District still refuses to consider re-employment rights and continues to ignore new state law.
Your union’s negotiating team first met with the administration on February 3, 2017, to begin negotiations on a successor agreement to our contract. At first, negotiations were difficult but progressing: after 15 sessions, the union had accepted the district’s offer of a 4.56% across the board salary increase, had finally convinced human resources to institute an automatic step increase for part-time faculty (previously one had to apply), and had, in principle, agreed to pay for some professional development activities. Other union goals had to be curtailed or delayed. Then came the discussion of the new state law giving part-time faculty some re-employment rights based on seniority for assignments, dependent on positive evaluations, and requiring the district to negotiate “policies for termination,” also based on positive evaluations. Here the district balked, refusing completely to consider any system, arguing that part-time faculty’s reemployment rights are contained within the following (from 6.3.5 of the contract): “It is understood that although a Unit Member may meet the requirements as provided in section 6.2 (basically preferred consideration) of this article, this does not create any guarantee, right, or entitlement of the Unit Member to assignment or employment and nothing in this Agreement shall be construed as creating any obligation of the District to employ, renew the employment of, retain, or continue the employment of any Unit Member. . .” Your union refused to accept this.
We went to impasse, with the state sending a mediator to help resolve the conflict. He failed. Christmas came and went. Next step, in spring, the state appointed a fact finder, who, in April convened a 14-hour ONE-DAY session in which each side argued its positions for her. She has yet to issue her written report, but it should come soon.
YOUR 4.56% RAISE FROM LAST YEAR? The district has refused to implement the parts of the contract upon which we all agree. This means the raise from last year is STILL BEING HELD HOSTAGE! If you taught an average load last year, this means the district is holding approximately $500 of your money.
How to shake it loose? Once the fact finder’s report is received (and acted upon by the district Board of Trustees), the union is free to engage in various job actions, trying to force the district to comply with state law on re-employment rights and to pay you the raise that full timers and classified employees have already gotten. Please be sure the union has your current email address so we can contact you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile, start exercising those picket sign waving muscles!!! Also note the District Board of Trustees recently approved a $3,000 per year increase in salary for top administrators.
Yes, this is still going on (and on and on).
Mediation failed and now the union and the administration go to “fact finding,” which means a neutral fact finder is appointed to review the proposals of both sides and determine the “facts.” If the fact finder cannot push the two sides into a compromise, she issues a public written report that the Board of Trustees may use to force a settlement — if it gets to that point, the union will need YOUR help to lobby our Board of Trustees. The union is pleased that we were able to get Ms. Bonnie Prouty Castrey as fact finder; in our previous experience, she is not afraid to stand up to the administration when she thinks they are in the wrong. The fact finding hearing is set for the 19th of April. Your negotiations team is preparing a “book” on the 10 issues separating the union and the administration.
One “issue” is the salary increase of 4.56%. The administration continues to hold this increase hostage, trying to get the union to agree to give up completely on the issue of reemployment rights. The union has responded with a resounding NO, we will not completely bargain away reemployment rights! More than once the union has proposed implementing the raise, since both sides agree, and continuing to bargain the other issues. The administration has refused.
On the “issue” of reemployment rights (and the new state law), the administration continues to include in their proposal the words, “The District shall retain all customary and usual powers, functions and authority with respect to the employment, retention and termination of temporary faculty members to the full extent of the law, any provisions of this Agreement notwithstanding.” And the law to which they refer says part time faculty can be fired at any time for any reason (“at will” employment). Thus the administration feels the new law is meaningless. Your union does not think so! Neither does Assembymember Jose Medina who stated in a letter that the new law “will provide similar rights and protections to part time faculty that are afforded to full time faculty at California’s Community Colleges.”
Your union continues to fight for you!
