community colleges now have the right to vote for their department chairs on an equal footing with their fulltime faculty colleagues. “It’s one person, one vote,” says John Wagner, president of the Ventura County Federation of College Teachers, Local 1828. The union also negotiated an affordable healthcare plan for part-time faculty who average a minimum 0.4 load and who have completed four semesters of service in the
salary schedule, which used to be a ‘one-size-fits all’ for noncredit. They were given a column on the salary schedule for those holding a master’s degree and a one-time bonus of 6.65 percent. Credit faculty received a 2.1 percent increase in salary and a one-time bonus of 8.86 percent, higher than the full-time faculty bonus of 2.53 percent.
Santa Maria local union successfully resolves summer pay dispute With a little help from the CFT, the Part-Time Faculty Association of Allan Hancock College was able to resolve a pay dispute with college administration this summer. About 90 part-time faculty at Allan Hancock College received an unpleasant surprise in July when they opened their first paycheck for the summer session and found it was about one-third less than they expected. It turned out the offers of employment that were sent to summer faculty stated that faculty would be paid for their summer work in two equal installments, on July 10 and August 10. However, business services had intended to break the summer pay into three installments, with the third and last being paid on
September 10, a full month after summer classes had ended. Attempts to resolve the problem by informal phone calls to business services were unsuccessful. CFT’s field representative agreed with local leaders that this constituted an unfair labor practice “but cautioned us against taking any action until we got an opinion from one of the CFT attorneys,” explains Mark James Miller, president of Local 6185. “In a letter to the appropriate vice president of the college, I stated my intent to file an unfair labor practice unless checks for the missing amounts were issued right away and the balance paid on August 10, as promised.” That got results — faculty soon received checks for the correct amounts.
district. It costs $100 ten times a year for the faculty member, with the district paying the rest of the premium. In addition, the local won a 4.73 percent overall pay increase for parttime faculty. “We are shifting from an hourly to a loadbased pay system as we move to pro rata pay, which is defined as 75 percent of the pay a full-time faculty member earns.” Wagner adds that an adjunct served as chief negotiator for the wall-to-wall unit. “This might be a historic first!”
Adjuncts in spotlight at Summer Institute As part of its efforts statewide to address the needs of the large number of students who lack the foundational skills needed to succeed in collegelevel work, the California Community College System Office funded a four-day Basic Skills Initiative Summer Institute for 300 faculty in August. Realizing that the majority of basic skills classes (60-75 percent) are taught by adjunct faculty, each college in the state was invited to send five participants, with the proviso that the teams should comprise no more than one full-time faculty and up to four part-timers. Organizers of the event established the professional development opportunity to recognize the work of adjunct faculty and the challenges they
face. Since part-timers don’t receive sabbaticals, the Institute afforded a chance to take time out to contemplate effective teaching strategies and learn more about the challenges of teaching students in basic skills classes. “It’s great that adjunct faculty received this opportunity to be trained on effective strategies,” says Kathy Holland, a member of both the Glendale and Los Angles College Guilds, “but it’s now up to us to be sure we are paid for this work when we return to our campuses and are asked to offer this training to our peers. Be sure to request ancillary pay out of the generous basic skills funding that the colleges are receiving from the state. There is no need to do this work for free.” Fall 2008 Part-Timer 3
An inside look at policymaking
Adjuncts appointed as policymakers of CFT and AFT Editor’s Note: Mark James Miller, leader of the Part-Time Faculty Association of Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, was recently appointed to the AFT Higher Education Program and Policy Council. The 29-member PPC represents higher education members of the AFT and recommends programs and policies to be considered by the AFT Executive Council. Below is his report of the first PPC meetings he attended in September at the National Labor College in Silver Springs, Maryland. AFT leaders from all over the country attended, and for me, as a newly appointed member of the Council, the most enjoyable aspect was meeting and interacting with fellow union members from other states. It was Mark Miller a powerful reminder that we are an organization 1.4 million people strong. This is easy to forget as we do our day-to-day union work, but it is important to remember that we are part of a much larger whole that is working every day to improve our lives and make the world a better place. As an appointee to the organizing subcommittee, I learned
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Local unions will need to be sure that bargaining agreements are amended to reflect the change in the law if, as many currently do, they state that part-time faculty are permitted to work only up to 60 percent of a load. They will also need to make administrators and department chairs aware of the opportunity to give adjunct 4 Part-Timer Fall 2008
that organizing part-time instructors is a priority for the AFT. Over the past year alone AFT has organized part-time instructors in Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and
Washington. The AFT has also begun organizing part-time faculty at private colleges and universities, such as Syracuse University in Utica, New York. The AFT made a huge effort in the presidential election, launching the biggest mobilization effort within the AFL-CIO, with 300 full-time AFT staffers at work focused on key states such as Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. In the 2004 election, union members and their families made up 26 percent of the electorate, making orga-
Beverly Cope appointed CFT Vice-President and joins Executive Council Beverly Cope, an adjunct English instructor at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita and president of Part-Time Faculty United, Local 6262, has been appointed a vice president of the CFT and serves on the CFT Executive Council. The Council, comprising 24 vice presidents of the union and ex-officios, makes decisions for the Federation between Convention and State Councils. Cope steps into the slot formerly held by Don Peavy, president of the Victor Valley Part-Time Faculty United, who is currently in the Philippines working on a novel.
nized labor a formidable force nationally. The highlight of the entire experience was a sing-along on the second evening. Members from Washington, D.C., led us in singing union and labor songs, creating a wonderful sense of solidarity and empowerment, and reminding me of why movements like ours have engaged in singing as a way to give all those involved a sense of belonging, of being a part of something larger than ourselves. — Mark James Miller
Part-Timer is published by the
California Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. The CFT represents faculty and classified workers in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education. The CFT is committed to raising the standards of the profession and to securing the conditions essential to provide the best service to California’s students. President Marty Hittleman Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Smith Community College Council President Carl Friedlander Northern Vice President Dean Murakami Southern Vice President Mona Field Secretary Kathy Holland Part-Time Representatives John Govsky, Mehri Hagar, Kathy Holland, Julie Ivey Editor Deborah Kaye Publications Director Jane Hundertmark Design Kajun Design, Graphic Artists Guild
faculty increased hours. The push to increase the 60 percent limit to 67 percent began as a resolution sponsored by the CFT Part-Time Committee and passed at the CFT Convention in 2007. Eventually, it was written into AB591. CFT, through the efforts of our legislative advocate in Sacramento, was instrumental in pushing the legislation through. Parttime faculty around the state
sent emails and made phone calls to Sacramento. “This is good example of how advocacy can change our working conditions,” says Phyllis Eckler, the author of the original resolution and member of the Glendale College Faculty Guild and the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild. “Get involved and be vocal about the changes you would like to see in the future!” — Deborah Kaye
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How new law will affect adjuncts