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Volume 37, Number 2

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January 2006

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

Standing up for academic freedom Marilyn Rossa challenges students and defends academic freedom

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Politics Statewide and local election results; the governor's community college budget proposal; and a decision for public employee unions

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Organizing contingency Former CFT activist Joe Berry's new book on contingent faculty in higher education takes seriously the old maxim, “Don't mourn, organize.�

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Now what about the war? SEE PAGE 5

Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage Paid Oakland CA Permit No. 1765

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California Federation of Teachers One Kaiser Plaza, Suite 1440 Oakland CA 94612

We won the battle.


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PERSPECTIVE

January 2006

EDITORIAL

Taking the Lead Marty Hittelman, CFT Community College Council President

Fixing health care in America ealth care premiums charged to community college and school districts are rising at a rate much higher than the cost-of-living or revenue to the districts. Bargaining over coverage of employees is a major issue of contention between our unions and our employers. Many districts are proposing to shift the cost of health care onto the backs of their employees. Some districts are proposing short term savings but long term increased cost schemes (employee opt-out of coverage, cash in lieu of benefits, health savings accounts).

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The CFT and other education labor groups have joined with administrative and school board organizations in the California Public Education Labor-Management Committee to find a way to stabilize costs while increasing quality.The group is determined to address the systemic reasons for high cost and low quality health care.We are committed to shifting from just paying higher prices to joint action against industry price gouging and poor quality health care. CFT field representative Greg Eddy and I have been representing the CFT at these joint labor/management meetings. The joint labor/management committee began meeting in December of 2004 to educate ourselves on the causes of the problems, possible ways to address them, and what best practices are elsewhere.We discovered that the United States has the most costly health care system in the world but only ranks 37th in the world with regard to health care quality. In 2002 the United States spent $5,267 per capita on health care. The next highest country was Switzerland at $3,445.This is, in part, due to the lack of a civi-

lized approach in the United States to health care (a quality single payer system).

In the short run it will be about insisting on data from hospitals concerning whether they are following quality procedures and how they are performing in providing quality care. It will be about building regional and state purchasing coalitions. In the long run it will be the enactment of a single payer health care system.

Print is nice. Electrons are faster. The Perspective brings you information you need to know on a quarterly basis. For the most current union news, recent media coverage of education issues, and key information about the California Federation of Teachers and its activities, visit the CFT website regularly.

www.cft.org It’s not an either/or. Come see us online.

We learned from an Institute of Medicine study that from 44,000 to 98,000 Americans die each year as a result of medical errors—equivalent to one jumbo jet crash each day.We learned of great discrepancies in the cost, success, and frequency of medical procedures from one location in the state to another and from one hospital to another.We found that high prices do not correlate with high quality.We learned of the increased consolidation in the health care industry that has led to more clout on the part of providers to demand and get higher prices. We also now understand how poor quality care leads to higher costs in the long run. For instance, the group found that patients get treated according to clinical guidelines only about fifty per cent of the time. According to the studies and reports we examined, there are significant differences in infection, complication, and mortality rates across hospitals and areas of California.Treatments and types of surgeries often depend more on how many specialists work in a hospital than on the condition that brought in the patient. There are three times as many

heart surgeries in some hospitals than there are in others, all other factors remaining the same. In one county they say that if you’re a woman over twenty and haven’t had a hysterectomy you’re a tourist. When time and money have to be spent to correct misdiagnosis, mistreatment, and mis-prescription, the costs obviously go up. We are now at a point where we can begin to educate both labor and management as to the real causes of increased costs and how they can be addressed through joint efforts. One explicit goal of the working group is to gain efficiency and cost savings by rating the hospitals and bringing people to the good ones. Another shared goal is to stop shifting costs to members of our bargaining units. We are after systemic change, rather than blaming the patient. The CFT has already scheduled several presentations including a workshop at our convention in March.The joint committee will attempt to create a consistent message in collective bargaining about health care coverage and unite labor and management to demand better prices.We need to build our collective might so that we can, together, achieve substantial health care industry reform and transparency. In the short run it will be about insisting on data from hospitals concerning whether they are following quality procedures and how they are performing in providing quality care. It will be about building regional and state purchasing coalitions. In the long run it will be the enactment of a single payer health care system. We are determined to be in this for the long haul.

The California Federation of Teachers is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. The CFT represents over 120,000 educational employees working at every level of education in California. 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 Mary Bergan Secretary-Treasurer Michael Nye Perspective is published four times during the academic year by CFT’s Community College Council. COMMUNITY COLLEGE COUNCIL President Marty Hittelman Los Angeles College Guild, Local 1521 2550 North Hollywood Way, Ste. 400 Burbank, CA 91505 Email martyhitt@aol.com Direct inquiries regarding the Community College Council to Marty Hittelman. Southern Vice President Jim Mahler AFT Guild, San Diego Community College Local 1931 3737 Camino Del Rio South, Suite 410 San Diego, CA 92108 Northern Vice President Dean Murakami Los Rios College Federation of Teachers AFT Local 2279 1127 - 11th Street, #806 Sacramento, CA 95814 Secretary Donna Nacey Los Rios College Federation of Teachers, Local 2279 1127 - 11th Street, #806 Sacramento, CA 95814 Editor Fred Glass Layout Design Action Collective EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS Direct editorial submissions to: Editor, Community College Perspective. California Federation of Teachers One Kaiser Plaza, Suite 1440 Oakland, California 94612 Telephone 510-832-8812 Fax 510-832-5044 Email cftoakland@igc.org Web www.cft.org TO ADVERTISE Contact the CFT Secretary-Treasurer for a current rate card and advertising policies.

