August 20, 2010

San Mateo Community College Federation of Teachers, AFT 1493

Minutes of
Executive Committee Retreat

August 20, 2010 at Cañada Vista Clubhouse

 

EC Members Present: Eric Brenner, Chip Chandler, Nina Floro, Katharine Harer, Teeka James, Dan Kaplan, Yaping Li, Monica Malamud, Lisa Melnick, Lucia Olson, Anne Stafford, Masao Suzuki, Elizabeth Terzakis, Lezlee Ware

Other Members and Guests Present: None

Facilitators: Monica Malamud and Lezlee Ware

Meeting began at 1:45

Lunch, Introductions, Agenda, and Announcements

Three new EC members attended the EC retreat: Lucia Olson and Lisa Melnick, who share the CSM EC Part-timer Rep position (though due to the vagaries of part-time teaching in our district, Lucia is teaching only at Cañada this semester), and Masao Suzuki, who is the Skyline EC co-Rep and serves on the District Budget Committee for AFT 1493.

Alma Cervantes will continue to attend the Distance Education Advisory Committee (DEAC) for the EC.

The San Mateo County Labor Council will be holding its annual orientation event at the end of August. Katharine and Dan have attended in the past, and Dan will attend this year. If anyone else is interested in attending as well, please contact Dan as soon as possible. It is an evening event, starting around 6:00 p.m., and its function is for elected officials and candidates for public office to have an opportunity to speak with county labor leaders about issues of import to labor and the county. Our AFT 1493 presence  focuses on education issues along with the representatives there from the K-12 districts.

Monica took responsibility for our shortened agenda. She was unable to include many important topics that had been suggested by EC members for the retreat agenda; however, she felt that the items which are on the agenda needed to be addressed now. Earlier in the week, she consulted with several EC members, including one whose items were put off the agenda, and got their input on her decision. Items not discussed but suggested were

  • Union philosophy and union-building strategies—though perhaps the most important item of all, this one requires a single-focus meeting as well as preparation and intentional planning for it to be an effective discussion. We agreed we want to have this discussion this semester. At the September meeting, we will float possible dates for an additional “special focus” meeting, and then Teeka, Lezlee, Anne, and Eric will work on the needed preparation and facilitation.
  • Also not discussed was the parcel tax. We agreed to add it to the next meeting’s agenda. We may find we need this and the District budget to be standing agenda items this year.
  • Finally, EC meeting structure and how often to meet were suggested but not included on the agenda for the retreat. Since we did devise a between-meeting procedure last spring, it makes sense to test that out for a while to see how it works.

The agenda was approved.

1.   Mentorship Program

Monica attended a conference recently at which she learned about and brought home materials for starting a faculty union mentoring program from the local at San José-Evergreen. The idea is to welcome newly hired, full-time faculty and to introduce them to the union, the contract, and the tenure process. SMCCD has around four new full-time hires this year—two at Cañada, and one each at CSM and Skyline—and there may be a few more new people being brought into existing positions. With just this handful or so, this may be a good year to pilot such a program of our own. San José-Evergreen’s model includes one-to-one pairing of EC members to new hires, and the ensuing conversations culminate in the EC member taking his or her mentee out to lunch. The San José-Evergreen local foots the bill for these lunches, with a cap of $40 per mentoring pair. The overall time commitment for a mentor is  one-to-two hours per month in addition to the lunch and its arrangements. Monica is enthusiastic about us trying this out.

Some people thought this might also be a model for cultivating interest in union activism in not-so-new faculty as well as for reaching out to part-time faculty, but we all agreed that it may be best to start with these four or so new hires and see how it goes. We agreed to try it and to discuss our progress at the end of the semester. Katharine will mentor at Skyline; Teeka will mentor at CSM; and Monica will mentor at Cañada.

