Monthly Archives: June 2018


Dear Esteemed Colleagues,

Today, the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Mark Janus in the Janus v. AFSCME case. The ruling overturned decades of precedent and eliminated the ability of public sector unions to collect fair share or agency fees.

This case was not about an individual’s free speech or the First Amendment or workers right to use their money as they see fit. This case was brought to the Supreme Court with the aim of weakening public sector unions like AFT, CSEA and AFSCME, the organizations representing our District’s bargaining units. The weakening of public employee labor organizations is a weakening of the institutions that serve the public. In our case, it is not only an attack on workers, but also an attack on our students and our communities. Having strong labor organizations across our campuses means that students encounter faculty, staff, and facilities workers who have job security, decent wages and benefits, rights to due process, and reasonable workloads. Good learning conditions for students depends upon good working conditions for teachers, staff and facilities workers. It is your membership that stabilizes a secure working environment and allows us to continue fighting and advocating for fairness in the workplace.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision, you will likely be the target of a fierce propaganda campaign  aimed at convincing you to relinquish your union membership and “save your dues.” Though you contribute only 1.2% of your salary to your union, we stretch that money as far as possible to perform essential functions for you such as:

  1. Fund collective bargaining for fair wages, raises and cost of living
    • Faculty salaries have increased by 5% over the last 2 years
    • 1 step has been added to the full time and adjunct faculty schedule in the last year
  2. Allow us to improve and enforce our contract
    • Existing weaknesses in our contract around workload and part time parity are actively being addressed
  3. Support faculty grievances when faculty feel that their rights have been violated
    • We have seen a disturbing increase in the number of investigations opened by HR over the last 3 years. AFT is the first stop for faculty under investigation or in need of assistance with a grievance of their own
  4. Allow us to monitor the distribution of District budgets and moneys to ensure that instruction is adequately and fairly funded
    • Our District has been in violation of the state law that requires community college districts to spend at least 50% of their operating budget on instruction. We are holding their feet to the fire to make sure that they comply with the state mandate.

We could not accomplish half of what we do without a faculty as engaged as you. This is not my union. This is not the Executive Committee’s union. This is your union—our union. Our union enjoys a membership rate approaching 90% of all SMCCD faculty. That is a tremendous sign of support and engagement. As the president of your union, I speak for the entire EC, when I say that we feel a tremendous responsibility to honor your support and make your membership count. We can’t do it completely on our own, though. The Supreme Court’s action is just one battle in a long war against organized labor. We need to all stand strong together to to continue the fight for fair and favorable working conditions.

If you would like to get more involved to fight for a strong public sector union or if you have questions about the Supreme Court case or your membership, don’t hesitate to contact any member of the Executive Committee.

In unity,


Paul Rueckhaus
President, AFT 1493

The labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.

–Martin Luther King, Jr.


State budget means more money for schools, but still more work to do

Yesterday California lawmakers approved the 2018-2019 California state budget, sending it to the Governor for his signature. While the budget offers a substantial funding increase for the University of California, and solid funding increases for K-12 and community colleges, there is much left to be done.

Just last week, Education Week released its annual school finance report, giving California an ‘F’ in K-12 school spending, and ranking the state 44th in the nation. Despite the dismal ranking, and the largest budget surplus in decades, the Governor and Legislature have made the conscious decision to further pad the state’s Rainy Day Fund, choosing to put away an additional $3.8 billion more than required by the state constitution, instead of increasing funding for our public education system and our vital social services.

While the intent behind the Rainy Day Fund is a good one, this decision by the Governor and the Legislature is a missed opportunity. Our students and their families simply can’t wait while we continue to underfund schools and vital social services.

The budget also includes two proposals vigorously opposed by faculty and staff across the state: The creation of a fully online community college and a fundamental restructuring of the way community colleges are funded, focusing on higher education only and ignoring the needs of our communities.

We are extremely disappointed that these two flawed ideas have been included in the budget. Both initiatives come at a great cost and are unlikely to improve student outcomes. Nevertheless, we will continue to engage the Governor, the Legislature, and the Community College Chancellor’s office to ensure that our students and our faculty are protected from harm done by these proposals.

June 5th election a win for public education

Public education advocates are cheering the results of the June 5th election because Gavin Newsom, the CFT-endorsed candidate for governor, and Tony Thurmond, the CFT-endorsed candidate for superintendent of public instruction, both made it through to the November general election. Both Newsom and Thurmond ran campaigns based on fully funding public education and respecting educators, summed up perfectly in Newsom’s election night speech.

The strong performances by Newsom and Thurmond come despite record spending by billionaires who seek to undermine quality public education. A small handful of people gave nearly $23 million in support of Antonio Villaraigosa for governor, the largest in the history of California politics according to one veteran campaign strategist. A similar group gave over $8.5 million in support of Marshall Tuck for state superintendent.

While voters saw through the overspending in the governor’s race, rejecting Villaraigosa’s candidacy, we anticipate the same wealthy charter school backers will now redirect even more money into the Tuck campaign. Tony Thurmond has the right experience and vision to lead our schools, but he is going to need our help to prevail in November.

Other bright spots in the election include the passage of the Oxnard Union High School Measure A, which had strong support from the Oxnard Federation of Teachers and School Employees, and the passage of the Prop. G parcel tax to raise educator wages in San Francisco, which was placed on the ballot by United Educators of San Francisco.

Take the AFT survey on student and personal debt

CFT members! Please take a few minutes to fill out the AFT survey on student loan debt, medical debt, and other forms of personal debt. Results of the survey will help AFT better support its members, including developing programs and tools to help those struggling with debt.

Take the survey here.