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Volume 37, Number 3

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May 2006

Community College Council of the California Federation of Teachers

FRED GLASS PHOTO

American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO

Natural to protest Roberta Alexander comes by her activism honestly, translating her father's legacy into the terms of today.

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June 6 primary election The CFT's recommendations, why Phil Angelides is the best candidate for governor, and Prop 82, Preschool for All.

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Immigrant rights San Francisco City College faculty demonstrate alongside their students on May 1.

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California Federation of Teachers One Kaiser Plaza, Suite 1440 Oakland CA 94612 Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage Paid Oakland CA Permit No. 1765


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PERSPECTIVE

May 2006

EDITORIAL

Taking the Lead Marty Hittelman, CFT Community College Council President

Why political involvement? he issues that we confront are worldwide issues: the ecological destruction of the earth, the privatization and commercialization of education, the criminalization of immigrants, the narrowing of educational scope from broad liberal arts education to narrow “career oriented” training, the threat of standardized testing in higher education similar to the K-12 No Child Left Behind program, two-tier salary and benefit provisions like those experienced by our part-time faculty and some of our most recently hired employees, declines in labor rights including restrictions on the use of e-mail and college mailboxes, an accelerating move away from shared governance, attacks on academic freedom, and the continuing lack of sufficient financial support for our schools and colleges.We often forget that the problems that we face are byproducts of the “race to the bottom” mentality inherent in the current drive toward the globalization of markets, a race to see what country’s workers will be paid the least in order to extract the most profits from them.

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At the CFT convention in March we heard about the fight that teachers in British Columbia are waging to preserve their collective bargaining rights and safeguard public education. In France, students and workers successfully mobilized against an attempt by the government to eliminate long held worker rights.At the AFT Higher Education Council I listen to stories from all across our country concerning slow progress in some areas; but more often I hear of efforts to deny faculty and staff their union rights and reasonable working conditions. The assault on health benefit packages appears to be national in scope. Safe and secure pension provisions are under attack not only in the United States but in Canada and Mexico as well.

We first must recognize that the decline in living conditions that we are experiencing is not inevitable. It is a result of political decisions made by those who will not work in the common interest. So we must use the power of the many to defeat the insatiable hunger for wealth and power by the few. So what do we do to help move our country and the governments of the world toward more civilized approaches to the solving of economic and social problems? How do we move away from what appears to me to be the ever more apparent retreat to barbarism?

We first must recognize that the decline in living conditions that we are experiencing is not inevitable. It is a result of political decisions made by those who will not work in the common interest. So we must use the power of the many to defeat the insatiable hunger for wealth and

power by the few.The most immediate, and perhaps least sexy, avenue toward progressive change is through education. That means that we must educate our members and then the general public that positive change is possible, and that there are candidates that put working people’s interests at the top of their agendas. In this June’s Democratic primary we have the opportunity to choose labor Democrats over business Democrats at both the state and the national level.We even have the chance to elect a few moderate Republicans to replace those that are entirely hostile to the general welfare. Check out the CFT-endorsed candidates (see page 4).We screen the candidates carefully in order to support those that are most progressive (and most proeducation) and will fight for working families. In November we need to get the vote out for a new Governor—hopefully that candidate will be Phil Angelides, because he alone among the gubernatorial candidates has not only a pro-education rhetoric but a commitment to funding through progressive tax policy. Our work is set out for us. If we don’t cause at least a small change of direction this year then the next few years are very likely to see an accelerated movement toward barbarism. How much more decline can the Earth endure and still survive as a planet? Do what you can and then do more.

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 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.

On front cover: Allan Fisher and Marcia Dubois, ESL instructors for San Francisco City College, marched with their students at the huge immigrant rights demonstration in San Francisco May 1. See article page 7. FRED GLASS PHOTO

June 6

California State Primary election: VOTE!

June 25-30

AFT Union Leadership Institute West, Asilomar, Pacific Grove, CA

July 19-23

AFT Convention, Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Boston, MA

September 15-16 Executive Council, CFT Office, Burbank September 29

CCC, CCE, EC/K-12 Council, Oakland Airport Hilton

September 30

STATE COUNCIL, Oakland Airport Hilton

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 Although advertisements are screened as carefully as possible, acceptance of an advertisement does not imply CFT endorsement of the product or service. 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.


May 2006

MEMBER PROFILE

PERSPECTIVE

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DAVID BACON PHOTO

Roberta Alexander

She found it natural to protest hen Roberta Alexander took over coordination of the labor studies program at San Diego City College, she was acting in a family tradition. “I believe in our program,” she says, “because it deals with students who are immigrants, women and workers themselves, takes them from where they are in their own communities, and gives them the tools to analyze their world.”

