June 30, 2009

San Mateo Community College Federation of Teachers, AFT 1493

Minutes of General Membership/Executive Committee Meeting

June 30, 2009, at CSM

Present: Alma Cervantes, Chip Chandler, Nina Floro, Katharine Harer, Teeka James, Dan Kaplan, Yaping Li, Monica Malamud, Anne Stafford

Meeting began at 1:25

Facilitator: Teeka James

Trust Committee update

Teeka recently created and emailed to the EC a thorough chronological history of her communications with Harry Joel regarding the formation of a new Trust Committee.

Yesterday Teeka and Monica met with the Chancellor Harry Joel to discuss the District’s resistance to meeting AFT’s funding requests for the Trust Committee, to hear his views about the task of the Trust Committee, and to listen to his proposals. Teeka and Monica emphasized to him the need to determine the funding before talking about the specific make-up of the committee. They also explained that although we desperately need evaluation procedures in place for Distance Education, AFT does not want to work on those procedures and issues separately from the procedures for all other faculty evaluation.

The Chancellor thinks the work of the Trust Committee is important (but he would prefer it to be called “Faculty Evaluation Task Force”), and has offered $10,000 in the form of stipends – not reassigned time – for faculty to revise the current evaluation procedures and documents. He also suggested that the District provide a classified staff member to call/schedule the meetings, take minutes, and actually write up some of the documents based on meeting discussions. He hopes that because the committee would be revising existing documents, the process should go relatively quickly. Ron reiterated that the District would not pay for reassigned time, but did suggest that perhaps faculty working on the Trust Committee could be released from some of their professional duties, such as serving on various department, division, and college committees. Ron says that he is eager for the committee to get started.

EC discussion:

  • Classified support staff: While we recognize the potential advantages (workload reduction, external documentation of work done and tasks accomplished), we are concerned about the potential loss of confidentiality and reduced opportunity for candid discussion.
  • Timeline: Despite the Chancellor’s eagerness to get this process going, those attending today’s meeting feel strongly that we cannot start until Spring 2010 for the following reasons: 1) Faculty schedules for Fall 2009 are already in place and it is not reasonable or practical to ask them to take on additional work at this time, especially a project as important and demanding as the Trust Committee. 2) The EC cannot make decisions about who will serve on the committee until we can have a discussion which includes a majority of our officers and representatives, a discussion that is not possible during the summer. 3) A number of people expressed concern about how far we can get in just one semester. Though it is true that we aren’t starting from scratch, the revision of existing documents and procedures is likely to be incredibly time-consuming. Because we have learned so much over the years about what is and is not working, we will have to go over every sentence with a fine-tooth comb and will need to consult with faculty who have expertise in a number of different areas: Distance Education, Counseling, Part-Time faculty issues, and Librarians, just to name a few. 4) In general the EC feels resentful about the Chancellor’s seemingly sudden interest in getting the Trust Committee underway; the District has had many, many months to respond to our proposals and has dragged its feet. To suddenly ask – during the summer, when many faculty are traveling, working on other projects, or otherwise unavailable – that we start the committee right away is unreasonable, and shows little understanding of the way in which faculty work and of the significance of the Trust Committee’s work.
  • Stipends versus reassigned time: AFT has already dramatically reduced its requested number of faculty representatives to the Trust Committee, but we still feel strongly about the need for reassigned time rather than stipends. In general, faculty are unwilling to take on the work of the Trust Committee without being released from other responsibilities. This sort of real “release” from duties is not the same as what the Chancellor suggested; his proposal would merely push the work that Trust Committee members normally do for their departments, divisions, and colleges onto their colleagues. The $10,000 proposed by the Chancellor would pay each of three faculty members (not the four we had most recently asked for) to work, at the special rate, for approximately 3 hours per week for one semester. We are concerned that that is not enough time to finish the majority of the work, and are worried about what will happen if the District discontinues its funding at that point. Once the group gets some momentum, it is important that it keep working until the job is finished.
  • Counter-proposal: A couple of people suggested that AFT chip in some additional funding (an idea Dan had proposed in the Spring and that we rejected at the time) to buy reassigned time for either three or four faculty members (one appointed by the Senate, and either two or three appointed by AFT). A rough calculation shows that it would cost approximately $12,500 to buy three units of reassigned time for three faculty members for one semester (or $17,000 for four faculty). These people could start working in Spring 2010, attempting to complete the majority of the work in one semester
  • Remaining questions/issues: 1) Can we get the District to commit to funding beyond one semester? 2) Do we even want to pursue this at all if the state budget crisis results in massive faculty layoffs? Giving a couple of faculty reassigned time, or even stipends, while others are losing their jobs, creates a genuine ethical dilemma and a potential public relations disaster (see Item 1A below). The fact is that although the current evaluation documents are far from perfect, we can continue using them if we have to.