MARK YOUR 2006 CALENDAR

Mike Nye, Secretary-Treasurer California Federation of Teachers 2550 North Hollywood Way, Ste. 400 Burbank, CA 91505 Telephone 818-843-8226 Fax 818-843-4662 Email CFTMikeNye@aol.com

February 10

Deadline to submit CFT convention resolutions

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March 2-5

AFT/NEA Higher Education Conference

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March 24-26 CFT Annual Convention

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April 8

CFT Committee meetings

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May 19

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Perspective is a member of the International Labor Communications Association, AFT Communications Association, and Western Labor Communications Association. Perspective is printed and mailed by the all-union, environmentally friendly Alonzo Printing in Hayward, California. It is printed on 20% postconsumer content recycled paper using soybased inks.


January 2006

Teaching critical thinking

Standing up for academic freedom t’s no accident that the union contract at Cuesta College contains some of the strongest language protecting academic freedom of any California community college. Protecting academic freedom has been a top priority of the union and its president, Marilyn Rossa, since Cuesta College faculty joined the California Federation of Teachers in 1994.

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For the last few years, Rossa, an English teacher, has taught the department’s course in critical thinking. “I teach students to question, to analyze, to shake up and reevaluate the world around them,” she explains. “What we fight in the classroom is the sound bite way of thinking— Fox News, talk radio and so on. How could I do this without academic freedom? We put that language in the contract because academic freedom is sacred. That’s what higher education is all about. Without it, we wouldn’t be worth much.” Classic defense Rossa’s position, a classic defense of the right to teach and advocate controversial ideas, is under attack nationally. In state after state, conservative think tanks have introduced versions of the so-called “Academic Bill of Rights,” which in actuality seek to limit the ability of teachers to express opinions in class. Last year, under the guidance of ultraconservative ideologue

David Horowitz’ project, Students for Academic Freedom, students at Santa Rosa Junior College even put red stars on the doors of ten progressive faculty members, and accused them of violating California’s Cold Warera law forbidding the teaching of “communism” and “subversion” (see “Slogan for the new McCarthyism,” The Perspective, May 2005).Their action was linked to an unsuccessful push in the legislature for passage of a state law that would forbid faculty from expressing opinions freely in the classroom. Rossa had her own challenges from students, who accused her of advocating only one side of controversial political questions. “One of my students brought up that conservative sound bite, “Why are all academic faculty so liberal?’” she recalls. “It allowed us to have an important discussion. Academic freedom does allow me to advocate what I believe in the classroom. Does that infringe on the rights of my students? Of course not. There’s

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MEMBER PROFILE

PERSPECTIVE

no requirement for equal time. Better do their homework “One student said,‘you have to give both points of view.’ I asked him,‘why can’t I express an opinion?’ I tell my students they can debate me on anything they like, but they’d better do their homework if they want to do it. I want them to have an historical perspective. We throw around words like liberty and

“Academic freedom is a working condition. It’s a freedom to which we’re entitled, that enables us to teach responsibly. It’s critical to our role as faculty.” freedom. I want them to know what the words mean.” Rossa connects the attack on academic freedom with a larger social “taking of freedoms:” passage of the Patriot Act, federal government monitoring of the

Says Marilyn Rossa, President of the Cuesta College Federation of Teachers, “I tell my students they can debate me on anything they like, but they’d better do their homework if they want to do it. I want them to have an historical perspective. We throw around words like liberty and freedom. I want them to know what the words mean.”

books patrons check out of the public library, and recent revelations that state and federal agencies have spied on groups opposed to the Iraq war. “Ultimately, at the end of this road is the holocaust, the ultimate loss of liberty. Our students should know what a previous generation did to stand up to this greatest of all atrocities.” Cuesta College, just north of San Luis Obispo, is located in one of the most conservative regions of California. While Rossa has not experienced administration pressure because of the content of her courses, another faculty member has. Last year the drama department produced Cabaret, and some of the student performers went in costume to the local farmers’

market to advertise the production. “The community went crazy,” Rossa recalls. When the local paper did a front-page story, featuring the students’ lowcut costumes, college president Marie Rosenwasser did try to pressure the drama teacher. “We went to bat for her, and told the president that if the paper didn’t like it, tough.” As a result of the controversy, the performances were completely packed. This year the department is putting on another racy production, Fetes De La Nuit. “We’re not afraid this time,” Rossa says. Marilyn Rossa’s activism goes back to her youth as a college student, when she participated in the Vietnam Moratorium, one of many student-led efforts to

FRED GLASS PHOTO

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Zwi Reznik, with the State Center Federation of Teachers, takes the mike at the Community College Council meeting during the 2005 CFT Convention.