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Had he been a teacher, that might have been how her father, Hursel Alexander, would have defined the need for helping working class youth develop a working class way of seeing the world. Roberta Alexander grew up in a family where radical politics and trade union activism were part of life, in an era when many families paid a high price for that commitment. “We were always politically engaged, and socially conscious,” she recalls. “Although as a union organizer my father was often away from home, we were always exposed to leftwing people.” Hursel was half African-American, and half Scotch-Irish, the son of a white woman who married a Black man. His mother (Roberta’s grandmother) worked in packinghouses all her life. As a teenager Hursel worked the harvests in Minnesota, where he was recruited by the Industrial Workers of the World. When he told them he was making fifty cents a day, they informed him he should be making a dollar. As a result, his first day at work he was the cause of a threatened strike, and the “Wobblies” quick-

“I came to the conclusion early on that poor and working people didn’t get their rights unless they fought for them. We have to get together, join unions, and then make them serve our needs. ” ly won equal pay (a dollar a day) for Black workers on that farm. The experience impressed the young boy. Eventually Hursel worked as a union organizer for CIO unions. Natural to protest Hursel Alexander’s activism got him blacklisted in the 1950s, and he started a small shoe repair business in Los Angeles. Then the House Un-American Activities Committee came to town. “The Los Angeles Times printed the address of my father’s store in an article on the HUAC hear-

ings, and someone fired shots into it,” Roberta remembers. With that kind of childhood behind her, it was natural for Roberta Alexander to protest the social injustices of her own era. As a young woman, she was arrested in the Free Speech Movement protests in 1964. She was kicked out of Franco’s Spain in 1967 for protesting the Vietnam War. When she returned to Oakland, the Oakland Tribune, then owned by the arch-conservative Knowland family, covered her expulsion, using the occasion as a pretext for a tirade against her father. She became active in the Black Panther Party. “I came to the conclusion early on that poor and working people didn’t get their rights unless they fought for them,” she explains. “We have to get together, join unions, and then make them serve our needs. We especially need unity among people of different ethnic backgrounds. I feel like I embody a lot of those different ethnicities in my own person.” Activism into teaching Alexander took her activism into teaching. For the last seven-

Roberta Alexander

teen years, she’s taught English and Chicano studies at San Diego City College. Before that, she spent sixteen years as an ESL instructor in the continuing education program. She notes that, although not a Latina herself, she grew up in South Central Los Angeles, made a lot of Latino friends, and became “an honorary Chicana,” majoring in Spanish in her undergraduate work. Alexander took her Ph.D in Comparative Literature. She became the coordinator of SDCC’s labor studies program in 2003. That program offers a full Associate degree in labor studies, and transfer credits to four-year institutions with similar programs. Courses in the program range from shop steward training through occupational safety and health to the history and politics of the American labor movement. Program co-coordinator Jim Miller calls Alexander “a passionate advocate for the program,” and notes that she has “brought on new instructors, reached out to the Spanish-speaking workforce with a special course in Occupational Safety and Health, and has tried to get the local labor movement more involved

than it has been. She has rewritten most of the course outlines (I did two of them for her) and sought to create more workerfriendly certificates.” Not surprisingly,Alexander is a labor activist herself, serving as a delegate for the AFT Guild, Local 1931, to the San Diego-Imperial Counties Central Labor Council, where she helps publicize and recruit for the labor studies program. Alexander takes pride in having hired all the current instructors, not just in labor studies, but in the Chicano Studies program as well. “I was chair of the English, Humanities and Philosophy departments, and in the right place at the right time.” Those departments now have a well-deserved reputation as centers of independent thinking and political engagement. “We need faculty who can relate to the students,” she says, “who understand what their life is like. Our faculty is very diverse as a result of our determined efforts –including three Chicano instructors, four Black instructors, and two Asian American instructors. Actually, we Roberta continued on page 7

FRED GLASS PHOTO

Rallies, resolutions and rewards mark CFT convention our hundred delegates to the statewide CFT convention March 24-26 in Sacramento served notice to the governor that they were prepared to follow up last year’s special election victory with another powerful effort this year to defeat his re-election bid. At a noisy march and rally in the rain on the Capitol steps, CFTendorsed gubernatorial candi-

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date Phil Angelides promised the enthusiastic crowd of CFT members to wage a battle for progressive taxation policies in order to boost funding for education. Convention delegates spent hours deliberating resolutions to define the organization’s policies for the coming year. A number dealt with community colleges, among them Resolution 17, which called for CFT sponsor-

ship of legislation to get the state to allocate enough money to correct the inequitable funding for non-credit programs. It passed. Another resolution targeted the private and loosely supervised Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges/Western Association of Schools and Colleges (AACJCWASC), specifically in relation Convention continued on page 5

Don Peavy, president of the Victor Valley Part-time Faculty United, AFT Local 6286, rises to make a point during the Community College Council meeting at the CFT convention.


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PERSPECTIVE

May 2006

POLITICS CALIFORNIA FEDERATION OF TEACHERS

Proposition 82

CFT supports ‘Preschool for All’ in June primary Proposition 82, or Preschool for All, on the June 6 primary ballot, is considered to be California’s most serious attempt yet to ensure that all children have the chance to start school on a level playing field with their peers, no matter their level of family income or ethnicity. In addition to helping hundreds of thousands of children get a stronger start, preschool for all will give a needed boost to K-12 public schools struggling to help so many children catch up. Statewide, only one out of five children has access to preschool, but teachers see the benefits of preschool every day in their classrooms. Pre-K educator Elaine Francisco of the Jefferson Elementary Federation of Teachers just south of San Francisco

