Volume 41, Number 1
Community College Council of the California Federation of Teachers American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
Fight for California’s future Local collective bargaining and the possibility for delivering quality education will be tightly constrained until the game is changed in Sacramento.
page 3 ry of t Histo Recen of Living st the Co t (COLA) tmen Adjus ifornia in Cal unity Comm ges l Co le
State community college budget in a death spiral. The numbers have gone from bad to worse.
Big organizing victory in Grossmont Cuyamaca Faculty in the newest bargaining unit in the CCC chose AFT over an independent union because they realized they couldn’t solve all their local problems locally.
California Federation of Teachers 1201 Marina Village Parkway, Suite 115 Alameda, CA 94501
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The human face of the Great Recession in California’s community page 4 colleges
Taking the Lead Carl Friedlander, CFT Community College Council President
n October 17 sixty elected leaders of California community college locals and chapters gathered at the Four Points LAX.What was ground-breaking about this gathering was that the participants came from both CFT and CTA bargaining units. Union leaders representing more than half the State’s colleges attended. In addition to the many CCC/CFT local leaders present, top officers of CTA- affiliated faculty bargaining units came from Shasta, College of the Desert, Sierra, Mt. San Antonio College, Gavilan, Rancho Santiago, Rio Hondo, Long Beach, Merced, Southwestern and Kern.
other; develop an agenda for joint activity; hear some outside perspectives on unification; and get input for future gatherings. Judging from the tone of the day and comments on written evaluations, participants enjoyed interacting with colleagues from the other union. In their evaluations, they provided valuable input on how to make future gatherings as worthwhile as possible and expressed strong interest in attending such gatherings. Strong, unified voice in Sacramento Assemblyman Warren Furutani (D-S. L.A. County), founder of the Legislature’s Community College Caucus, told attendees
PHOTO BY DAVID MILROY
Frank Espinosa, vice president of the San Jose Evergreen AFT Local 6157, speaks during the CCC/CCA meeting October 17.
No fights broke out and no tempers flared. Despite the history of sometimes contentious relations between the two unions, the focus on Oct. 17 was squarely on the challenges of the present and future, not the interunion battles of the past. Faced with the worst budget in the history of California Community Colleges, tens of thousands of part-time faculty losing assignments, rapidly escalating threats to pensions, and an astonishing number of colleges on some form of sanction from the Accrediting Commission, union leaders gathered at the Four Points to put their heads together and join hands, not to replay old arguments. I co-chaired the meeting with Ron Reel, my counterpart from CTA’s Community College Association (CCA). We set out four objectives for the day: CCC and CCA local leaders should begin to get to know each
that community college employees needed a strong, unified voice in Sacramento. But Furutani cautioned that this voice could not defend the status quo. Despite the change in the White House, calls for reform and accountability were going to get louder, and not go away. He urged union leaders to step up and take charge of the reform process. Attendees heard from Greg Mulcahy, President of the Minnesota State College Faculty, the union representing all faculty from Minnesota’s technical and two-year colleges and a part of Education Minnesota, the statewide merged union of educators from pre-K through university. Every member of Education Minnesota is affiliated with both AFT and NEA, and Mulcahy talked about what life was like for community college faculty in a merged state. A large portion of the
On front cover: Students, faculty and staff are all feeling the squeeze of the Great Recession PHOTOS BY MARILYNE CLEEVES AND RICHARD COLEMAN
meeting was devoted to discussions of joint CCC-CCA projects that were already underway, how they could be expanded, and ideas for new joint projects that could be undertaken. Reel and I described the recent agreement that allows CCC and CCA locals to access full membership lists (including K-12) of both the CFT and CTA in local trustee elections.This new mutual support pact has already benefited a couple of CFT and CTA community college locals in elections November 3. Carolyn Widener, the elected community college representative to the CalSTRS board, made a compelling argument that there are issues in CalSTRS unique to community college faculty— fulltime faculty and, even more critically, part-time faculty—and that it would be very difficult to address these issues within the current organizational structures of CFT and CTA. Carolyn recommended creation of a joint CCC-CCA workgroup to fully explore these issues and shape recommendations that both statewide unions could press CalSTRS and the legislature to implement, a recommendation enthusiastically embraced by those present. Part-time faculty in attendance were similarly enthusiastic about the idea of joint meetings between the two unions’ part-time committees, meetings where not just retirement issues but a whole array of
issues affecting part-time faculty could be considered. During a discussion of joint activity regarding accreditation, Friedlander distributed copies of a PERB charge against Lassen Community College for unilaterally requiring employees to complete and submit a plan for the assessment of SLO’s with their course syllabus. CFT will likely file an amicus letter in support of the CTA complaint. Joint activities Attendees had plenty of ideas for joint activities: a unified website and listserv, a joint research project and public relations campaign focusing on community college student success; suggestions for specific pieces of legislation and a joint legislative task force; and joint conferences on retirement, benefits and part-time issues. These were just some of the suggestions made. October 17 certainly increased the bandwith of communication channels between CCC and CCA.These had been limited previously to the elected statewide officers of the two groups, all whom had been participating in the ongoing unity discussions.With another gathering already being planned for February 20 and a long list of ideas for joint activities, the conversation will now be taking place on a scale that would have been hard to imagine just one year ago. ccc
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COMMUNITY COLLEGE COUNCIL President Carl Friedlander Los Angeles College Guild, Local 1521 3356 Barham Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90068 Email email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.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.
he Great Recession has slammed California about as hard as any state. Our 12.2% official unemployment rate is fourth worst in the country. The impact on community colleges, via increased state budget deficits, includes turning away students, higher fees for the ones that remain, and reduced staffing and services. These effects add up to a severe hit on our ability to deliver the quality education the public needs and deserves.