“Students are our special interest”

Members to steer CFT at annual convention March 24-26 The California Federation of Teachers’ highest decision-making body will convene this year at the Sacramento Sheraton Grand Hotel, March 24-26, for three days of discussion, policymaking, workshops, and even a bit of fun. Several hundred delegates will make the annual CFT convention its traditional mix of union meeting and education conference, and, along the way, celebrate the creativity and courage of the organization’s membership. The theme in 2006 is “Students are our Special Interest,” a reaffirmation of the ironic slogan that motivated so many members to step up to activism dur-

ing the 2005 special election campaign that repelled Governor Schwarzenegger’s assault on education and public employee unions. AFT national president Ed McElroy will address the convention, and State Treasurer Phil Angelides—the CFT’s endorsed candidate for governor—and State Superintendent of Instruction Jack O’Connell have been invited.Awards will be handed out: Legislator of the Year, outstanding local publications, Women in Education, and the CFT’s highest annual honor, the Ben Rust Award. Convention resolutions are due by February 10. The Community College

Council will meet on Friday night, and several workshops will held each day on topics of special interest to community college members. For instance, “Full-timers and part-timers Kumbaya” will provide pointers on how to work on issues of common interest rather than view one another as competitors for a limited pie. Workshops will also be offered on increasing member participation, the Latino achievement gap, retirement issues, member benefits, and how to talk with legislators, among other topics. For more information on the 2006 CFT convention, talk with your local leadership, or go to www.cft.org.


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POLITICS

Governor’s CC budget proposal mostly good news he Governor’s proposed budget for 2006-07 came out on January 10, 2006. It calls for a 5.18% cost-of-living adjustment, funding for 3% enrollment growth, and $130 million in funding to equalize the per full-time equivalent student (FTES) funding rate. It also included $9.6 million to support the growing costs of sign language interpretive services (consistent with a community college system proposal).The governor’s proposal equates to an 11.6%

tem’s proposal in several ways. The system sought to balance gains between growth, cola, equalization, non-credit, and faculty issues.The system proposal included $40 million to increase the number of full-time faculty, $50 million to bring part-time salaries up to a rate closer to that of full-time faculty, and $8 million to more fully fund office hours and health insurance for part-time faculty.The governor’s proposal did not address these needs.

On the other hand, the governor’s proposal to fund equalization at $130 million would be the last installment on the $240 million system goal to equalize FTES funding.The system however suggested a more stepped approach with a proposal for $80 million in equalization for 200607.The system’s balanced proposal included $30 million to enhance the non-credit rate but the governor did not address the issue. The January proposal will be

adjusted in May as more economic information becomes available.At that time the legislature will seriously take up the budget issues and put their priorities into the mix. Between now and May we need to encourage our legislators to fund non-credit at a higher rate and address the faculty personnel crisis that we are facing – not enough full-time faculty and the need to increase equity for part-time faculty in the areas of pay, benefits, and office hours.

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increase above the 2005-06 level of funding (an increase of $606 million). No student fee increase in proposed.The community college share of Proposition 98 is increased from 10.46% in 200506 to 10.79% in 2006-07.This is all very good news for community colleges “Although it fails to address more than 3 billion dollars in Prop 98 monies owed to K-14 under the governor’s promise of two years ago”. The governor’s proposal differs from the community college sys-

The “Community College Governance, Funding Stabilization, and Student Fee Reduction” Act he CFT Executive Council has endorsed and committed resources to support a community college ballot proposition planned for the November, 2006 election. The three-part “Community College Governance, Funding Stabilization, and Student Fee Reduction”Act addresses an impending community college funding crisis, creates an autonomous and bi-lateral public postsecondary education system, and reduces student fees to $20 per unit while restricting and capping future increases. In the recent not-so-special election, the CFT demonstrated our political power when we are attacked. This initiative lets us go on the offense to take control of issues critical to community colleges, our students, and our union members. A coalition known as “Californians for Community Colleges”—including the CFT, the

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Faculty Association of California Community Colleges (FACCC), the Community College League of California, (Trustees and CEOs), and the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild—has helped to finalize the language for this measure.The proposed initiative language is now undergoing legal review by the California Attorney General’s office prior to circulation to gather the qualifying signatures. (You may view the initiative online at http://www.caag.state.ca.us/initiatives/activeindex.htm.) Approximately 600,000 qualified signatures will have to be submitted by April 30, 2006 in order to put the initiative on the November ballot. The initiative protects community college funding without harming K-12 system funding by modifying the existing constitutional enrollment growth formula to allow either segment to trigger increases in overall Proposition 98 funds. Those new funds would flow to each segment based on its own enrollment changes. Currently

increases in Proposition 98 funds are based on K-12 enrollment growth, which has already begun what is expected to be a long term decline at the same time as community colleges are expected to grow by 3% per year.

AFT local activism is needed to make this long standing community college vision a reality. Unless this initiative is passed, overall Proposition 98 funds are projected to decrease over the next ten years while community college funding needs are expected to increase. Without passage of the measure, community college funding will be insufficient within two to three years to pay for additional enrollment growth, and probably cost of living adjustments as well.