The program will be funded by revenues from an additional 1.7 percent income tax on taxable income above $800,000 for married couples and $400,000 for individuals (in other words, not your typical community college instructor). hosted a house party for K-8 teachers to talk about preschool. “One kindergarten teacher told me she could easily identify kids without a preschool background on the first day of school.” If approved by voters, Preschool for All would create a constitutionally-guaranteed, voluntary, free, part-day preschool program available to children the year before they enter kindergarten by the fall of 2010. The program will be funded by revenues from an additional 1.7 percent income tax on tax-

able income above $800,000 for married couples and $400,000 for individuals (in other words, not your typical community college instructor). Preschool for All is generally guaranteed to be free of charge, except in the case of a funding emergency. In that case the legislature could institute a parent contribution with a 2/3 vote and the signature of the governor. Funds will be placed in a trust fund outside of Prop 98 and be dedicated solely to providing preschool for all. At the state level the Preschool for All program will be overseen by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, who will establish statewide quality standards and approve local plans. County Superintendents of Schools (or in the case of L.A. and San Francisco, alternative local administrators) will plan and run the program at the local level.The Superintendent of Public Instruction will also appoint a Parent Advocate in each county to hear and resolve parent concerns. The Act includes up to $2 billion to develop classroom facilities. Local administrators will create plans for the construction, renovation, or purchase of facilities to serve enrolled children and build capacity for eligible children. In general, only public entities may use facilities funds, except cases in which non-public entities engage in modest renovation, especially to ensure access to the neediest communities. The Act also includes up to $200 million in student financial aid for teachers and aides who commit to teaching in the preschool-for-all program. By the eighth year of the program, teachers will be required to hold bachelor’s degrees including 24 college units in early learning. Instructional aides will also need to have 24 units in early learning. By the tenth year, each teacher will be required to hold an early learning credential in addition to a bachelor’s degree. Up to $500 million in funding will be provided to colleges and universities to provide courses and degree programs. The program will be fully phased in by 2016. The CFT urges you to vote YES on Proposition 82.

Election Endorsements – Tuesday, June 6, 2006 STATEWIDE OFFICES & PROPOSITIONS Governor

Phil Angelides

Lieutenant Governor

John Garamendi

Secretary of State

Debra Bowen

Attorney General

No Recommendation

Controller

John Chiang

Treasurer

Bill Lockyer

Insurance Commissioner

Cruz Bustamante

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Jack O’Connell*

Board of Equalization, District 1

Betty Yee

Board of Equalization, District 4

Judy Chu

Proposition 81 - Library Bond

YES

Proposition 82 - Preschool for All

YES

CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY AD RECOMMENDATION

CALIFORNIA STATE SENATE

44

Anthony Portantino

SD

RECOMMENDATION

1

Patricia Berg*

45

Kevin De Leon

2

Patricia “Pat” Wiggins

6

Pamela Torliatt

46

Fabian Nunez*

6

Darrell Steinberg

7

Noreen Evans*

47

Karen Bass*

8

No Recommendation

8

Lois Wolk*

49

Mike Eng

10

Ellen Corbett

9

David Jones*

50

Hector De La Torre*

11

Mark DeSaulnier

52

Mervyn Dymally*

12

Fiona Ma

53

Ted Lieu*

13

Mark Leno*

54

Betty Karnette*

14

Loni Hancock*

55

Warren Furutani

16

Sandre Swanson

56

Tony Mendoza

17

Cathleen Galgiani

57

Edward Hernandez

18

Mary Hayashi

58

Charles Calderon

19

Gene Mullin*

61

Nell Soto

20

Alberto Torrico*

69

Jose Solorio

21

Ira Ruskin*

76

Lori Saldana*

22

Sally Lieber*

78

George Gastil

23

Joe Coto*

79

Mary Salas

24

James Beall, Jr.

*Incumbent

27

John Laird*

28

Ana Ventura Phares

30

Nicole Parra*

31

Juan Arambula*

35

Pedro Nava*

37

Ferial Masry

39

Richard Alarcon

40

Lloyd Levine*

41

Julia Brownley

42

Michael Feuer

43

Frank Quintero

Johan Klehs 16

Dean Florez*

20

Cindy Montanez

22

Gilbert “Gil” Cedillo*

24

Gloria Romero*

26

Mark Ridley-Thomas

28

George Nakano Jenny Oropeza

30

Rudolph “Rudy” Bermudez

32

Gloria Negrete McLeod

34

Lou Correa Thomas Umberg

40

Denise Moreno Ducheny*

Community college ballot initiative postponed A ballot initiative to stabilize community college funding and governance, supported by a coalition of community college organizations, including CFT, was originally intended for the November 2006 ballot. The coalition has decided instead to begin signature gathering on August 15 for the following regular election, which will take place in June 2008. The longer timeline will allow the coalition to raise more money and mount a petition drive with more participants, say coalition activists. For more information or to find out how you can help in the campaign, email Dennis Smith smithd13@aol.com, or call him: 916-446-2788.


May 2006

POLITICS

PERSPECTIVE

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FRED GLASS PHOTOS

CFT convention. pitol steps during the Ca the on g din fun ucation crowd at a rally for ed a governor, fired up the rni lifo Ca for ate did endorsed can Phil Angelides, CFT's

Phil Angelides for governor or a couple weeks in mid-April it was hard to open a daily newspaper in California without bumping into a columnist or news article ranting about State Treasurer Phil Angelides. What were these members of the fourth estate so worked up about? Angelides’ forthright position on the need to fix California’s chronic budget woes—and properly fund public education—through increased taxes on the wealthy and large corporations.

