May 2015 Advocate – Negotiations Update
Some progress in talks on medical benefits for part-time faculty
At the March 25 Board of Trustees meeting, five faculty members spoke to the Board about the impact on their lives of the District’s current part-time medical reimbursement stipend of $600 per semester, providing clear evidence of how seriously inadequate that sum is for any health insurance coverage.
AFT 1493 negotiators have been trying to work out a new agreement on health benefits with the District since the Fall semester and have presented a comparison of part-time faculty health benefits in “Bay Ten” community college districts, showing that our District was 9th out of the ten Bay Area districts.
In the negotiating session on April 1, the District presented a new proposal that, for the first time, offered to pay part-time faculty for individual Kaiser health coverage on a pro-rata basis. For example, a professor teaching a 40% load for the Fall semester would get reimbursed for 40% of the Kaiser individual premium for the months of August through December. All part-time faculty who have taught the prior two semester would be eligible and there would be no minimum load. Summer session teaching would also be covered. There was, however, a significant caveat in their offer: the District put a cap on the total amount that they would pay each year for all part-time faculty using this health coverage. They proposed that if the total cost for all District part-time faculty members’ Kaiser premiums went over $120,000 for 2015 or over $150,000 in 2016, that they would reduce the amount that they would cover for each part-timer proportionately.
Another negotiating session took place on April 17. The AFT negotiators appreciated that the District’s proposal was trying to address faculty concerns about inadequate health coverage, but when they analyzed the numbers on this offer, they determined that the cap was significantly too low to cover the likely cost of part-time faculty medical premiums. They explained to the District representatives that setting the cap at the proposed figure would lead to many part-timers not being able to benefit from the program and possibly ending up getting a lot less money than they were expecting when they signed up. They also pointed out that other districts in the Bay Area that offer the Kaiser plan do not have such a cap.
The two sides are scheduled to meet again on May 6. We will provide negotiations updates when there are new developments to report.