2.   AFT Local 1493 Part-time Faculty Organizer Job Description

There was some initial confusion about the connection between the Part-time Faculty Organizer (PFO) and the Part-time Advisory Committee (PTAC). Some recalled from our May meeting that we had realized that the PTAC that Erin Scholnick had helped organize in 2009-2010 had disintegrated somewhat since Erin was no longer teaching in the District. Dan explained that while the PTAC was perhaps “on hiatus,” there are many participants who are still interested in organizing Part-timers. He added that given the continued onslaught against our Part-time faculty, this is a very good time for AFT 1493 to edify our commitment to helping Part-time faculty organize themselves. There was no disagreement, and Katharine pointed out that the PFO  could, in part, be instrumental in re-vitalizing the PTAC. Agreement abounded.

Motion (seconded): Pending our budget, do we want to move forward with the Part-time Faculty Organizer position?

Discussion: What does “pending budget” mean?

Our vote is a question of our commitment to the idea of creating this position, in essence, how important the idea is to our local. As with most organizations, AFT 1493’s interests and ideas may outstrip its available finances, so it is possible that while we might approve a certain expenditure, when it comes time to balance the budget there may, in fact, be no funds to support it.  Another way to think about it is that through this vote, the EC is establishing a baseline of support which can aid us in prioritizing budget items.

Vote:[1] The EC voted in favor of moving forward with the PFO, pending budget.

Yes

No

Abstain

12

0

 

3.   Compensation for Part-time EC Members to Attend EC Meetings

It was suggested last semester that we consider compensating Part-time faculty to attend EC meetings. We began the discussion clarifying the status quo of compensated and non-compensated EC positions: because some positions on the EC demand work between meetings—the chapter chair positions, for example—faculty holding them are granted either release time or a stipend equivalent. Other positions require minimal between-meeting work, so they are not compensated. The non-compensated positions are the three EC Representatives and the three Part-timer Representatives. We further clarified that what we really were wanting to do is pay any Part-time faculty who hold one of these six positions for the time they spend attending EC meetings. Full-time faculty in these positions would not be compensated, nor would Part-time faculty holding compensated positions (negotiations team, chapter chair, etc.) be further compensated for their EC meeting attendance.

Motion (seconded): Part-time faculty who hold a position as EC Rep or Part-time Rep will be paid a stipend for the time they spend at EC meetings. The stipend will be based on the “special” hourly rate. Co-Reps will divide their position’s stipend according to their meeting attendance (so if both co-Reps attend the same meeting, they each will be paid 50% of the “special” rate per hour for that meeting). Reps will not be paid for meetings they do not attend.

Discussion: None.

Vote: The EC approved the motion.

Yes

No

Abstain

12

0

0

4.   2010-11 AFT Local 1493 Budget

Please refer to the August 19, 2010 Draft budget distributed at the retreat. The complete 8/19 Draft Budget is not reproduced in these minutes. Please call Dan Kaplan if you need a copy.

Though we have always submitted a balanced budget in the past, we are not required by CFT to pass a balanced projected budget. However, for a multitude of factors, this year the Draft Budget ends with a sizeable deficit. Our task for this agenda item was to understand the fundamentals of our current financial structure, and then to prioritize and cut our expenses in order to balance the budget, all to the degree possible in an afternoon. What follows are summaries of the pivotal moments in a creative, difficult, yet cordial two-hour discussion. Actions are listed at the end.

The AFT Local 1493 2010-11 budget is due to the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) by September 1, 2010. Monica, Sandi, Dan, and Harriet went through this Draft Budget extremely carefully in preparation for this meeting. Here is a quick summary:[2]

 

Projected Income

Projected Expenses

 

Formula rebate funding

$67,950

Per capita dues paid to affiliates[3]

$316,064

Dues & agency fees

$534,017*

Union liability insurance

$3,284

Interest on accounts

$2,170

Officers liability insurance

$50

 

Staff salaries, taxes, & benefits

$201,816

 

All other expenses

$151,291

 

 

 

Total Income

$604,137

Total Expenses

$672,291

 

Difference between projected income and projected expenses

(-$68,154)

*N.B. This amount includes the below described estimated Measure G funding increases. In this Draft Budget, the number used is $44,340, which assumes the District will spend 100% of the roughly $6 million dollars on faculty salaries.