It didn’t have to be this bad. The effects of the economic downturn have been greatly exacerbated due to the Golden State’s intractable Legislative gridlock. While the public has a universally poor opinion of the Legislature, relatively few people understand the heart of the problem: three states need a supermajority for a budget, and several require one to pass a tax. California is the only state in the nation that requires a two-thirds legislative vote to pass both a state budget and any new tax. With the Republican Legislative caucus hovering just over onethird in each house, and all but one of these elected officials signatories to Grover Norquist’s “no new tax”
pledge, the Democratic caucus, although by far the majority, cannot enact a program that mitigates cuts to education and social services with tax increases. If by “democracy” we understand majority rule, then democracy has collapsed in California. Things haven’t gotten bad for everyone. In its recent report, In the Midst of the Great Recession: The State ofWorking California in 2009, the California Budget Project notes that the top one percent of taxpayers in California has nearly doubled its share of adjusted gross income since the early 1990s, from 13.8% in 1993 to 25.2% in 2007. These taxpayers average $1.6 million in income per year.The state tax rate of this superrich group has
been reduced during that time from 11.3% to 9.3%. Why? This was but one of the tax loopholes opened up each and every year during state budget deliberations in order to persuade a few Republicans to vote for the state budget. This small-seeming difference means billions of dollars in lost revenue to the state each year. If one wants an explanation of California’s budget woes, this is the proper place to begin. California can still be a good place to live in the future, with a decent education system and adequate public services, safe streets and healthy people. But to get there from here, to be able to invest in our future, we must overturn the undemocratic two-thirds rules that are digging our structural budget deficit deeper and deeper. That’s why CFT has kicked off a long-term education and activism project, the Fight for California’s Future. Its goals are to help our members better understand the state budget process and what has happened to income distribution,
PHOTO BY FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ
Fight for California’s future
Pajaro Unified School District board member Karen Osmundson joins teachers in a demonstration that connects the dots between local school budgets and the dysfunctional state Legislative budget process, which requires a two thirds vote instead of simple majority.
and to help build a movement for fair tax policies that ask those who have benefited the most from our state to contribute their proper share to the common good. The campaign task force has produced printed materials and a slideshow for presentations to members and the public. It is holding speaker training workshops around the state. It is conducting outreach to other unions and community organizations to build a coalition that shares these
goals. It is considering local and statewide direct actions for this spring.And it is working closely with locals to improve their capacity to elect local and state government officials who support public education and public services, and believe in progressive tax policy as the mechanism to invest in California’s future. ccc By Fred Glass For more information on the Fight for California’s Future campaign, go to www.cft.org.
Solidarity growing across systems of higher education new wave of campus activism is on the rise, propelled by draconian state budget cuts. Since summer, students, staff and faculty have come together to defend public higher education, in the process forging promising new coalitions across traditional divides.
Especially in the University of California and California State University systems, organizing has centered on broad demands, such as fighting student fee increases, layoffs and furloughs, pay cuts, and privatization of public education. UC rocked In July, UC Regents granted emergency financial powers to UC President MarkYudof, who issued orders for furloughs, and over the objections of the Academic Senates on all ten campuses, mandated that they take place on non-instructional days. Senate faculty, invoking shared governance, declared that some of the furloughs must
occur on instructional days so that students and the public would understand the impact of the cuts. When the Regents andYudof refused, faculty from each campus, in an open letter, called for a walkout and day of action. According to Mike Rotkin, longtime lecturer at UC Santa Cruz and UC-AFT vice-president, “I haven’t seen senate faculty so angry and politically active since theVietnam War.” On September 24, members of the University Professionals and Technical Employees, CWA, walked off their job at each UC campus and were joined on picket lines by members of other UC
PHOTO BY AARON TRAPP
SDCC food service workers wear their AFT blue t-shirts on September 24.
