Monthly Archives: April 2010

March in March: Somos el Futuro

Somos el Futuro: Voices from the March in March in Sacramento

by Katharine Harer, AFT 1493 Co Vice President, Skyline College, English

Skyline students and faculty showed up in force for the March in March on Monday the 22nd.   The Skyline Against Cuts group brought their huge homemade banner, carried proudly in the March 4th protest in San Francisco.  Combinations of Skyline students and faculty took turns carrying the colorful banner on the short march and into the rally grounds surrounding the Capital.  The spirit we’ve built working together to organize the February teach-in and the March 4 walkout and campus protest grew even stronger as we joined thousands of others from all over California.

I was curious about where we had all come from, so I started talking to students as they milled around us.  The first cluster of students I approached came from the College of the Desert in Palm Desert, close to Palm Springs. They brought over 40 students and a few advisors on the eight-hour pilgrimage, sleeping overnight on the seats of the bus.  They said more than 100 sections were cut this spring and that winter and summer sessions have been cancelled.  Benjamin Pineda, 18, told me:  “I can’t afford any more cuts.  I won’t be able to go to school.”

The next group of students I approached was from Humboldt State, almost as far from Palm Desert as you can get.  They’d brought ten students and a mom.  Their classes are packed and every teacher is forced to take nine furlough days per semester.  “It’s really hurting our classes,” said Holly Johnstone, an Environmental Science major. I spoke briefly to students from CSU Bakersfield who said they’d brought 45 students to Sacramento. The community college in Fresno brought 150.

A group wearing t-shirts from Mendocino told me that they’d brought 100 students and faculty from their north coast community college.  One student, enrolled in the Automotive Program, said that her classes don’t have enough supplies.  Tools are broken, and there’s no money to replace them.  She told me: “We’re asked to bring our own supplies to class, but where’s the money for that?  I’ve already spent over $600 on basic tools.”

Students in tan uniforms from the California Maritime Academy, the CSU in Vallejo, said that lots of sections have been cut.  Two-thirds of their grade is based on attending labs – which in their case means being out on the water.  However, so many labs have been cut that, in one young woman’s words:  “We have less time behind the wheel of a boat.”  Many students talked about the high price of textbooks combined with increased fees and the difficulty of attending class when they are forced to work longer hours to pay for their educations.  Others talked about how the cuts in sections would delay their graduations, taking three years instead of two.

It struck me how assertive and savvy these students are.  Every person I spoke to was clear about why they were there and what the funding cuts mean to their college – and their futures.  As one sign read in Spanish:  Somos El Futuro – We Are The Future.  A popular chant that day was:  If you throw us out, we’ll vote you out.  These students know that education is their right, and they are determined to fight for it.


May 2010

The Advocate – 33.6 – May 2010 (2 MB)

In this issue:

  • March for California’s Future points to ways forward from state’s budget crisis
  • Contract talks focus on Board policies; economic issues still ahead
  • More flex days, more non-instructional work, but less real professional development
  • AFT and District Academic Senate make plans to collaborate
  • Across AFT’s great divide: A part-timer’s view of losing classes
  • A history of the neoliberal assault on public education
  • Q&A about the District’s post-retirement health care funds
  • Part-timers are eligible for unemployment benefits
  • AFT 1493 elections have begun; don’t forget to vote

April 14, 2010

San Mateo Community College Federation of Teachers, AFT 1493

Minutes of General Membership/Executive Committee Meeting

April 14, 2010 at Cañada College

EC Members Present
: Ron Brown, Alma Cervantes, Chip Chandler, Victoria Clinton, Dave Danielson, Nina Floro, Katharine Harer, Teeka James, Dan Kaplan, Yaping Li, Monica Malamud, Karen Olesen, Joaquin Rivera, Anne Stafford, Lezlee Ware

Other Members Present: Deb Garfinkle, Lisa Melnick, Jesus Moya

Meeting began at 2:30

Facilitator: Dave Danielson

1. Welcome and Introductions

2. Statements from AFT (non-EC) Members on Non-Agenda Items



3. Minutes of March 17, 2010 AFT Meeting

Approved unanimously.


4. The Overload Issue

An AFT 1493 member has requested that the union reconsider our current policy on overloads and unit banking, arguing that it is unethical for FT faculty to request and teach overloads at the expense of PT faculty teaching assignments.

Unit banking and faculty overloads have negatively impacted some PT faculty through the loss of classes, but nobody has specific numbers at this point. When Yaping spoke with John Kirk about this issue, he made a distinction between overloads and unit banking. However, while unit banking does not actually take courses away from PT faculty, it does make scheduling and planning more difficult for PT’s since the FT faculty member’s entire course load must be covered in a single semester.

