Table Talk May 17, 2017

Here is a PDF of the May 17, 2017, issue of Table Talk: TableTalkMAY2017FINAL.

The full text of the issue is also reprinted below so that articles may be found by our website’s search engine.


Table Talk

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

May 17, 2017

News at a Glance

•  Lead Story: May Revise Increases College Funding Significantly
•  Negotiations Update: Year End Issue-By-Issue Progress Report
•  Political Action Report: Budget Advocacy in High Gear
•  President’s Message: Investing in People, Not Just Programs

May Revise Includes Big Increases College Funding

The Governor’s “May Revise” to his proposed 2017-2018 State Budget, released last Thursday, brought welcome good news for California Community Colleges, with a significant increase to base apportionment: $160 million in new, ongoing, unrestricted money to help districts afford “increased operating expenses.” There was also a slight addition to the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), from 1.48% to 1.56%, as well as expanded support for some programs and services (including “full-time student-success grants”).

While we are still analyzing the details, we believe the new budget proposal would increase ongoing funding for our district next year by about $3.5 million (over and above what the Governor’s January budget would have provided), which should be enough to both fix the District’s structural deficit and allow us to address some faculty priorities in collective bargaining. We have scheduled a UF/4CD Compensation Committee meeting for June 8 to begin discussing the revised budget picture with District leaders.

Of course, the May Revise is still not the budget, and as the Legislature begins the next phase of the budget process, more changes are certainly possible. One key area the budget does not address is our system’s need for more full-time faculty, nor is there any restoration or increase proposed to the part-time categorical funds (for pay equity and office hours). Although the Governor’s proposal suggests that Districts might use some of the new unrestricted money for “converting faculty from part time to full time,” we know that for most districts, including ours, the increase to base apportionment will mostly need to go to general expenses, including benefits costs, pension contributions, and raising salaries to keep pace with cost-of-living increases. So faculty are still pushing for additional funding for full-time hires and part-time pay.  Still, the May Revise is excellent news overall.

Faculty “Bonus”
Will Be in June 30
for Full-Time Faculty
and July 10
for Part-Time Faculty

The one-time, off-schedule payments to faculty negotiated as part of last year’s collective bargaining agreement will be included in the regular June 30 and July 10, 2017 paychecks.

These “bonus” payments, calculated as 2.5% of base pay for the spring 2017 semester are to help compensate faculty for the extra work connected to both switching to Canvas as our learning management system and  compressing courses to fit into the 16-week semester format coming in fall of 2018.

Negotiations Update: An Issue-By-Issue Progress Report

2017-2018 Negotiations Schedule

After a productive meeting last Friday, May 12, the UF and 4CD negotiating teams agreed to suspend talks for the summer and resume in early September with the goal of reaching a Tentative Agreement for 2017/2018 in the first part of the fall. Our Compensation Committee will meet throughout the summer to review the budget together and to try to establish a solid foundation for successful talks in the fall. The issues on the table for discussion in the fall are listed below with brief updates. They are not listed in order of priority or in any particular order.


Salaries (COLA; Step 27; Part-Time Parity; Raises; Advancement)

By most calculations, faculty throughout California, including in our district, lost 16-18% against the cost of living during the last recession. As home prices and basic living expenses in the Bay Area have skyrocketed, faculty are having to take on extra work just to make ends meet. It is no wonder that the word faculty picked most often in our recent survey to describe themselves was “exhausted.” The UF therefore tries to treat Cost-of-Living-Adjustments (COLAs) as a basic floor for salary increases every year. We feel that we are making progress any year we get a raise above COLA (which is always our goal). Any year we get less than COLA, we know that we are losing ground. Of course, we always include benefits when discussing total compensation, and increases to health-care premiums and pension contributions can eat up available new money, but unless salaries keep up with living expenses, we know that from an employee’s standpoint, our jobs are getting worse.