unions, senate and non-senate faculty, and students. Throughout the day, across the state, faculty, staff and students organized teach-ins about UC finances, the state budget and how it works, protecting the "public" in public education, and many more topics related to education, politics, economics and society. Levels of involvement varied from relatively limited walkouts to complete disruption of business as usual in Santa Cruz and Berkeley. The largest gatherings of the day were the noon rallies. Five hundred showed up to the Santa Cruz event, and a like number in Riverside and Irvine. San Diego had over a thousand participants, UCLA seven hundred. At least five thousand filled historic Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley, prompting many speakers to compare the import of the day's events with the Free Speech Movement in the 1960s.The rally then transformed itself into a massive impromptu march through downtown Berkeley, where chants of “Whose university? Our university!” ricocheted against the office buildings. Inability to prioritize CFT sent representatives from K-12 and community college locals to most of the rallies to speak. A dozen CFT locals distributed blue AFT t-shirts to their members along with flyers asking the membership to wear them on September 24 for two reasons: to
Whose university? Our university!” protest and publicize cuts to K-14 education, and to stand in solidarity with their UC brothers and sisters. CFT President Marty Hittelman told the crowd at the UCLA rally, “UC administrators and the governor share an inability to prioritize students. A quality education for all should come before tax loopholes for the rich and corporations, and student access to education should come before enormous salaries for administrators.” Oil severance tax Two weeks later, during the week of October 12, the California Faculty Association organized rallies at CSU campuses. CFT sent K-12 and community college speakers to the CSU rallies as well. The union for CSU faculty had a sharply focused agenda in these events, bringing Assemblymember Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont) to keynote several of the gatherings and highlight his bill,AB 656, which would dedicate revenue from an oil severance tax to California higher education. AB 656 would bring an estimated $100 million per year to the community colleges, and split the rest of its revenue (based on a 9.9% tax) between UC and CSU, for a total of about $1 billion per year. California is the only state among
twenty-one oil-producing states without an oil severance tax. Throughout the state and in UC and CSU events alike, remarkably consistent messages ccc have been emerging, including vows of cooperation between K-12 and higher education advocates, broadening the field of struggle to defend all vital public services, and most importantly, a growing awareness of the root of the problems in the state’s dysfunctional legislative rules and inequities in a tax system that redistributes wealth to the already wealthy while starving public education and services. The spirit of the events and determination to fight did not end with the September and October actions. Ad hoc groupings and other more formal structures are continuing to coalesce and grow and plan at the time of this writing, often with a strong direct action orientation. Students “liberated” the Anthropology Library at UC Berkeley over the October 9 weekend for a teach-in, keeping it open despite UC administration decisions to close it each Friday at 5 pm. On October 24, hundreds of education activists in northern California converged on UC Berkeley, answering the call of a student based General Assembly to deliberate the next steps in defending public education at all levels. ccc By Fred Glass
The human face of budget cuts C
David Robinson, who’s worked since he was 14, hoped he’d get automotive mechanic training, and a good job at the end of it. “But by cutting these programs and raising fees,” he says, “you're cutting opportunity for a lot of people who need it." Another endangered student is Tina Vinaja, a mother of three teenagers whose husband took a weekend job to help pay her tuition hikes. Monica Mejia, a single mom, wants to get out of the lowwage trap. "Without community college,” she says, “I'll end up getting paid minimum wage. I can't afford the fee hikes. I can barely make ends meet now.”
PHOTOS BY MARILYNE CLEEVES (TOP) AND RICHARD COLEMAN (RIGHT). MIDDLE PHOTO COURTESY OF KAREN SCHADEL.
Small part of the picture These students make up a small part of the picture of suffering engendered by the economic crisis in the community college system. According to
Marty Hittelman, president of the California Federation of Teachers, and a community college math instructor for more than thirty years, the system will turn away over 250,000 students this year alone. “Where can they go?” he asks. “UC? CSU? The workforce? None is a viable option—for both economic and political reasons.” California has a 12% unemployment rate, one of the nation’s highest. During a recession, the need for community college typically rises with a flood of economic refugees. Yet, due to the state budget crisis, community college fees, once non-existent, rose 30% just last year, and colleges are reducing course offerings. “As a result,” Hittelman says, “hundreds of thousands of students enrolled in California community colleges are unable to get the classes they need and thousands of part-time faculty are without classes to teach. So, as in the universities, the student returns for paying higher fees are increased class size and fewer available classes.”
“Hundreds of thousands of students enrolled in California community colleges are unable to get the classes they need and thousands of part-time faculty are without classes to teach. The student returns for paying higher fees are increased class size and fewer available classes.” Kind of invisible Brenna Fluitt will face an especially difficult situation because of class cuts. Fluitt is a homeless student at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo. “I’m not the only one,” she says. “I see them on the campus a lot, although to most people, we tend to be kind of invisible.” Fluitt’s been on the streets for three years. Part of what keeps her there is anxiety itself, which is so serious that she’s classified as a disabled student. Clearly budget cuts produce even more anxiety. The two programs she depends on to keep in school, Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) and Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS), are both facing cuts. “The reality is that people who need these services won’t be able to get them,” she predicts. While she often says that a homeless life doesn’t bother her, she sometimes lets another view reveal itself. “I’m sick and tired of being homeless,” she declares. “The cops harass you here, and it’s a very expensive community to live in.”
Fluitt sees education as her pathway to a good job, permanent housing, and a life off the streets. Right now, though, she lives in a van. She gets her mail at her parents’ home, while other homeless students receive theirs at two local agencies that offer mail-receiving services to people who don’t have a fixed address. “I need school,” she explains. “Before I started, I felt I had a label on my forehead saying ‘I’m homeless.’ I just wanted to be by myself, and stay in the car.” Fluitt wants to study accounting, and knows that she could make a living with an AA degree if she can get through the next two years at Cuesta. “I like math and I’m good at it,” she says, “and I find computer science easy for me as well.” But when she went to get her classes this fall, she couldn’t pre-register and had to add them as she could get them. And she was lucky. Many other students found themselves turned away from overflowing classrooms. “I don’t know what classes they’ll cut next,” she says. “One class I need is only given this fall, and they’re cutting it next spring. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get what I need.”