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While the topic remained consistent, the opinions covered a wide range on the political spectrum. Republican leaders alternated between standard denunciations (“one more nail in the coffin to move businesses out of California”) and gleefully rubbing their hands at what they characterized as the man’s apparent tendencies toward political suicide. But some columnists took the position that Angelides should be congratulated. As a politician

willing to utter the “T” word without flinching, he is a rarity these days, and, said some writers, demonstrates honesty and courage above everyone else in the governor’s race.

Convention continued from page 3

Dues and wars Two other resolutions generated much debate, and secured passage. One boosted per-capita dues by slightly over three dollars per member per month, in order to allow CFT to adequately meet its commitments to assist locals and serve members’ needs in Sacramento. This amount was a compromise, as the original resolution called for a five dollar increase. Delegates lined up a dozen deep at the microphones to debate Resolution 28, calling for reordering U.S. policy in Iraq. The general sentiment was never in doubt, as the CFT has been on record since before the 2003 invasion against the incredible waste of lives, money and resources represented by Bush’s war, waged, as the resolution noted, under false pretenses. The question was whether a specific clause, mandating a ‘litmus test’ for political candidates before gaining CFT electoral support, would stay in or be struck. At the end of debate, the clause was removed.

to its problematic evaluation of Compton College (see page 8), but more broadly for a lack of accountability and ignoring input from college union representatives. The resolution, which passed, called for the California Community College Systems Office to investigate AACJCWASC “and consider possible alternatives for evaluating and accrediting the state’s community colleges.” A third successful resolution called for the CFT to take action to ensure that part-time faculty are accorded equal standing in district faculty senates with their full-time colleagues.The State Academic Senate acted on CFT’s proposal at its Spring Academic Senate Plenary Session held in late April.The body voted to seek change in Title 5 regulations to ensure the right of part-time faculty to participate in shared governance activities.A complete set of resolutions may be downloaded from the CFT website, www.cft.org.

Opposite direction A few of the congratulators also agreed with Angelides (and the CFT) that progressive tax policies offer the best hope to solve California’s budget gap. Noting in a Washington Post interview that California is 43rd

in K-12 per-pupil spending in the country, the Treasurer asks, “Should we wait until we’re 50th? Enough is enough.” Angelides wants to go in the opposite direction, calling for a rollback of college fees to preSchwarzenegger levels, and making up the difference with state funds. Unafraid even during Schwarzenegger’s peak popularity moment in 2004 to challenge the former actor’s anti-tax position,Angelides brought the same message recently before the state Chamber of Commerce. He asked for the business association’s support for his version of a balanced budget: one that would pay for increased support for public education and a universal health care system by

recapturing a share of the tax refunds that have flowed into the bank accounts of the wealthy during the Bush years. [According to the most recent studies, the top 1% of income earners in the United States holds 35% of the country’s wealth.—Ed.]

CCC meeting As usual, the Community College Council met during the convention. CCC president Marty Hittelman reported on the monthly consultation of faculty and staff organizations with

sion and reported that the faculty organizations were unanimous in their opposition to the Chancellor’s proposal. (Unfortunately, on May 1 the Board of Governors voted, nonetheless, to forgive the required reductions in funding for lack of compliance— sending a message that the Board of Governors is not serious about enforcing its own regulations.) Also during the CCC meeting, former CFT-CCC activist Joe Berry shared his thoughts on part-time faculty organizing. Berry is the author of a recently published book on contingent faculty organizing in higher education (reviewed in the last issue of the Perspective). By coincidence, copies of the book were on hand, and many were sold. Berry posited that there is a contingent faculty movement, not simply isolated struggles, and that it strengthens, rather than weakens, the faculty union movement as a whole. He noted “when we fight, we are winning,” and urged his audience to continue to do just that.

Convention delegates spent hours deliberating resolutions to define the organization’s policies for the coming year. the Chancellor. Recently the Chancellor proposed to “hold harmless” several districts that failed to comply with state requirements to maintain a 75% minimum ratio of full-time to part-time faculty. This action would have resulted in forgiving these districts fines they owe the state for the violation of statute. Hittelman described the discus-

“Should we wait until we're 50th? Enough is enough.” Angelides notes that “California is the richest state in the richest country in the history of the world,” and consequently we can afford to educate all our

people, if that’s what we decide to do. His Chamber listeners were less than thrilled with Angelides’ perspective. But what is notable is that he did not change his tune to fit his audience, as many politicians do. A consistent approach The CFT endorsed Angelides a year ago. That unprecedented early stamp of approval was based on the State Treasurer’s consistent approach. When Schwarzenegger went after public employee pension funds, threatening to turn the defined benefit programs of STRS and PERS into individualized defined contribution programs, Angelides continued on page 6

Sims galvanizes crowd During the Saturday general session, delegates sang along with labor troubadour Jon Fromer, and also gave up several standing ovations to the afternoon’s plenary speaker, Jinny Sims, who galvanized the crowd with her description of the British Columbia Teachers Federation’s two-week civil disobedience strike last year. That job action, mobilizing nearly one hundred per cent of the K-12 teachers in the province on the picket lines, stopped the anti-public education privatization agenda in B.C. in its tracks. After the plenary, the BCTF leader continued with more than eighty delegates to discuss her union’s strategy to defend public education against the corporate privatization agenda.When the allotted workshop period ended, virtually no one left the room, and the dialog continued for another hour. By Fred Glass


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May 2006

LEGISLATION

Working the Floor Judith Michaels, CFT Legislative Director

Retirement security at risk he conservative effort to privatize Social Security is, thankfully, stalled in this session of Congress. Congress could, however—if it wishes to—fix an unjust existing provision of Social Security by passing legislation that, despite overwhelming bipartisan support, has been languishing in committee for years.

