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Community College Council of the California Federation of Teachers American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO

Fall 2009 Volume 21, Number 1 


Adjuncts lose classes, incomes, livelihoods

Part-timers feel the brunt of biggest-ever cuts to colleges While reports and statistics illustrate the dire situation in the state’s community colleges and universities — summer and winter sessions cancelled or drastically reduced, hundreds of classes cut in the spring and fall semesters — the real picture is reflected in the stories of our members who have been adversely affected. As unions try to influence decisions made on the campus, district, and state levels to keep part-timers in their jobs and to minimize the impact, adjunct faculty are struggling to find work, limit their spending, retain their health benefits, and keep up their spirits. Joni Caldwell lost her class on the psychology of women this fall at Cabrillo College when the entire program was cut. She usually teaches three classes on human sexuality at Monterey Peninsula College but now has two. “I’m living on

Not only has Caldwell had to curtail her spending but she now rents a room in her house and started a dog-sitting business. “I’ve gone from college professor to this.” – Joni Caldwell, Cabrillo College

When Joni Caldwell lost classes, she started a dog-sitting business to earn extra cash.

one-third of what I made last fall,” she said. Not only has Caldwell had to curtail her spending but she now rents out a room in her house and started a dog-sitting business. “I’ve gone from college professor to this,” she said. Even though she had more takehome pay from unemployment in the summer, she has

no desire to stop working. “I’m managing to fill the time, but I’d rather be teaching. I make a positive impact on students.” Lonnie Teper has lost nine classes this past year at East Los Angeles College and Pasadena City College. “I’m down $25,000 from what I was earning two to three years ago,” he said. After teaching summers

for nine years in a row, he lost both classes at East when summer session was cancelled. Being qualified in two disciplines — P.E. and Health — has given him more opportunities to teach, but his 2-unit activity classes require him to teach more courses. Though he’s an editor and columnist for a body building magazine, Teper relies on teaching to support himself. “I was planning to move to an apartment in a better See Job Crisis back page

photos sharon beals

“Share the pain” plan helps prevent layoffs in San Francisco While thousands of part-time faculty across the nation are being laid off during this economic crisis in which college budgets have been cut to the bone, City College of San Francisco has tried to minimize layoffs of its employees, including part-time faculty, by following a “share the pain” philosophy. Faculty, staff, and administra-

Carmen Roman-Murray

tion at City College have all made sacrifices to save jobs. Salary step

increases were frozen for the current academic year. Administrators’ salaries were cut by 6 percent, and the chancellor voluntarily cut his own salary by 25 percent. The Part-Timers Committee of San Francisco Community College Federation held several meetings last year at which adjuncts decided that both job security and more full-time positions were

their highest priorities. “Union leaders and a district trustee were present to hear our concerns,” said committee chair Carmen Roman-Murray. “They got the message loud and clear.” As state budget news grew increasingly ominous during the spring and summer, the union leadership team came up with a See San Francisco, back page