In addition to across-the-board salary increases and COLAs, the UF has been seeking to make some improvements to our salary schedules and policies, and to improve pay equity in many areas. Two key issues recently have been longevity raises for full-time faculty and pay parity for part-time faculty. In 2015/2016, we agreed with the District to add five more steps to the full-time faculty salary schedule with a 2% raise at Step 27, but this provision, which should have taken effect this year, was never implemented because the District exercised its right to reopen that part of the agreement citing an unexpected structural deficit. We are hoping that now that the budget picture has improved, we will be able to implement the Step 27 agreement next year without much more negotiation. Part-time pay parity is an area where we have made some progress in fits and starts over the past few years using the “load adjustment factor” for part-time assignments. Our goal is eventually to see our district offer equal pay for equal work in teaching assignments (with part-timers paid by load and salaries based exclusively on education and years of service). But we continue to lag behind other districts in this area, so we are seeking a long-term plan and funding commitment.

We are also looking to make it easier for all faculty to move up on the salary schedule (or be placed higher initially) by reviewing policies related to educational units and verifications of employment. Today, many faculty earn continuing education units (CEUs) necessary to maintain a certificate or license in their field but get no credit towards advancement on the salary schedule for this extra education. By contract, CEUs only count towards advancement if the certificate or license for which they are earned is required in order to teach in the faculty member’s discipline. So a Certified Public Accountant, for example, may earn CEUs to keep his certification, but since one is not required to be a CPA to teach business courses, those units would not help the professor advance in salary class. We think that’s unfair. We also hear from many faculty who can’t get the verification of employment they need from past employers to begin at the appropriate salary step when first hired. We would like to negotiate improvements in that area as well.

Science Lab Load Equity

We have been discussing science lab load at the bargaining table (and writing articles about it in Table Talk) for several years now, so we’re hoping to finally resolve this issue in the next agreement. The basic story is pretty simple: science lab loads are generally just as much work or more work for faculty in terms of preparation and grading as lecture classes, but they currently load at only 75% of the lecture rate. Labs are sometimes smaller than lectures, but this doesn’t change the basic truth that science labs often take more time to teach than lectures. Many Bay Area districts have already moved to paying science labs at the lecture rate or close to it, which is essentially what our Load Task Force recommended after meeting with all the science departments in the district a couple of years ago. But the change will be expensive, will only affect one group of faculty, will not address other load equity issues in other areas, and may even have some negative consequences for a few people, since assignments are capped by load. (Giving more load for science labs might mean some faculty who are at the cap for overload or part-time teaching would wind up being able to teach fewer labs). Our simple story, in other words, has run up against some complex objections, but we are still optimistic. We may not find the perfect solution, but we believe we are close to an agreement that will at least make progress in paying scientists more fairly.

Compensation for Coaches

Our district has never appropriately accounted for the amount of time coaches spend with students on and off the field. The compensation does not seem adequately connected to workload. Furthermore, the UF’s research shows that faculty who coach intercollegiate teams in 4CD, from football to swimming to speech, receive less support and re-assigned time than coaches at most of the districts against whom they compete. The UF is seeking to make improvements to coaching assignments. Our bargaining teams have come up with some ideas that we will revisit in negotiations this fall.

Compensation for Department Chairs and Certificated Program Leads

Because our district is receiving millions of new ongoing dollars this year targeted specifically at improving and expanding career and technical education (CTE) programs (as part of the “strong workforce” program established in the State budget), we expected that it would be reasonably easy to reach agreement on spending a part of the new funding on release time for faculty who coordinate CTE programs. Unfortunately, the new categorical fund, with its special rules and reporting requirements, seems to have actually made negotiations harder. After nearly two full days of talks, we finally decided to take a break from this issue and try coming at it from a different angle next fall, perhaps as part of revising the department chair formulas and increasing overall funding and release time for faculty leadership positions.