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Once again, bills have been entered into Congress to repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) in Social Security. Public employees have lived with these unfair burdens long enough, and CFT needs your continued help to put pressure on your representative. We need to do this not only because of the serious effect upon our members of the offset and windfall provisions of the Social Security Act, but also upon those considering leaving employment covered under Social Security to begin a second career as a teacher.

Negative effect for STRS members The “Offset” and “Windfall” amendments to the Social Security Act negatively affect the retirement pensions of many of the 100,000 active members of the California Federation of Teachers, specifically those who are members of the California State Teachers Retirement System (STRS). The consequences for some current retirees in California are even more severe. The GPO and the WEP have had devastating consequences for more than 800,000 low- and middle-income public employees who have seen their Social Security benefits reduced or eliminated because they receive

Angelides continued from page 5

had built up a double digit lead in the polls over Angelides by mid-April, triggering early death pronouncements for the Angelides campaign by antilabor political pundits. Noting approvingly Westly’s “Democratlite” approach, these commentators focused on Westly’s surfaces (he’s handsome; he’s “refreshingly non-ideological”) compared to Angelides “radical” approach to closing tax loopholes for the wealthy. Missing is an analysis of Westly’s actual positions. Early in Schwarzenegger’s term,Westly toured the state with him, vowing to “make this guy successful.” To date, Steve Westly has refused to endorse any tax increases to solve California’s problems, including underfunded schools and colleges.“I’m progressive on social issues and fiscally moderate,” said Westly. “Phil’s not. If voters want a candidate who will raise 10 to 15 billion dollars in taxes, they should vote for the other guy.” “It’s not true, as many claim, that we don’t have the money to pay anymore for the California Master Plan’s vision of free public education for all,” says CCC President Marty Hittelman. “We have the money. It’s just in the wrong pockets.And Phil Angelides is the only candidate who will help us to go get it.”

pensions for non-Social Security-covered employment. Our teachers, former teachers, and prospective teachers cannot count upon a full Social Security benefit, either as a benefit from work they may have done under Social Security or from benefits earned by a spouse. When Congress created Social Security in 1935, it expressly excluded government employees, and it was not until the 1950s that state and local government agencies could join the system. Meanwhile those agencies developed their own retirement systems, which tend to offer higher benefits at lower cost than Social Security.The California State Teachers Retirement System falls into that category. The Government Pension Offset (1977) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (1983)

were Congressional efforts to contain the costs of the Social Security program in the context of long-term solvency.They were intended to curtail extraordinary benefits for highly paid individuals, but applied only to public pensions.The Government Pension Offset (GPO) reduced (and continues to reduce) an individual’s Social Security survivor benefits (available to a person whose deceased spouse had earned Social Security benefits) by an amount equal to two-thirds of his/her public pension.The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) changed the formula used to calculate benefit amounts, reducing an individual’s own Social Security benefits (earned while working in a job covered by Social Security). Tell your story Members of Congress need to hear your story about the dramatic effects of GPO and/or WEP on your current or future income security. Most public employees affected by the GPO lose their entire spousal benefit, even though the employed spouse paid Social Security taxes for many years. And the WEP costs many workers a significant portion of the benefits

they earned themselves. For example, an STRS retiree can lose her entire spousal benefit even though her deceased spouse paid Social Security taxes for many years. Furthermore, some STRS retirees who survive their spouses face a pension offset that deducts approximately two-thirds of their own public pension benefits from their Social Security survivor benefits. Additionally, the offset detrimentally affects widowed lowerincome career teachers, and part-time faculty who have accrued minimal pensions from a number of sources. As you make your Congressional visits, please be sure to have this issue on your agenda, especially if your Representative is not listed below as a supporter of the legislation.We need to urge Congress to act now so that public employees will not have to worry about retirement due to these unfair provisions that reduce Social Security spousal and worker benefits.This Congress should pass the Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 147 in the House, S. 619 in the Senate), which would completely repeal the GPO and WEP.

CONGRESSMEMBERS WHO HAVE SIGNED ON

Angelides opposed him. Indeed, as Treasurer,Angelides sits on the boards of trustees of these funds, and has led the charge to require sane investment policies for STRS and PERS monies, including strict standards for executive pay, for worker treatment, and for environmental concerns. Angelides’ activism around corporate governance and protection for public employee pension funds stands in sharp contrast to Governor Schwarzenegger, who appointed several trustees to STRS and then pulled his appointments when they refused to go along with his defined contribution transformation scheme. Schwarzenegger has also refused to consider any new taxes. He has tried three approaches. The first was to balance the budget through cuts, tuition and fee increases, and borrowing. The second was to push for his anti-union, antipublic employee, anti-education special election. And the third is to return to plan number 1. The other candidate, Steve Westly, is running against Angelides in the Democratic primary election (although the state party has endorsed Angelides). Piling on an early TV commercial blitz thanks to his deep personal pockets,Westly

By Fred Glass

Here are the California members of congress who have signed on to the bills to repeal GPO and WEP. Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer have signed on to the Senate vehicle. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Bill Name:

To amend title II of the Social Security Act to repeal the Government pension offset and windfall elimination provisions.

