Table Talk November 2015

Here is a PDF of the November 2015 issue of Table Talk: TableTalkNov2015final.

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


Table Talk

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

November 18, 2015


New Table Talk Format Includes Regular Columns

 Lead Story:  Accreditation Reform May Finally Be Coming

•  Inside Negotiations:  Teams Meet with Chancellor’s Cabinet

•  Hot Topics:  Security; Intellectual Property; Compressed Calendar

•  Full-Time Faculty Issues:  When Release Time Falls Short

•  Part-Time Faculty Issues:  Seeking Equal Pay for Equal Work

•  Political Action Report:  Fighting for Full-Time Jobs

 President’s Message:  Salaries Are Still Too Low


CA CC Board of Governors Votes to Reform Accreditation

 On Monday, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors voted unanimously to direct the State Chancellor’s Office to develop “a new model for accrediting the system’s colleges” and to report back in March of 2016 on details and a time-line for implementing the changes. This followed a report, issued last September by the State Chancellor’s Office’s third “Accreditation Task Force,” which found that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior College (ACCJC) lacks credibility and “no longer meets the current and anticipated needs of California community colleges.”

The United Faculty, of course, has been at the forefront of calls for accreditation reform for years, working with other faculty unions, to challenge the punitive, inconsistent and burdensome accreditation process under the ACCJC. At a time when college administrators mostly kept silent for fear of retaliation by the Commission, faculty unions took the lead in calling for change.

The UF struck one of the first public blows by helping craft a resolution of “no confidnce” in the ACCJC that was delivered to the Commission and the State Chancellor’s Office in 2009 by the California Community College Independents (CCCI). The Consultation Council, the State’s shared-governance group, followed with the first Accreditation Task Force, which recommended reforms. But the Commission ignored the recommendations, and the situation seemed to worsen when College of the Redwoods (a CCCI member, like the UF), Cuesta College, and City College of San Francisco (CCSF) were all put on “show cause” sanctions. This led to faculty unions calling for the formation of a second Task Force, but that group did not release a report.

Again, CCCI took the lead by convincing Senators Jim Beall (D-San José) and Jim Nielson (R-Gerber) to ask for a Joint Legislative Audit Committee study of CCC accreditation. This resulted in the critical State Auditor’s report attached to the third Accreditation Task Force recommendations.

The recommendations, as CCCI President Rich Hansen explains, “reflect the evolution of a community college consensus, after years of attempts to work with the ACCJC, that change is necessary.”  Last year, the CCC Board of Governors voted to remove the ACCJC from Title 5 regulations as the system’s sole accreditor. The Task Force took the next step, which is why the UF Executive Board voted unanimously to endorse the Task Force Report. Now with the State Board of Governors vote Monday, change may finally be coming.


Inside Negotiations

Bargaining Teams Meet with Chancellor’s Cabinet

The UF and District bargaining teams met last Friday with Chancellor’s Cabinet to begin negotiations for 2016-2017. Although compensation next year will be determined by a formula (as outlined in the last Agreement), many articles remain open with some dense and difficult issues on the table: the so-called compressed calendar; faculty load (from science labs to coaching assignments); pay for Program Leads and Department Chairs; part-time pay parity and office hours; health benefits and wellness… it’s a long list with which faculty are well familiar. The UF team felt that negotiations stalled last year because the Chancellor and the college presidents were not always on the same page as the District negotiators, so we wanted to meet with Cabinet to review issues together at the start this year.

Much of the meeting was spent debriefing about what happened in the last round of bargaining. Both sides aired frustrations, but the meeting was productive and ended well as we turned to issues. We were particularly pleased that the Chancellor invited the bargaining teams to next month’s Cabinet meeting again to continue talks, since we ran out of time on Friday.