The initiative protects community college governance with a provision to strengthen the ability of the community college system to participate in the political process more equally with the CSU, UC, and K-12 public education systems. Currently these systems are constitutionally recognized by the state; the community college system is not. This measure will remedy that inequity through constitutional recognition of a bilateral governance structure of autonomous local community college districts coordinated at the policy level by an adequately funded and independently staffed system board.The measure will more than double (from 6 to 13) the executive staff in the Chancellor’s office. At the same time, the governance authorities and responsibilities of locally elected governing boards will be preserved as primary. The measure will also add an additional faculty member to the board of governors. Lastly, the initiative protects students and helps to keep Cali-

fornia’s promise of affordable access to higher education by reducing fees to $20 per unit. The CFT and the other faculty organizations in the coalition would prefer to see no student fees; this reduction is a move in the right direction. To raise fees, the legislature will have to have a separate roll call vote on just that issue and pass it with a twothirds majority. Even then, it cannot raise fees more than the year-to-year change in California per capita income limited to a very unlikely 10% maximum. On the other hand, the legislature would be able to decrease fees with a simple majority. At the fall plenary session of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, a resolution was passed urging local senates to work with their local union organization and with FACCC to educate faculty about the need for this resolution.AFT local activism is needed to make this long standing community college vision a reality. Exercising the political muscle and know-how gained from

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January 2006

POLITICS Inadvertent labor media politics in California

Winning the battle while losing the war? n November 8, 2005, the ongoing orchestrated assault on unions, public employees, and government suffered a stinging defeat at the hands of a coalition of public sector unions. This has created a window of opportunity to reframe public discussion of social issues long dominated by conservatives. The question is, can public sector unions go on the offensive now, or are they so used to fighting costly defensive battles that that’s all they can do? Arnold Schwarzenegger, elected governor of California on a vague promise of moderate nonpartisan politics, took a decidedly partisan, hard right turn a year ago, and launched a campaign against “union bosses” (unions), “out of control state spending programs” (the public education budget and public employee pension funds), and “special

Right wing media frame In the process, the public employee unions did something, albeit inadvertently, they should have done a long time ago: created a campaign to challenge the right wing media frame attacking and undermining government and unions for years. From “failing schools” to “government inefficiency” to “the anti-reform teacher unions,” this frame has lodged itself in the heads of much of the public and far too many mainstream reporters and editors.

ioned a media campaign that effectively combined an air war with a ground war. Unprecedented spending on paid media delivered a blizzard of radio and TV ads featuring nurses, teachers, and public safety employees. These effectively individualized and put a face on public employees, giving the lie to the governor’s attempt to smear them as “special interests.” The ads accomplished two goals: to rehumanize public workers in the minds of voters; and to show that the governor couldn’t be trusted and thereby drive down his poll numbers. Successful though the ads were, the paid media campaign by itself wouldn’t have been anywhere as effective without the earned media campaign alongside it. The coalition mobilized an army of union activists and community supporters in public demonstrations protesting budget cuts and dogging the governor’s footsteps at his incessant fundraisers. These events drew anywhere from dozens to thousands of protestors and a lot of press coverage, making quite clear to the public that the governor’s claim his demonstrating opponents were all “paid union bureaucrats” was patently false. CHRIS HANZO PHOTO

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ment rights, destroyed public sector union political spending, redistricted legislative boundaries, and placed enormous unilateral power over the state budget in the governor’s hands. All four propositions, after a furious ten-month campaign that actually began well before the election was called, went down to defeat.

Sharp distinction The events also drew a sharp distinction between these real people demonstrating and the ruling class glitterati attending Instructor Gus Goldstein addresses students, faculty and staff at a campus the governor’s corrally co-sponsored by the San Francisco Community College Federation of porate trough Teachers during the fall special election campaign. fundraisers. Images of large numbers of ordinary workinterests” (teachers, nurses, and ers who cared enough about the In order to win the election, other unionized public sector issues to act collectively and the union coalition had to workers). publicly made their way into replace the demonization Schwarzenegger fashioned an millions of homes, reinforcing paradigm with human faces and expensive special election out of to reintroduce into public and validating the message of the this familiar political playbook, more individually focused ads. understanding the helping role putting four measures on the This was an enormously in society of government and state ballot that would have unions. The “Alliance for a Bet- expensive campaign.As in 1998, eroded K-12 teacher employwhen we fought off the last ter California” coalition fash-

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AFT LOCALS ELECT TRUSTEES, PASS BOND MEASURES Alongside the state election triumph were a number of local victories. AFT locals were key players in electing a number of pro-education community college trustees and getting local education bond measures passed. Among the victories: San Francisco: Proposition A, the $250 million City College San Francisco facilities bond, passed handily. It will enable the District to construct new buildings, complete projects already underway, improve energy conservation and intercampus communications systems, and support numerous education programs, among other benefits. El Camino: The southern California local elected two candidates to the Board of Trustees for a first-ever union-supported board majority. Santa Cruz: A coalition that included the Cabrillo College Federation of Teachers passed A & B, two parcel tax measures supporting public education. San Mateo: AFT Local 1493 passed a college bond measure and reelected an educationfriendly Board of Trustees majority. College of the Canyons: This recently established AFT local ran two Board of Trustee races and won one.

