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Volume 39, Number 3

May 2008

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

Standing up for faculty John Kirk may be about to retire, but he’s not going gentle into that good night.

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CFT Convention 2008 The delegates debated issues, made policy, and had a little fun in Oakland.

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Helpful handbook: New pamphlet takes unemployment insurance for contingent faculty step by step.

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

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California Federation of Teachers 1201 Marina Village Parkway, Suite 115 Alameda, CA 94501

Budget battle heats up


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PERSPECTIVE

May 2008

EDITORIAL

Taking the Lead Carl Friedlander, CFT Community College Council President

They’re back…the Missing Student statues ost of you will remember the “Missing Student statues” of Spring 2004, when we faced a dreadful budget hole, whopping fee increases and drastically declining student enrollment (they tend to go hand in hand), and the possibility of a suspension of Proposition 98.The brainchild of CCSF’s Leslie Smith, the statues were a brilliant combination of a statewide student art project and a galvanizing symbol of protest against the attacks on community college student access.

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CHRIS HANZO, PHOTO

budget crisis. It’s time to move the statues back into the streets.And it’s time for all of us—and our students—to join them there.The 10,000 plus-strong “Marches in March” of 2003 and 2004 were a giant leap forward in community college advocacy and activism. Sacramento decision-makers took notice of our system in new ways and began to treat us with more respect. But time passes, memories fade, faces change and a refresher course is needed.We need to make our individual and collective voices heard in support of backfilling the 2007-08 property tax shortfall for community colleges ■ protecting Prop 98 and giving community colleges their fair share of Prop 98 funds ■ maintaining student fees at their current $20/unit level with no increase ■ stopping the relentless escalation of student fees in CSU and UC ■ making all of this possible by augmenting State revenue by closing loopholes and implementing the tax and revenue increase proposals put forward by CFT. ■

“Missing Student” statues reappear in Sacramento during the march and rally on April 21. If the state budget is cut along the lines proposed by the governor, expect thousands of students to go missing from the community colleges once more.

In the four years since, the statues have been sitting idly in a barn at Pierce College.As California’s economy rebounded and the drive for higher community college fees temporarily stalled, public displays of the statues ceased. Funding, including money for enrollment growth, improved slightly; fees stayed at $26/unit and, in Spring 2007, were reduced to $20/unit; statewide enrollment began recovering from the mass student

exodus of 2002-04; access to community college seemed to be making a comeback. But times are bad again in California and across the nation, so I was not surprised to get a call a few days ago informing me that the statues were being picked up at Pierce and transported to Sacramento on the eve of the April 21 rally in defense of public higher education. California is once again threatening to eat its young by cutting its way out of a

You can send this message by participating in and organizing rallies, press events and demonstrations, meeting with your legislators in their local offices, writing, emailing and calling your representatives, sending letters to the editor, and in a host of other ways. We need to use every opportunity to get our message out. If you think those four year old statues will help you get your point across, don’t hesitate to call on them. Merger talks to begin At the April 11 CCC meeting during the CFT Convention, we had a thoughtful and provocative preliminary discussion about the possibility of creating a merged community college organization that combined the membership of CCC/CFT-AFT and CCA/CTA-NEA and provided all members (there would be around 45,000) with affiliation to both state and national organizations. This was in response to an approach made to the CCC leadership by the officers of CCA, and the official blessing for that approach by the statewide CTA leadership. Thirty-five years ago, CFT and CTA had little in common. CFT lobbied for and supported laws giving K-14 employees collective bargaining rights, while CTA opposed them. CFT excluded administrators but included classified employees while CTA did exactly the opposite. CFT required AFL-CIO affiliation, while CTA wouldn’t dream of it. But over the last three or four decades, these fundamental differences between the two unions have either vanished completely or, in the case of AFL-CIO affiliation, eroded. So it seems sensible to talk, and those discussions will now get underway. ccc

MARK YOUR 2008 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

May 16

CFT Division Councils, Manhattan Beach Marriott

May 17

CFT State Council, Manhattan Beach Marriott

June 22-27

Union Leadership Institute West, UCLA

July 10 – 14

AFT Convention, Navy Pier, Chicago, IL

August 11-13

CFT Leadership Institute, UCLA

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

On front cover: College and university students march and rally by the thousands in Sacramento on April 21 to stop budget cuts. CHRIS HANZO, PHOTO

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 Marty Hittelman Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Smith Perspective is published three times during the academic year by CFT’s Community College Council.

COMMUNITY COLLEGE COUNCIL President Carl Friedlander Los Angeles College Guild, Local 1521 3356 Barham Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90068 Email cfriedlander@aft1521.org Direct inquiries regarding the Community College Council to Carl Friedlander Southern Vice President Mona Field Glendale College Guild, Local 2276 1500 N. Verdugo Road Glendale, CA 95020 Northern Vice President Dean Murakami Los Rios College Federation of Teachers AFT Local 2279 1127 - 11th Street, #806 Sacramento, CA 95814 Secretary Kathy Holland Los Angeles College Guild, Local 1521, 3356 Barham Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90068 Editor Fred Glass Layout Design Action Collective EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS Direct editorial submissions to: Editor, Community College Perspective. California Federation of Teachers 1201 Marina Village Parkway, Suite 115 Alameda, CA 94501 Telephone 510-523-5238 Fax 510-523-5262 Email cftoakland@igc.org Web www.cft.org TO ADVERTISE Contact the CFT Secretary-Treasurer for a current rate card and advertising policies. Dennis Smith, Secretary-Treasurer California Federation of Teachers 2550 North Hollywood Way, Ste. 400 Burbank, CA 91505 Telephone 818-843-8226 Fax 818-843-4662 Email smithd13@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 and AFT 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 2008