Shared insecurity That insecurity is shared with teachers and classified workers as well. Emily Haraldson, a freeway flyer who teaches art history, found herself without one of her two jobs when the fall semester began. She got her first position as an instructor at Mount San Antonio College in 2004, after getting her degree at Cal State Northridge. That gave her two classes. Then, in 2005, she got another three classes at Glendale Community College. She tried working at the Carnegie Museum in Oxnard three years ago, but living in Los Angeles, curating in Oxnard, and teaching in Walnut led to putting 20,000 miles a year on her car. And she found that part time community college positions, for all their problems, pay a lot better than museums. This summer she got a letter from her department chair at Mount SAC, noting that the college “was cutting 5% off the top,” and telling her she might not get as many classes as she wanted. After sending her schedule in to her supervisor, however, she was told there were no classes available for her at all. “That cut my income by a third right away,” she says. “We fell a month behind on our mortgage, so we don’t eat out, go to movies or rent DVDs. I didn’t buy new clothes for my two boys, and don’t have the money for preschool for the youngest.” Fortunately, Haraldson’s husband is a musician whose steady gig is at night. That helped make up for the lack of
Top: Brenna Fluitt, homeless student at Cuesta College. Middle: Karen Schadel, administrative assistant in Yuba College (center) with supportive colleagues. 56 classified employees at Yuba have received pink slips. Right: Emily Haraldson, art instructor at Glendale College, has lost her classes at another college.
PHOTO SOURCE: NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION
esar Cota, a student at LA City College, was the first in his family to attend college. "Now it's hard to achieve my dream,” he says, “because the state put higher fees on us, and cut services and classes."
“They’re laying off all the staff that provide the services to a thousand students here. When I asked them what the plan was for continuing, they said there was none.”
preschool, and even more important, for the lack of money. “As it is, we’re considering selling my car,” she notes. Haraldson sees students suffering the consequences as well. “At Glendale, I’ve had students begging to get into my classes. We can only accept three to five over our cap,” and the college can’t accommodate everybody, she says. It’s hard to envision a future as a teacher in these circumstances, says Haraldson. “Teaching will always be part of my life-—I’m called to do it. But I may not be doing it here. Full time jobs are next to impossible to find, and now adjunct jobs are getting cut. Still, I can’t complain. A lot of other people have it worse off.” Sudden decision One of them might be Karen Schadel, an administrative assis-
tant to the dean of social sciences at Yuba College in Marysville. Schadel has not only done that job for 14 years – she practically invented it, or “massaged it,” as she puts it. “I schedule 200 classes every semester,” she explains. “I work with 15 full faculty members, and over 30 part time instructors. The relations you form in this job are very strong. Now I’ve been told this job can be done by a secretary.” Schadel, a member of the California School Employees Association, says the decision to eliminate jobs was very sudden. District administration announced it was cutting the positions of 56 classified employees and two managers. The Board of Trustees “rubberstamped” the decision on October 14, she says. These positions account for
won’t show us the budget numbers, how do we know they’re telling us the truth about the need to do all this?”
590 years of service. There won’t be an interpreter for disabled students, or a science lab technician. The transfer center career counselor, who’s been there for 24 years and is fighting cancer, will be gone. The athletic facilities maintenance person, with 35 years, will be eliminated, along with three custodians. “This place is already dirty, and without them, it will be filthy,” she predicts. “And if you call to get something cleaned, there won’t be anyone to answer the phone.” The district eliminated thirty classes this semester, and has cancelled summer school 2010. The college library, already down to four evenings a week, will only be open two now. Increasing the frustration, the district has refused to release any budget information. “They tell us we don’t need to see it,” Schadel fumes. And while the state only mandates a 5% reserve, the district is insisting on upping that to 7%. “They’re balancing their budget on classified employees,” she declares. “I don’t feel any confidence in their ability to made good decisions. If they
Elimination of program Susan Downing, the campus operation specialist for the Yuba College site located on nearby Beale Air Force Base, has similar doubts. “They’re laying off all the staff that provide the services to a thousand students here,” she says. “When I asked them what the plan was for continuing, they said there was none.” That could lead to elimination of the program itself, since the district has a memorandum of understanding with the military specifying the kinds of services it will provide to the currently enlisted personnel, their families, veterans, and other civilians who take courses at the base. Some soldiers even take classes online, while they’re serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The district pays nothing for the buildings and facilities it uses on base. “I’m 57 years old, and I’ve been doing this job for 22 years,” Downing says. “I have no retirement rights, so I’ll be
skills education tasks traditionally shouldered by AEP will simply vanish, and what’s left of adult ed will probably be absorbed within the community colleges in a few years. But, she warns,“Very few community colleges currently serve the truly low proficiency reading level students—excepting San Francisco, San Diego, Glendale, maybe a few others. But most community colleges are not well set up to handle this constituency.” According to a recent study by the California Budget Project, Basic Skills Education in California: At a Crossroads, nearly one in four adult Californians cannot read and understand a newspaper. This is a major constituency served by AEP. Turetsky predicts that “there is going to be a dumbing down, a
less literate group that will swamp basic skills classes in community colleges. It will lower the proficiency levels, the literacy levels.”Another reason that community college faculty should be concerned about what’s happening in AEP is that “this will widen the number of temporary teachers out there without work, increasing competition for jobs, more skilled teachers vying for same positions.” Turetsky thinks other agendas are at work behind the budgetary issues. “The budget crisis has been used to justify union busting, removing union rights, health benefits. Most adult school teachers are temporary teachers, and this has given administrators license to do a sweep.”
put on the street. My husband is a veteran disabled since 1990, and I survived cancer a year ago. It took all we had. Economically, this will put us in a very bad position. They’re not only breaking our hearts with this, but they’re breaking our spirit.” While Schadel will be able to bump a less senior employee, she has no guarantee that the second job won’t be eliminated as well. “Bumping someone out makes me feel crummy to begin with,” she says. “But my husband is disabled, and if my job goes away, we’ll lose our house and car.” The official unemployment rate in Yuba County is 17.5%. Says Schadel, “Everything is up in the air right now. I’m a wreck.You can’t talk to anyone for five minutes around here without them breaking down and crying. Morale is below zero.” That describes pretty well the feelings of too many community college teachers, workers and students throughout California. This is the human face of budget cuts. ccc By David Bacon
Wither Adult Ed?