Specifically, we talked about the negotiated “equity hour” (which we may rename as we go forward) and the need to involve faculty and managers serving on campus equity committees, as well as UF and Senate leadership, in planning and designing the program. We are hoping to join the Academic Senate leadership at their December “consultation” meeting to get that ball rolling. And we talked about deadlines for compressing the calendar. The District is planning to submit paperwork to the State that would allow us (but not require us) to move to 16-week semesters starting fall of 2017. The next step would be collective bargaining.  We still have a few issues to work out, such as schedules for counselors and librarians, and compensation for the work faculty would need to do in order to redesign classes for a shorter semester. The college administrators would like us to reach agreement by mid-March of 2016 so there will be time to make all the needed changes. The UF team expressed some reservations about the short deadline, since we have not yet discussed whether a calendar plan should be part of the larger agreement this year (in which case we may need more time) or whether we might agree to ratify the calendar as separate agreement.

One key concern for the UF is that we not allow issues on which we have been working for years (the ones on the list above) to keep getting pushed to the future because issues that seem more pressing require quicker agreement.

We expect to participate in a Benefits Committee meeting this fall, to discuss both wellness programs and health benefits options. Our goal, as it has been for years now, will be to protect the first-rate benefits we enjoy in our district while looking for prudent ways we might contain costs to free up money for salaries. We also expect that the Load Task Force (LTF) will meet before the semester’s end, and we hope the LTF will turn next to Certificated Program Leads to determine the best way to compare workloads and make recommendations to the bargaining teams for developing a compensation formula. We also expect the LTF to review Athletics and coaching assignments, and to revisit science departments for more conversations related to class size.

So we are just getting started for the year. The UF survey has helped provide our Executive Board with faculty input, but we welcome more suggestions. Email Jeff ( or Donna (, or contact any E-Board member if you want to discuss negotiations.


Hot Topics

Safety and Security

Recent violence both in Paris and at Umpqua Community College in Oregon have certainly highlighted the need to increase our focus on campus security, but even before these horrible events, the UF and District were already in discussions on this topic. Several months ago, the District shared with the UF new proposals for policies and procedures related to security cameras that caused us some concern. While we fully support expanding the use of cameras at our colleges to deter crime and assist law enforcement, we wanted to clarify that cameras should not be used in disciplinary actions or to enforce district policy. The roles of the police and of college managers should be kept separate, as the UF sees it, since nobody wants to feel as if his employer is spying on him with cameras.  Since by law, safety and security fall within the scope of collective bargaining, we asked the District to delay going forward with new policies and procedures until we have had a chance to bargain over these issues that affect working conditions. So we expect to add security to our topics for negotiations this year.

We also want to explore options for making faculty, students and everyone else safer on campus. UF leaders have discussed safety issues with District police, and while we know there is no magic solution, we want to explore some options at the bargaining table. Should faculty be able to lock doors?  Should there be better alert systems or faster ways of contacting campus police?  We are beginning to research best practices on other campuses and will be making safety improvements a priority this year.


Intellectual Property Rights (and Switching to Canvas)

As CCCCD, like many California community college districts, is considering a change to a new on-line course system or “Learning Management System” (LMS) called Canvas, faculty have raised important questions about intellectual property rights.

The decision to switch from our current LMS, Desire2Learn, to Canvas, fueled by incentives offered by the CA State Chancellor’s Office as part of their Online Education Initiative, is not itself a union issue but falls under the purview of the Academic Senates, but the UF can and should play a role in protecting faculty’s intellectual property. We asked the District to share with us the details of any contract into which CCCCD would enter with Canvas, and the UF’s lawyer is now reviewing the contract in regards to intellectual property. Regardless of what specifically is or is not included in the Canvas agreement, we have notified the District that we would like to revisit in collective bargaining the idea of adding an article to our UF contract outlining intellectual property rights for faculty. We made substantial progress in bargaining on this subject years ago but then never reached agreement. With increased attention now on distance education, and with on-line and hybrid course offerings increasing, we think the time is right to add an article to our contract on distance education and intellectual property rights.

We are also concerned about the workload faculty will face in moving from D2L to Canvas, so we may seek one-time compensation for this extra work.


Compressed Calendar

At the soonest, the District could move to a 16-week semester format in fall of 2017.  If remaining issues in collective bargaining take a lot of time, the District may decide to aim for fall of 2018 instead. We should know by March of this year. The UF and District have not agreed yet to a compress the calendar. But both sides have agreed to work in that direction. Any negotiated agreement, of course, would need to be ratified by the faculty.