Faculty Profile | Carlos von Son

Chicano Studies professor advocates for adjuncts “We have an incredible executive board — Carlos von Son often hears from adjuncts the union is always looking at what we can do at Palomar College in north San Diego County for part-timers,” he said. In the last contract the who are affected by the state budget crisis. “Partunion negotiated Kaiser coverage for qualified timers come to me and tell me they can’t pay for adjuncts, 50 percent paid by the district. They their health benefits, they can’t pay their mortare negotiating again, hoping to do even better gages, they’re losing their houses,” he said. “It’s this time. very sad to hear their stories.” Despite the tough times, von Son has found To von Son, an adjunct and co-president of his the full-time faculty to be very supportive. union, the decisions made to deal with the finan“They are totally behind us — many full-timers cial situation are about people, but he believes gave up their extra classes. My full-time faculty that for the district, which is planning to cut 270 co-president, Shannon Lienhart, is a fighter, and classes for spring semester, it’s all about numshe supports adjuncts.” bers. “The district’s actions — class cuts and a A teacher of multicultural studies, Chicano hiring freeze on full-time faculty — hurt us all. studies, Spanish, and theater, von Son holds a I strongly believe that the district can find more Ph.D. in Latin American literature, is a playcreative ways to save money without such drastic “It’s tragic that our wright, and promotes cultural activities such as measures as cutting classes and eliminating jobs.” nation devalues the Day of the Dead in Oceanside. To address Most importantly, he says, these actions hurt stuthe high drop-out rate of Latino youth, he dents who can’t get the classes they need, and he education in this way.” works with Encuentros Leadership to help wishes students would protest about this. students explore careers. At one workshop, Although a preference list at Palomar gives he talked to young people about what it means to be a college a modicum of job security for those who have been teaching for professor. several years and have good evaluations, the system is not perfect. To von Son, being an educator means teaching the truth and “There are ways that the system can be manipulated by those who advocating for change. “It’s tragic that our nation devalues educawant to use favoritism to give assignments,” warned von Son. tion in this way. We need to impress upon the Obama administraCarlos von Son became involved in the union fairly recently. “I used to go to meetings occasionally, but then I realized I needed to tion that education is the solution,” he said. “We need to shed light on the exploitation of adjunct faculty who are suffering all over do more.” So a little over a year ago, he decided to run for union the United States. If we can get more people involved, maybe we office and was elected to represent the interests of part-timers as can get the attention of the administration to bring about change.” co-president of the Palomar Faculty Federation, Local 6161.


CalSTRS to reconvene task force for part-timer retirement CALSTRS IS RENEWING its study of retirement issues affecting part-time faculty by creating a new task force that will propose solutions and modifications to current plans and possibly suggest the creation of a new one. At the request of the CFT Part-Time Committee, the Federation is working to get CFT part-timers and staff appointed to the task force. “Part-timers have little chance of participating in a retirement plan that will provide anything close to financial security during our retirement years,” explained Cliff Liehe, member of the CFT Retirement 2   Part-Timer Fall 2009

Committee, adjunct, and grievance officer for the San Francisco Community College Federation. He said the reasons for this vary from district to district: low salaries, relatively small or no employer contributions, lack of a Social Security option, and the offsets which can reduce or eliminate Social Security benefits earned from other employment. “To add insult to injury, parttimers in the CalSTRS Defined Benefit Plan are faced with numerous complexities and inequities,” said Liehe. It is difficult to understand or estimate benefits, espe-

cially for adjuncts with multiple pay rates, and statements do not provide data for individual districts or positions. Cliff Liehe Service credit can be inequitable due to inappropriate “full-time equivalents” used by some districts, and there are problems converting unused sick leave to service credit at retirement. There has been difficulty implementing AB 1586, a 2004 law designed to provide part-timers more equitable retirement benefits,

even though an earlier CalSTRS task force helped enact the law. That group is no longer active, and Liehe says it’s time a new task force is convened. “You almost need a Ph.D. in mathematics to understand the calculation of defined benefit pensions for part-timers, especially if you’re a freeway flyer or affected by AB 1586.” Liehe and others hope that the new task force will lead to further improvements for adjuncts. “We need a plan for part-timers that is understandable, equitable, and results in reasonable retirement benefits,” he concluded.

News from part-timers around the state

FreewayFlyers New law allows part-timers to elect State Disability Insurance separately

CFT Part-Time Committee works to advance interests of contingent faculty

This fall, the state Legislature passed, and the governor signed, AB 381, legislation that will allow parttime faculty to choose to be covered by State Disability Insurance independently from full-time faculty. Previously, both full-time and adjunct faculty in a bargaining unit had to agree to join SDI. In either circumstance, local unions must negotiate with the employer for the option to have SDI. State disability coverage provides partial salary replacement (even during summer and winter breaks) in case of dis-