Bill Number:

H.R.147

Mike Thompson (D 1st)

George Radanovich (R 19th)

John Doolittle (R 4th)

Jim Costa (D 20th)

Juanita MillenderMcDonald (D 37th)

Doris Matsui (D 5th)

Devin Nunes (R 21st)

Grace Napolitano (D 38th)

Lynn Woolsey (D 6th)

Lois Capps (D 23rd)

Linda Sanchez (D 39th)

George Miller (D 7th)

Elton Gallegly (R 24th)

Ed Royce (R 40th)

Nancy Pelosi (D 8th)

Howard McKeon (R 25th)

Jerry Lewis (R 41st)

Barbara Lee (D 9th)

Brad Sherman (D 27th)

Gary Miller (R 42nd)

Ellen Tauscher (D 10th)

Howard Berman (D 28th)

Joe Baca (D 43rd)

Richard Pombo (R 11th)

Adam Schiff (D 29th)

Ken Calvert (R 44th)

Tom Lantos (D 12th)

Henry Waxman (D 30th)

Mary Bono (R 45th)

Pete Fortney Stark (D 13th)

Xavier Becerra (D 31st)

Loretta Sanchez (D 47th)

Anna Eshoo (D 14th)

Hilda Solis (D 32nd)

Bob Filner (D 51st)

Michael Honda (D 15th)

Diane Watson (D 33rd)

Susan Davis (D 53rd)

Zoe Lofgren (D 16th)

Lucille Roybal-Allard (D 34th)

Sam Farr (D 17th)

Maxine Waters (D 35th)

Dennis Cardoza (D 18th)

Jane Harman (D 36th)

SENATE Bill Name:

A bill to amend title II of the Social Security Act to repeal the Government pension offset and windfall elimination provisions.

Bill Number:

S.619 Dianne Feinstein (D)

Barbara Boxer (D)


May 2006

NEWS

PERSPECTIVE

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FRED GLASS PHOTO

San Francisco

Faculty and students take part in May 1 events an Francisco City College faculty have been very active in support of immigrant rights at many of the City College campuses and at the demonstrations on April 10, 23 and May 1.The AFT 2121 Delegate Assembly recently passed a resolution condemning the passage of any bill that would criminalize immigrants and the individuals or organizations that aid them, and would militarize the Mexican-U.S. border.The resolution also endorsed the May 1 day of action and student actions on campus and elsewhere in support of immigrant rights, and encouraged City College of San Francisco faculty to participate in the walkout on May 1.

S

San Francisco Community College ESL faculty member and AFT Local 2121 Secretary Steve Goldston holds up his end of the union's banner on May 1 during the huge immigrant workers' demonstration in San Francisco. Hundreds of City College students marched alongside their instructors to protest pending anti-immigrant congressional action.

seemed to express the sentiments of the tens of thousands of participants in the Bay Area alone.

before heading down Ocean Avenue to take public transportation to the demonstration downtown. City College Mission Campus was practically closed down, as hundreds of teachers and students chose to participate in the walkout/boycott activities. Students, faculty and staff from many community colleges and K-12 districts around the state participated in the demonstrations. In some cases instructors took their students on field trips to witness democracy in action and to join others as active participants in the historic May 1 activities.

At City College of San Francisco, Chancellor Philip Day sent an e-mail informing the college community of the International Workers Rights Day activities planned for May 1. His e-mail mentioned plans by community leaders calling for a nationwide walkout to bring attention to the contributions and rights of immigrant workers.The chancellor expressed his “support for those of us who are passionate about the issues surrounding immigration” and specifically asked administrators to be understanding and supportive of those who decide to participate, urging faculty “to be flexible during the walkout for those students who decide to participate as you consider the schedul-

ing of exams, the makeup policies associated with same, attendance policy, and above all, maintaining a non-punitive climate in the classroom once those students return.” Not everyone felt the same way. In the large ESL Department of City College, the department chair had originally scheduled an important writing exit test on Monday, May 1. When asked to move the date of the test to allow students and teachers to participate in the May 1 actions, she refused to do so.After many e-mail exchanges in the “ESL non-credit chat room,” and after the Chancellor issued his statement encouraging the college community to take part in the May 1 demonstra-

tions, the department chair relented and moved up the date of the test to April 27.

On Monday, May 1, City College faculty, staff and students joined the massive demonstrations held in San Francisco, part of the powerful nationwide expression of support for legalization of undocumented people in the United States.The slogan “no human being is illegal”

On the City College main campus, the day started with a rally of about 250 teachers, staff and students who listened to informed student and faculty speakers and heard inspiring music. Students and instructors then marched around the campus attracting more students

Roberta continued from page 3

“Unions should be democratic. They should reach out to people who aren’t represented. That’s especially important for those workers who were pushed onto the sidelines by the National Labor Relations Act, like agricultural and domestic workers.” Alexander is concerned about the impact of the global economy. “Unions need to recognize the effects of globalization on American workers,” she urges. “Today people without a living wage are being pitted against each other all over the world. The big corporations understand how profitable this can be for them, but the workers’ movement isn’t there yet. There should be no place in the world where people work for 10¢ an hour. People shop at WalMart without thinking about where the low price comes from. Instead, our first concern should be making sure that everyone has decent pay and working conditions.”

