February 2021 Advocate: Calling for Equity for Adjunct Faculty


Does the District’s commitment to equity include the commitment to a fair contract for our faculty?

Comment to the SMCCD Board of Trustees

by Kolo Wamba, Skyline College Faculty Member,
January 27, 2021

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My name is Kolo Wamba.  I teach physics at Skyline College, and I am a newly elected Faculty Representative to the AFT 1493 Executive Committee at Skyline College.

To the esteemed members of the Board of Trustees, let me begin by expressing my pleasure at the sincere attention that you have decided to pay to the causes of anti-racism and equity in our district.  Clearly you understand, as we do, how institutional inequities lead only to inequitable learning outcomes, and you recognize that they must be stamped out wherever, whenever, and however they arise.  Indeed, as we have seen, the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis it has triggered, have only reinforced deep inequities that were already there, making the issue all the more urgent.

The only question, then, is whether the District’s commitment to equity includes the commitment to a fair contract for our faculty.  I’m talking about a contract with parity in part-time pay, and a meaningful health benefit for adjuncts.   Indeed, I would even say that these things are the absolute bare minimum we ought to be able to expect during a deadly global pandemic.

I happen to know the struggle faced by adjuncts in this district first-hand– I was one myself, barely a semester ago.  And while going full-time is certainly something to celebrate, it has been, for me, a bit of a hollow victory.  This is because the very inequities that I suffered as an adjunct continue to persist and continue to victimize most of my colleagues– adjuncts, who, I remind you, make up the majority of faculty in the District.

When I was an adjunct I earned at best about 70% of what an equivalent full-timer would get, and the meager health benefit I received was reimbursement of a modest fraction of my exorbitant insurance premiums.  This is still true of adjuncts in our district today.   Then there’s the fact that my very occupance of a FT position, in a small way, does help to perpetuate the deeply inequitable two-tiered system of faculty labor, which I and my colleagues, and anyone else who’s paying attention, simply abhor.

Our AFT negotiations team have provided you with a data packet  containing facts and figures that underscore the depth of the problem, and I won’t rehash them all here.  Instead, here is a quick rundown of what the figures show.

  • SMCCCD Part-Time faculty salaries are significantly behind other Basic Aid districts and in the bottom half of all Bay 10 districts despite our high revenues
  • SMCCCD is the only Bay 10 district that has NOT formally addressed Part-Time Parity
  • SMCCCD does NOT pay PT faculty load-based salaries. SMCCCD continues to pay PT faculty by the hour.
  • SMCCCD does NOT pay PT faculty on a mirrored salary schedule.

As if things couldn’t get any worse, let’s not forget that we are in the middle of a deadly global pandemic.   And yet somehow in our district substantial and meaningful health coverage is not guaranteed to ALL of its employees.  Let me reiterate this point.  My esteemed adjunct colleagues, who, I’ll say again, provide a solid majority of the instruction in this district, do not receive a meaningful health benefit for their work. When you consider that this is happening during a global pandemic, the likes of which we haven’t seen in over 100 years, it becomes apparent that the contract that our adjuncts are working under is arguably dangerous to their physical persons!

The good news is that we are now in a position to start addressing these issues with the Board, and our contract negotiations thankfully are back on track– we have 5 negotiations dates set and agreed upon that are coming up.  Part-time parity was, and still is, our priority in negotiations, because it is such a glaring manifestation of structural inequity in our district.

Thank you for your attention.