Table Talk April 5, 2016

Here is a PDF of the April 5, 2016 issue of Table Talk: TableTalkApril2016final.

Here is the full text of the issue, so that articles may be found using our website’s search engine.

News at a Glance
•  Lead Story: UF 40th Anniversary Barbecues at CCC, DVC & LMC
•  Inside Negotiations: Salaries; Benefits; Calendar; Security; Load…
•  Hot Topics: UF Supports CSU Faculty; Supreme Court Union Case
•  Full-Time Faculty Issues: Paperwork, Program Leads and Chairs
•  Part-Time Faculty Issues: Calculating Part-Time Load and Pay
•  Know-Your Benefits: Benefits & Retirement Conference This Week!
•  Political Action Report: UF and Student Interns in Sacramento
•  President’s Message: Accreditation Reform; 50% Law Changes


United Faculty 40th Anniversary Barbecues

The United Faculty will kick off its 40th Anniversary celebration by hosting three lunchtime parties at CCC, DVC and LMC this spring. Each event will feature a free barbecue for faculty, staff, managers and students, live music (faculty and student performances with special guests), and some great games and giveaways (UF hats, shirts and more). Come help us celebrate four decades of fighting to improve working conditions for faculty and learning conditions for students.

CCC: Wednesday, April 20
in the “Chess Board Quad” by AA

DVC: Wednesday, April 27
in the Outdoor Commons

LMC:  Wednesday, May 4
in the Quad

Spring 2016 Negotiations Underway: Issues Roundup

With salary increases for 2016-2017 determined by formula, and with those calculations on hold until after the “May Revise” (when we hope funding may improve), the negotiating teams have been working on a broad list of other issues. Here is an update, in no particular order.

Compressed Calendar: We are close to an agreement that would move 4CD to 16-week semesters starting in Fall of 2017. Most assignments will simply expand proportionally to fit essentially the same amount of work into slightly shorter semesters (class meetings will last longer, for example, since there will be fewer of them). But in some areas, this proved complicated. Full-time faculty office hours, for example, led to quite a bit of discussion since on the one hand, leaving office hours at five per week over fewer weeks would lesson the total number of hours faculty are available to students, but on the other hand, five scheduled office hours have generally seemed to meet student needs. Our “straw design” therefore adds 1/2 hour per week of “unscheduled time” normally devoted to electronic contact with students (answering emails, text messages, etc.). This is something we think faculty already do, and most spend more than 1/2 hour per week communicating with students outside of class or office hours. But adding it to the contract clarifies that this work is part of a general expectation for faculty, even if it can’t be specifically monitored or policed by management. For counselors, we agreed that their 27.5 scheduled hours will increase to 30 under the compressed calendar. We are still working on the calculation for librarians and disability learning specialists, since we want to be sure they have enough unscheduled time each week to contribute to shared governance, etc.

Safety and Security:  Following a UF request last October to bargain over security-camera protocols, we agreed last week to modifications in proposed district policies that would allow police to expand the use of cameras to help keep our colleges safe while still protecting employee privacy. Under our agreement, cameras may not be used in disciplinary proceedings or investigations of policy violations except where there have been specific allegations of misconduct related to safety, including harassment, or significant misappropriation of resources for personal gain. We have also been talking about security improvements, such as equipping classrooms with electronic means of contacting police and posting security protocols, as well as incentivizing (or perhaps requiring) regular safety training. The teams met last week with the District’s new chief of police to explore options.

Load Task Force:  Making science lab load more equitable continues to be a high priority for the UF, so we have begun conversations over “related issues” such as class sizes in lecture sections that are linked to labs. In some cases, these lecture sections share the low class maximums of their linked labs, which means that some faculty teach double lecture sections with a relatively small number of students. Since the Task Force is charged with making recommendations to improve equity of assignments (in load and class size), we are exploring options in this area of double sections and class maximums. The Task Force is also expanding to review English, Art and PE this semester and will be meeting with those departments at all our campuses to verify data and seek department recommendations for possible changes.

Part-Time Office Hours and Parity: Adjustments to “parity” will depend on the compensation formula. Our office hour plan, discussed at length in negotiations last year, is to require part-time faculty to hold regular office hours and pay for part-time office hours on the salary schedule. But details will also need to wait for the May revise when the financial picture should become clearer. In the meantime, we are continuing to work on the Equity Hour Program, which should begin with paid training in the fall.  More on that soon.