Some information about the overload situation at CSM (incomplete and anecdotal):

• Yaping surveyed her department (Speech) and found that very few FT faculty have been teaching overloads.

• In English, only two FT faculty taught overloads last semester. (The loss of a significant amount of reassigned time for English faculty, combined with the fact that four FT faculty were on sabbatical or banked unit leaves last semester and are now back, have resulted in an unusually dramatic reduction in the need for PT faculty.)

• In Social Science a very small number of FT faculty (perhaps only two or three) regularly teach large overloads.

It is important to note that overloads and unit banking are negotiated items in our contract and are therefore not something AFT can simply change on its own. Some FT faculty attending today’s meeting feel conflicted about the issue; they do not want to give up a contractual benefit, yet they understand the cost to PT faculty. Most, or all, members agreed that we should not consider sacrificing these contractual rights; rather, FT faculty decisions about teaching overloads or banking units should be individual and voluntary. In response to comments about making a distinction between reasonable and unreasonable overloads in a future Advocate article, a PT member expressed frustration about what she views as a lack of honesty and empathy among the FT faculty; overloads are extra for FT faculty and come at the expense of PT faculty opportunities to teach classes.

Two PT members also expressed their frustration, and that of other PT faculty, regarding a lack of clarity about how Deans determine which PT’s get classes and how many they get. Some PT faculty do not understand that decisions about class assignments must be based strictly on seniority, nor do they fully understand how the PT seniority list works. Deans are responsible for communicating with PT faculty about their placement on the PT seniority list and for communicating early about class assignments or the lack thereof.

One FT EC member argued that the union and the colleges have done a poor job of publicizing the way in which budget cuts have impacted PT faculty. Dan has requested this data from CSM’s President and will continue to pursue it.

We agreed that we need district-wide data on how many FT faculty teach overloads and bank units in order to know how many PT faculty are affected.


5. Discussion of Dave Mandelkern’s Campaign for San Mateo County Tax Collector/Treasurer

The Executive Committee voted to endorse Dave for San Mateo County Tax Collector/Treasurer.

Yes – 12
No – 1
Abstain – 2


6. Discussion of Stipend for P/T Faculty Organizer: Review of Past History

In the past, AFT 1493 has had two P/T faculty organizers, neither of whom was paid a stipend. However, AFT covered all expenses related to organizing efforts and activities. Dan proposed paying one P/T faculty a stipend for an appointed position similar to what we do for grievance officers and the Advocate editor position. He also proposed that this same person serve as our CFT P/T representative. Dan agreed to draft an initial job description, which we plan to discuss at our May meeting. Once we agree on a job description and on issues of compensation, we can send out an eNews announcing the position. Monica pointed out that we need to carefully discuss the budget implications of any compensation before making any decisions.


7. March for California’s Future: Culminating Rally: April 21 in Sacramento

CFT and other labor leaders are worried that turnout will be low, and there has not been much response from AFT 1493 members about joining in the march. Karen announced that CFT agreed to pay 50% of individuals’ train fare to Sacramento, and urged us to support the walkers.

AFT 1493 voted unanimously to endorse the march.


8. Online Privacy/Security: Legal Analysis

Faculty can go to the District portal to change their passwords if they are worried about security.

Joaquin will ask the District, at Friday’s (4/16/10) negotiations session, to agree to an “opt out” (of having W-2 information posted) option.


9. Advocate Policy

Approved unanimously.


10. Union Handbook

Dan asked again for EC members to give him feedback about the draft he sent out electronically the day before our last meeting (3/17/10). He especially wants feedback from people about the positions they currently hold or have held in the past.


11. AFT Employee Philosophy and Policy



12. EC Election Discussion

Nomination forms go out tomorrow (4/15/10) and must be received in the AFT office by May 7. Nominations will be discussed and additional ones accepted at the May 12 AFT meeting. Paper ballots will go out to all AFT members after the May meeting and must be submitted by May 31.

We discussed the possibility of asking nominees to write brief position statements, especially those running for contested positions.

In addition, Monica would like each grievance officer to write a report of the work they have done: number of cases, outcomes, etc.


13. Grievances

There are currently no formal grievances, but there have been an unusual number of complaints, mostly from PT faculty. Chip is concerned that, during these particularly stressful times, Deans aren’t communicating clearly and sufficiently with PT faculty about their individual situations and about how seniority works. We raised the issue of what AFT can do to encourage Deans to communicate more clearly with PT faculty, but due to the joint AFT-Senate meeting scheduled to begin at 4:15, we did not have time for a full discussion.