In labor studies courses at San Diego City College, instructors like Miller talk about the militant history of trade unionism— like the fight for the 8-hour day. “The things we take for granted were all fought for,”Alexander emphasizes.

some get interested in becoming teachers themselves.” Miller credits Alexander with broadening faculty diversity. “Roberta is an extraordinary teacher,” he says,“who (while chair of the English department) was primarily responsible for building an intellectually diverse, progressive department that gets along well and is devoted to the mission of serving our students.” Perhaps not busy enough, Alexander is the president-elect of the SDCC Academic Senate. Her goals in her new office remain consistent with her work until now. She says she means to “pursue the recruitment and hiring of diverse faculty and staff, who reflect the composition of the student body,” and to “develop and implement an effective student equity plan, to insure all students have better opportunities to reach their goals in SDCC.”

Compton continued from page 8

By David Bacon

By David Bacon

don’t have enough men— they’ve become a minority.” Progressive tradition in labor The labor studies program itself has been in existence for thirty years. It serves the needs of local labor organizations, but also seeks to make unions more responsive both to their own members, and to the communities of which they’re part. But at one time, it seemed as though labor studies might not survive. According to Miller,Alexander “came on board with me to save the labor studies department as a stand alone program devoted to the union movement and union members, when there were ideas about either cutting or coopting the program” by turning it into a labor studies/human resources program. “We have a vision of what the progressive tradition in labor is all about,”Alexander says.

The slogan “no human being is illegal” seemed to express the sentiments of the tens of thousands of participants in the Bay Area alone.

Author and senate leader Alexander is also an author of two developmental reading texts, A Community of Readers, and Joining a Community of Readers, both published by Addison Wesley-Longman. She says she want students to become effective readers, which will serve them well later in jobs and academic pursuits. “It will give them the basis for thinking critically, and defending their positions with reason,” she explains. As a result of her teaching philosophy, she finds her students often become “people able to choose between living a nice middle-class life and serving the community. And

By Allan Fisher

warnings were especially obnoxious, as Peralta’s CFO and the PFT, lone amongst public entities, had long been working on a plan to finance its unfunded liability and a previous election brought in four brand new Board members. Still, the ACCJC team was initially unimpressed.” To Mills, the lessons are clear. “The presently constituted ACCJC has lost its way,” he says. “It is less a body willing to work with colleges to address issues (as it was when I was on two accreditation teams) and more a body intent on imposing its own views on how education ought to be delivered. Woe to any unsuspecting college that has not picked up on ACCJC’s recent shift in direction. Compton could happen to you.”


8

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PERSPECTIVE

May 2006

Local Action Cerritos

First Contract Finally in Place Cerritos College faculty are celebrating. After negotiating for three years, they finally have a contract, and in the view of local union leaders, it’s a good one. It’s also a first contract, which is often the hardest to negotiate. That was certainly the case here. Instructors voted for union representation way back in November of 2002. Six hundred part-time faculty work at the College, along with 300 fulltime teachers. About half belong to the Cerritos College Faculty Federation,AFT Local 6215. “I think that will change,” says union president David Fabish. “Having an agreement is crucial to giving us real credibility in the eyes of our colleagues.” In fact, that process has already started. The contract was ratified by the faculty unanimously. And, at the recent CFT convention, the local won awards for most new members and highest percentage membership increase. The new agreement has a three-year duration, although the first two years have already gone by. The contract will expire next year, and negotiations will begin again, although this time, with

the strength of new members and hard-won experience. A clue to the reason why might be found in the new contract, which includes substantial increases in salary for parttimers. In the first year, full-time faculty receive 2.5% raises, while part-timers get 5.5%. In the second year, full-timers receive 3.5%, and part-timers 7.5%. The third year’s salary increases are pegged to the cost of living. “We also won contract language protecting adjunct rehire rights,” Fabish notes. “For the first time, the district recognizes that current part-timers should get first consideration for the courses they teach. We’d obviously like even stronger protection, but this is our foot in the door, given the climate and culture here. The district was very resistant to the whole idea.” To make progress in a first agreement, the union and the district agreed to negotiate a “short form contract,” with only a half-dozen articles. Despite that considerable concession by the union, the district refused to sign off without one further demand. District President Noelia Vela wanted to change the evaluation procedure for full-time instructors. In the past, tenured instructors could choose between two kinds ALTA COSTA PHOTO

of evaluation options: a committee consisting of peer colleagues only, or a team that included a college dean. The district wanted to make the presence of the dean mandatory, and have the dean choose one of the other team members too. In the end, the union agreed to allow deans some say on one appointment, while just faculty chose the others. Deans themselves would not be included on the team. Arbitration language was also hotly disputed. The district wanted arbitrators’ decisions to be simply advisory, flying in the face of the whole nature of the arbitration process. The union wanted decisions to be binding. Here a compromise was reached as well, with some contract provision subject to arbitration, and some not. “We used the negotiations as a way to organize people,” Fabish says. “We brought people out for meetings of the Board of Trustees, and at first we only had a dozen. But that turned into 20, and then 30 and then 50 angry faculty members. Teachers wore t-shirts and buttons, and held up placards.” In the meantime, the union developed an email list to bombard the board, and organized tabling and speaking events. “We just made noise,” Fabish says. Help came from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor,Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg, CCC president Marty Hittelman, and CFT field rep Mary Millet.The union also hired its first staff member, executive director Peter Nguyen, who put his organizing experience to work in the contract fight as well. The union has begun to contemplate action beyond the bargaining table.“I think we have to look at political action as we get ready for the next round,” says Fabish. “Next time board members are up for reelection, we will have a say.”

