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

Spring 2010 Volume 21, Number 2 


CFT sponsors new seniority rights bill

What are the issues that matter most to the state’s adjunct faculty? Part-time faculty activists in CFT have been grappling with this question for years. “The problems that seem to be of greatest concern to our members are job security and salary equity — and we’ve been working hard on these issues,” said Phyllis Eckler, chair of the CFT Part-Time Committee.

“I haven’t had a vacation in 16 years since I don’t know ahead of time whether I’ll be given an assignment.” –Mick Sule, adjunct math instructor

A resolution on part-time faculty seniority rights that was introduced by the committee and passed at last year’s CFT Convention is currently wending its way through the legislative process in Sacramento. AB 1807 (See back page) calls for the creation of re-employment preference lists, prioritized by date of hire, for faculty who have completed 6 semesters or 9 quarters within six academic years with satisfactory evaluations. It is easy to see why the lack of job security is cited as a major > See page 3 for resolutions affecting adjuncts being proposed at CFT Convention 2010

concern for adjuncts. Known as rehire rights, priority ranking, preference for assignments, or seniority — in districts where these rights have not been negotiated, adjuncts are in a constant state of insecurity. Sabrina Santiago has been teaching sociology in San Diego area community colleges for over 10 years. She calls herself a “full-time adjunct professor” because she works the equivalent of a full-time load (or more) in various colleges. But each district has different provisions that affect her job security.


Job security continues to top adjunct concerns

Sociology instructor Sabrina Santiago has the most job security in the San Diego district, where the AFT Guild has negotiated a strong seniority system.

In one district, she “knows” she’ll have an assignment, in the second, she “thinks” she’ll be given classes, and in the third, she “hopes” she’ll be working. “In San Diego, I can predict what my schedule will look like,” she says. There, the

48 days. March 5 to April 21. Bakersfield to Sacramento.

Put on your walking shoes. March through the Central Valley with CFT members and other union members to make a statement to policymakers: Protect education, save public services, and enact fair taxes. You can also follow the march online. Go to www.fight4CAfuture.com to sign up to march and to find Facebook and Twitter links. Be a marcher, be a fan, be a follower!

AFT Guild has negotiated a strong seniority system. After working two years, adjuncts are guaranteed the same number of classes they have been teaching. “I can depend on getting my classes there every year, which is really important so I can retain my benefits,” she says. The two neighboring districts have rehire rights, but with less stringent protections. “At one college, they make a regular practice of switching schedules on a whim, regardless of the quality of your teaching,” she says, “making life chaotic while you try to coordinate them with classes at other colleges.” Santiago, who is Vice President of Adjuncts at Mesa College for the AFT Guild, and participates in the unions in the districts where she teaches, does so because she wants to see things change. “It’s nerve racking when you depend on these classes and you have to rely on the benevolence of the chair not to change your schedule or give your class to someone else.” Mick Sule has been teaching math for eight years in comSee Job Security back page

Faculty Profile | John Govsky

Digital media instructor plugged in to students and union


partners, so we can effect change.” It was a moment John Govsky He sees other reasons to participate. will never forget — being honored “Being involved on campus is our by 500 of his colleagues with a standprofessional responsibility,” he said. ing ovation for the thing he most loves “Some people argue against equal pay to do — teach. The part-time faculty for equal work, saying that adjuncts activist experienced this moment in the don’t do these ‘extra duties.’ I’d like to fall of 2009 when he received the John take that argument off the table. I’ve D. Hurd Award for Teaching Excelalso encountered some full-time faclence, the highest honor given to an ulty who don’t get the adjunct peradjunct at Cabrillo College in Monterey spective at all, and I’ve been able to County. Ironically, it never would have provide that point of view.” happened if not for Govsky’s own Govsky’s sense of fairness led efforts years before, when he and other him to union involvement. “When I activists urged the college to grant a was first hired to teach at Cabrillo, I teaching award to adjuncts, in addition thought it was a really cool job,” he to the one for full-time faculty. recalled. “I had no concept of how Govsky’s success at the college is “Being involved on campus is our deep the two-tiered system was.” well earned. “I’m the most plugged-in professional responsibility.” Gradually, he became more and adjunct on campus,” he said. A ‘senior more active in his union, the Cabrillo adjunct’ in the Digital Media DepartCollege Federation of Teachers, Local 4400. ment since 1995, Govsky has actively participated in college life, “The union truly welcomes adjuncts, so it’s a natural place to developing curriculum for Web design classes (teacherjohn.com) gravitate to,” said Govsky, who serves as Part-Time Co-Vice President, chairs the union’s Part“The union truly welcomes adjuncts, so it’s a Time Committee, and is on the

natural place to gravitate to. It’s been a great experience because relations between full-time and part-time faculty in the union are so good.”