14. Negotiations Report

The District still has not agreed to negotiate the Rules and Regulations items, arguing that they are merely revisions. The District has asked for our proposals on these; Joaquin is working with AFT’s attorney on our proposals and hopes to have them by Friday.


15. Statements from EC Members on Non-Agenda Items



16. Joint Union/Senate Meeting on Areas of Shared Responsibility

See May 2010 Advocate article (page 3) for a summary of the meeting.


Meeting adjourned: 4:20

March 17, 2010

San Mateo Community College Federation of Teachers, AFT 1493

Minutes of
General Membership/Executive Committee Meeting

March 17, 2010 at CSM

EC Members Present: Alma Cervantes, Chip Chandler, Victoria Clinton, Dave Danielson, Nina Floro, Katharine Harer, Teeka James, Dan Kaplan, Yaping Li, Monica Malamud, Karen Olesen, Joaquin Rivera, Anne Stafford, Elizabeth Terzakis, Lezlee Ware

Other Members Present: Lisa Melnick, Lucia Olsen, Masao Suzuki

Meeting began at 2:25.

Facilitator: Dan Kaplan

1. Welcome and Introductions

2. Statements from AFT (non-EC) Members on Non-Agenda Items

Masao Suzuki will now be serving as the AFT representative on the District Budget and Finance Committee, replacing Jackie Gamelin – he attended his first meeting yesterday, March 16. The Committee is currently discussing the allocation model, which is being revised, given that the District does not want to grow at this time.

Masao distributed copies of a newspaper he has been writing for: Fight Back: News and Views from the People’s Struggle.

 3. Minutes of February 10, 2010 AFT Meeting

Approved unanimously with corrections.

SMCCD Parcel Tax Discussion

A San Mateo consulting firm believes that the county will receive 67-69% support for a parcel tax of $34 per unit per year, for four years, generating $4-6 million. One AFT member expressed concern that the poll is no longer accurate. EC members were divided in their support and opposition. Some feel a parcel tax is an inequitable, even regressive, method of raising revenue, and one that can give an unfair advantage to students attending public schools in wealthy communities (where parcel taxes are more likely to be supported by voters); others, while they understand, and may even support, the arguments against a parcel tax, feel it is necessary given the current budget situation in California and the dysfunction in Sacramento.

Our District Senate President, Patty Dilko, is asking faculty to work actively to help pass the parcel tax. The District is hiring a campaign manager to get the parcel tax on the ballot and to pass it, and has requested monetary support and endorsement from AFT. We voted to endorse but did not take any action on whether to provide monetary support.

Vote to endorse:

Yes  8                                      
No:   6                                          
Abstain:   0

Chip and Katherine agreed to contribute to an Advocate article examining both sides of the parcel tax debate.

5. Discussion of Dave Mandelkern’s Campaign for San Mateo County Tax Collector/Treasurer               

Dan reported to Dave Mandelkern that although the EC had not taken an official vote on whether to endorse him in his campaign for San Mateo County Tax Collector/Treasurer, an email discussion indicated that we are inclined not to do so. Dave was surprised and disappointed, and asked to come speak at our next meeting. Some EC members responded to Dan’s initial email about Dave’s campaign as if it were an actual vote, which it was not. Joaquin stressed that he does not want the EC to vote and discuss issues such as this one over email. Other members expressed regret that even a straw vote had occurred over email without sufficient information and discussion. After some discussion at today’s meeting, a few members were still inclined not to endorse, but the majority decided they would like more information. Because our meeting agendas have been so full, rather than invite Dave to attend our next meeting as he has requested, Dan will ask him to supply campaign information, as well as information about his record as a Trustee. Dan will also work on his own to compile information about Dave’s record as a Trustee.

6. Discussion of Stipends for P/T EC Members, and AFT Membership for P/T Instructors Without Class Assignments 

A number of issues/questions were raised:

  • Should we consider paying P/T’s to attend EC meetings?
  • Should we consider paying one P/T representative to head up a reconstituted P/T Committee? The EC decided that the best use of AFT Local 1493 money is to pay a PT Committee organizer. We will continue trying to recruit P/Ts interested in becoming more involved in AFT. If more than one P/T is interested in becoming the P/T Committee organizer, the EC would choose from among the candidates.
  • Should AFT Local 1493 pay the $1 per month dues for P/T’s who do not get classes? We decided AFT could not afford to extend the offer as doing so could cost as much as $3,000. Monica will send an E-news later in the semester to this effect.
  • Can a P/T without classes run for elected office? It is up to each Local to decide, but our Constitution is silent on this issue.