MEMBER PROFILE

PERSPECTIVE

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PHOTO COURTESY OF JUDY KIRK

San Mateo’s John Kirk

“In grievances you get to win” hile John Kirk teaches Keynesian and classical economic theory,his students are as likely to find their textbook is Labor’s Untold Story as a drier, more conservative tome. Written by Herbert J. Morais and Richard O. Boyer, Labor’s Untold Story brings alive the great figures and achievements of working class history, like Sacco andVanzetti, the Molly Maguires, and Albert Parsons and the Haymarket martyrs who began the movement for the 8-hour day.

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For Kirk,“that book made a major change in my whole outlook on life. I realized that what makes a difference in our lives isn’t so much who’s president. Unions and the labor movement have a much greater impact on working people.” Part of the reason why Labor’s Untold Story is on his syllabus is that the lives of working people in general are absent from mainstream histories. “I bring in a lot of labor history,” Kirk says. “I use Gerald Hunt’s Laboring for Rights, or Monopoly Capital, by Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy, so that students can get some understanding of a Marxist approach to economics. Then we’ll go on to John Maynard Keynes and classical economic theory. There is more than one way of looking at the world, even if more radical perspectives are often excised from the accepted curriculum. Our students can only understand where they are by finding out how they got there.” He often also assigns William Domhoff ’s Who Rules America? “I try to present them with evidence in class that shows that the purpose of business is business: making the maximum profit. If they can understand why inequality is such a part of our system, they’ll figure out for themselves why unions are necessary.”

Union activist With that perspective, it’s not surprising that Kirk has been a union activist almost since his university days, and that he came up during the ferment and turmoil of the 1960s. Son of a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, Kirk grew up in Redwood City. He went to the University of California in Berkeley, and graduated in 1964, just months before the campus was shaken by the first of the 1960s’ great student revolts—the Free Speech Movement. He then got his masters degree in economics at San Jose State University. When he finished, Kirk began applying for teaching jobs, but only one community college district was hiring, for positions in the ImperialValley. He and his wife Judy moved to Brawley, one of 25 new faculty members. “We were paid $6700 a year to start,” he remembers,“so a bunch of us young people got on the negotiating team, and won a $9000 salary, a significant raise.” After two years, he and his wife decided to return to the Bay Area. After spending the next year as a freeway flyer, Kirk was hired as a full-time instructor at College of San Mateo in 1970. A year later, he was fired to allow the return of another teacher who’d gone off to law school.

John Kirk in his prime.

“We’re defending people’s right to due process. It’s easy to take rights away from someone who’s unpopular. But that’s the first step to taking rights away from everyone.” Kirk didn’t do anything to contest his termination for a year, after being told by a lawyer for the California Teachers Association that nothing could be done. That was when he met Pat Manning, who held a PhD in African history. Kirk remembers admiring Manning because “he did all the budget work for the AFT locals in the state. He showed me how we could have fought my case.” Manning became one of the greatest influences on his life. A formidable team After Kirk returned to College of San Mateo the next year, he and Manning formed a formidable team. Along with activists from other locals, including Ed Perlstein and Louis Shelleda of Peralta, Larry Schwartz from San Diego, and Hy Weintraub from Los Angeles (who became the first president of the Council) the two helped pull together the organizing committee for what became the CFT Community College Council, and once it was up and

running in 1971, convinced the Federation to come up with money to pay part-time organizers. Kirk was one of those hired. The two wanted the union to organize community college locals, in preparation for the passage of collective bargaining legislation for public education. Ironically, the CTA won the first election at CSM, but four years later, Kirk, Manning and others led the drive to certify the CFT as the faculty bargaining agent. Then, just after the Peralta Decision became law in 1979, Kirk won tenure at CSM. “The law originally was very contradictory, saying that if you taught less than 60% you’d be temporary forever, and then said that no one could be temporary for more than two semesters. I got my tenure just before the Peralta decision, in which the Supreme Court said that if you’d been teaching part time before 1967 you could become permanent, but if you’d been hired later (as I was), you were lost.” In 1980, after Kirk and other faculty threatened the district with a suit

for cutting his teaching load, a new chancellor finally gave him a full-time position. “The way I was treated motivated me to get active in the union, to keep others from being treated the same way,” Kirk says. “I’ve held every position in our union—president, executive secretary, chief negotiator—but I’ve been doing grievances for 30 years. I like it better. In negotiations you have to compromise. In grievances, you get to win.” The cases One of his first cases involved just the kind of issues that had propelled him into activism. A first year instructor had been given a bad evaluation on March 14, and the next day received a March 15 notice. “The law at the time allowed administrators to terminate a first-year teacher for no reason, and they wanted to create an open position for someone else,” Kirk remembers. “The CTA lawyer told him it San Mateo’s John Kirk continued on page 7

By Ernie Rodriguez

y situation was not good.A new administration at my college had decided to eliminate many long standing programs. My own very successful program was one of those being dismantled. Students were outraged. The community was outraged. Out of a desire to act ethically and inform both students and our local community partners that a critical program serving the needs of disabled students was being eliminated, I immediately shared information about cuts with program participants. It was critical that these students receive as much time as possible to find alternatives.