“paycheck deception” initiative, unions were forced to spend tens of millions of dollars. The tab this time, when the dust cleared, stood over $100 million. Needless to say, we have better uses to which this money can be put if we don’t have to spend it on defensive campaigns. The unions, one might think, would now understand what they’ve done: not just won the election but also—however unintentionally, however tentatively—begun to reframe discussion of the place of unions, public employees and government in society. This is a critical building block for creating a new progressive political momentum. Now is not the time to stop. The right wing has not and will not let up. It will continue to spend tens of millions of dollars each year on low-key but steady campaigns to undermine government programs that serve the community, smear unions, and reduce the

hard-earned wages and conditions of unionized workers. It will keep up the drumbeat through talk show appearances, op-ed and letter to the editor submissions, think tank advice and studies, and staying on message. We’ve stumbled on a formula that works: a media campaign and grassroots activism featuring positive images and voices of public employees and, just as importantly, reminders to the public of the central role played by unions and government in safeguarding worker rights, creating better lives for working people, and serving the public interest. A serious budget and staffing should be allocated by the public sector union coalition that won the election to maintain, refine and expand this work of reframing. Yes, the election is over. But the war continues. If we fail to put into place an Winning continued on page 6


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January 2006

LEGISLATION version. However, the nation's largest community college system cannot depend on federal generosity to offset inadequate support from our state budget. California should do everything in its power to ensure that low income Californians can attend college.Yet legislators continue to study effects of high student fees, striving to develop a fee policy under which fees would always increase—for example, a tiered rate system under which tuition could be based on a student's ability to pay. Furthermore, little attention has been given to students' ability to pay non-tuition related costs of college attendance: housing, transportation, books and an escalating cost of living coupled with stagnating wages—especially the minimum wage many of our students earn, which remains stagnant. Governor Schwarzenegger proposes raising the state minimum wage by $1.00, from the current hourly wage of $6.75 to $7.75.The wage hike would be phased in over the next 18

months, with the first increase of $0.50 in September 2006, followed by another increase of $0.50 in July 2007. Initial analysis suggests that the governor will not accept adjusting the minimum wage regularly for inflation: a bill proposing this stalled in the legislature last year due to lack of Republican support. Therefore, a fee policy based on moderate and predictable increases belies what those of us who labor in this system know: the best fee policy is an equitable policy that allows access to our higher education system to all who can benefit, helping the neediest students through a system of grants and aid or, better still, the return to a no-fee policy with generous grants to help pay for the other costs of living as a student. During the coming months we'll analyze the governor's proposals and communicate with him by mail, phone and committee testimony. Join us in March for our march on the capitol during the CFT convention.

Take care or empower? “It was the perfect time to organize,” Rossa remembers.“As we were looking to see which union to join, CFT/CCC president Marty Hittelman told me, ‘other unions take care of their members; the CFT empowers them.’ I didn’t need to hear anything more. Within a semester we had an election and were negotiating our contract.” It was in those negotiations that the union won the academic freedom clause. “Academic freedom is a working condition,” she asserts. “It’s a freedom to which we’re entitled, that enables us to teach responsibly. It’s critical to our role as faculty. We hear about K-12 teachers now who get disciThe Cuesta College faculty collective bargaining agreement, in plined for speaking Article III, allows faculty the “academic freedom” rights of: out against President Bush. In higher edu• examination or endorsement (to the extent limited by law) of unpopular cation we’ve been foror controversial ideas that are appropriate to course content, including tunate, and able to discussion with students, research, or publication, as long as the unit exert what should be member attempts to be accurate and objective and the unit member our sacred right as Americans. We shows respect for the opinions of others; should do whatever we have to do in • selection, or recommendation for selection, of instructional materials, order to keep it.” course materials, and library and reserve materials related to the courses Rossa is now a taught by the unit member that may contain unpopular or controversial ideas; vice-president of the CFT, and active on its • presentation of points of view of interest, information, and enlightenment legislative committee. related to the subject being taught without regard to the nationality or She received the race, or the political, religious, or social view of the author; and, Women in Education award at the 2003 • expression of the unit member's viewpoint regarding the District's CFT convention, and was named a ‘local academic policy.” hero’ by the National Organization of

Women. She chairs the multicultural and women’s studies committee at Cuesta College, which has just chosen its second woman as academic senate president. And in keeping with its focus on academic freedom, the senate invited Marcus Harvey to come to the campus opening day in January to speak against the so-called “Academic Bill of Rights.” “Virginia Woolf wrote long ago about the special situation of women as writers, who always have to think about the effect of their words before putting them on paper, in a way that men don’t,” Rossa notes. “They have to stop and ask themselves if they will be humiliated because of what they say, or if their words will be published at all. I see it the same way in the classroom. What would happen if every time we had to speak in class, we had to ask ourselves,‘Is this permitted?’ That’s what we’re determined to prevent.”

