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