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I expected the change in my assignment to come about through the usual process of consultation between myself and the appropriate Dean. My repeated requests for a meeting to discuss my future assignment were completely ignored. I was stunned when the class schedule for the next semester was published with my name attached to an extremely punitive assignment, which I could only conclude was retribution for my advocacy on behalf of my program and community agencies. My new assignment consisted of four different preparations with classes in five different locations at radically different times of day.A number of my classes were in various different community settings. Some were at

night and some in the morning. I immediately consulted with our chief grievance officer, John Kirk. He described this as the most punitive schedule he had ever seen and agreed to represent me at a meeting with the vice president for Instruction. Prior to the meeting John shared with me information about new legislation providing stiff penalties, including both fines and imprisonment, for administrators who retaliate against community college faculty members. At the meeting with the vice president, John pointed out that it is customary past practice to meet with instructors whose schedules are being changed before a

final assignment is determined. The vice president informed John that this meeting, requested by John, was such a meeting. At this point John literally rose out of his chair, stood up and said in a loud voice,“This is that meeting? After the schedule has already been printed and distributed?” I then stated my feeling that the schedule I had been given was punitive and had been assigned to me as retaliation. I also produced the information John had given me about the legislation providing for jail time and fines for administrators who retaliate against faculty. I could see the vice president start to visibly shake. She said she had not done this on her own but at the direction of the college president. She immediately agreed to John Kirk “Stands Up” continued on page 8

PHOTO COURTESY OF JULIEN MINARD

John Kirk “stands up” for faculty rights


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PERSPECTIVE

May 2008

STATEWIDE

Counting the wrong things

“It Could Happen” recognizes central problem, then ignores it I n 1930 novelist Sinclair Lewis won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first American so honored. Best known for his social criticism in Main Street,Arrowsmith, and Babbit, Lewis also penned a less-remembered foray into speculative fiction, It Can’t Happen Here, about a Fascist takeover of the United States.

Unfortunately, in arguing for policies like providing clear

educational pathways for students right from the start, the

The authors of the wistfully titled report,“It Could Happen: Unleashing the Potential of California’s Community Colleges to Help Students Succeed and California Thrive,” seem unaware of the literary resonance with Sinclair’s book. That’s in keeping with a lot else that they are unaware of in the report’s analysis and recommendations. “It Could Happen” is the most recent of three reports produced by a team of CSU Sacramentobased education policy professors headed by Nancy Shulock. Beginning with a laudable goal—“More students need to complete certificate, degree, and transfer programs because of the growing need for a college education in today’s economy”—the report briefly acknowledges that community colleges are provided inadequate resources by the state to accomplish their job. Then the report turns toward its main targets:

We know what works but we don’t do it; ■ Financial policies prevent greater student success; and ■ An institutional culture that resists change. ■

“It Could Happen” identifies six “strategies” that, if adopted, would move community college students toward more successful outcomes. These are 1. increase students’ readiness for college before they arrive; 2. help students achieve early success by directing them to the right classes at the beginning, including remedial work if they need it; 3. help students establish clear educational goals and pathways for achieving those goals; 4. encourage students to follow effective enrollment patterns – such as attending full-time and continuously (without stopping

out and re-starting); 5. provide the intensive support services students need to succeed in and out of the classroom; 6. use data to inform decisions about helping students succeed. It would be hard to argue with any of these recommendations. The report goes into detail about how the six strategies, if implemented, would improve student success. In their introduction, the report’s authors note with alarm,“Ours is one of the only nations where older adults are more educated than younger adults.” California ranks third among states in the share of population with Associate degrees or higher in the 65 and older age group, but twenty-ninth for its 25 – 34 year olds. And the trend lines are not getting better. Unfortunately, in arguing for policies like providing clear educational pathways for students right from the start, the report’s

report’s authors fail to note that California community colleges provide one counselor per two thousand pupils. authors fail to note that California community colleges provide one counselor per two thousand pupils (recommended ratio: 300-1). The report mentions the California Master Plan for Higher Education (1960), but fails to locate the student days of the 65 and older cohort—with its excellent ranking of degree holders—precisely in that early-1960s era of adequate funding for public education at all levels. Today California community colleges rank 45th in the country in per pupil spending.“It Could Happen” points out that California has special challenges with high numbers of English language learners—although this fact remains uncorrelated in the report with its implications for K-12 funding and how to

achieve strategy number one, “readiness.” Again and again “It Could Happen” runs, seemingly blindly, into the same little problem. CFT president Marty Hittelman, a long-time community college math instructor, puts the matter succinctly: “If only we had the funding to do all the things Shulock suggests we do, it would be a wonderful world.” Until such time as the public, the legislature, the governor, and university policy wonks recognize that the central barrier to community college student success is massive underfunding of public education, the more appropriate title for “It Could Happen” will continue to be It Can’t Happen Here. ccc By Fred Glass