• INCOME

Before accounting for the five or so new hires and any fall class sections that have been restored, our unit member count is 998, which includes both members and agency fee payers. The “Formula Rebate Funding” a local receives from CFT is calculated at 70% of its funding base if the bargaining unit member count is under 1,000. If the member count is over 1,000, the rebate is calculated using 60% of the funding base. Since we know for sure that the District has hired at least four new full-time faculty, our member count will be calculated at 60%. The Draft Budget was prepared assuming a member count of under 1,000.

Because we are still uncertain how the district will or will not spend the newly granted Measure G money , it’s difficult to accurately predict our Dues/Agency Fee income this year. The Draft Budget assumes the district will spend all of the Measure G money this year on faculty salaries (this was dubbed “the optimistic view”), which would give AFT 1493 $44,340 additional dues income. However, even though there are strict laws about how the money can be spent, the number of senior exemptions in the county and the District’s actual spending of the money can both alter this figure significantly. While some felt it was reasonable to plan using the “optimistic view,” others felt strongly that we should project our income more conservatively, with suggestions ranging from “banking” on 0 to 50% of the $6 million dollars in expected revenue.

In any scenario, our local’s income is down for two reasons: first, we will collect less money in dues this year because of cuts in class offerings; second, the per capita expenses that we pay to our affiliates has increased. If we underestimate our Measure G income, our deficit will appear larger (approaching -$100,000 in some projections); if we overestimate it, we will run into obvious difficulties down the road if our assumptions are incorrect.

• EXPENSES

Our expenses are split roughly in half in terms of flexible and inflexible expenditures.

The inflexible expenses are primarily the per capita dues that we pay to the CFT, AFT, CLF, and the San Mateo CLC, and when combined with the our liability insurance premium, they total $319,398.  Although the per capita dues will vary slightly as our bargaining unit count shrinks and grows, as pointed out in the discussion about income, CFT and AFT both raised their per capita rates, so though our count is down, our dues are up. Specifically, CFT has raised its dues by $3.14 a head while AFT has increased its by a bit over half a dollar. Dan explained that the CFT increase was passed at the last convention so that CFT would have more funds for political action. To put those three bucks and change in perspective, the Draft Budget estimates our per capitas to CFT will increase from last year’s by over nine thousand dollars. On the other hand, though AFT’s rate has increased, since our full-time equivalent faculty count has decreased, our projected dues to AFT will be down over six thousand dollars. The rest of our fixed expenses have also shifted, but not nearly as much as these two affiliates’ dues.

The flexible expenses are divided between staff salaries, taxes, and benefits and “other expenses,” such as legal defense, the printing of the Advocate, and our purchase of release time and other EC-member compensation. AFT 1493 employs one full-time “formula funded staff” (our Executive Secretary), a part-time staff assistant/office manager, and a part-time clerical assistant, both of whom work 60 hours per month (about 15 hours per week). The formula funded staff is paid according to the full-time faculty salary schedule while the part-time staff are paid $40 per hour and $30 per hour, respectively. The total staff expense is $201,816.

Finally, the remaining flexible expenses range from $600 to $54,000 per item per year and total $151,077.

• BUDGET CUTS & DISCUSSION

Once we had gone through the Draft Budget, Monica reported on a conversation she had with Dennis Smith, CFT’s treasurer. She wanted to find out what CFT’s expectations are regarding the exactness of per capita counts and their fluctuations from month to month, as well as details about staffing models at other locals. Dennis indicated that most locals do not pay their per capitas based on exact monthly unit-member counts; rather, they estimate their membership and pay by the semester. While our counts must be accurate, they do not have to follow the vicissitudes of the District’s monthly hourly-faculty payroll. Monica asked Dennis if a local should expect to pay its staff roughly the equivalent that it receives in Formula Rebate funding. Dennis explained that was the idea behind the Formula Rebate, but that locals are free to spend more. Though all locals are different, Dennis said that, in general, instead of locals maintaining their own databases, CFT pulls the data regarding per capitas from districts’ databases, at no cost to the local, and that at Los Rios, a local with 2,500 unit-members and one staff member, the local’s treasurer takes care of the bookkeeping as opposed to our model, in which we hire a bookkeeper and have a nominal treasurer. Monica reported that Dennis said CFT would be happy to provide us with training if we were to change our treasurer model. Dan pointed out that AFT 1493’s faculty treasurer did keep the books years ago, but ever since he retired, we have been unable to recruit a faculty member with the requisite skills to agree to take on this role; hence, our nominal treasurer and hired bookkeeper.

