Table Talk January 26, 2017

Here is a PDF of the January 26, 2017 issue of Table Talk: TableTalkJAN2017FINAL.

The full text of the issue is also reprinted below so that articles can be found using our web site’s search engine.

Table Talk

The Newsletter of the United Faculty of Contra Costa Community College District

January 26, 2017


News at a Glance

•  Lead Story: Ratification Vote Starts for 2016-17 Tentative Agreement
•  Inside Negotiations: UF Negotiators Discuss TA & Look Ahead
•  Hot Topics: Governor’s Budget Includes 1.48% COLA;
Jason Mayfield Named UF Vice President for DVC
•  Full-Time Faculty Issues: Investing in Faculty Leadership
•  Part-Time Faculty Issues: Revised Part-Time Handbook Available
•  Political Action Report: New Political Landscape Shifts Strategies
•  President’s Message: Raising Faculty Voices

Ratification Vote Begins
for 2016-2017 Tentative Agreement

Our on-line ratification vote to accept the Tentative Agreement (TA) reached by UF and District negotiators last December will begin on Monday, January 30, with votes due by noon on February 9, 2017. The morning of Jan. 30, a voting link will be sent to all UF members at their campus email addresses, along with instructions. Votes will also be accepted by fax, phone or email, as the voting instructions will explain.

The full text of the TA is available for review on the UF website:

The UF Executive Board has voted unanimously to recommend ratification to our members. We have scheduled several drop-in meetings so that faculty may discuss the TA with UF negotiators, and we welcome questions by phone or email as well. Since the centerpiece of the TA is a plan to shift 4CD to 16-week semesters starting in fall of 2018 (the so-called “compressed calendar”), we have also reposted on our website videos and written materials from our discussions and research on calendar issues from the last couple of years.

The TA also includes a one-time, off-schedule bonus of about 1.25% for the year, calculated as 2.5% of base pay for the current (spring 2017) semester. There are also provisions to improve campus safety and to remove restrictions and increase compensation for some non-credit classes, as well as a retirement incentive of up to $20,000 for faculty who retire this year. Negotiations for 2017/2018 will begin almost as soon as the ratification vote for the 2016/2017 TA is complete.

Inside Negotiations
UF Negotiators Weigh In on the Tentative Agreement

Mike Anker is a retired Philosophy Professor (CCC and DVC) and former statewide Academic Senate President. He has served on the UF Negotiating Team and as the UF’s Budget Analyst for the last 17 years. Mike writes: “Even though the state’s revenue increased again this year, the Governor tied up almost all the new money the district is receiving so that an on-schedule salary increase was not possible. However, in the long run, the most important thing the District needs to do is increase enrollment, and this agreement has two provisions that should help with that. The agreement enables the colleges to expand their non-credit offerings, and that should attract some students who aren’t currently served by our courses. The agreement also provides for how the compressed calendar will affect faculty (as well as compensating faculty for the work revising courses). When other districts have made the change to a compressed calendar, they have seen retention improve, which also helps to increase enrollment. Students seem to like the shorter semesters, so there is reason to hope our District will attract some students who currently go elsewhere. Perhaps in time there will even be an intersession each January providing some additional opportunities for faculty to earn additional income and, also, some more enrollment.”

Marina Crouse teaches Spanish at DVC and recently completed a term as UF Vice President. Marina writes: “Negotiating the compressed calendar was a lot of slow work, and we know there are valid pedagogical concerns, but all the faculty with whom we talked from other districts that made the switch seem to like it and say it’s better for students. Since we think it will help the District capture “growth dollars” in future budgets (which will help us negotiate better salaries and benefits), we decided sooner was better than later. Getting some one-time money this year also made sense, since after last year’s 5% raise, we could not find new ongoing money for a salary increase.”

Milton Clarke teaches Political Science at LMC and serves as a UF Vice President. Milton writes: “The safety piece in the tentative agreement sprang from management’s desire to establish a comprehensive policy on security cameras. Although there was unanimous agreement on the importance of cameras in helping police keep our campuses safe, the UF did not want to see managers using video to monitor times of arrival and departure of district employees. We proposed that security cameras should be employed only to help District Police enforce the law (and not to help managers enforce district policy). Happily, we reached agreement that security video can not be used in disciplinary proceedings except where safety or theft is a concern.
That initial negotiation led to a wide-ranging dialogue on safety that resulted in provisions including a general safety review, classroom communication equipment, and safety training. Safety was clearly an issue that illustrated more commonalities between the UF and District teams than differences.”

Jason Mayfield teaches Geology at DVC and has just given up his positions as UF treasurer and interim benefits director to become a Vice President.  Jason writes: “There are a number of reasons why I support the current TA even though critical negotiations remain for this spring semester. Importantly, this agreement makes resolving negotiations on science lab load a top priority for spring. We must conclude this topic in negotiations so that the Load Task Force may then start work on many other areas that deserve our attention. The affirmation in this agreement directs our efforts to that end (and sometimes even small steps like both sides agreeing that an issue has become a priority can seem important at the bargaining table). Second, I support this agreement because it directs the district to begin the transition to a compressed calendar. Although I am opposed to compressing the calendar for pedagogical reasons, a majority of the faculty previously polled in favor of the compressed calendar, and in support of those faculty, I am in favor of this agreement. Also, having a compressed calendar agreement that is mostly separate from a compensation agreement allows the faculty to vote more freely on this important change. Lastly, this agreement provides a separation incentive that will benefit those faculty who had planned to retire this year expecting a step-27 increase. We will still be fighting for that increase next year, but it would not come soon enough for anyone who retires this year. I am also pleased that this agreement documents the UF’s and district’s shared commitment to providing the safest possible workplace.”