7. Discussion of the Simple Majority Vote and The California Democracy Act Ballot Initiatives

There are two different, but similar, initiatives potentially headed for the ballot: the California Democracy Act (CDA), which would change the current 2/3 majority vote requirement in the state Legislature for passing a budget and raising taxes to a simple majority, and a second initiative that would change the requirement from the current 2/3 majority to a simple majority for passing a budget only. Though current polls show strong support for the CDA, most people believe it is not likely to get enough petition signatures to make it onto the ballot. The CFT has endorsed the Simple Majority Vote, but not the CDA. The EC voted to endorse the CDA, and AFT 1493 delegates will argue at the CFT Convention later in March in support of the CDA.


8. Online Privacy/Security

The District is putting sensitive employee information online, such as tax information and Social Security numbers; many people are concerned that the passwords – six numbers – are too easy to crack. Dan will check with our attorney regarding the security of faculty information and whether it is legal to post this sort of information without employees’ explicit permission.

9. Advocate Policy

Table until April meeting – one EC member sent editing/revision suggestions, but Lezlee did not receive them.

10. Standing Committee Decision

As an alternative to holding more frequent meetings, the EC decided to experiment for the next year with a “standing committee” that will make decisions and address issues that arise between meetings and cannot wait for the next AFT meeting. The committee will be composed of the President, Vice President, and a grievance officer. When there are Co-Presidents or Co-Vice Presidents, both with participate. When the committee membership does not represent all three colleges, another EC member (or two) will be added. 

Vote to form standing committee:

Yes  11                                      
No:   0                                          
Abstain:   0 

11. AFT Employee Policy

Some EC members felt that the vote taken at the February meeting not to increase Dan’s SEP IRA contribution was mishandled. The discussion was rushed because the item was the last on an overly full agenda, and we didn’t have all of the relevant information. In light of concerns about the way in which the EC reached this important decision about our employees’ benefits, Teeka and Lezlee suggested the EC consider developing a policy regarding AFT employee pay and benefits. To get the discussion started, they drafted both a philosophy and a policy statement. Some members feel that such a policy would be unworkable and that decisions about employee pay and benefits are necessarily dependent upon the individuals in those positions while others believe it is important to articulate a philosophy and make pay and benefit decisions that are consistent with that philosophy.

Teeka and Lezlee agreed to draft more specific language for the April meeting.

12. EC Elections: Second Discussion

Tabled until April meeting.

13. Grievances

No grievances to report at this time.

14. Union Handbook

Tabled until April meeting

Statements from EC Members on Non-Agenda Items


Meeting adjourned:             5:00

February 10, 2010

San Mateo Community College Federation of Teachers, AFT 1493

Minutes of
General Membership/Executive Committee Meeting

February 10, 2010,  at Skyline

EC Members Present: Eric Brenner, Ron Brown, Chip Chandler, Victoria Clinton, Nina Floro, Katharine Harer, Teeka James, Dan Kaplan, Yaping Li, Monica Malamud, Karen Olesen, Sandi Raeber, Anne Stafford, Elizabeth Terzakis, Lezlee Ware

Other Members Present: Kathleen Feinblum, Eileen O’Brien, Masao Suzuki

Meeting began at 2:35.

Facilitator: Teeka James

1. Welcome and Introductions

2. Statements from AFT (non-EC) Members on Non-Agenda Items

On behalf of George Wright, Dan Kaplan requested that the EC endorse the March 20 California Public Workers in San Francisco; the EC voted unanimously to endorse.

3. Minutes of January 20, 2010 AFT Meeting

Unanimously approved.

 4. Negotiations Discussion

The last negotiating session was held on February 8 – the first since December. Because the District’s negotiating team was better prepared, the discussion was more specific. Still, there was not much progress.

In terms of offering retirement incentives, the District is still proposing to replicate past incentives and doesn’t actually want to encourage too many retirements, perhaps no more than 9. Because of the Faculty Obligation Number – a required minimum number of full-time faculty (which the District is fined for not meeting) – if too many faculty retire, the District will find itself in the position of having to hire new full-time faculty, who are not necessarily less expensive.

Personal days: There has been no movement on this item.

FSA’s: Monica says we must consult with the Senate on this item; the Senate has recommended against the inclusion of any language requiring or favoring “recency,” even though such language may be legal.

Salary: We recognized the need for future discussion should the District Administration and Board of Trustees agree to cut administrative salaries; would we then consider either an across-the-board pay cut, or step freezes?

In a straw vote, 9 EC members identified binding arbitration as a “must have.” One member reiterated her belief that we must also demand the right to strike. Dan clarified that essentially all contracts have language stating that faculty cannot strike during the life of the contract. We may, however, want to work to eliminate language prohibiting “concerted action.”