Thanks to the state budget crisis—and if the Oakland district is any indicator—this is not a farfetched scenario.“In Oakland, we lost 120 teachers overnight. We lost over 260 classes. We lost more than sixty community partners, who provided space for classes in their facilities. Those agencies are essential.” Adult schools, until very recently, provided a lot of community services that cities and counties don’t furnish, including some types of mental health. AEP served parolees, and many marginally functional individuals. “Now,” says Turetsky,“they will be out on the streets without any services: older adults, adults with disabilities, people who need special programs, parenting programs, community based learning for parents who have kids in public schools. And these people, many of them immigrants and English language learners, won’t be
capable of college work.” The state Legislature and governor has slashed the AEP budget by 20% since 2007-08. And because they also eliminated rules for categorical funding, K12 administrators desperate for core program maintenance have, in many districts, drastically reduced their Adult education course offerings and workforce. Four have shut their doors and more are slated to close next year. Turetsky, who teaches in Career Technical Education and ESL, thinks most of the basic
For instance,“Now that the K12 general fund has the money, the Oakland administration has decided to entirely eliminate adult educator health benefits.” At the same time,Turetsky has lost all but one member of her bargaining team to layoffs. She has this message for community college faculty: “We’re all in this together. Because we serve so many of the same students, we can’t afford to be isolated anymore from one another in defense of our budgets.” ccc By Fred Glass
PHOTO SOURCE: NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION
o, that’s not a typo in the headline. Where the state’s Adult Education Program (AEP) is headed is clear enough to Ana Turetsky, longtime Oakland adult educator and president of AFT Local 771: “If something doesn’t change, soon, very soon, we won’t have adult education in California.”
Working the Floor Judith Michaels, CFT Legislative Director
Legislative perils and progress ommunity colleges wrestle with hard choices due to the significant drop in state revenues, coupled with Legislative reluctance to enact taxes to address California’s needs. Part-time faculty lose significant portions of their livelihoods, while students and faculty struggle with increasing class sizes and inadequate support services. Meanwhile the state Board of Governors debates revising Title 5 regulations pertaining to implementing Fifty Percent Law requirements that each community college district spend at least half of its “current expense of education” each year for salaries and benefits of classroom instructors, and again decides that declining state revenue means that full-time faculty hiring obligations will remain unchanged for Fall 2010.
Our two-thirds threshold for passing the state budget allows the Legislative minority to refuse to look at a balanced solution to the fiscal crisis.As CFT works to change current realities, Republicans who deviate from caucus positions face severe retribution. Assemblyman Mike Villines (RClovis) and Senator Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto) lost their minority leadership positions after budget votes. Assemblyman Anthony Adams (R-Hesperia) cast a deciding “aye” budget vote last year with full knowledge that “this will probably be the end of a political career for me.” Republican Adams targeted by Republicans When Adams voted, he became a target, because the plan included $12.8 billion in temporary tax increases. Republicans plan to recall Adams for his principled stand, to “bring back accountability to run-amuck politicians, and put the tax hiking Sacramento machine on notice.” Elected to the California State Assembly in 2006, Assemblyman Anthony Adams represents the Lake Arrowhead
Local Action continued from page 8
recalls. “We didn’t have much experience, and he turned out to be a real champion of teachers. Some faculty were suspicious at first, thinking the AFT just wanted to take us over. But they could see that Jim was just there to help, that he didn’t have some ulterior motive.” “We just want as many education-friendly boards in our region as we can get,” says Mahler, who believes solidarity between teachers and unions should naturally lead to concrete cooperation. Overall, all candidates in the 2006 board election spent more than $260,000, and in the end Barr
area, plus surrounding communities in Los Angeles County, and would like to continue doing so. "As a community college graduate I have seen first hand how California's CommuniAnthony Adams ty Colleges shape and prepare students to be productive members of our state's workforce and contribute to the economic success of our state. I am committed to ensuring all students have access to affordable higher education and have the opportunity to achieve their dreams." Most elected officials do not come to Sacramento to cut education. We ask them to consider legislation that will enhance student learning at our colleges by making the teaching profession attractive to the professors of tomorrow, whether they come from graduate schools or as second-career educators from other
took 55% of the vote, enough to avoid a runoff. Political program Because of that experience, Grossmont Cuyamaca faculty began to develop a political program. In November 2008 they supported Mary Kay Rosinski, a speech/language pathologist in nearby National City, who’d twice been president of the city’s teachers’ union. Rosinski emphasized the need for attracting more full time teachers and classifieds, and she was endorsed by United Faculty and the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council. Her opponent, 12-year-incumbent Timothy Caruthers, was supported
fields. Some have answered our request to carry bills called for by our CFT convention.
faculty, will allow community colleges to better serve their student population.