Budget protests hint of what’s to come n April 21,thousands of students,along with college and university instructors,staff,administrators,parents,politicians,and other supporters, converged on Sacramento for a rally against higher education budget cuts. They came from across the state to present the legislature and governor with a picture of what the proposed cuts would look like. Their hope was that the show of commitment and public spirit would change the Students from City College San Francisco took buses to Sacramento on April 21 to deliver their message with minds of decision-makers who seem to think that slashing an already-skeletal this banner. budget further is preferable to raising taxes. proposal, he asked the community shortfall (see article elsewhere on progressive revenue solutions. “Tax the rich, not community The largest contingent came college chancellor’s office to iden- this page). Write or visit your legislators college students.” Students bore from San Francisco. AFT Local tify one-time reductions totaling The CFT is working on coor- and let them know how the 2121, the San Francisco Commu- placards reading,“Tax the top 1% $40 million, to come from already dinated efforts with other educa- proposed cuts will affect your nity College Federation of Teach- to fund education.” allocated monies that have not yet tion organizations and allies in students. Watch for notice of Smaller rallies took place elseers, sent eleven busloads of been spent on various programs. the labor movement and broader public demonstrations, and plan where in the state on the same students and faculty. CCSF stuThe chancellor’s office found $31 community to convince the pub- to participate. The people we day. In Los Angeles, one hundred million in these categories. The dent ShawnYee gave a great lic and elected officials in Sacrahave elected to represent us will fifty people came out to Pershing speech, according to AFT 2121 governor accepted this self-mutimento that at least some of the need your help to understand Square. About a third were from president Ed Murray, and Lieulation as adequate, and that was budget deficit must be made up that part of their job is to raise tenant Governor John Garamendi the Glendale College Guild,AFT the number the legislature was through fair tax policies. Go to taxes when necessary. This is one Local 2276. did too. English instructor Alisa working with until the bad news www.cft.org for analysis of the of those times. ccc In the governor’s January budget arrived about the property tax Messer carried a sign that read, state’s budget problems and By Fred Glass

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CHRIS HANZO PHOTO

Educate, Agitate, Organize


POLITICS

May 2008

PERSPECTIVE

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CFT Convention calls for fair tax policies to address state budget problems FRED GLASS, PHOTOS

he sixty-sixth annual California Federation of Teachers Convention was held April 11-13 in Oakland, with the theme "We do the work, and we vote." Beneath a cloud of state budget cuts and economic recession, hundreds of delegates from across the state met in the highest decision-making body of the statewide organization.

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The delegates adopted policy positions, heard speakers on education and politics, attended workshops, and took some time for a little fun, lifting their voices with the Rockin’ Solidarity Singers. Many took an elevator up to an evening reception hosted by the Peralta and San Francisco Community College AFT locals on the 22nd floor of the hotel. (One elevator-full experienced some difficulties coming back down, chronicled in an impromptu video of their rescue by firefighters, recorded by Cabrillo College instructor John Govsky and played for the delegates the next day.) In addition, the CFT bestowed its coveted “Legislator of the Year” award on state assemblyman Tony Mendoza. No second chance at childhood At a press conference before the convention began, CFT president Marty Hittelman, flanked by two K-12 teachers who received March 15 notices, argued that the legislature and governor need to solve the state's budget problems with fair tax increases, not cuts, to support education and other necessary social services. “Students and teachers didn’t cause this budget problem, and they should not be forced to pay the price,” said Hittelman.“No child gets a second chance at their childhood or youth.The governor and legislature have to find a way to raise revenues.” Delegate and AFT Local 2121 president Ed Murray noted, “Our local sent many first-time convention-goers.A good number of them were impressed by the resolution floor debates, and they described them as enlightening, entertaining, and dramatic.” One resolution opposed suspension of Proposition 98, and another called on the legislature to craft a bill that would “generate and allocate sufficient funds to education, up to or beyond the national average, that will support academic success for all students.” Among other resolutions passed during the weekend were CFT bylaws changes that slightly raised per capitas, and established

“Our local sent many first-time convention-goers. A good number of them were impressed by the resolution floor debates, and they described them as enlightening, entertaining, and dramatic.” a Militancy Fund, which will support the defense of people who have been targeted for retaliation by employers as a result of their CFT union activities or organizing. Some resolutions directly addressed education policy, and others spoke to broader social concerns. In education policy, the delegates voted for strengthening the state commitment to Career Technical Education, and approved a position paper clarifying CFT's position on student assessment, among others. The delegates also passed approval of HR 676 (a national single payer bill sponsored by John Conyers), opposition to school appearances by Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE), reiteration of CFT opposition to the war in Iraq, and support for a national K-12 labor education task force and conference. Presentations well received Keynote speaker Gray Brechin, who leads a project to catalog the work of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, presented an impressive slide show about the enduring importance of government programs in American life, and the necessity to defend them against antigovernment ideologues. Early childhood education advocate and author David Kirp discussed research demonstrating the importance of early childhood education to a child's success in school, and outlined policy implications for the delegates. A half dozen workshops addressed issues of special interest to community college faculty, including such topics as concurrent enrollment, parity for part-time faculty, perspectives on adult education, a community

college faculty legal update, and a discussion of academic freedom. CCC president Carl Friedlander oversaw the Council meeting on Friday night. One topic generating the most discussion was a proposal to explore the possibility of merger with the Community College Association of the California Teachers Association. Reassured that the conversation with the CCA would be exhaustive, the body passed the proposal to move forward with it. Delegate Jim Mahler from San Diego City College was happy with the weekend’s events. He told the Perspective,“I really enjoyed our first convention with Marty Hittelman and Dennis Smith as our new President and Secretary-Treasurer. I feel a renewed confidence in the CFT thanks to their strength and leadership.” For final convention resolutions, go to http://www.cft.org/home_n ews/cftconv08.html ccc By Fred Glass

Velma Butler, delegate from AFT Local 1521A, participates in floor debate on resolutions at CFT convention.