After proposing a resolution to change the Education Code restriction to allow parttime faculty in the community colleges to teach 67 percent, and seeing it become law in January, the CFT Part-Time Committee is moving on to tackle the issues of rehire rights and promotion to full-time positions. As one of 11 standing committees of the CFT, the committee works to craft legislation and policy for the statewide union to adopt to advance the interests of part-time workers. Resolutions written in the committees can be considered for adoption at CFT governance meetings, and if passed, become positions of the union.

ability or pregnancy disability and for up to six weeks of state Paid Family Leave to bond with a newborn, newly adopted, or new foster child, or care for a seriously ill spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child. If the part-time group votes for SDI coverage, all adjuncts in the district would have a payroll deduction of 1.1 percent of salary at the current contribution rate. AB 381 was sponsored by the Faculty Association of the California Community Colleges and supported by CFT, which lobbied to help get it passed.

Join New Majority Faculty coalition for free The New Faculty Majority is a recently formed independent national coalition for adjunct and contingent faculty. Through advocacy, education, and litigation, it is working to achieve equity in pay, job security, academic freedom, fac-

ulty governance, professional advancement, benefits, and unemployment insurance for all contingent faculty. You can join New Majority Faculty for free until the end of 2009. Go to newfacultymajority. info/national.

Want a CFT button? Email or phone 510-523-5238.

“It is very satisfying to see that the work we do in our committee actually affects policy Phyllis Eckler and sometimes even changes laws, like the 60 percent law,” said chair Phyllis Eckler, from the Glendale College Guild. “Having the clout of a large organization like the CFT behind our proposals makes it easier to get the attention of legislators, district board of trustees members, and education leaders who affect change.” Comprising experts in their fields, the CFT standing committees meet three times a year, alternating between Northern and Southern California. Local unions may nominate members in the spring to serve on the committees, so if you are interested in participating, contact your local leader. To learn more, go to and click on Committees.

In the spring issue of PartTimer, we reported that union activist Pete Virgadamo had lost his teaching assignments at College of the Canyons. Despite having taught history courses at the college since 1990 with positive peer and student evaluations, and despite soaring enrollment, Virgadamo was not assigned any courses. He suspected his role in organizing Part-Time Faculty United,

Local 6262, and his position as vice president of the union, was the cause. His local union and the CFT fought back. The local filed an unfair labor practice against the college and CFT President Marty Hittelman spoke before the district’s board of trustees. “We were negotiating a new contract and gradually it became clear that the administration was holding me ‘hostage’ in the

negotiations,” explained Virgadamo. “I would not be allowed back in the classroom until the union agreed to a new contract that did not grant us seniority rights, rejected our proposal to have paid office hours, and denied us access to health insurance that was available to the other unions on campus.” Eventually negotiations reached impasse and a state mediator was brought in. “My

situation was such an obvious case of blackmail that it was included in the settlement,” said Virgadamo. “I was returned to the classroom with three courses for the fall semester, and all adjuncts will receive a 1 percent pay raise and the right to grieve future assignments. Although we won a good contract, there is a long road ahead to improve working conditions at the college.” Fall 2009 Part-Timer   3

photo: jane hundertmark

Mediator rules squarely in favor of adjuncts at College of the Canyons

AFT campaigns find new ways to tackle staffing crisis in higher education Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act The U.S. Senate is set to consider the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act that was passed by the House of Representatives in September. This important bill would greatly improve student aid and access, support programs to improve student persistence and attainment, and provide direct aid to community colleges. AFT asks you to send a letter to your senators explaining why we must address this crisis if students are to receive the educational experience they need and deserve. Also ask your senators to support adding language that would permit program money to create additional full-time faculty positions or to provide more stability and equitable compensation for contingent faculty. It takes just a few minutes but will help send a powerful message. To send a letter, go to the AFT

Job crisis Continued from page 1

neighborhood, but I’m afraid to do it now,” he said. “I’m worried about the future, and I’m afraid these cuts are going to continue.” Doug Stenhouse has taught architecture for 15 years at three colleges in the Los Angeles Community College District. When his assignments at Trade-Tech and Harbor were canceled this fall, he fell below the minimum load required to continue receiving health insurance through the district. “One of the primary reasons I continue to teach is to be eligible for the group insurance,” 4   Part-Timer Fall 2009

Legislative Action Center at safra. To share your stories, ideas and suggestions with AFT, email

Are colleges investing in faculty?