Donna Wapner is United Faculty President and a Professor of Health and Human Services at DVC. Donna writes: “There are no concessions in this agreement except that it doesn’t address several key issues we have brought to the table, but refusing to agree would not have sped up talks on those other issues. Raising pay for some non-credit classes will be good for faculty and good for growth. 16-week semesters will mean more teaching opportunities for part-timers (during intersessions) and more time off for full-timers for the same pay. And the data shows that students prefer it. Plus the retirement incentive was important to us this year. It is going to be a busy year, but I hope we start by ratifying this agreement.”

Doug Dildine teaches Theater at DVC and is the UF’s Part-Time Faculty Advocate. Doug writes: “Although this TA does not really address any big part-time issues, part-timers will appreciate the one-time 2.5% spring bonus. If 16-week semesters allow for more summer classes and/or a winter intersession, that might mean more classes for faculty without being stopped by the 67% cap, which only applies to fall and spring.  We expect pay equity and proportional office hours to be on the table this spring.”

Jeffrey Michels teaches English at CCC and is the UF’s lead negotiator and Executive Director. Jeff writes: “We decided to close the deal on the calendar with a few little wins attached, but the work this year is still ahead of us. The Governor’s budget includes a 1.48% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) as well as a small increase to “base,” but the STRS increase to employer pension contributions will certainly eat up new ongoing money, and there is nothing yet in the state budget for new full-time hires or improving part-time jobs. We may make progress with the Legislature before the “May Revise.” The State Chancellor’s Office seems optimistic. But so much money is now tied to specific programs (SSSP; Equity; Strong Workforce and the latest $150 million proposal: Guided Pathways), that negotiations seem to get more challenging every year. Our goals for the spring include a salary increase; implementation of Step 27 from last year’s agreement; science lab-load equity; getting fair compensation for our coaches; compensating certificated program leads; part-time parity progress and proportional office hours… and that’s a long list of outstanding issues. Meanwhile, as the political landscape shifts, we will likely need to devote energy and resources to protecting our pensions, our academic freedom, our right to bargain…  Ratifying this agreement is an important first step for this spring because it will allow us to put a couple key issues to bed and move forward on the rest.”

Jason Mayfied Named UF Vice President for DVC

DVC Geology Professor Jason Mayfield has been appointed UF Vice President for DVC by UF President Donna Wapner. Per the UF Constitution, Jason’s appointment will need to be confirmed by a vote of UF members from DVC. Also reappointed to new two-year terms were Milton Clarke as UF VP for LMC and Jeffrey Michels as UF VP for CCC, as well as Douglas Dildine as the districtwide UF Faculty Advocate. All will also need to be confirmed by a vote. The ballot for the Tentative Agreement will therefore also ask faculty to confirm these leadership appointments. Jason Mayfield steps up to replace outgoing UF VP Marina Crouse after Mayfield served a term as UF Treasurer. Katrina Keating (DVC Math) has agreed to resume her former position as treasurer. And Michael Shannon (CCC English, part-time) was elected secretary by the UF Executive Board. We do have openings on the UF Board as well as on several important workgroups this year. If you would like to get involved and join our team, please call the UF office at 925-680-1771 or send us an email at

Full-Time Faculty Issues

Investing in Faculty Leadership

A key priority in negotiations this spring will be getting our district to finally invest more consistently and fairly in faculty leadership positions. We think that some of the new “Strong Workforce” categorical funding should go to Certificate Program Leads, since “more and better Career-Technical Education” (the stated goal of the Strong Workforce program) certainly must include faculty having the reassigned time they need to coordinate great programs. As more and more money comes to the district with new reporting requirements, from grants to SSSP and Equity projects, some program funds need to go to support department chairs and other faculty leaders. Freeing up full-time faculty to do administrative work, however, should not mean fewer full-timers in the classroom. We need to leverage the new categorical money for new full-time faculty hires as well.

Part-Time Faculty Issues

Revised Part-Time Faculty Handbook Now Available

The fourth edition of the UF Part-Time Faculty Handbook  is off the press, and part-timers should each receive a copy via campus mail this week. More copies are available from the UF office. (Call Terri at 925-680-1771). We also have an on-line version on our UF website:  The Part-Time Faculty Handbook covers a wide variety of workplace issues, from pay and benefits to photocopying and parking. The index makes it easy to find what you need quickly. Sections in the book include department and division membership; scheduling and class cancellation policies; ways to move up the salary schedule; how to take leave when you need it; evaluations and staffing preference; unemployment benefits for part-timers; retirement options and more. There is also a wealth of information available for part-time faculty on the UF website. Just click on the “part-time faculty” link on the right side of the homepage. The website has a search tool, which makes it easy to locate specific information. Navigating work at different districts can be confusing! The UF is here to help. If you don’t find what you need in our publications, just send an email ( or call. We are happy to provide faculty with confidential advice whenever you need it.