Compton

Accreditation battle reveals arbitrary process

Members of the Long Beach College Council of Classified Employees, AFT Local 6108, demonstrate outside a luncheon honoring Long Beach College president Jan Kehoe as "Woman of the Year" by the local Soroptimist club on April 1, 2006. Local 6108 members have a less enthusiastic opinion of the college officer, who is presiding over stalled negotiations, now at impasse. Local 6108 president Alta Costa has led her members in demonstrations at Board of Trustee meetings and elsewhere to protest the lack of respect shown classified employees by the district. Classified workers in the LBCCD are suffering a cap on their health benefits and have not received the cost of living adjustment to their salary from the state passed on to every other employee group in the district.

The idea that the Peralta District should take over administration of Compton Community College is a bitter pill for the Southern California district’s faculty and students, since no one, not even the California Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, holds them responsible for the problems that may lead to Compton College’s loss of accreditation. But keeping classes going is more important than anything else—continuing to make education available to the lowincome and minority students of

this community. “It would be extremely unfair if we became the only area in the state with no community college,” says Rodney Murray, President of the Compton Community College Federation of Employees,AFT Local 3486. “Our students are predominantly African American and Latino, and they need more education, not less. Our faculty is excellent, and our courses are on a par with any other district. But the most important thing is making sure our students are able to achieve their goals.” The ACCJC made its decision to withdraw Compton Community College’s accreditation last year, in response to a series of

“The ACCJC is not answerable to anyone. What they’ve done to us could happen anywhere.” fiscal crises that began in the 2002-2003 school year. The college was sanctioned and threatened with loss of its accreditation. In 2004 it was placed in trusteeship amid further investigations over allegations of financial corruption and mismanagement. The state’s Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team made recommendations for changes. But despite the fact that districts are normally given six months to implement similar measures, the ACCJC moved to withdraw accreditation four months later. That decision is being appealed. The faculty union has pointed out repeatedly that faculty and students had no responsibility for mismanagement by the district’s board of trustees, and yet they are the ones paying the price for it. “The allegations have nothing to do with curriculum or teaching,” Murray emphasizes. “In fact, we’re the ones who have been holding the institution together.” The commitment to continue to provide classes, however, has been the genesis of the proposal that another district take over administration of the college, and use its accreditation to ensure that students get credit for their work. “Peralta stepped up to the plate,” Murray says. “They offered to lend us their accreditation while our system is being revamped.” To Michael Mills, president of the Peralta Federation of Teachers,AFT Local 1603, the entire situation is unfair. “This action on the part of ACCJC was both outrageous and unwarranted,” he says. “The entire process speaks of a Star Chamber operation. The ACCJC report cited only fiscal and governance transgres-

sions and both of these were addressed when State Chancellor Drummond took over the administrative reins and assigned a fiscal monitor. Still, accreditation was stripped even though the instructional program was not cited. ACCJC should have recognized Drummond’s positive actions and worked with him to develop a plan. Instead, the imperious ACCJC chose to ignore Drummond’s swift and responsive acts,” he charges. “Clearly, this is an example of ACCJC and its CEO losing sight of its basic purpose, flexing its muscles and causing colleges to tremble at the prospect of an accreditation visit.” Whatever is necessary Murray says Compton faculty will do whatever is necessary to survive. “We would like to remain an independent district,” he emphasizes,“and we could if the ACCJC would give us more time.” While the appeal has been postponed, he doesn’t think in the end the ACCJC will change its mind. “I think they’re just covering their rear ends, so it looks like they’re following proper procedure.” If Peralta—or some other district, which is also a possibility— does take over the district, Murray anticipates that Compton would once again apply for accreditation on its own after two years. In the meantime, the district’s infrastructure would stay in place, the union would remain intact, and faculty seniority would be preserved. Each district would keep its union contracts, and the seniority lists would be kept separately. The legislature would have to pass a bill permitting another district to take over Compton’s administration, but Murray thinks that neither legislators nor the Governor want it said that some of California’s poorest students lost their college due to their inaction. “They wouldn’t want it to happen on their watch,” he explains. Clear lessons Both Murray and Mills caution faculty and student in other districts to consider carefully the precedent that is being set by the ACCJC’s action. “Everyone should be concerned,” Murray warns. “The ACCJC is not answerable to anyone. What they’ve done to us could happen anywhere. They’re very arrogant, and need more oversight.” Mills notes that “Peralta recently experienced its own accreditation woes when its four colleges were put on warning status for not having a Strategic Plan in place, for failure to address fully GASB 45, and for having a Board accused of micro-managing. The last two Compton continued on page 7

Perspective, May 2006  

Community College Council

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