CCC president Carl Friedlander and CFT Legislative Director Judith Michaels flank CCC Northern vice-president Dean Murakami, who is describing legislative program during the convention CCC meeting.

AFT Local 1521 delegate John McDowell discusses CCA/CCC merger talks proposal.


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PERSPECTIVE

May 2008

LEGISLATION

Working the Floor Judith Michaels, CFT Legislative Director

Budget Woes ore budget difficulties for community colleges emerged last month when property tax revenues fell short of estimates, an $80 million shortfall. By April 21, the shortfall projection had jumped to $109 million. The state allocates money from the general fund to ‘backfill’ any property tax shortfall for K12, since attending fourth grade is required for all Californians in that age cohort. But the state does not require those over eighteen to attend college, and our institutions must seek legislative approval for a ‘backfill.’

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Early this year, along with his cuts-only budget for 2008-09, the governor declared a fiscal emergency, asking for reductions this fiscal year.The legislature curtailed the budget by $400 million, keeping those cuts as far away from the classroom as possible. Governor Schwarzenegger continues to propose suspending Proposition 98, a Constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1988 that established a minimum funding level for K-12 schools and community colleges. Suspending Proposition 98 puts the entire K-14 funding system at risk for many years to come. But the property tax shortfall

will cause community colleges to reduce their budgets this year unless a backfill can be secured. Assemblyman Eng to the rescue Assemblyman Mike Eng, a part-time community college instructor and member of the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild,AFT 1521, understood the urgency to address this deficiency and how dire the consequences would be for our students if we did not.Therefore, he amended one of his bills,AB 2277, to back fill this year's property tax shortfall.After all, community college districts had included these estimated property

Community college districts included these estimated property tax revenues in their current budgets. If the state does not provide a general fund backfill, the property tax shortfall represents an additional mid-year cut to instructional and student services this school year. tax revenues in their current budgets. If the state does not provide a general fund backfill, the property tax shortfall represents an additional mid-year cut to instructional and student services this school year. Developing the local agenda Budget deliberations may continue well past the Constitutional deadline this year; bills may be amended abruptly and die sudden deaths. Moving our agenda through the legislature during this year of austerity will be particularly difficult, but local advocacy will help turn the tide. California's Senate has already set a limit of $50,000, statewide, for the cost of any bill.We hope to move ACR 91 (Mendoza and

others), the Faculty and College Excellence Act, through the legislature, since it signals intent, does not constitute a mandate, and does not need to be signed by the governor.We don't see major cost issues for AB 591 (Dymally) and AB 1916 (Portantino), the revision of the 60 percent law, but others may disagree. And coming up with the money to fund AB 2277 will be challenging. Passage of AB 2277, or an alternative budget fix, is vital to the education of the over 2.6 million students currently enrolled in our community college. We've worked to mitigate costs for AB 1676 (NegreteMcLeod), a re-introduction of Evaluation of Personnel Commission Directors, and hope to

We need a permanent solution to a persistent problem

Property tax backfill addressed by AB 2277s any of us have become complacent about education funding because we are protected by Proposition 98. But, suddenly we are in a budget deficit quagmire, facing possible suspension of Proposition 98, and a severe funding shortage to education. How did this happen?

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One of the main contributing factors has been that much of the Proposition 98 budget is based on the Department of Finance’s (DOF) prediction of property tax revenues for the coming year. When the DOF overestimates property tax revenues for the coming year the State finds that there is not enough money to support the education budget it passed the previous year.Therefore, the legislature and governor have to find other funds, make cuts, or think about (God forbid!) raising revenues. K-12 has legal provisions in which the legislature must automatically make up the property tax shortfall in its budget from the General Fund. This is called the “property tax backfill.” The community college system is not protected from mistakes made by the DOF. Each time there is a property tax shortfall the community colleges have to lobby for legislation to backfill the deficit. This year it will take massive advocacy pressure to get the legislature to pass and the governor to sign a property tax backfill bill. There are two reasons for this. First, we have a serious budget deficit. Second, the DOF made a Titanic-sized overestimate of property tax revenues for this year. From the table below (State Chancellor’s Office) you can see the huge deficit so far for this year relative to previous years. The accumulated shortage in property taxes is not done, property tax revenues continually come up short. As we move through the rest of this fiscal year, the tax shortfall may get worse [It already has, from $80 million at the time this article was written, to April 21, when the new