With all of this information now on the table, we talked at length about what could or could not be cut, all the whys, hows, ifs, ands, or buts. Several people noted, to unanimous agreement, that any suggestions about cuts bore no reflection on the importance of the item nor on the qualify of a person’s work. It was a difficult two hours. We discussed and voted on each item, line by line. When all was said and done, we came up with the following cuts to the Draft Budget. Each vote was preceded by a motion either to eliminate or reduce an expenditure, which was seconded, followed by further discussion and hand-raised vote.

Vote Results

Line Item No.

Description

Original Expense

Proposed Change

YES

NO

ABSTAIN

Result

2c

Clerical Assistant Position

$29,506

-$29,506

11

0

0

Carried

4

Legal Expenses

$54,000

-$12,500

11

0

0

Carried

10

Conferences and Social Events

$12,000

-$9,000

2

6

3

Did Not Pass

10

Conferences and Social Events

$12,000

-$6,000

4

4

3

Did Not Pass

10

Conferences and Social Events

$12,000

-$9,000

3

7

1

Did Not Pass

10

Conferences and Social Events

$12,000

-$6,000

8

3

0

Carried

9

Advocate Printing

$12,000

-$6,000

9

2

0

Carried

3

Office Expenses

$6,000

-$3,000

11

0

0

Carried

11

Ballot Initiatives, etc.

$1,200

-$1,200

11

0

1

Carried

16

Mentorship Program (voted to be taken up, pending budget, earlier in the meeting)

$560

-$560

8

0

3

Carried

15

Part Time Organizer Position (voted to be taken up, pending budget, earlier in the meeting)

$0

+$5,120

11

0

0

Carried

Total change in budget:

-53,64

We also voted on the following ancillary budgetary items:

Motion (seconded): Calculate our per capita dues based on our actual unit numbers (over 1,000 members).

Discussion: None.

Yes

No

Abstain

11

0

0

Motion carries.

Motion (seconded): Schedule a mid-year budget review in January 2011.

Discussion: None.

Yes

No

Abstain

11

0

0

Motion carries.

Motion (seconded): Estimate our Measure G income conservatively, using 50%, or $3,000,000, as the total figure.

Discussion: None.

Yes

No

Abstain

7

3

1

Motion carries.

After this exhausting discussion and spirited rounds of motions and voting, we still have a roughly estimated projected budget deficit of -$59,340. We will have to return to the budget in September.

5.   AFT/Senate Joint Statement on Trust Committee

Tabled until September 8th.

6.   Changes to the AFT 1493 Constitution (Clarification of voting, quorum, count for co-members, minimum threshold requirement for union election, recall)

Tabled until September 8th.

7.   Union Handbook

Tabled until September 8th.

Items raised for future meetings:

  • September—Parcel tax, district budget (standing items?); dates for special focus meeting; quick report on fact checking about CFT’s services relevant to our per capitas and membership database; all items tabled at this retreat-meeting.
  • December—Debrief and evaluate the success of the mentorship program pilot.
  • January—Budget review.
  • Special Focus—Union philosophy, building union strength

Meeting Adjourned: 6:00

Respectfully submitted by

Teeka James

Acting Secretary


[1] Not all meeting attendees were present for all votes.

[2] All numbers are quoted directly from the 8/19 Draft Budget.

[3] Affiliates include California Federation of Teachers (CFT), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), California Labor Federation (CLF), and the San Mateo County Labor Council (CLC).