Ruskin carries FACE Elected to the Assembly in 2004, Ira Ruskin represents District 21, encompassing much of Silicon Valley, and serves on the Higher Education Committee. He carried FACE (Faculty and College Excellence) this year as Legislative Resolution 31 through the Higher Education Committee on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee where policy-makers held on to it, deciding that fulfillment of its intent would create undue pressure on the state budget. Ruskin carried ACR 31 because fulltime faculty members are central to academic excellence, integrity, and freedom, which in turn translate into better service of students.The current fulltime/part-time ratio stands at 57/43, and part-time faculty teach an increasing percentage of community college courses; moreover, colleges compensate part-time faculty at significantly lower wages and benefits Ira Ruskin than fulltime faculty and they too often lack basic supports such as paid office hours. Ruskin believes that pay and benefit increases for part-time faculty, and ensuring that these faculty members have a process to become full-time
Eng a CFT member Assemblymember Mike Eng represents the 49th Assembly District, within eastern Los Angeles County. Eng is also a part-time community college instructor, and a proud member of the AFT College Guild Local 1521. Eng agreed to carry AB 1267 to extend the State Teachers Retirement System’s longevity benefit even Mike Eng though it stood little chance of reaching the governor this year.This longevity bonus, created by statute in 2000, encourages educators to provide additional service in the profession in order to qualify for an increased retirement benefit. However, the law limited eligibility for this bonus to a 10-year period so the state could reevaluate the need for continuing it indefinitely. Eng agreed with the CFT that it was worth the fight to extend the benefit, scheduled to end on December 31, 2010, despite its cost, because it offers a continued benefit to those members who will have served an extraordinary number of years at the point of retirement.
not just by the local Republican Party, but also by the ultra-conservative California Republican Assembly. This time Grossmont Cuyamaca teachers were even more successful. Rosinsky took 69% of the vote. At the same time, Graham herself ran for the San Diego Community College Board. In June last year she was forced into a runoff with Dwayne Crenshaw, a director of a non-profit agency. Both were endorsed by the AFT and labor council. In November she was elected with 57% of the vote. During that fall campaign, Grossmont Cuyamaca faculty also decided to join forces permanently with the San Diego AFT local. Card
circulation began, and by March of this year, the petition to make AFT their bargaining representative was filed with the signatures of 72% of the combined full time/part time unit. “We wanted access to expert leadership, and we needed it right away, not at the end of a long training process,” Graham says. “Joining Local 1931 meant we could grow at a faster pace, with the infrastructure already in place.” In June Local 1931 won 64% of the ballots cast. “There are a lot of problems we have to work on now,” Golden says. “Part timers are woefully underpaid, with no healthcare.” The old union contract expired in June, but remains in effect until
Ma helps part-timers Elected in 2006 to represent
the people of California’s 12th Assembly District—including San Francisco, Daly City, Colma and Broadmoor—Fiona Ma also engaged in an important retirement struggle by carrying AB 360, calling for a comprehensive study by STRS to examine the feasibility of either creating a new program for part-time community college instructors or modifying current programs to make retirement benefits more equitable for part-time instructors. "As the state's fiscal situation continues to worsen, it is these instructors who will be the first to feel the effect of the reduced funding. Because the teacher’s retirement system was originally created for full-time employees, many part-time faculty lack the equitable benefits that full-time faculty receive. Although there have been tweaks to attempt to repair the system, the current options for part-time community college instructors remain inequitable." We thank these legislators, and those who voted for these bills, for standing with us. Bills moving through the legislature, whether or Fiona Ma not they reach the governor, allow official statewide debate on principles important to our members.We cannot allow budget constraints, even of this magnitude, to divert us from our purpose. ccc
new bargaining begins. Grossmont Cuyamaca faculty have 12 seats on the Local 1931 executive board, out of 67. Each bargaining unit chooses its own representatives, and mixed teams bargain contracts so that each unit has the benefit of the whole union’s expertise. Contracts are ratified by the members of the bargaining unit they cover. Now Grossmont Cuyamaca teachers have their eyes on the 2010 election. Three seats are up—Barr’s, and those of two conservative incumbents. “We’re going to change that board,” Michael Golden predicts. ccc By David Bacon
COURTESY OF AFT 2121
State community college budget headed into a death spiral t is hard to understand how reducing our investment in public education is good for the economic and social vitality of the community. The 2009-10 budget cuts to community colleges are having a significant negative effect. Many students, faculty, and classified staff only realized the impact as we returned for the fall semester.