Working the Floor Judith Michaels, CFT Legislative Director

Investing in the future: initiatives and strategies

California Democrats have voted with Republicans for bills to raise community colleges fees as high as $25 per unit. Budget deficits linked with anti-tax policies led recent administrations to put more of the burden for higher education upon students, in the form of escalating

fees and tuition. Yet California political leaders cherish one particular hope—that a reauthorization of the Federal Higher Education Act will drive more education dollars into the hands of needy students. Congress must renew this law every six years, and it's clear that

no quick resolution that will help our students will be forthcoming. Between the horrors of the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina, the need for prescription drugs for our elderly, and granting tax advantages to the rich, it seems that our students will come last.As 2005 drew to a close, Congress took what is becoming a familiar step by extending the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act another three months. Budget reconciliation did pass the House, but the Senate narrowly passed it (51-50 with Cheney voting) in a slightly altered version so that the issue will have to go back to the House for a vote when Congress returns to Washington later this month. In conjunction with AFT, we will take every opportunity we can to put pressure back on House members who voted for this flawed

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tal activists converged on the site, protesting the effects of nuclear waste storage, and the dangers of a potential nuclear catastrophe in the event of an earthquake or terrorist attack. To dramatize the plant’s vulnerability, she and others snuck through its perimeter fence onto the grounds, where they unfurled banners. She was arrested four times for these actions. The protests didn’t prevent the construction and operation of the facility, but the anti-nuclear movement developed such power nationwide that no nuclear plants have been built for over two decades. “We believed

nuclear power was unsafe and unhealthy,” Rossa explains. “As it is, the plant constantly emits low-level radiation, which puts our whole community in danger, particularly our children.” Becoming active in the union was a natural progression. She served as president of the Cuesta academic senate for a number of years. At the time, the district had a salary formula that guaranteed faculty would be paid at the statewide median compensation level. In 1994, however, thencollege president Grace Mitchell announced that although the district had the money to meet the formula, administrators had decided not to do so.

resh and rested after an unpopular special election he engineered and facing re-election, Governor Schwarzenegger proposes to increase education funding, repair California's aging freeways and bridges, and promote affordable health care. He'll do all this without raising taxes, though perhaps we'll have to increase California's debt. As we get a closer look at the budget in the months ahead, every decision and budget compromise promises serious implications for our state; gains this year may be the only ones we will see if there is a second Schwarzenegger administration.

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the not-so-special election victory,AFT locals can advance beyond that defensive triumph and lead this proactive effort by mobilizing their college communities for fund raising, signature gathering, and campaigning for the successful passage of this important community college initiative. By Dennis Smith

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bring an end to the US war in Vietnam. Even before that, in high school, she went into downtown Chicago to see Bobby Kennedy when he was running for President. She took her camera to get a picture for her school paper, and in a much less security-obsessed era, was able to walk next to him for a few minutes. She got her photo. Arrested four times “The El went through the ghetto on the way to the loop, and that made a big impression on me,” she remembers. “I wanted to be a social worker, to help people.” When she came to California after completing college, she joined a movement that transformed the politics of the central coast—the protests against the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. For a few years in the 1980s, environmen-

By David Bacon

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ongoing campaign of this nature, it won’t take long for the right wing forces—which wish to eliminate government and the services and protections it provides—to patch up their paradigm and erase our challenge to it as if it never existed. By Fred Glass


January 2006

NEWS

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You may say that I’m a dreamer… Book Review: Reclaiming the Ivory Tower: Organizing Adjuncts to Change Higher Education, by Joe Berry, Monthly Review Press, 2005, 162 pp.

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that the only way to stem the erosion of higher education work into casualized labor is to organize. Berry thinks contingent (non-permanent) academics should unionize, and accept— albeit cautiously—the help that established unions can offer in this direction. But the author is insistent that contingent faculty must do the bulk of this work themselves. As Berry puts it, “movement building, as opposed to narrow institution building, is what is needed.” For people who are often teaching in several institutions at once, trying to patch together a living while attempting to maintain some semblance of a life outside the classroom, this path is not an easy one, as Berry well knows. His insights and observations are rooted in a decadeslong personal involvement with contingent higher education employment. His analysis draws strength from its combination of academic rigor (the book emerged from Berry’s late bloomer PhD dissertation) and Berry’s experiences teaching and organizing among contingent faculty (including many years as a Califoria community college