Not only are the duties of CTE Program Leads somewhat difficult to isolate, but some of the extra duties are already being supported, we are told, with strong-workforce dollars. New staff and managers have taken on some of the work faculty have had to do in the past, and some faculty are now getting extra release time through local college strong-workforce plans. New full-time faculty positions have been added with strong-workforce dollars too, which we certainly support and think will help with workload issues. To prepare for fall negotiations, we are planning to call a meeting of CTE Program Leads early in the fall semester so we can hear directly from our faculty (in person or by conference call) about the support they have and the support they need. We will send information by email in August, and all will be welcome.

Intellectual Property Rights and Distance Education Policy

At our most recent negotiations meeting last Friday, May 12, the UF and 4CD reached a tentative straw design on intellectual property (IP) rights, an issue that has been on the UF’s priority list for many years. The next step is for both the UF and District teams to share the draft with our lawyers, but we are confident that it won’t need much revision, since we borrowed much of the language from other contracts. The teams reviewed many IP agreements from other colleges and universities before crafting our own. The straw design clarifies that, in most cases, faculty own exclusive rights to their creative and scholarly work, but when the District specifically invests in faculty producing copyrightable material, as for example when a college offers a stipend to a faculty member to develop a course, a written agreement should clarify IP rights. In some cases, the District may have a non-transferable, unrestricted right to use the material created. We will share details of our draft straw design with faculty in the fall, once our lawyers have had a look.

We intend that the IP agreement will become part of a new article in our contract along with some new negotiated policies on distance education (DE).  We have not yet started any formal talks on DE, but we have tentatively reserved September 15, 2017 for a first day of bargaining on DE, and our UF team plans to invite some of our faculty DE coordinators to join us at the bargaining table. One area we would particularly like to improve is the evaluation process for faculty teaching on-line, but there are a number of policy areas to consider related to training and qualification for DE instructors; percentage of load one may teach on-line; professional responsibilities for DE instructors; etc.  If you have concerns or suggestions in this area, please email Jeff at or Donna at


Health Benefits and Wellness

We are still considering several changes that have been on the table for a long time, including some kind of wellness program that would offer incentives (like lower health-care premiums) to faculty who participate in programs designed to improve health. We also are still discussing agreeing, as Local 1 (the union representing 4CD’s classified staff) did last year, to a new requirement that future retirees who wish to remain in District health plans join Medicare coordinated plans (either Kaiser Senior Advantage or the Blue Cross Advantage Plan). These seem to be the cost-saving ideas on the table at the moment that have the potential to generate the most savings with the least practical impact on the quality of our medical benefits. As always, we are moving cautiously and methodically in this area, since in addition to raising pay, we know that protecting our excellent benefits is a key faculty priority. The District has hired a new health-care consulting firm to replace the consultant we have used for decades, so we expect to hear some new ideas when our Benefits Committee reconvenes in the fall.

Part-Time Office Hours and Staffing Preference

The UF believes that part-time faculty should be compensated to hold full office hours proportional to teaching load, but since we are entering the second year of our two-year pilot “equity hour program,” we will likely wait another year before addressing part-time office hours again in collective bargaining. In the meantime, we have opened Article 25 this year, “Part-Time Staffing Preference,” to see if we can improve our rehire-rights agreement.  Both department chairs and part-time faculty have expressed frustration about different parts of Article 25, so we are forming a joint full-time/part-time faculty workgroup to talk through some of the issues this summer and to look over the data and comments from our recent UF survey.

Political Action Report

Bills, Budget Advocacy and Expanded Efforts Statewide

All of the community college advocacy groups, from the State Chancellor’s Office to the Community College League of California, representing trustees and Chief Executive Officers, to the Faculty Association (FACCC) to the three main faculty union groups ––the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) the California Teachers’ Association (CTA), and the California Community College Independents (CCCI), to which the UF belongs–– joined in a common message last month in pressing for the bulk of any new money available in the May Revise to go to “base.” So we were gratified to see $160 million in additional base allocation front and center in the Governor’s new budget. Faculty have also been pressing for money earmarked for new full-time positions as well as restoration of the part-time pay-equity fund, which was cut $25 million during the last recession. These priorities were not specifically reflected in the May Revise and so will be the focus of advocacy this month as the Legislature reviews and responds to the budget.