Raising Pay for Non-Credit Courses:  Changes in State policy now provide full funding for a certain type of non-credit course: “Career Development College Preparatory.” In the past, the District received a lower-than-normal apportionment rate for all non-credit courses, which is why they pay at only step 1, column 1, according to the UF contract and cannot be used as part of a full-time faculty member’s basic “A” load. The low pay rate, however, has kept many faculty from developing and offering non-credit courses, and these classes, particularly the free college-preparatory courses that help students accelerate their education, are becoming increasingly popular. At the moment, 4CD offers no non-credit classes that qualify for the full apportionment rate. But since faculty will now have the option to develop these courses, we agreed to a straw design that clarifies that for any non-credit course where the District receives full apportionment (at the credit rate), Article 13 (which restricts pay) does not apply. In other words, faculty will be paid at their normal rate if they develop these new classes and can teach these classes for “A” load if they so choose.

Benefits and Wellness:  Our benefits workgroup, which includes representatives from Local 1 (classified staff), and Management Council, has been meeting regularly to explore a wide range of cost-saving options, but two ideas (both of which have been on the table for years) seem to have the most traction at this point. First, we are likely to agree to a change that would require future retirees who become Medicare eligible and want to remain in a District health care plan to choose a “coordinated plan.” This provides essentially the same medical coverage for retirees but saves significant money that could be put towards salary or other faculty spending priorities. Second, we are continuing to talk about a wellness plan that might combine incentives and disincentives over a four-year pilot to see if we can reduce health-care costs by raising health awareness (and put the savings into salary). We have also agreed to offer an employee-paid long-term-care insurance option. If you would like a preview of the wellness plan under discussion or the long-term-care insurance, we will have workshops on both at the upcoming UF Benefits & Retirement Conference (see the article in this issue of Table Talk).  Otherwise, expect to hear more about these plans soon.


UF Supports CSU Faculty Set to Strike April 13

The California Faculty Association (CFA), representing faculty throughout the California State University System, is preparing for a strike across all 23 CSU campuses beginning April 13-5 and 18-19, unless an 11th-hour breakthrough in negotiations changes the picture this week. CSU faculty are fighting for the same 5% salary increase that the UF negotiated this year, and a recent arbitration ruling suggests that they deserve the raise and that the system can afford it. CSU has so far offered only 2%. If CSU faculty strike, it will be the first systemwide walkout in CSU history and the biggest higher education strike ever in the US. The UF has sent a letter of solidarity and support to the CFA, and we encourage all our members to march with CSU faculty during their protest. We are fortunate locally not to have come to impasse in collective bargaining, and so we are not staging any kind of “walkout” in 4CD, but many of us will be heading to San Francisco, Sonoma or Hayward during our unscheduled time next week to walk in solidarity and to support investing in faculty as an investment in students.


Supreme Court Leaves Public-Sector Union Rules in Place

With eight justices, the US Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 on the case that might have changed rules for public-sector unions. The case is resolved and leaves in place the lower court’s ruling, which affirmed the current system.


Paperwork, Program Leads and Department Chairs

These things we know for sure: faculty in our system spend way too much time producing and verifying reports. Call it content review, program review, SLO assessments, requests, applications, reporting… it boils down to loads of administrative work that too often feels like meaningless busywork worth absolutely nothing to our students. Even the tasks that are worthwhile can be overwhelming in this context. And no group of faculty does more paperwork (or attends more meetings) than our program leads and department chairs. When do these hard-working faculty even find time to teach? When they are not hiring or evaluating part-time faculty, they are running from meeting to meeting, filling out forms, coordinating paperwork piles… the schedule alone has become an intense and high-stakes puzzle for many leads and chairs, who try, under terrific time pressure, to balance the preferences and availability of part-time faculty who often, for good reason, seem to rotate in and out unpredictably.

In short, we know the job of being a professor (and especially a program lead or department chair) has become harder and less focused on teaching in the last 15 years. What we don’t know for sure is what to do about it. Accreditation reform could be a big step, but it’s a slow train coming at best.  Setting limits in the contract or attaching specific stipends to specific tasks (like Program Review) might help.  And of course, we’ve been fighting for better pay or more release-time for Chairs and fair and predictable pay for Leads. But in many cases, faculty tell us that what they want, even more than money or release time, is more time to spend on teaching. For that we need more full-time faculty to share administrative duties, and we need to find a way to get rid of the pointless paperwork tasks so we can focus on the more meaningful projects. Not all these elements are contractual, and we may not have the answers yet, but we want faculty to know that these issues are on the front burner, and we raise them regularly in negotiations.


Calculating Part-Time Load and Pay

Figuring out load for a part-time faculty member in 4CD can be complicated, but it is important for lots of reasons.  Every part-timer should understand the “load adjustment factor” (LAF), for example. This is a multiplier that raises part-time pay for different teaching assignments.  When you look at the part-time salary schedule for 4CD (perhaps to compare pay here to other districts), it is crucial to know that the posted rate is lower than what faculty actually get paid. The LAF is applied to lecture, lab, and English Composition assignments. This is 1.148 for lecture and comp. and 1.02 for lab assignments. 4CD uses the LAF because it allows for parity pay to be applied fairly. By adjusting the hours upon which faculty are paid, we can raise pay for some while still keeping everyone on the same salary schedule. (Hours worked x LAF x salary rate=pay.)