pointers on everything from gent faculty, including its CCC committee building and legal part-timer committee, the Cervisi decision, and its orienta- definitions of bargaining units to communications tips for the fartion toward combined fullflung contingent workforce and time/part-time faculty bargaining units. (One irritating how to deal effectively with flaw in the book is its inadequate divisions between FTTT and contingents over bargaining. index, which lists but one referAnd then, handbook-like, the ence to CFT; the body of the book contains several.) He hon- narrative abruptly ends. (Berry appends a useful “resources” secestly assesses various unions’ tion.) attempts to organize (or resist For Berry, the stakes could not organizing) contingent faculty, be higher. As he puts it,“The and measures collective bargainfuture of higher education ing’s institutional limitations in depends on how well we do its efforts to improve contingent this.” Reclaiming the Ivory Tower: members’ lives. In “A Metro Organizing Strat- Organizing Adjuncts to Change egy” Berry synthesizes these Higher Education doesn’t have all experiences to propose a flexible the answers to the problems it design for organizing that might describes, nor does it pretend to. meet the immediate needs of But in gathering best practices in contingent faculty while contingent faculty organizing attempting to save higher educa- and synthesizing their lessons, tion from its own self-destructive Joe Berry has given a gift to administrative trends. The metro every community college partstrategy combines institution timer who, five years into disbuilding and movement creation posable teaching, has moved past within a regional organization asking “why is this happening to that delivers the goods for mem- me?” to the crucial question: bers (the service model) while “What can I do about it?” placing advocacy for all continFred Glass gent faculty within a broader project of alliances and class consciousness (the solidarity model). A utopian project in the best sense of the term, Berry’s model borrows from actually existing workers’ centers and union halls in other industries around the country and extrapolates to include virtual and physical sites where contingent faculty could come together to organize. At these sites contingent faculty would find not only each other but also the tools needed to create and sustain campaigns and a movement. A problem with this otherwise useful and suggestive chapter is that it slides, almost imperceptibly, between a general model for Practicing what he preaches, Joe Berry (with bullcontingent organizing horn) helps lead a contingent faculty demonstraand a specifically tion during the COCAL VI conference held in Chicago-area discusChicago in summer 2004. sion, as if the author (or his editor) can’t quite decide which it is. In his final chapter Berry provides an “organizer’s toolbox:” a compendium of advice and

FRANK H. BROOKS PHOTO

yellowing Doonesbury cartoon adorns the office wall of many a contingent faculty member in higher education—that is, the contingent faculty member who actually has an office.The comic strip depicts a contemporary academic version of the infamous “shape-up,” the arrangement whereby hungry longshoremen in the precollective bargaining days of the early 1930s would arrive early in the morning at the docks, hoping to latch on to a day’s work through begging or bribing the foreman. One of Gary Trudeau’s crowd of desperate instructors holds up a sign,“Will Teach for Food.” This is the only slightly exaggerated face of “the new majority faculty,” and Joe Berry, in Reclaiming the Ivory Tower: Organizing Adjuncts to Change Higher Education, provides an excellent brief analysis of who this is and how things got this way. But the real contribution of Berry’s book lies elsewhere, in his demonstration that something can be done about it. The five chapters of this slim (162 pages) but dense book revolve around the proposition

instructor, CFT activist and local AFT staffer). In a passage typical of the book’s praxis-based approach, we learn that less than 40% of new hiring today is for full-time tenure track (FTTT) positions. Immediately afterward Berry recounts how he has been told on numerous occasions by FTTT faculty that “if on the job market today, they would not have the qualifications demanded by the hiring committees on which they serve.” Sounding the waters of higher education employment statistics, Berry enumerates their murky inadequacies; his best guess is that “sometime in the 1990s the majority of teachers became contingent.” He reviews the hierarchical taxonomy of higher education labor, from elite graduate degree-granting institutions down through fly-by-night diploma mills (finding more than a few similarities in their employment practices). He sketches the impact of corporatization, identifying its two main effects as forcing traditional higher education institutions to become more profit than service-oriented, and to cater to the needs of big business over the needs of students. In his view, “The casualization of the faculty workforce is the leading edge of this corporatization.” Elsewhere Berry refers to this process as “proletarianization,” and describes the complex consequences of such a shift in class position for a generation of welleducated would-be professionals. Numerous anecdotes convey the human costs of doing professional quality work under unprofessional conditions. But the heart of the book is its hard look at examples of and prospects for organizing contingent faculty. One chapter lays out the issues and examines a variety of strategies employed by contingent faculty in addressing their deteriorating conditions. Another studies organizing over a couple decades in the Chicago area through oral histories with organizers—some union staff, but also faculty who found themselves, to their own surprise, in that role. Along the way Berry acknowledges and praises the CFT’s historic efforts to organize and provide support for contin-


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PERSPECTIVE

January 2006

Local Action Marin

UPM wins salary, equity advances In late October College of Marin faculty ratified a new contract that they feel achieves important bargaining objectives. Ira Lansing, president of the United Professors of Marin,AFT Local 1610, has taught math and statistics at Marin for 30 years. He says the agreement “makes progress on the most important issues for our union, particularly salaries.” The contract raises faculty salaries 13% over three years, and has a one-time 3% signing bonus that won’t be folded into the salary schedule. In addition, the union advanced toward salary equity for part-timers, raising the rate from 84% to 95%. The district has always provided benefits for part-timers, and agreed to continue picking up the cost of medical insurance, up to the rate charged by Kaiser for family coverage. In non-economic issues, the district also agreed to review the duties and compensation for department chairs. The pact outlines arrangements for going to a 16-week instructional calendar, absorbing the week previously spent in giving finals. The negotiations dragged on for 18 months. The delay, according to Lansing, reflects in part a lack of attention on the part of administrators. Managers changed in the interim, and union negotiators had to spend time waiting for new personnel to catch up. The district, which had a $250 million bond issue passed recently by voters,“just didn’t think our contract was that important,” he charges. But administrators also insisted on take-backs as bargaining began. The chief obstacle was a demand that the union reduce the number of teaching units it has historically distributed to its members to compensate them for serving on committees or taking on other union responsibilities. “Members were outraged at what they viewed as a direct intrusion on our ability as a union to represent our members,” Lansing explains. Ultimately these management demands were withdrawn. Faculty spoke up at board meetings. They mounted informational

picket lines at graduation and opening day. “We were looking for the status quo,” he adds,“and we had to fight just to achieve that.”