Last week, UF Executive Director and CCCI President Jeffrey Michels delivered more than 1,000 letters from faculty to the Governor and key state legislators advocating for more money for full-time hires and part-time pay equity. Michels also spoke at the annual conference of the California Part-Time Faculty Association along with Jelger Kalmijn, President of the University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE), on a panel focused on new alliances for better education policy.

UPTE is one of several labor groups, including Teamsters, that have endorsed CCCI-sponsored AB 1651 (Reyes), which would add due-process protections for faculty who become subject to district investigations or are placed on administrative leave. AB 1651 was approved last month by the Assembly Higher Education Committee and is now moving to a vote on the Assembly floor.

Another bill of note is CFT-sponsored AB 568 (Gonzalez Fletcher), which would provide faculty and classified staff with at least six weeks of paid parental leave.

UF leaders are continuing to expand their efforts and influence statewide.  UF Vice President for DVC, Jason Mayfield, was recently elected to the FACCC Board of Governors where he will join UF Part-Time Faculty Advocate Douglas Dildine, who serves as Governor for Part-Time Faculty North. UF Executive Director Jeffrey Michels, also CCCI President, was also elected in April as the next President of the Bay Faculty Association (BFA). The BFA connects community college union leaders from CFT, CTA and CCCI locals throughout Northern California at monthly meetings where they exchange data and share bargaining strategies.

Last month, eight UF Executive Board members attended a three-day CCCI conference in San Francisco, where they heard presentations from labor lawyers and lobbyists, participated in a negotiations workshop, and compared notes with dozens of faculty negotiators from around the State.
President’s Message

Investing in People, Not Just Programs

Although we all will breathe a little easier this summer knowing that there should be at least some money on the table when we resume negotiations in the fall, it is worth noting that we must still confront a paradigm shift that is pushing money away from faculty. I was particularly happy to see that Governor’s May Revise clarified in writing that the new “guided pathways” money, still a huge allocation in the budget of $200 million, should be “primarily used for release time, professional development, and technology solutions.” The phrase “release time,” particularly is clear evidence of successful faculty advocacy at work. When we first heard about this plan, it sounded like a windfall for consultants and so-called education reformers. At least somebody on the Governor’s staff seems to have heard the message that for new programs to work, you have to invest in people.

This has been a key piece of the story we have been telling locally about CTE Program Leads. If we want more and better CTE Programs, the stated purpose of this new $200 million statewide program, we need to invest more money and provide better support for CTE faculty!  The Student Success Initiative? Equity? Same story! Students need mentors; they need personal relationships with professors, individual attention, differentiated instruction. And to provide more time and attention, faculty need support. This support can come in a number of forms: release time; smaller classes; better pay…

Yes, paying faculty better is better for students. Let me count the ways.  I’ll start with full-time faculty. Typical full-time professors in the prime of their careers are also trying to raise families in our expensive Bay Area. Do they feel financial pressure to teach overload and take on extra assignments? Can they afford after-school programs for kids so they can stay on campus longer? Are they harried and exhausted and barely making ends meet? Or do they have time and resources to plan field trips and devote extra time to their students? And part-timers… how many jobs must they hold just to stay above the poverty line? Nobody reimburses them for travel between districts; if they buy health care through the District, it often takes up their whole paycheck! How much extra time do they have for students?

It isn’t just about money. Part-timers in our district often lack quiet offices in which to meet with students. Full-timers often face so many administrative demands and extra paperwork, from SLOs to Program Review to budget requests to evaluations, that they must struggle just to keep up with their classes. And make no mistake: ours is one of the better districts! The problem lies in the constant drum-beat of program investment coming from Sacramento. This is one reason our unions play such a crucial role in advocating for faculty. We have to keep telling them: invest in people!

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