PAC Report

New Political Landscape Means Shifts in Strategy

The battle for accreditation reform, in which UF leaders have played a key role working with our partners in the California Community College Independents (CCCI) and the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges (FACCC), took several positive turns recently. Just last week, City College of San Francisco regained full accreditation after more than five years fighting with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). Combative ACCJC President Barbara Beno, whom many have blamed for the Commission’s having lost the trust of educators throughout California, has been placed on “administrative leave” until her retirement at the end of this year. And reports are that under new leadership, the Commission is already changing its approach in positive ways.

Even so, most of our system’s leaders (including faculty reps) believe that a fresh start with a new accrediting agency would be best for CA community colleges. A State Chancellor’s Office workgroup made up of college administrators has called for a single accrediting commission for higher education in California, and many hope this signals an imminent break with the ACCJC (which does not have the legal authority to accredit baccalaureate programs or 4-year institutions). Administrators and faculty finally seem to be coming together on this issue, even as a new secretary of education and new administration may introduce new federal threats to our peer-review accreditation process. Joining the Western Association of Schools and Colleges’ Senior College and University Commission (WASC Senior), faculty are now arguing, might not only reform our broken and burdensome accreditation system but also might help protect our system from the wrong sort of changes.

Education reform has clearly become a big business, and rather than simply funding schools, both the federal and state governments seem increasingly to want to fund “reform.” The Governor’s initial budget proposal calls for $150 million in one-time spending on “Guided Pathways” as well as $20 million for “innovation awards.” With so much money at stake, consultants who offer to help districts win competitive grants and meet reporting requirements (as well as new full-time administrators hired to do the same) may be the biggest winners. So faculty advocates increasingly must seek to explain to legislators the need to invest in the classroom itself.

Improving accreditation (particularly by decreasing paperwork for faculty) and influencing the budget process are probably our biggest goals this year.  But we are also gearing up for what might be big fights ahead on collective bargaining, public pensions, tenure and academic freedom, as well as open access and safe spaces in every sense for our students and colleagues. As we are working with our legal advisors and statewide partners to defend against political threats, we are also going on offense on some issues. This week, for example, a group with whom UF leadership works called the Reclaim California’s Master Plan for Higher Education Coalition has released a lengthy position paper illustrating how California could afford to eliminate tuition for college students. (The paper is available on the UF website.)

We are also working with CCCI to craft new legislation that would improve due-process rights for faculty once there has been an allegation of misconduct. Our recently filed “Unfair Labor Practice Complaint” against 4CD deals with this same issue. Faculty too often find themselves accused without being given enough information to adequately prepare a defense. UF leaders will be making the rounds soon to discuss budget issues and our new bill with local legislators. If you are interested in joining us in advocacy efforts (or have interested students), either in Contra Costa County or in Sacramento, email the office at


President’s Message

Raising Faculty Voices

Effective messaging in an environment where people are bombarded with slogans, tweets, and “alternative facts” has never been more essential. Unions, unfortunately, have been losing the messaging war for a long time. Once clearly associated with helping workers and improving working conditions, unions now find themselves facing “right to work” states that are slowly eroding the freedom of collective bargaining and extinguishing the standard-of-living gains many fought so hard to attain. Faculty face similar public relations challenges. To those who believe that tenure “protects bad teachers,” arguments in favor of “academic freedom” seem unconvincing. Bad teachers, after all, are easy to picture, and although “freedom” sounds good, who the heck knows what “academic” means. What kind of freedom is that anyway? Even arguments to “invest in public schools” may seem weak when pitted against arguments for “school choice.” Investments are complicated and risky. Choice sounds grand.

How then do we confront today’s dangerous sound bites? How do we market open-access, public higher education? How do we package complex ideas like collective bargaining, tenure, or peer review (let alone science lab-load equity)? Ironically, the key lies exactly in what we do. Education itself, with an emphasis on critical thinking, is the best antidote.  Our system’s values of inclusive excellence; equity through diversity; innovation, practical pathways to careers as well as lifelong learning — these are exactly the kind of values that are needed to help develop the thoughtful leaders of the future. So whether it means marching, writing letters, attending meetings, or just continuing to help our students learn how to find credible source material, faculty must stand up for the importance of informed and reflective discourse. We must tell our stories. We must provide the research to show that higher education is a pathway to increased income mobility and that an educated society is a stronger society.

Our UF Executive Director, Jeff Michels, often says that in the absence of good leadership, people listen to whomever steps up to the microphone. It has simply never been more crucial that faculty be in the foreground of policy debates about colleges. Rather than backing away from politics because we are discouraged or because our ideas don’t fit neatly into six-word slogans, we need to step up and debunk myths; we need to rally and support one another. There are lots of ways faculty can influence district, statewide, or national agendas. But it will take our collective voices to make forward progress in the next few years. Think about how you will help!

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