Load is important too because of legal caps. Currently, part-timers can only teach 67% of a full load. So even though 4CD pays by the hour, the load value of each class is important. Load also affects part-time staffing preference and benefits eligibility. To help faculty understand load calculations, the UF has posted a new guide to PT load on the UF website:


UF Benefits/Retirement Conference April 8

For the sixth year in a row, the UF is partnering with the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges to host a full-day Benefits & Retirement Conference at DVC. The event is April 8, from 9am to 2:30pm, and will be held on the first floor of the cafeteria, the “Main Street Bistro.” Breakfast (starting at 8:15am) and lunch are provided free. There will be general sessions and keynote speakers as well as smaller workshops on a wide variety of issues: investment strategies and retirement planning; long-term-care insurance; wellness plans; STRS and social security; financial planning, and more. Representatives from all our district benefits providers will be on hand, as well as UF reps and District Human Resources folks. Drop-ins are welcome (as are guests, staff, managers, spouses), but please preregister on the FACCC website ( so we know you are coming.


UF Reps and Student Interns Lobby in Sacramento

Seven United Faculty Executive Board members and four UF student interns traveled to Sacramento at the end of February to attend FACCC’s Advocacy and Policy Conference and to lobby elected officials on behalf of community colleges. As is true most years, budget priorities were at the top of the faculty agenda this year. With colleges facing steep annual increases in pension contributions, any budget that does not provide at least enough new ongoing revenue to cover that new expense is essentially a cut in base funding, so additional “Cost-of-Living Adjustment” funds (COLA) or “base restoration” seems essential.  We also sought more money for full-time hires and full-service part-time faculty. Our student interns shared their stories with legislators, which is always moving and valuable. And everybody participated in terrific advocacy training workshops from FACCC.


UF to Attend State Budget and Education Hearings

Budget hearings in Sacramento are scheduled for Tuesday, April 5, at 9am. UF leadership will be there, along with faculty from around the state. We are pressing for more money for full-time hires, part-time categoricals, and restoration of base and COLA (money that can go to salaries and other faculty priorities like lab load adjustments and compensating program leads). The Higher Education Committee will hold its hearing April 12. At this meeting, AB 2069, which would add reporting on part-time office hours to the “Student Success Act of 2012,” will be heard. Part-time faculty are particularly encouraged to attend this hearing. Not everyone who comes needs to speak. Just showing up helps us illustrate the urgency of our concerns. If you would like to join the UF in Sacramento, call the office at 925-680-1771.


President’s Message

Accreditation Reform and Other Changes in the Works


Last issue, I started by congratulating Helen Benjamin who had just announced her retirement.  Now, I find I must congratulate Peter Garcia, who also has apparently decided to leave us after many years in the District, including an impressive tenure as DVC President. Most faculty know DVC has struggled terribly at times to find effective and collaborative leaders. Pete’s time here has been a kind of renaissance. Even as the pressures of accreditation and the general shift towards faculty performing more administrative duties have frustrated many of us, Pete has supported faculty efforts to bring procedures under control; he has helped create a new design for our college based on partnerships; and he has begun the difficult conversations related to re-evaluating the college budget. DVC is better for his time spent as our president. Although quite a poker player, and at times a force to reckon with, we will miss all those times when his engaging, gregarious nature was at the forefront of his interactions with students, staff, and faculty.

One of the biggest challenges we all face, of course, has to do not with local leadership but with statewide education policy. The pressures and paperwork forced upon us by the ACCJC have done significant harm to students by distracting faculty from our real job, which is teaching and serving our students. The latest news on this front is that there is mounting support from all directions to change accrediting agencies. Two committees have been formed, made up primarily of College and District CEOs, although we have been advocating for continued faculty input/involvement. The first, led by our Chancellor Helen Benjamin, will seek to work with the ACCJC to enact short-term reforms. The second committee will explore options for a different accrediting agency. If and when there is a switch, however, there will be significant lag time, since no district will start with a new accreditor until the beginning of a new cycle. This could mean six years between the time a new agency is chosen and the time some districts will leave the ACCJC. Thus the committee Helen is chairing is particularly important.

The State Chancellor’s Office also has a group working on writing legislation to amend the 50% law that requires districts to spend at least 50% of their money in the classroom (on faculty mainly). Districts have long complained that counselors and librarians should count on the classroom side of the 50% law, which they currently do not. The proposal under consideration apparently would move counselors and librarians to the good side, as it were, but would also increase the percentage from 50% to something more. The same group is also looking at ways to pressure districts to make progress towards the State’s goal of 75% full-time faculty. One idea is to require that “growth” dollars always be spent in part towards improving FT/PT rations.  We seem to be at a turning point. Faculty should play a key role in ensuring the changes are good ones.

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