Dec. 2018 Advocate: Negotiations survey leads to contract proposals


Faculty negotiations survey results lead to AFT’s initial 2019-22 contract proposals

AFT 1493’s bargaining team is preparing to begin faculty contract negotiations with District negotiators on a new three-year contract (July 2019 to June 2022) and, in preparation, the union conducted a survey of District faculty on areas that could be improved or added to our contract and what should be priorities in negotiations. In total, 187 faculty members completed the survey and the survey responses were used to help develop AFT’s initial contract proposals for the new round of negotiations.

The survey asked faculty to rate the importance of various areas for negotiations including: increasing salaries, increasing the District’s contribution to medical benefits, increasing professional development funds, and adding language on academic freedom, intellectual property rights, discipline and investigations, distance education and binding arbitration. Part-time faculty were also asked to rate the importance of areas of particular relevance to part-timers, such as: providing part-timers pay parity with full-timers, including more pay steps for seniority and columns for educational levels, improving part-time medical benefits, codifying payment for non-teaching duties, providing adequate office space for part-time faculty and strengthening part-time seniority rights.

See a summary of faculty responses to the Negotiations Survey.

Most concern expressed about excessive workload and inequity for part-timers

In addition to ranking areas of priorities for AFT’s negotiations proposals, survey respondents were asked to provide input on any ideas for improving our contract. In their open-ended responses, faculty expressed concerns about a number of common areas. The two areas about which the most faculty expressed concern and frustration–and for which there were widespread calls for the need to change–were excessive workload and inequity for part-timers.

Some faculty comments related to excessive workload included: “Workload is #1 issue”; “Define overload or release time for the excess of non-teaching duties.” “How many committees are too many?” “More and more of my time is being spent jumping through hoops to please the administration yet getting no compensation. This ‘committee bloat’ is literally interfering with teaching.” “Non-teaching duties build & sustain the college academy so all faculty should participate. They should be valued, clear and contained for full-time faculty and compensated for part-time faculty.”

Pay part-timers for non-teaching work

Many faculty called for the need to pay part-time faculty for non-teaching work. Here are some typical comments on this issue: “Pay people for non-teaching assignments so part-time faculty can participate in shared governance and other work so we feel our contribution is respected, desired and acknowledged.”

“Ensure all adjuncts are paid for attending division and department meetings, for committee work and for curriculum development and other special projects, particularly in disciplines with only adjuncts. Why is this not already in place??!!”

Equity for part-timers on pay and benefits

Regarding equity for part-time faculty on pay and benefits, some typical respondent comments included: “Move closer to parity pay for adjuncts.” “Equalize part-time workers’ benefits with those of full-time employees.” “Real medical benefits for adjuncts!!!” “Increasing the part-timers’ medical stipend is NOT providing medical coverage. OFFER PLANS NOT REIMBURSEMENT!”

Other contractual changes repeatedly called for by numerous faculty respondents to AFT’s negotiations survey included: increasing professional development funding, instituting reasonable enrollment caps for classes or fairer compensation for teaching larger classes, and assigning equitable faculty load for lab classes across all disciplines.

More professional development funding

Some faculty comments regarding professional development funding included: “Strengthen PD language so that the procedure encourages rather than discourages PD”; “Allow for a separate stream of money for Sabbaticals versus Short-Term Projects and for Conferences for Personal Professional Development”; “Create a separate fund for conferences required to serve the institution vs. individual faculty enrichment”; “Provide a fund for tuition reimbursement for faculty (to pursue additional units of grad education).”

Regarding large classes, some survey respondents’ wrote: “disincentivize assigning giant classes”; “additional compensation for classes over 35 students”; “we need to prioritize how pay will be handled in supersized courses. I recommended a tiered pay format, but I’ll take anything that recognizes the additional workload large courses place on faculty.”

Equitable load for lab classes

An especially large number of survey respondents called for reasonable faculty load to be assigned for lab classes. For example, one faculty member said that lab courses in their discipline “require equal or more faculty preparation and execution, but are compensated less for more work based on outdated Lab percentages defined ages ago by the district. This is a workload issue, since to make a full-time load, some instructors are required to teach 6 or 7 courses per semester due to this structural inequity.” Another respondent stated, “In my field and my experience, teaching a lab takes the same if not more prep than teaching a lecture. I don’t understand why lab hours are worth less in terms of load. Faculty with a number of lab courses may end up teaching a number of hours more each week than faculty with five 3-unit lecture courses.”

A few of the other areas of concern that were raised by multiple survey respondents were the need for seniority rules to be in effect for summer assignments, the need to address workload and evaluation issues for online instruction and the need for transparency in assigning faculty housing.

AFT proposals to be presented to Board

The AFT 1493 negotiating team and Executive Committee have had a chance to review all of the survey responses. The bargaining team, led by Chief Negotiator Joaquin Rivera, have used the survey responses, along with outstanding issues from previous negotiations, and new issues that have arisen since the previous negotiations, to develop AFT’s initial contract proposals for the new round of negotiations. These proposals will be formally presented to the Board of Trustees (called the “sunshining” process) at the December 12th Board meeting.