Full-Time Faculty Issues

When Release Time Falls Short

For full-time faculty, the volume of non-teaching work is way up. With our over-reliance on part-time faculty, most disciplines need to recruit, hire, train and evaluate every semester. Although we are all glad to finally get more full-time hires, that adds even more time-consuming recruitment, hiring, evaluation, and mentoring. Add to that the increasing work in producing and verifying reports, scheduling, accreditation, SLOs, and new categorical-program paperwork and meetings, and then more paperwork and meetings – and this not only takes professors away from students, it is overwhelming and sometimes disheartening.

Part of the problem, from the UF’s perspective, is that our system doesn’t adequately recognize and support the work that we do. Program Leads are one glaring example. Some faculty who lead certificated programs get no release-time at all, even though they do tons of extra work. Even the ones that have negotiated release-time get far less time than the jobs actually take. And when there are extra reports and requirements, like Program Review, advisory committee meetings, renewing accreditation from professional bodies, and interfacing with community boards, there should be stipends to compensate faculty for the extra time. We know we have “professional responsibilities” built into our jobs, but where this used to mean keeping up in one’s field and updating one’s classes, now it means too much unpaid extra work. These are some of the issues the UF aims to address in collective bargaining.


Part-Time Faculty Issues

Seeking Equal Pay for Equal Work

No issue is more important for part-time faculty or more misunderstood generally than “pay parity.” Some faculty think this means part-timers getting something extra. But “parity” simply refers to equal pay for equal work. Full-time faculty have some responsibilities that part-time faculty don’t share. So defining a “parity goal” means isolating that part of pay that only goes for teaching (or equivalent work with students for librarians and counselors). At CCCCD, we defined parity years ago at 75%, meaning that if a part-timer was paid 75% of the full-time salary for a given teaching assignment, that would be fair.  At districts where office hours are required of part-time faculty and paid on schedule (unlike ours, where office hours are still optional and compensated separately), parity is usually defined as 87.5%. The other 12.5% covers full-time “professional obligations.”

The State gives districts some categorical dollars (money that can’t be spent on anything else) to raise part-time salaries towards the parity goal. But even with that assistance, districts have had to bargain to make progress. Most CA districts have slowly increased part-time pay and are now at or near their parity goals. Foothill/De Anza, which does require office hours, pays part-time assignments at 83.5% of full-time pay. CCSF pays at 86%. West Valley/Mission pays 74%. Chabot/Los Positas is at 71% (without office hours). Napa pays 70%. Of our CCCI locals, College of the Redwoods pays 78%, Santa Monica pays 83.125% (including 8.125% for office hours). Santa Barbara is at 67.5%. But at 4CD, even with the last raise, we still pay only 60% for lecture assignments (and 48% for English Comp.) No wonder we struggle to attract and retain part-time faculty! We need to make parity progress a priority.


Political Action Report

Fighting for Full-Time Jobs and Other Faculty Lobbying

2015-2016 was an excellent year for faculty’s lobbying efforts. Not only did our California Community College Independents (CCCI), working with other faculty unions and the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges (FACCC) make significant progress in our long fight for accreditation reform, but after a huge push by FACCC, we finally saw significant money in the State budget earmarked specifically for new full-time faculty jobs. This was not “growth” money, as in the past, but funds for converting part-time positions to full-time positions, and for CCCCD it meant 21 new hires above what we would normally have afforded in a good budget year.

For 2016-2017, new full-time faculty jobs remain a top FACCC and CCCI priority, and we were pleased to see that the System’s 2016-17 Budget Request contains $80,000,000 for full-time faculty hiring.

To advance faculty priorities, of course, CCCI and FACCC do more than just meet with legislators to educate them on community college issues.  We also write, sponsor and support legislation. Some bills, like AB 626 (Low), which sought to require the Chancellor’s Office to convene a group of stakeholders to develop funding recommendations for hiring more full-time faculty, never make it out of committee but still do a lot of good. The 2015-16 budget included $63.3 million for full-time hiring in part because the bill brought the issue front and center.  Similarly, AB 490 (Alejo and Gatto), which we supported, sought funding for EOPS, another goal we saw realized in the budget.