On a separate note, the District’s attorney recently contacted our attorney, indicating that it might withdraw all of the proposed new Rules and Regulations named in our demand to negotiate.

5. Organizing for March Events       

Faculty from each college reported on the February 3 & 4 teach-ins. The consensus is that events on all three campuses were successful; faculty and students are hoping to build on the momentum that has begun. Each college will hold its own events during the day on March 4, leading up to the early evening rally and march in San Francisco to protest cuts to education and other public services. While the efforts and actions at the three colleges are not being directly coordinated, many faculty are encouraging students across the District to work together and continue organizing for the March 22 “March in March.” Some members expressed interest in marching together on March 4 and carrying an AFT banner.

AFT ordered and distributed 500 “Support Public Education” and now plans to order 1,000 more.

6. Advocate Policy

Because a draft of The Advocate policy was not included in the packet, few members had read it recently. After reading and discussing it briefly at today’s meeting, we agreed that Lezlee would revise further and we would to discuss it again at our March meeting.

7. Standing Committee Decision

Tabled until March 2010 meeting.

8. When Personal Issues Affect Work

One or more administrators at Cañada has asked whether AFT would consider developing some procedures or policies to help them help faculty who are struggling with personal problems serious enough to impede their ability to meet their job responsibilities. They are hoping for some mechanism that would allow them to intervene and to address problems before they arise during the evaluation process and before they necessitate the involvement of Human Resources. While such policies or procedures are likely well-intentioned, and while we want to help faculty in difficult times, the EC feels that dealing with these kinds of personnel issues is ultimately the responsibility of the Deans and/or other appropriate administrators.

Despite our decision not to pursue official policies or procedures, we did discuss other ways we might help faculty who are struggling with personal and/or work-related problems. In particular, we talked about instituting some kind of mentoring system, intended primarily for new faculty, both part-time and full-time. One member suggested having a permanent counselor dedicated and available to faculty. Elizabeth will draft a more formal proposal for mentoring or “buddy” system and will present it at a future meeting. Lezlee suggested that this could be combined with the Union Handbook being developed, a document that will articulate the roles and responsibilities of AFT 1493 officers.

Monica will report back to the Deans at Cañada that the EC feels it would be inappropriate for the AFT to be involved in any official capacity in guiding or shaping the way in which Deans address personal problems or interpersonal conflicts at work which prevent faculty from fulfilling their job responsibilities.

9. EC Elections: Preliminary Discussion

Requests for nominations will go out in early April; voting will take place in May.

We talked about the need to recruit and reach out to other faculty who may be interested in getting involved, or more involved, with the union.

Dan informed us that PT faculty who are not currently teaching may not run for office, which leads to the question, “what happens if a PT faculty member who is elected to office does not have classes in a future semester?”

We briefly discussed the possibility of changing the AFT Constitution to stipulate that any PT faculty elected as officers to the EC be paid a stipend. We even talked about the possibility of paying PT faculty a stipend to attend regular AFT membership meetings.

Monica suggested adding two other items to the election ballot in May:

  • Adding a vote to determine who the AFT 1493 P/T representative will be on the CFT  P/Ter Committee
  • SB 381 – an opportunity for P/T faculty to vote to participate as a group in the State Disability Insurance program

10. Grievances

There are currently no active grievances. Chip praised Monica for addressing numerous queries from faculty, likely having helped prevent faculty concerns and complaints from rising to the level of official grievances.

11. Proposed Changes in Dan Kaplan’s SEP IRA Contract Article: Closed Session

As a reminder, in recent years a change in the law allowed our local to increase the contribution it makes to our Executive Secretary’s – Dan Kaplan’s – SEP IRA. Last year the EC voted to increase the AFT 1493 contribution amount from 15% of his salary to 20 % of his salary. Dan requested an increase of 1% this year, with subsequent yearly increases of 1% until the total contribution reaches 25%.  In closed session, without Dan present, we briefly reviewed AFT 1493’s budget and the total compensation AFT 1493 pays toward the Executive Secretary’s wages and benefits. After brief discussion of how the Executive Secretary’s benefits compare with those of full-time faculty in the District (the District contributes 8.25% to ours and we contribute 8%; ours is a defined benefit plan rather than a defined contribution plan) and what some other Community College Districts do, we voted not to increase the contribution to Executive Secretary’s SEP IRA at this time.

Yes (to keep the contribution at its current 20%):    8        
No (do not keep it at 20%; raise it to 21%):    4

We agreed to revisit this issue for the next year.

12. Statements from EC members on Non-Agenda Items 


Meeting adjourned:   5:05