and serving on numerous campus committees. He is the only adjunct to have been elected to the Academic Senate. “Shared governance is taken seriously at Cabrillo, so it’s possible to have an impact,” he explained. “The union and the district are seen as

Building a Web resource for all unions Doing research for contract negotiations, John Govsky was frustrated that there was no repository for all the faculty collective bargaining agreements in the California community college system. So he created a Web page with links to all the contracts and local union Web sites that he could locate — you can find it under “links” on his local’s Web site, ccftcabrillo.org, which he designed and developed.

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negotiating team. “It’s been a great experience because relations between full-time and part-time faculty in the union are so good.” Govsky also serves on the CFT Part-Time Committee and was elected one of four adjunct representatives-at-large to the Community College Council of CFT. “I’ve been an activist all my adult life,” he explained. In the 1970s, he protested against nuclear power plants in New Jersey, getting arrested four times, and in the 1980s, he continued his efforts in California by advocating for a nuclear weapons freeze, publishing a newspaper called The Monthly Planet. He is currently co-publisher of the tabloid newspaper Comic News (thecomicnews.com), which uses humor to comment on current political issues. “Education is the key to social change,” Govsky concluded. “We need to do all we can to reform the system and make it better.”

News from part-timers around the state

FreewayFlyers Resolutions affecting adjuncts headed to CFT Convention in late March launch a campaign to challenge the casualization of academic labor by insisting that all faculty in higher education be offered tenure track employment after a suitable period of probation and be given the same rights, including equal pay and access to healthcare, as their full-time colleagues.

require a change in state law, CFT lobbyists work to secure a legislator to author a bill and then advocate for its passage through the legislative process all the way to the governor’s desk.”

budgets are tight, including priority for assignments, access to office space, and participation in decisionmaking. Participants at “Improving the Safety Net for Part-Time


The current bill on parttime faculty seniority rights, SB 1807, started out as a resolution passed at last year’s CFT Convention. CFT support was instrumental in passing the bill that changed state Education Code to allow part-time faculty to teach 67 percent of a full-time load, a proposal that started out as a resolution at the CFT Convention in 2007. Coming to this year’s CFT Convention March 19-21 in Los Angeles are three proposals to rectify inequities affecting adjunct faculty. bOne would require placing part-time faculty on the same salary schedule as their fulltime colleagues on the basis of academic preparation and years of experience, with salary and CalSTRS service credit calculated as a percentage of fulltime salary. bA second would protect jobs for part-time faculty by limiting full-time faculty overload. bA third calls for CFT to

“When a resolution is passed that would require a change in state law, CFT lobbyists work to secure a legislator to author a bill.” “We work hard to craft resolutions, and we argue strenuously for their passage through the convention’s Higher Education Subcommittee and then during floor debate,” said Phyllis Eckler, chair of the CFT Part-Time Committee. “When a resolution is passed at the convention that would

Elected delegates have an opportunity to debate resolutions at CFT Convention.

Also at convention, the PartTime Committee is presenting two workshops that will offer practical ideas to use in local bargaining. “Imagining a ‘Perfect World’ for Part-Time Faculty” will feature gains that locals have achieved to make life better for adjuncts, even when

Faculty” can discuss the pros and cons of opting for State Disability Insurance and gather suggestions for the CalSTRS task force examining retirement options for adjunct faculty. > Go to cft.org after convention to read resolutions passed by delegates.

North Orange union helps popular adjunct dance instructor keep the beat Thanks to the efforts of Adjunct Faculty United, Local 6106, Arlene Brackett, a part-time dance instructor at Cypress College, has won grievances filed on her behalf against the North Orange County Community College District, which agreed to a settlement.

Brackett, who was awarded Cypress College Adjunct Teacher of the Year in Arlene Brackett 2009 and was selected by the students and the campus as their nominee for Orange County Teacher of the Year, found herself inexplicably

penalized last year. Even though she was supposed to receive preferred consideration for assignments, she was given one less class than she requested. She also received an unsatisfactory evaluation, largely, she was told, because she didn’t volunteer enough extra hours to the dance program.

