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
Update on administration’s attempt to destroy the “preferred consideration” system for assignment of classes by seniority:
On December 8, 2017, AdFac and the district were to appear before an arbitrator to decide what Article 6 of our contract means. The union believes it means that if you are preferred consideration, you shall receive “priority” consideration (in seniority order) for your request for classes for the next semester/trimester. The administration is now claiming that this right is not subject to the grievance system of the contract. Thus, if a dean or chair did not assign classes by seniority order, the union would have no recourse. Not much of a right if its implementation is optional.
Three weeks prior to the arbitration hearing, the district informed the arbitrator that its star witness, former Vice Chancellor Jeff Horsley, now retired, would be on a cruise on December 8 and thus unavailable, even though, when this date was set up in October, the administration’s lawyers agreed to the December date. So the hearing is now set for the 9th of February. The union’s lawyer did manage to get the arbitrator to rule that the late cancellation fee would be paid completely by the district! (Usually all arbitration fees are split 50-50).
Thus, the administration continues to drag its feet on settling this issue.
Your AdFac Bargaining Team met with the district, under the auspices of a state- appointed mediator, on December 15. The session lasted from 9:30 in the morning until 6:30 in the evening! Kent Stevenson, Manjit Grewall, and Denny Konshak were there the entire time, with Tonya Cobb, Catherine Whitsett, and Pete Christenson participating at various times. The outcome: absolutely no progress. The administration remains adamant that part-time faculty do not deserve real re-hire rights and they persist in wanting to destroy the current “preferred consideration” seniority system by making it optional (that is, the Dean or Chair could assign classes by seniority or they could decide not to, their choice, and the union would have no way to enforce any compliance). Your team has rejected these administration positions and will continue to fight for YOU!
The next step in the process is to go to “fact finding” where a state-appointed factfinder takes testimony from both sides and determines the “facts” in a published report. Once the report is published (probably some time in Spring 2018), the union will need your help in lobbying North Orange’s Board of Trustees. Stay tuned!
On December 11, 2017, PERB filed a complaint against the district, claiming it had “failed and refused to meet and negotiate in good faith with” AdFac, largely based on the administration’s regressive bargaining – that is, when one side makes an offer, they can not “retreat” from that position, but must attempt to move closer to the other side. In this case, the administration had originally had, as one example, 2 ways to lose your “preferred consideration” assignment priority due to clerical miscues, but in a subsequent proposal upped that to 9 ways. AdFac informed the administration that these actions were regressive and then filed with PERB, who has confirmed that such actions would be illegal. Now the administration will get its day in court. In addition, the PERB complaint addressed the administration’s penchant for arriving late for pre-arranged negotiating sessions, noting “bargaining unit members arrived late on many occasions to negotiating sessions.” The worst occasion was when administration arrived 52 minutes late, as AdFac sat and waited. These actions “interfered with the rights of bargaining unit employees” and violates Government Code section 3543.5 (a) and (b) since it makes it difficult for AdFac to properly represent YOU.