Other bills, like FACCC-sponsored AB 404 (Chiu) have been signed into law, and directly affect our working conditions. AB 404 requires the Chancellor’s Office to collect input from community college stakeholders, including faculty, to develop a system-wide evaluation of accreditation processes (another strong blow in the fight for accreditation reform).

We also fight for students in Sacramento, of course. AB 798 (Bonilla), which was signed into law, establishes a state grant program to incentivize the increased adoption of open source educational resources in order to decrease textbook costs. Faculty expenses for professional development programs will be reimbursed through this program, and faculty who elect to participate will be provided release time and technical support. The bill’s author, Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), is a longtime friend of the United Faculty and one whom our PAC has supported in the past. Our good relationships with legislators often lead to increased focus on community college issues.

Our local United Faculty Political Action Fund, to which UF members contribute $2.50/month for full-time faculty and $0.42/month for part-time faculty, supports CCCI’s lobbying efforts as well as contributions to local campaigns (including both State senate and assembly races and local District Governing Board elections). We also run a student internship program to help train students in political advocacy and to strengthen the student voice both locally, in our own district, and in Sacramento. The UF believes that when students advocate for their own interests, faculty and our whole college system win too.

As a contract member of FACCC, we also work closely with FACCC’s team to write and support legislation that will improve teaching and learning conditions. Every year, we bring our student interns and UF Executive Board to FACCC’s “Advocacy and Policy Conference” in Sacramento. This year, the conference will be February 28-29. All UF members are welcome (though space is limited so we need reserve spots soon). Anyone interested in attending or in becoming more involved in faculty lobbying efforts should contact the UF at

President’s Message

Salaries Are Still Too Low

In this my first year as United Faculty President, we negotiated a 5% raise – and like you, I was glad for that extra money in my paycheck. But considering that we lost about 18% against the cost of living (COLA) over the last six years when our pay remained mostly stagnant, we still have a long way to go. It is no wonder that so many full-timers still need to teach overload to make ends meet.

This year and next (if projections hold), the cost of living seems to have slowed to one or two percent, and even if we look at last year’s 5% raise as 4% higher than COLA, we still have another 14% to go just to make up the ground we lost. Today, faculty work more for less when adjusting for inflation.

Part-time teaching (essential for anyone starting out who wants to become a full-time community college professor) pays even worse! More than 50% of college faculty nationwide are part-time, and of those, 31% (about 1 in 3) live near or below the poverty line! Some devote 20 or 30 years to an institution, still called “temporary, employees,” and never stop the cycle of inter-session unemployment and food stamps.

This is not just a problem for faculty. Students deserve professors who have time to devote to each of them individually, who are not so overloaded and harried trying to make ends meet that they aren’t the best that they can be. Students deserve to be educated in a system that values educators, supports them, and provides stable, good jobs. This is the only way to attract and retain the best people.

My generation of faculty started in better times. In 1984-85, Higher Ed received 15.9% of the State General Fund; by 2014-15 it was 11.6%. CA is now funding Higher Ed at levels 20% below the average of other states. If we allow our profession to continue to be downgraded, with salaries that don’t keep up with COLA, with threats to our academic freedom, less time for professional development, less time to concentrate on student engagement and mentoring, and fewer full-time faculty to manage the workload, it is our students that will lose in the long run because talented teachers will look elsewhere for career options. Colleges need to inspire and develop the next generation of thoughtful leaders and innovators – and faculty are the heart of that mission.

So we must keep fighting in Sacramento for more funding, for more full-time faculty, for sensible accreditation requirements, and we must fight locally to keep making salaries a priority–for both full-time and adjunct faculty. We are still far from our old goal of paying in the top third of the Bay 10. Other local districts also got sizable raises this year, and some made multi-year salary progress while also narrowing the part-time pay differential. We had a good year, but we will need a few more before we can really call it progress.





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