The July budget package reduced community college Prop 98 funding by $812 million. This represents a 12.53% budget cut. When you combine that with the loss of our statutory Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) of 4.24%, community college Prop 98 funding is down by 16.77%. In addition, $1.03 billion (yes, with a B) of our funds will be deferred. The funding from January to June in 2010 ($703 million) is deferred until July 2010, the next fiscal year. This will make it difficult for many districts to meet payroll and other institutional costs, and may force many to borrow funds. Many of us are concerned about these deferrals because; 1) they create a $703 million deficit the following year’s budget, 2) the legislature might cut the deferrals to balance the 2010-11 budget, and 3) these deferrals may become a permanent feature of the community college budget. Categorical reductions Categorical programs have been reduced by $312 million ($705 million in 2008-09 to $393 million in 2009-10), which represents an overall 46% reduction. Some categorical programs “without flexibility” such as Basic Skills, EOPS, and DSPS were cut by 40%, while categorical programs “with flexibility” such as Matriculation, Transfer Education and Articulation, Part-time Faculty Compensation, Part-time Health Insurance, and Part-time Office Hours, were cut by 51%. How will our Basic Skills, EOPS, DSPS and Matriculation programs meet student needs, especially since these programs serve some of our most vulnerable students? The cuts to the Part-time categorical programs highlight the targeted effect this budget has had on part-time faculty. Districts around the state have been reducing class sections,
resulting in part-time faculty losing their jobs and income. The loss of one class by a part-time faculty member can mean that they no longer qualify for health insurance benefits. With the reductions in Part-time categorical programs they will lose even more. Federal stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvesttment Act (ARRA), were supposed to help mitigate the extreme cuts to the categorical programs. However, the anticipated $130 million in ARRA funds trickled in at $35 million, and could not even be directly allocated to categoricals. Student fee increases One of the worst things that passed in this budget was the student fee increase to $26 per unit. Students will be paying more to find fewer classes, coupled with an unprecedented number of students from CSU and UC competing for those same classes, and with fewer support services. For the first time student fee increases are now used to directly fund community colleges ($80 million). You only have to look at the tuition increases at CSU and UC to know how dangerous a precedent this creates. We were always able to
effectively argue that student fees were taxes on those who can least afford it. The revenue that student fees generate for the state’s overall general fund is extremely small, but the impact they have on enrollment and on access to higher education is very large. This is why we have been able to keep student fees from skyrocketing over the past 10 years. But now our opposition can lobby,“Don’t you want student fees to go up slightly to fund critical student services in your community college district? Besides, students have financial aid.” Even some of the community colleges’ administrative leadership supports this idea. The future does not look any better. The current state budget already has a $7.5 billion deficit, thus raising the specter of midyear cuts. The budget in 201011 has an anticipated $15 billion deficit when both the ARRA Funds and the tax exemptions sunset. The budget in 2011-12 is anticipated to have more than a $15 billion deficit caused mainly by sunsetting temporary tax increases. We are headed into a death spiral; we need to fight for California’s future. ccc
Gus Goldstein and Ed Murray hold up the banner for AFT 2121 at a City Hall rally on October 15 called by a coalition of students, faculty and staff in K12, community college, and universities in support of AB 656, for an oil severance tax that would help fund public higher education. The bill, if enacted, would bring an estimated $100 million share to community colleges.
Recent History of the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in California Community Colleges 2005-06 = 4.23% 2006-07 = 5.92% 2007-08 = 4.53% 2008-09 = 0% 2009-10 = 0% 2010-11 = 0%
By Dean Murakami
California Higher Education Funding (General Fund Dollars in Millions)
University of California (UC) California State University (CSU) California Community Colleges
$3,257 $2,971 $4,170
$2,420 $2,156 $3,948
$2,636 $2,338 $3,736
-$621 -633 -434
-19.1% -21.3 -10.4
Local Action Los Angeles L.A. College Guild’s intern program gets results This summer Hosea Dixon participated in “Standup4CC,” a student internship program sponsored by the Los Angeles College Guild, AFT Local 1521. He called his experience “overwhelmingly positive,” and said he'd become “a markedly different person because of it. Not only has it given me a genuine feeling of control—control over campus issues, control over state and federal affairs, control over aspects of my life I felt I was far removed from—but it has also given me a sense of purpose.” As a result of his internship experience, Dixon is continuing to work on promoting access to education and other community issues. “For the first time in my life I feel fully invested in the future of my community, my state and my country,” he says. For Zack Knorr, coordinator of Standup4CC, Dixon’s experience shows the success of the program. “We develop student leaders,” he explains, “who go on to do this work in unions, in politics, and throughout their lives. As educators, that’s what we’re looking for.” Knorr, hired last semester to run the program, is a full-time philosophy instructor at Valley College. According to John McDowell, Director of the Los Angeles Trade Tech Labor Studies Department, Knorr has made an enormous difference: “He’s really a dedicated organizer. From a program with uneven results over time, everything is now clicking on all cylinders.”
Legislators pay attention This past year student interns organized meetings with every state legislator in the area, sharing their stories of the pain caused by the cuts, and establishing a regular relationship. They collected the signatures of 30,000 fellow students on postcards protesting fee increases and budget reductions. “Legislators pay attention to students,” Knorr says, “and see them as less self-interested than faculty. When students tell their stories, it has a big impact, and if you multiply that by 2 million community college students statewide, you can see the potential power they have.” Student interns put in thousands of hours phone banking for the campaign of President Barack Obama before the November election, and in the spring contest over seats on the college district Board of Trustees, turning out other students as well. They organized a student meeting with Senator Dianne Feinstein, urging her to support the Employee Free Choice Act and progressive health care reform. “In 2010 we’re going to focus on the governor’s race,” Knorr predicts, “as well as legislative seats and the initiatives that will affect state budgets and community college funding.” A former student activist himself on the Riverside campus of the University of California, Knorr hopes that the program will spread to other community college districts. “Our local tried different ideas over the years before setting up the internships,” he explains. “Now our members can see that this program works, that it gets results. Plus, working with students is inspiring. The interns have taken ownership of it, and that’s what will make the mobilization campaign program work and continue to grow.” By David Bacon