projection became $109 million—Ed.]. How did the DOF overestimate property tax revenue by so much? Could it have been the housing crisis, declining economy, or an overoptimistic prediction in order to technically balance the budget and not deal with the harsh realities of structural flaws in the state tax and budget system? No matter. When you ask most legislators about a community college property tax backfill for this year there is only silence. Our praises go to Assembly member Mike Eng who has taken the community college property tax backfill legislation (AB 2277) for this year to the Assembly Higher Ed Committee. With support from the faculty unions and many other stakeholder groups AB 2277 passed the committee. Now AB 2277 is in the Assembly Appropriations Committee and we need everyone’s help to get it through the next stage. Consequences What are the consequences if AB 2277 fails to get through Appropriations and there is no property backfill for this year? If the state does not provide a general fund backfill, the property tax shortfall represents an additional late-year cut to instructional and student services in the current year. This is especially difficult when we are so close to the end of the fiscal year.Appropriate planning and budgeting by community college districts cannot be accommodated without seriously reducing classes, student services, and/or reducing the numbers of part-time faculty

move that through the Senate, on to the Assembly, and to the governor this session. The revenue side: spring into action for summer The legislature cannot address a budget shortfall of this magnitude through cuts alone. Progressive taxation could raise an estimated $13 billion per year, essentially solving the state's structural budget problem. However, because of Proposition 13, any tax increase must be approved by a supermajority of 2/3 in the state legislature. Proposition 13, passed as a Constitutional Amendment in 1978, builds in inequities between residential and commercial taxation, and, depending on when a homeowner buys a house, inequities among homeowners as well. Each year a small minority of legislators, opposed to tax increases on ideological grounds, can block the will of the majority and prevent a balanced approach to solving the budget crisis.We'll be gathering together in local district offices and in Sacramento as spring gives way to summer and we mobilize for action. ccc

PROPERTY TAX SHORTFALLS YEAR

BACKFILL

2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08

$1,677,000 $22,538,000 $1,836,000 $164,000 $80,000,000

This budget situation underscores the fact that community colleges need a permanent property tax backfill. and classified staff. We need to pass AB 2277 so that our community college students have the opportunity to be successful. We must make every effort not to let them down. However, this budget situation also underscores the fact that community colleges need a permanent property tax backfill. We need to send our state legislators a high volume of mail, faxes, emails, phone calls, and visits so AB 2277 can have a chance to pass out of Appropriations or for the issue to be resolved in some other way. Write a letter in support of AB 2277 to Mark Leno, Chair of the Appropriations Committee, and to and your local legislators today! Then let’s work on getting community colleges a permanent property tax provision. ccc By Dean Murakami


May 2008

BOOK REVIEW

PERSPECTIVE

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Access to Unemployment Insurance Benefits for Contingent Faculty A manual for applicants and a strategy to gain full rights to benefits By Joe Berry, Beverly Stewart, and Helena Worthen. Chicago Coalition on Contingent Academic Labor with the help of NEA, AAUP, and AFT. Reviewed by Joseph Morlan

his booklet has two major goals:To assist and encourage individual contingent faculty members to file for unemployment insurance benefits and to counsel them about how to go about doing that with the greatest probability of getting those benefits; and to suggest a strategy for faculty organizations and their allies at the local, state, and national levels to change the system so that contingent faculty can easily access unemployment benefits when they are between semesters.

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It succeeds in both goals.The booklet begins with a history of unemployment insurance, providing a helpful overview of the reasons for the ambiguous status of temporary, contingent faculty. There are six to seven hundred thousand non-tenure track college teachers who should be eligible for unemployment when they are out of work between semesters. Sadly, many of them are unaware of their eligibility for these benefits. Others fear that applying for benefits might adversely affect their professional future. Colleges have a financial incentive to fight against awarding unemployment compensation, and the individual teacher is likely to be intimidated by the complex, often arcane process of applying for and securing benefits. The authors provide practical advice on how to apply with the best chance of securing benefits. This ambitious section will be of the greatest benefit to those outside of California. The procedure in California is much simpler. While there is much good advice, I found this section to be awkwardly written and sometimes confusing. This publication provides suggestions on how faculty and their organizations in other states may work to achieve the kind of benefits enjoyed by California contingent faculty. This is an excellent idea. In California,

temporary faculty now enjoy routine access to unemployment benefits when they are between jobs. It was largely due to the heroic efforts of AFT 2121 (San Francisco Community College District) that the precedent-setting Cervisi case was established in 1989. “Cervisi” showed that California temporary college teachers with offers of future employment contingent on enrollment, funding and program changes did not have “reasonable assurance” of re-employment, and were thus eligible for unemployment benefits.

funding or other factors such as the needs of tenured instructors for a full-time teaching load. The booklet concludes with an Appendix summarizing the experiences of contingent faculty in ten states. AFT 2121 was successful in California because the union actively encouraged its members to apply for unemployment benefits at a time when those benefits were far from assured, and during a time when case law was against most claimants. I was one of those claimants. We were advised to file all claims in the same office.