• How likely is it that a student will be taught by full-time, permanent faculty members? • What percentage of undergraduate classes are taught by part-time faculty and graduate assistants? • How much do part-time faculty make per course? • Are part-time faculty required to hold office hours, and are they paid to do so? Are they provided suitable office space to meet with students? Students do best when faculty are supported to do their best. Get all the information you need when investing in the best college education.

Just Ask! is an AFT campaign urging parents who are choosing colleges for their children to ask whether classes are taught by full-time faculty or adjuncts. The gist of the message is that part-time faculty and graduate assistants are not given professional support or pay to hold office hours to assist students on campus, and with no permanence, they are not available in subsequent semesters to write letters of recommendation. AFT brochures for parents and students stress that “faculty members’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions.” For more information, go to

Randi Weingarten president

Antonia Cortese secretary-treasurer

he explained. “My wife has a congenital illness, so being able to access affordable insurance regardless of her pre-existing condition answered our prayers.” He was, however, able to continue on the group plan under COBRA, which costs about $1000 a month, more than his $650 a month salary. “As you can imagine, this has had a severe impact on our budget,” Stenhouse said. “I felt so blessed when I found out I qualified for district-sponsored benefits and it’s very depressing to think of losing them when COBRA runs out.” The stories abound…

Faculty and College Excellence is the AFT campaign to ensure that 75 percent of undergraduate courses are taught by full-time tenure and tenure-track faculty and to achieve equity in compensation for contingent faculty. California’s FACE legislation took the form of Assembly Concurrent Resolution 31, carried by Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, D-Redwood City. ACR 31 made it through the Higher Education Committee only to be stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where policymakers decided that its passage would create too much pressure on the state budget. Go to to learn more about FACE and to download Just Ask! brochures. You can become a fan of FACE on Facebook and follow the campaign on Twitter. Lorretta Johnson executive vice president

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plan to minimize massive parttimer layoffs. This plan established a hierarchy of cuts so that adjuncts with rehire rights (two or more semesters of service), would be the last to have their assignments reduced. The hierarchy, from first cut to last cut, is: • retired faculty returning to work as part-timers • full-time faculty overloads • assignments of new part-timers • assignments of established parttime faculty The administration agreed to the plan, and as a result, in the fall few part-timers lost hours, and no part-timer with a reem-

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 Hittelman 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 Mike Dixon, John Govsky, Mehri Hagar, Carmen Roman-Murray Editor Deborah Kaye Managing Editor Jane Hundertmark Design Kajun Design, Graphic Artists Guild Direct correspondence to: Part-Timer California Federation of Teachers 1201 Marina Village Pkwy., Suite 115 Alameda, California 94501 Telephone 510-523-5238 Fax 510-523-5262 E-mail Web Part-Timer is union-printed by American Lithographers in Hayward, California, using soy-based inks on Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper containing 10 percent post-consumer waste. ®

977-M IBT 853

ploymnent right was laid off. “As the crisis continues, Local 2121 has pledged to do everything possible to avoid cuts to part-timers,” said Roman-Murray. “In fact, during contract negotiations last spring, the union negotiating team worked to strengthen the safety net for parttime faculty.” As a result, part-timers receiving health care benefits who fall below the 50 percent threshold because of budget cuts can keep their benefits if they have a minimum 20 percent assignment. Part-timers are now eligible to take an unpaid leave for up to a year and will keep their reemployment rights.

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Part-Timer, Fall 2009  

Adjuncts lose classes, income, livelihoods

Part-Timer, Fall 2009  

Adjuncts lose classes, income, livelihoods

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