“Thanks to the resolute stand of the union, publicity in our newsletter, flyers distributed on campus by union activists, and other activities, we were able to successfully resolve the issues,” said Local 6106 President Sam Russo, whose local spent nearly $20,000 in legal fees to handle the case.

Spring 2010 Part-Timer   3


Job Security Continued from page 1

munity colleges and private universities all over Southern California, from Pasadena to Orange County. He can tell you stories…like the time he was at a movie one night and his department chair called to ask him to teach two algebra classes in winter intersession classes that started the next morning. The districts vary widely in the kind of job protection they offer — from seniority ranking in Los Angeles (“there I’m 85 percent sure to get a class”) to several that have no rehire preference at all (“in those I have no idea”). “I haven’t had a vacation in 16 years since I don’t know ahead of time whether I’ll be given an assignment,” he said. “I can’t buy a house because I don’t know where I’ll be working.” Melissa Michelson realized how important rehire rights were when she taught for the UCLA Extension program, which did not have the kind of job protections she enjoyed in the Los Angeles and Santa Monica districts. “Job security is in my mind more valuable than financial compensation,” she said. “It’s peace of mind, it’s respect on the part of the employer, it brings decency to the profession. Even Starbucks workers have more job security than adjunct faculty do.” 4   Part-Timer Spring 2010

New CFT bill would provide seniority rights In recent weeks, CFT lobbyists successfully birthed AB 1807, another step in the campaign to win seniority rights for part-time faculty. The bill calls for the creation of reemployment preference lists, prioritized by date of hire, for faculty who have completed 6 semesters or 9 quarters within six academic years with satisfactory evaluations. AB 1807 was introduced in the Legislature by San Jose AFT member-turned assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Mountain View,

and Pedro Nava, D-Oxnard. San Francisco Assemblywoman Fiona Ma is a joint author. While many CFT locals have secured at least rudimentary job security for part-time faculty, other districts have lagged behind. CFT adjunct activists Phyllis Eckler and John Govsky worked throughout the fall

to formulate bill language that would be consistent with the resolution crafted by the CFT Part-Time Committee. AB 1807 is another significant effort to address the staffing crisis in higher education. (See Retrospective) The CFT will work hard to pass AB 1807, but the union needs your help!

Take Action Please do your part! Ask your state legislators to become coauthors of AB 1807. Keep informed through the CFT Web site (click on Legislative) as the union develops a lobbying plan to move the bill through the legislative process, securing the votes necessary to put it on Gov. Schwarzenegger’s desk before the Legislature adjourns on August 31.

Retrospective Two decades of CFT lobbying for seniority rights 1988 CFT was a leader in the 1988 passage of the omnibus community college reform bill AB 1725. This landmark bill brought shared governance to college campuses to combat dogmatic college administrators, instituted peer review for all faculty evaluations, and attempted to reverse the unabated surge of employing part-time faculty to fill full-time positions. Since then, efforts have continued to pass legislation to support equitable compensation and working conditions for part-time faculty. 1999 AB 420, signed in 1999, set a framework for many aspects of part-time work, including the principle that students deserve access to their instructors and that districts should compensate part-time faculty for holding office hours. CFT co-sponsored the bill, which was carried by Los Angeles Assemblyman Scott Wildman. The principle of equal pay for equal work was also an important part of AB 420, but the Legislature decided that the issue was too complex. The Senate amended the ambitious legislation, which was supported by all unions and faculty associations, removing that language, and instead mandating an official review of working conditions and compensation. 2000 CFT tried again in 2000, with Scott Wildman’s AB 2434 that required community college districts to provide qualified part-time faculty a preferred right of retention for the following academic year. 2001 When AB 2434 stalled, CFT sponsored and the governor signed AB 1245, carried by Silicon Valley Assemblywoman Elaine Alquist in 2001. The new law made right of first refusal a mandatory subject of bargaining. 2010 After 10 years, it is time to determine how AB 1245 has worked, and urge districts, in stronger terms, to act. Now CFT is sponsoring SB 1807.

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 Managing Editor Jane Hundertmark Editor Deborah Kaye 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 janehun@igc.org Web www.cft.org Part-Timer is produced by union workers at Pacific Standard Press in Sacramento. It is printed with soy-based inks on Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper containing 10 percent post-consumer waste. ®

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Part-Timer, Spring 2010  

CFT sponsors new seniority rights bill

Part-Timer, Spring 2010  

CFT sponsors new seniority rights bill

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