Mar.-Apr. 2019 Advocate: Negotiations begin on new 3-year contract


AFT and District begin bargaining on new 3-year contract; current agreement expires June 30th

AFT and District negotiators had their first bargaining session for the 2019 AFT faculty contract negotiations on February 7th, 2019, at the District Office. The meeting consisted of AFT Chief Negotiator, Joaquin Rivera, presenting the union’s proposals point by point while engaging in questions and answers from the District around specific proposals. Our bargaining team emphasized our union’s goals of addressing issues around workload, part time equity, salary and benefits, class size, leaves of absence, professional development, grievance procedures, faculty load credit allocation, evaluations, class assignments, academic freedom, investigations, and disciplinary procedures. All of our initial proposals can be found here.

Following our bargaining team’s presentation, the District’s Chief Negotiator, Mitch Bailey, then presented their one-page initial proposal (which can be found on here.) While they offered nothing specific, they indicated that they are willing to hear and discuss our proposals and priorities, and importantly, they did not propose any takeaways from the current contract. Bailey stated, “We value faculty. We want to have a collegial relationship. We have limited resources. We want to follow our student-centered mission.”

February 28th Meeting

The bargaining teams met again on February 28th. During our second bargaining session, the District began by addressing workload. Firstly, they recognized that workload is a big, ongoing issue for faculty. Mitch Bailey indicated that they would like to invite members of the Workload Committee, both faculty and administrators, to the following bargaining session to answer questions around workload and share ideas on how to resolve this issue.

The rest of the bargaining session included some preliminary responses to AFT’s proposals. For the most part where contract language needed to be updated to follow new state laws (i.e. new employee orientation, elimination of agency fees etc.) or clarified to incorporate current practices, the District made general indications that they could agree with our proposals. These include proposed language changes in the following articles:

• 2.4 List of Unit Employees and Job Information
• 2.7 Agency Shop
• 7.2 Definition of Academic Year
• 8.5.1 Pay and Allowances
• 9 Health and Welfare Benefits
• 14.1 Union will be notified of potential layoffs

There were other AFT proposals that the District indicated a willingness to consider but wanted to continue to discuss and/or do more research. These included demands around reassigned time for union business, flex day pay for part time faculty, tuition reimbursement, extended sick leave, maternity/child bonding leave, professional development funding, full time temporary faculty evaluations, and complaints/investigations.

Finally, there were several AFT proposals that the District either expressed concerns about or did not want to consider at this point (although AFT negotiators will continue to raise these proposals in upcoming bargaining sessions.) These included proposals around:

• 1.7 District Communication with Members
• 7.5 Workweek for Full-time Instructional Faculty
• 8.14 Large Class Pay
• 11.16 Public Service Leave
• Article 17 Binding Arbitration
• Appendix F – Faculty Load Credit (FLC) Allocation
• Academic Freedom

Our bargaining team expressed a willingness to engage in discussion and review any counter proposals around any and all of these issues to work towards a resolution. During that negotiations session, the District had not prepared any contract language in response to our initial proposals.

March 7th Meeting

In the most recent round of bargaining, which was held on March 7th, faculty and administration members from the District Workload Committee–Anne Stafford, Doniella Maher, and Aaron McVean–provided a presentation on their workload report and answered questions from the bargaining teams. The Committee members shared the history and formation of the Workload Committee and described the two major challenges of how to determine what is a reasonable workload and how to compensate faculty who exceed a reasonable workload. Following the hour-long discussion with Workload Committee members, the District’s bargaining team proposed ending the meeting citing the need to work with their team to work on the union’s proposals.

Highlights from the Workload Committee presentation:

• Workload committee received a high response rate after surveying the faculty indicating a strong interest in this issue.
• The committee operated in a consensus model. Due to diverging perspectives within the committee, the workload report’s recommendations were not as specific as committee members would have liked them to be.
• Many faculty have reached a breaking point due to workload with many feeling demoralized, discouraged, and others talking about moving and retiring early.
• AFT and Academic Senate members are working together to try to identify specific recommendations of how to resolve issues relating to workload.
• The District currently does not have any proposals on how to remedy workload issues.

Key priorities/suggestions from the faculty members on the Workload Committee:

• Faculty need more time to do their work. Suggestion that compensation for excessive work can be made through release time and/or banking time.
• Contract expectations are vague which have led to new tasks being included as part of a faculty’s workload. Need to clarify faculty responsibilities.
• Suggestion to increase in FT faculty hires to help redistribute workload, especially tasks coming from state mandates. (District rejected this suggesting citing low enrollment).
• Use Dean’s assessment of non-teaching responsibilities to document issues of faculty who do not participate in division work. Faculty evaluations are related to teaching and the Dean’s assessment is about other duties. However, faculty not participating is not a major issue. We were informed that Kathy Blackwood from the District acknowledged that this is a small problem.

While there are many important issues to resolve through these negotiations, there is limited time until our current contract expires (June 30, 2019). We have been actively working to schedule as many bargaining sessions as possible between now and then. Please stay tuned and reach out to us to learn more and get involved! We’ll need your voices, feedback, and active support to win a contract that can make improvements to these many challenging issues.