The situation in other states is less clear. Unemployment benefits are mandated by Federal law, but implemented differently in each state. In too many states courts or legislatures have decided that contingent faculty with offers of employment for the following semester or term do have reasonable assurance, even if the offers are contingent on enrollment,

When we were denied benefits AFT 2121 arranged to have our appeals heard as a group and the union represented us at those appeal hearings. In those days, the Administrative Law Judges would seldom grant us benefits because of an earlier precedent decision (Russ v. CUIAB) in which a teacher’s aide working in a rural area was denied benefits because

she had an offer, even though that offer was contingent on funding. Fortunately, the California legislature had attempted to define the term “Reasonable Assurance” in the California Unemployment insurance code 1253.3. However, that definition was rather poorly written, including double-negatives, which left interpretation of the definition wide open. The law states that reasonable assurance “includes, but is not limited to, an offer of employment which is not contingent on enrollment, funding and program changes.” Eventually the State Court of Appeals found that the definition actually meant that contingent offers or assignments do not constitute “reasonable assurance.”This principle was established in Cervisi v. California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (1989) 208 Cal.App.3ed 635. Under Cervisi, an assignment contingent on enrollment, funding, or program changes is not a “reasonable assurance” of employment (1253.3, subd.(g).) I agree with the authors of this booklet that faculty outside of California need to organize at all levels to get unemployment benefits for contingent college teachers.

granted the first job protection for first-year teachers.” “At the time, it really affected a lot of people who had very few rights,” he emphasizes. “We got him $50,000, a lot of money in those days.” Other grievances have highlighted basic issues of instructors’ rights. In one, a faculty advisor to a Latino campus organization was reassigned to the administration building after a demonstration demanding improved

services for Latino students. After the union filed a grievance challenging the reassignment, an arbitrator ordered the administration to place her back in her original position. Kirk is still doing grievances, with five headed toward arbitration, but he’s winding down; he will retire at the end of the spring semester. “We have a bunch of new deans, who think they can reinterpret the contract. Our chancellor is a former

accountant, and our new president taught accounting, so they have no conception of what a university or college really is, and try to manage it like a corporation. Fortunately, we have a lot of support from the faculty, and a very active membership.” In looking back over the past three decades he sees, naturally, a lesson for new faculty. “The union merely defends the contract and due process rights. Sometimes we get criticized for

“Cervisi” showed that California temporary college teachers with offers of future employment contingent on enrollment, funding and program changes did not have “reasonable assurance” of re-employment, and were thus eligible for unemployment benefits.

With colleges relying more and more on contingent faculty, this is an important benefit that should be clearly established in case law beyond California.This booklet will be a good start towards the goal of uniform treatment of contingent faculty throughout the United States. I recommend this publication to all contingent faculty outside of California who are seeking to learn more about unemployment and how to get it. However, I do not think California faculty will be helped by it very much. California faculty will do much better following advice more specifically directed toward them such as the “Community College Part-time Faculty Unemployment Compensation Handbook” by Robert J. Bezemek (http://www.cpfa.org/ bezemek.html). Order “Access to Unemployment Insurance Benefits” from http://www.chicagococal. org/, $5 plus $2 shipping, or you can download a PDF version for free. ccc

San Mateo’s John Kirk continued from page 3

was perfectly legal, so the teacher didn’t do anything for a year. The he came to me, and we filed a grievance, showing that the district had violated the mandatory dates for evaluations. PERB ruled that the district board can decide whether or not to follow its own policy, and a Superior Court judge upheld that decision, even wagging his finger in the face of our lawyer, Bob Bezemek. But the State Court of Appeals overturned that, and

representing “bad teachers.” That really bristles me big time. We’re defending people’s right to due process. It’s easy to take rights away from someone who’s unpopular. But that’s the first step to taking rights away from everyone. I’m defending me when I’m defending them.” ccc By David Bacon


8

PERSPECTIVE

May 2008

FRED GLASS , PHOTO

Local Action Palomar

Palomar pushes back against takeaways After fifteen months in stalled negotiations, Palomar College faculty were shocked when administrators began negotiating backwards. But they rallied, took effective steps to break the deadlock, and in the end substantially bettered their contract. Because negotiations dragged on for so long, the union won improvements, not just for the current year, but for the two previous years. In May of 2007, the district offered no more than the 2006-2007 5.92% COLA, which instructors had already received the previous December. In the new agreement, the Palomar Faculty Federation was able to negotiate over a million dollars of additional salary enhancements for 2006-2007 and additional substantial enhancements for 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. According to Shannon Lienhart, co-president of AFL Local 6161, “these gains were very significant, especially considering the current budget situation in California.” Harder to be positive It was harder to be that positive a year before, however. “We were in real trouble,” Lienhart remembers. “They were running right over us. When they came in with takeaways after fifteen months at the table, we knew we’d have to start a campaign.” Four EMT instructors, for instance, had historically been given district cellphones, since they had to be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The district took the phones away. Since 1993 faculty and staff had been able to visit the nurse in Human Services without charge. Administrators unilaterally began imposing a $10 fee. “The vice-president for Human Relations, John Tortarolo, was acting as a maverick,” Lienhart adds,“investigating faculty for no reason, confiscating their computers so that he could look through their electronic communications.” When Tortarolo was challenged on a proposal to violate the 60% load law, and asked to provide some legal justification for it, he told the union he didn’t have to. He then said he didn’t have to provide any justification for denying some faculty members leave time needed to manage their educational programs.