New law leads to union negotiating rules for employee orientation
To make it easier for the union to reach new hires, the governor this summer signed AB 119, which requires California’s public employers to provide unions mandatory access to new employees at orientation. It also requires them to promptly provide contact information for new and existing unit employees within 30 days of hiring, including name, job title, department, work location, work, home and personal cell phone numbers, personal email address and home address.
The new law requires the college or university to negotiate the “structure, time and manner” of that access, and gave the administration and union 60 days to do it.
Some unions are asking for in-person (not just online) orientations within two weeks of the start of every term, given by HR personnel trained in the requirements of union-university agreements, with time for questions and answers.
Unions have often had difficulty trying to contact new hires in person — a key element in efforts to sign up new members in a post-fair share era. “We’re spread over a wide geographic area,” explains John Rundin, who teaches classics at UC Davis. “It’s hard to find people who might just teach one class, and who come to work with no idea that a union even exists on campus.”
AB 119 calls for more accurate and timely contact information. “Under the law, we’re required to represent all members of the bargaining unit,” Rundin says. “This is actually an opportunity to build a stronger union.”
—excerpts from an article by David Bacon, CFT Reporter
Governor signs CFT-sponsored bills calling for districts to negotiate with unions
Community college districts will be compelled to negotiate what CFT-sponsored legislation calls “reemployment preference for part-time, temporary faculty.” The landmark provisions require districts to negotiate with the union in order to receive significant funding available from the state Student Success and Support Program.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed the two bills on September 30: AB 1690, carried by former part-time instructor Jose Medina, D-Riverside, and SB 1379, by former teacher Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia.
What is “reemployment preference”?
Because part-time faculty in the California community colleges are defined in the state Education Code as “temporary,” they are not guaranteed any form of reemployment at the end of each academic term’s teaching assignment. However, many part-time faculty are in practice “reemployed” by colleges and districts where they have previously taught, frequently teaching two or more academic terms per year over many years.
Reemployment preference refers to rights earned by part-time faculty to be reemployed or offered an assignment by a college or district before other part-time faculty who have not yet earned those rights. Such rights are sometimes called “rehire rights” or “the right of first refusal.”
How will this law help part-time faculty?
Part-time faculty without any locally bargained “reemployment rights” have no ability to predict their future employment at institutions they may have taught at for decades and are effectively “at will” employees. Some but far from all California community colleges have established, through collective bargaining, some form of reemployment rights for part-time faculty. These range from a straight seniority list, with individual faculty ranked and then rehired according to length of service, to “pools” or levels of reemployment preference in which all members have achieved some minimum length of service. In this latter scenario, all members of a given pool or level have equal reemployment rights.
This law will require districts seeking state Student Success and Support Program funds to establish “minimum standards” for reemployment rights that include: length of time taught at the college or district; number of courses taught there; professional evaluations; and “availability, willingness, and expertise” of individuals to teach specific classes or accept specific assignments.
Will this affect my job? If so, when?
The law stipulates that in order to receive SSSP funds, any district without a collective bargaining agreement for part-time instructors in effect as of January 1 must begin good faith bargaining by July 1 with those instructors’ exclusive representative to establish a system of reemployment rights. Any district with a collective bargaining agreement is required to establish such a system “as part of the usual and customary negotiations between the district and the exclusive representative for part-time, temporary faculty.” Thus, negotiated changes will occur at varying times over the next several years.
What kind of reemployment can I count on in the future?
Because of the governor’s preference for local control of legislation implementation, we’re likely to see variations in the form reemployment rights take throughout the state. Changes where you work will depend on what local unions and districts are willing and able to negotiate on behalf of part-time faculty.
How can I strengthen reemployment rights where I work?
Because this legislation requires local bargaining by the exclusive representative of part-time faculty, you should communicate directly with your union leaders. Joinin discussions about this legislation, asking questions and adding your thoughts at union meetings and gatherings. Encourage your colleagues to do the same.
— By Linda Sneed, CFT Vice President and member of Los Rios College Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2279