Teeka will write a brief summary of yesterday’s (Monday, June 29) meeting with the Chancellor and of our ideas for a “counter-proposal.” Dan will include this in an email to the EC, asking once more about people’s availability for the August retreat, where we will need to continue today’s discussion. Also at the retreat we will discuss AFT’s process for choosing our two faculty representatives to the Trust Committee if we decide to go forward.

*Note: If we decide that we are willing and able to form a new Trust Committee, we must emphasize to the Chancellor the importance of the task and the need for sufficient time to do it right.

New Item: 1A: Budget cuts

When Teeka and Monica met with the Chancellor yesterday, he raised the issue of further funding cuts at the three colleges and the possibility for future layoffs. He said that the District is already talking with the other two unions (AFSCME and CSEA) and would like to start talks with AFT immediately. Our District may have to make cuts of 15 – 25% over a 24-month period. The District/colleges (?) may start looking at cutting entire programs if the state starts to dip into counties’ revenues.

The Chancellor mentioned the possibility of furloughs, step freezes, and layoffs, possibly reaching as high as recently hired tenure-track faculty.

**Completely separate from yesterday’s meeting with the Chancellor, some EC members have heard rumors of faculty being asked to take pay cuts in the future.

We agreed that we need to know more about any faculty layoffs in order to make a decision about the Trust Committee.

AFT 1493 decision-making process for the rest of the summer

Monica will send an email to the EC explaining that because she will be traveling for most of the summer and Dan will be out of town for a month, and because we may be faced with budget (or other) emergencies over the summer, we should all check email when we can. If people have something important to communicate to the group, they should include the word “urgent” in the email’s subject line, and all those who receive and read the email should let the sender know that they received it, even if they don’t have a specific response.

The process for having decided to send an email to the Board of Trustees regarding their comments about recent Advocate articles

Anne expressed frustration and disappointment over the decision to send what she felt was an unnecessarily speedy response from the EC to the Board of Trustees regarding their comments at their May 13, 2009 meeting about two recent Advocate articles. Within just 48 hours of that meeting, Monica sent a brief email to the Board, crafted by a small group of EC members, expressing regret over any misinformation in the articles. Anne was frustrated because she, and others, had suggested that the EC should not be too quick to respond and should continue to discuss how, when, and whether to respond, and was surprised when a response had, in fact, been sent.

At today’s meeting we agreed that in dealing with such sensitive issues in the future, if some people feel the need to take action quickly, they should specifically request a response from others in their emails. Nina suggested that since we are currently redesigning our website, we might want to consider setting up discussion boards for issues like this one.

AFT will probably respond more fully to the Board members’ comments in the next issue of the Advocate.

How to proceed/respond to the Board’s decision to overturn arbitrator’s decision

A) Unfair Labor Practice charge filed with PERB
B) Lawsuit in San Mateo Superior Court?
C) Settlement negotiations?

AFT retreat date? Friday, August 21 (1:00 – 6:00) or Saturday, August 22

See Item #1

Approval of new Advocate computer and approval of AFT website redesign

The computer Eric had been using to produce and edit the Advocate died. He has purchased a replacement computer and has asked AFT to reimburse him for half of the cost. We did not vote on this because we did now know the exact cost of the computer and because we did not have a quorum, but a straw vote showed unanimous support.

Rumors

Rumors are circulating that the District is considering consolidating Divisions or perhaps even colleges. There is currently at least one vacant Dean position and some faculty have heard speculation that it may not be filled.

Meeting adjourned: 3:45