Calling AFT The union called the national AFT and got the help of Connie McKenna, an AFT field writer. They found ample campaign material in the district’s own actions. Two million dollars had been transferred out of the general fund without board approval. High level and highly paid administrative consultants were hired without the actions appearing on the board’s agenda. Administrators working parttime were paid on a secret salary schedule that was much higher than the pay received by faculty doing the same jobs. “That really got us angry. The number of full-time faculty here has plummeted, and we’re now in the 20th percentile in terms of the full-time/part-time ratio. So the college was funding itself on the back of part-timers, while administrators paid themselves secret salaries,” Lienhart says. Palomar College, located in north San Diego County, employs about 300 full-time faculty, and 900 part-timers. Talking to the press With the help of McKenna, the union began exposing illegal and financially questionable actions. Unfair labor practice charges were filed over the unilateral changes in conditions, and a PERB administrative law judge found that the district had “failed and refused to bargain in good faith” over the fee for visiting the nurse. The union began a newsletter, the Watchdog, and members started talking to the press. “Connie’s professionalism, the way she helped us frame the issues, really signaled to the administration we were serious about mounting a campaign that would expose the corruption and malfeasance on campus,” recalls Lienhart. “This information made its way to the local newspapers, and we started to get a lot of attention in the community.” Even the accreditation process for the college began to look shaky. Community colleges are supposed to evaluate themselves a year before the formal accreditation process begins, and are required to include people from all aspects of campus life. At Palomar, thirteen of the eighteen faculty members involved in the self-evaluation resigned in protest. Challenge brings change “The accreditation process itself could have come to a standstill,” says Lienhart. “The

Jim Mahler, delegate from San Diego Community College Guild, AFT Local 1931, rises to make a point during discussion of resolutions at annual CFT convention, held in April in Oakland. See story page 5.

administration felt they could do whatever they wanted. When we challenged them, we made them realize we’re not afraid to flex our own muscles to get what’s rightfully ours. And in the end they changed course.” Foot in the door The contract agreement won not just salary increases, but also got a “foot in the door” for preparation pay for part-time and full-time overload instructional faculty (an hour’s pay). The parttime faculty hourly schedule was split into instructional and noninstructional matrices. Instructors then got a 77¢ hourly increase retroactive to July 1, 2006. That cost the district $300,000. The PFF enhanced the starting salary for the first four rows on the 10- and 11-month salary schedules, and won a $1200 doctoral stipend for all full-time salary schedules. Both were also retroactive to 2006. Finally, the district was forced to agree that on top of COLA, all faculty schedules would get a 1.58% retroactive raise, costing $750,000. For the 07-08 and 08-09 years, 40% of any new funding received by the district for increased enrollment will have to go to faculty, which may lead to a .75% raise. In one of the most significant non-economic achievements, PFF won an appeal process for evaluations, in which faculty who receive poor ones can appeal to another body. The need for this was highlighted when a fourth-year faculty member at the end of his probation was not granted tenure. An administrative law judge ruled in his favor, but the district’s governing board still refused, and then spent a lot of money challenging the ruling. “It all could

have been resolved if we’d had an appeal process at the time,” Lienhart says. ccc By David Bacon

San Diego

New contracts equal gains for faculty and classified “Our overarching goals in bargaining,” explains Jim Mahler, president of the San Diego Community College Guild,AFT Local 1931,“was to get an expanded salary schedule, so that people didn’t get stuck after two steps. We made significant progress. In each round of bargaining we chip away at it.” On the faculty contract schedule A, the percentage between five of the top steps will be increased from the current 1.00% to 2.75%, putting these steps in line with the rest of the salary schedule. “Our focus,” he says, “was to increase the percentage between the steps which were lower than 2.75%, thus ensuring equitable future increases for all contract faculty.” Entry step D was eliminated, and all faculty on that step were automatically moved to step E. Faculty on overload schedules B and C will get an across-theboard 3% increase. At the same time, the fund for adjunct office hours was increased by $100,000 (or by a third), bringing the hourly rate to $20-25. The adjunct faculty health benefits program will continue to be fully funded with complete medical, dental, and vision coverage for the employee and dependents. The number of assigned workweek hours for non-classroom

faculty was permanently reduced from 34 to 33. One new contract non-classroom faculty member will be hired at City, Mesa, Miramar, and Continuing Education (four positions total). The Guild also represents classified employees, and reached a separate agreement for them. “After several months of struggle,” Mahler says,“we were finally able to win an excellent package of improvements for the office/technical unit.” Included in the new agreement are salary schedule enhancements and beneficial changes in overtime rules. Compensation for promotions and long term out of class assignments was doubled to 10%, as was the life insurance benefit (from $25,000 to $50,000.) Retiree benefits will now include dental and vision, with early retirement options. Bereavement leave has been improved. Robin Martindill, a union vice-president at Mesa College and member of the bargaining team, was especially proud of two new provisions.“This is really unique for classified employees,” she told the Perspective. Two committees, appointed by classified union officers, now oversee funds for a fully paid six-month Professional Study Leave Program, with tuition reimbursement up to $2500 maximum, and a $25,000 travel and conference budget. Mahler praised classified members for “hanging tough,” and not settling for early, unsatisfactory offers from the district. Martindill concurs: “I’m very pleased with what we ended up with.” ccc By David Bacon

John Kirk “Stands Up” continued from page 3

change my assignment. Shortly after this incident she took a new administrative position at another college in California as far removed as possible from our campus. Without John I would have been defenseless against this abusive treatment. Even though I had been a founding member of our local, this experience motivated me to step into a more active role with our union. This true story represents only one of many times that John has “stood up” for faculty rights. I have known John since the founding of Local 1493 and have seen him fearlessly confront poor administrative decisionmaking and abusive treatment of faculty on many occasions. Literally hundreds of faculty members, through the years, owe a debt of gratitude to John for his support and advocacy. ccc

Perspective, May 2008  

Community College Council

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