San Francisco Local 2121 cuts overload to save jobs When Gus Goldstein told the members of the CFT Community College Council meeting what her local had done to protect current part-time faculty jobs, CCC representatives burst into applause. Why? Because it was so clearly the right thing to do. Goldstein is president of San Francisco Community College Federation of Teachers, AFT Local
1931 followed a long effort to increase its political strength in the district. “We were getting our butts kicked,” Golden explains, “by a very conservative board. One trustee says teachers and firefighters are the most overpaid people in the county.” Mary Graham, chair of Cuyamaca College's Communication Arts Department and another leader in the AFT campaign, remembers back further, to a time when “we had a friendly district, with little sophistiStudent interns from Pierce and Valley Colleges and faculty coordinators of cation or antagonism.” In those the Standup4CC program in the LACCD visit Bob Blumenfield, D-San Fernando Valley, to let him know how it is these days for community college days, she says, the independent students. From left, Clay Gallardo, Elizabeth Valldejuli, Zack Knorr, Emily union worked well. But both agree Harake, Carl Friedlander, Joanne Waddel, John McDowell, State that the situation of teachers became Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield, Marcos Perez, Jessica Gallardo, markedly worse when the district Esmerelda Catalan, Jacob Lynn, Samuel Lara. hired a new human resources director. “He had no respect for us, and hadn’t even read the Ed Code.” 2121. Facing the prospect of reduc- a more complete picture for the ing class sections, the leadership of whole district.” More corporate district Local 2121 discussed options with Golden says teachers also began the chancellor at the negotiating By David Bacon that some of their biggest seeing table. As a result, the district agreed problems couldn’t be resolved localto the union’s proposal to “lay off” ly, like the erosion of tenure and the retired faculty first, and then to skyrocketing cost of health benefits. eliminate overload classes taught by “In addition,” he explains, “the disEl Cajon current full-time faculty before cuttrict became more corporate, and ting part-timers’ jobs. Big AFT organizing win in would litigate every issue. An indeGrossmont Cuyamaca pendent union didn’t have the Organize against cuts resources to fight this effectively. The proposal followed Local On June 26 the official results One faculty member had to take out 2121’s adoption of a resolution to were announced in a long quest by a $70,000 home equity loan to organize against budget cuts and for faculty at Grossmont Cuyamaca defend himself when they went after a solution that will restore funding Community College for effective him for criticizing district manfrom the state and at CCSF, actively representation in both bargaining agers.” joining efforts consistent with this and political action: AFT 439, indeIn 2006 many United Faculty purpose. Included in the list of pendent union 230. Michael Gold- members urged the union to run activities it pledged to initiate were en, who’s taught biology and candidates for the district’s board of to “provide a voice for CCSF facul- ecology for seventeen years and trustees. When the union said it had ty against the layoff of our unit helped lead the AFT campaign, said no resources for such a campaign, members,” and to “provide a voice the results “make me feel happy and Golden, Graham and others set up for faculty at the bargaining table by optimistic, much better about our an independent political action reaching out to our most vulnerable future. These are scary times, and committee, Citizens for Educational unit members and negotiating with we need a strong, smart, democratic Responsibility. One of their candithe District over the impact of the union. Now we have one.” dates was Greg Barr, who’d taught cuts on our unit members’ jobs and working conditions.” 2121 did have concerns about unintended effects. As Goldstein put it, “For instance, what would happen if all the ceramic teachers in the art department were retirees? We wouldn’t want to simply eliminate all ceramics classes—we don’t want to change programs in an unbalanced way.” Saving jobs Within the union the proposal was controversial. Some faculty with overload classes were not happy to see them cut. “But another teacher came to me,” she recalls, “a person with 60% overload, who said they knew that eliminating it might save the job of a part-timer. Overall, I think there was more solidarity than unhappiness.” So far it’s hard to gauge the proposal’s effect, however. The district hasn’t been able to provide a list of laid off teachers. “We don’t know the number of layoffs among parttimers,” Goldstein says. In anticipation of possible further cuts, the union is asking faculty with any load reductions to fill out an information sheet on the union’s website. “We need people to selfreport the results as they know them,” says Goldstein. “Then we can put those reports together to get
Teachers began seeing that some of their biggest problems couldn’t be resolved locally, like the erosion of tenure and the skyrocketing cost of health benefits. Local 1931 already represents faculty at next door San Diego Community College, along with several other bargaining units. Grossmont Cuyamaca runs from the eastern edge of the San Diego district to Imperial County, and south to the Mexican border. In 2008 the district had 362 full time faculty members, and 1037 part timers, on two campuses: Grossmont, in El Cajon, and Cuyamaca in Rancho San Diego. The decision by the Grossmont Cuyamaca instructors to join Local
for 22 years at Fallbrook High School, and was twice president of the union there. Barr was a strong critic of the ratio of full time to part time faculty at Grossmont Cuyamaca. His main opponent, incumbent Arkan Somo, was a charter school promoter endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce. “Jim Mahler, president of the San Diego AFT Guild, came as an individual to help us,” Golden continued on page 6 PHOTO BY SANDY HUFFAKER
New urgency Set up in 2003 by McDowell, the program acquired a new urgency and mission in the wake of California’s extreme budget cuts, and their impact on community colleges. The internship program now takes six students from each of the nine campuses in the Los Angeles Community College system. They’re trained in basic organizing techniques for 18 hours each semester, through the LACCD’s Dolores Huerta Institute. They learn how to put together events, rallies and visits to legislators, and build a committee of students on each campus. They then put their skills to work in three areas. They mobilize other students on each campus, speaking in classes, getting postcards signed protesting the budget cuts, and inviting legislators to speak at campus rallies. They take that student energy and try to focus it on the state legislators who make decisions over the future of students and their college. And the interns take part in general election activity in Los
Angeles. Students in the program receive $1000 per semester. They have to attend meetings and put in 5 hours of work each week.
PHOTO BY KAREN CALDERON
Grossmont Cuyamaca science instructor Michael Golden.