Compton

Accreditation denial appealed by Compton College AFT faculty and classified members at Compton College continue to struggle with the threatened denial of accreditation to their institution. Accreditation was denied by the Committee on Accreditation for Junior and Community Colleges this past year, but its actual withdrawal is being held in abeyance pending appeal. If the district’s appeal, to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, is denied, accreditation could be withdrawn as early as June 2006. Withdrawal of accreditation would lead the Federal government to end financial aid to district students. The state would withdraw its funding as well. Fees paid by students using Federal assistance, and the accompanying state funds, make up the bulk of the district’s budget. Their loss would have a huge impact, and disastrous consequences. The Compton College district would no longer be able to sustain itself financially. Rumors are widespread about various scenarios that might unfold in that event. One would have Compton College absorbed under the umbrella of the Los Angeles Community College District, which it borders, or by Cerritos College. The president of Long Beach College sits on the accreditation committee, and that district might benefit by absorbing the students displaced from Compton, a possibility that has led to questions about a possible conflict of interest. Regardless of the scenario, the jobs of faculty and classifieds would be the main sacrifice. That is an injustice in the eyes of many Compton federation members. After all, they had no power over the decisions that got the district into trouble in the first place. Compton was first sanctioned during the 2002-2003 school

year. That year the district had a negative ending balance, which set off the events that eventually led to the threatened accreditation. The district didn’t file any financial reports with the state for three cycles— almost an entire year. Meanwhile, a year ago the district was given a show-cause order and placed in trusteeship, while the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team investigated. Once the records were examined and brought up to date, FCMAT found serious financial irregularities. One instance of Board of Trustees malfeasance was found, and a board member recently pled guilty to criminal charges as a result. FCMAT recommended changes that were to take place over an indeterminate period of time. Normally a school usually has at least six months to implement the recommendations. The school compressed its schedule from 18 to 16 weeks to get students in and out faster, it reorganized its financial aid office, and was on its way to its highest-ever rate of summer enrollment. And according to the current state-appointed interim college president, Jamillah Moore, Compton College is “in substantial compliance.” Nevertheless, after only four months and ten days, the Committee on Accreditation for Junior and Community Colleges denied the school’s accreditation, the decision that is now on appeal. That had the immediate effect of sending students elsewhere.

Normally the school boasts a student body of 7000. After the threatened withdrawal of accreditation became publicly known, the college’s attendance fell to 5000. While the appeal winds through its course, the union has become more active in the shared governance process on campus. Students are writing letters in support of the appeal. Marty Hittelman, CFT vicepresident and president of the Community College Council, says the accreditation agency “should have allowed the district more time. It’s doing what should be done. But the committee members aren’t behaving as adults. They’re not thinking about the school and the students.” By David Bacon

Victor Valley

A little labor culture never hurts On Tuesday, October 6th,Victor Valley College Part Time Faculty United,AFT Local 6286, staged the first in a series of “Afternoons At the Movies” with a timely screening of Inherit the Wind, commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Scopes “Monkey Trial.” Starring film greats Spencer Tracy and Frederic March, the film dramatized the infamous case argued by William Jennings Bryant and Clarence

Darrow in 1925. An enthusiastic audience of more than one hundred students, faculty, and members of the Victor Valley community at large gathered in the college Performing Arts Center to watch the film, hear a panel of discussants, and join in conversation. Dr. Patricia Spencer,VVC President/Superintendent, welcomed the crowd. A distinguished panel consisting of Dr. Heinrich Kaiser (Victor Valley College Biology Department), Dr.Andrew Sanders (UC Riverside Herbarium Curator), retired Lutheran minister Dr. Jim Dallas, Max Johnson (Ph.D candidate, Claremont Graduate University), and Z. Richard Sawan, MD, offered commentary on the once again controversial topic and engaged with the audience. Questions ranged from whether or not creationism should be taught as science in public schools to where science and faith might coexist in our modern world. Discussion was lively and challenging to both panel and audience. AFT Local 6286 President Don Peavy moderated the panel, presided over the discussion and announced door prize winners. Additional “Movie Afternoons” are in the works for February and April, along with other student-faculty-community cultural and social events, as AFT takes its place as an active and dynamic leader on the VVC campus. By Paul Jordan

State Treasurer Phil Angelides unveiled a plan to provide “College Opportunity for All” at a Town Hall meeting in Sacramento on January 4. Angelides called for reducing fees and tuition in all segments of public higher education, and establishing a $300 million fund for outreach and college prep programs. His community college proposal would roll back student expenses for a two-year education by $500.

Perspective, January 2006  

Community College Council

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