November 2011 Advocate

Faculty votes down Tentative Agreement;
Frustrated teachers say they are “outraged,” “appalled”


By Katharine Harer, AFT 1493 Vice President and Negotiating Team Member

Faculty responded resoundingly – voting by nearly 80% not to ratify the Tentative Agreement of the new contract during the online vote that was held September 27 – 30. After the District’s decision to grant salary increases to yet another group of administrators and managers, their claim through over two years of difficult negotiations and mediation that “there is no money, there is no money” could be seen for what it is:  a bargaining position.

AFT dissects Chancellor’s statistics on salary rankings

This first insult was followed by yet another when Chancellor Galatolo sent a message to all faculty stating that we are in the 3rd-4th ranking in salaries among the Bay Ten.  The AFT quickly deconstructed the Chancellor’s numbers game, showing that the majority of both full-time and part-time faculty are significantly below 3rd-4th place among the Bay Ten; in fact, the majority of us fall into rankings between 5th-9th place.  We carried out a highly successful educational campaign on all three campuses, creating a series of “blue sheets” and distributing them by hand and electronically to our colleagues.  We set up tables, held meetings and gave out the real numbers.  Many faculty members were shocked to see just how low we rank in comparison to our colleagues at other Bay Area colleges.

Faculty working harder for same pay as costs rise

The District has shown that it is disingenuous in its claims to believe in equity for all.  In 2008 one class of administrators was given salary increases while faculty received zero and now in 2011, a second group has been awarded increases.  Meanwhile, faculty work harder than ever, not just in the classroom, but serving on multiple committees in our departments and on our campuses, leading programs and initiatives to help students, while we watch our earnings sink well below the cost of living in the Bay Area.
Here are some of the responses AFT President, Monica Malamud, received when news of the District’s recent actions hit faculty radar screens:

“ I am really outraged that the district would approve pay increases for some groups, but not all employee groups.  I was upset in 2008 when administration received a huge pay increase.  Faculty has not had a pay increase in several years – while expenses have continued to increase.  To offset the loss of income (from no pay increases), I’ve had to look for part-time work to make up the difference.  Faculty members are essential to the operation of our college.  If there were no faculty – there would be no college.”  

“I’ve been concerned regarding my salary and the significant effect that six or seven salary freezes since the 1990’s will have on my pension.  In addition, I am increasingly appalled at how full-time faculty are being taken advantage of by increasing workloads and an ever increasing number of meetings scheduled, most of which are not compensated.  I think we as faculty are becoming our own worst enemy as we continue to accept such treatment.”

“This would be (one more) denigrating and demoralizing spit in our faces –especially in light of the pay raise administration gave itself three years ago during the onset of the current ‘budget crisis’ (my quote marks intending to convey, not that there was or is no budget crisis, but that who gets affected by it, and how, is highly manipulated and suspect).”

“In addition to the not keeping up with the general cost of living, I believe I am losing almost $200 a month for my medical costs.  Based on the amount deducted from my last check, that is a $2000 per year decrease since we have been working without a contract.  For the many people like me who are at the top of the salary scale, we are losing even more.”

“I want to express my outrage and make it clear that the AFT should NOT approve a tentative agreement that does not include a substantial raise for faculty.  In case anyone wonders why students come to CSM, Cañada or Skyline, it’s because of the FACULTY!!!”

You have sent us back to the negotiating table to represent your interests and to communicate your outrage and frustration to the District.  Our first meeting with a state-appointed mediator is set for Wednesday November 16th.   We will fight for true equity for full- and part-time faculty as you have directed us to do.

 

 

THE LOCAL VIEW

Linking Occupy Wall Street and labor will strengthen both movements


The California Federation of Teachers (CFT) on Oct. 14 formally endorsed the “Occupy Wall Street” (OWS) movement. The CFT said: “Occupy Wall Street, and its local variations, represent the legitimate response of the 99% of us adversely affected by growing wealth and income inequality in America.  One percent of the population now owns close to 40% of the country’s wealth… Instead of investing its newfound wealth in productive enterprises in the United States, the top 1% moved it offshore or into financial speculation, which ultimately crashed the economy.  The 1% also took large amounts of this money and poured it into a public relations effort to blame teachers and other public servants for the economic problems the 1% created… The California Federation of Teachers embraces the call of Occupy Wall Street to raise taxes on the rich, to reregulate the banks, and to enact a financial speculation tax. We encourage our members to participate in the OWS actions in their cities. These actions will help restore public budgets for schools and other vital services, and set our state and our country back on a road to democracy and prosperity.”  

In addition, CFT president Joshua Pechthalt noted that “One of the main messages of Occupy Wall Street is the need to restore tax levels on the rich and corporations to support public education at all levels.  Another is to redirect investment to benefit the 99% of us who aren’t the 1% wealthiest Americans.  Educators are proud to stand in solidarity with these principles and this important movement.”

In the following Local View column, Dan Kaplan supports a growing coalition between labor and the OWS movement.

by Dan Kaplan, AFT 1493 Executive Secretary

kaplanTens of thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — of people have taken to the streets over the past four weeks in cities across the United States as part of an Occupy Wall Street movement to protest the intolerable conditions of massive unemployment, student debt, growing social inequality, rampant home foreclosures, and stepped-up cuts in the social safety net.

The outrage these activists have shown has been especially directed against the bailout of Wall Street, while Main Street has been left to languish, and at the takeover of the political system by corporate interests.

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is loosely modeled on the Arab Spring symbol of mass protest, in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, where a mass movement toppled the strong man Hosni Mubarak earlier this year. OWS also obviously draws inspiration from the occupation of the Capitol building and mass rallies in Madison, Wisconsin, by militant trade unionists and their supporters last February.

The Occupy Wall Street movement can play a positive role by posing issues that the unions usually fear to address, like the relationship between Wall Street and the major political parties, bipartisan support to the bank bailouts, and the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan.

The activists in the OWS movement are clearly not interested in working with the major political parties at both the national and state levels, and now believe that there needs to be old-fashioned rage in the streets, as seen through mass mobilizations of the American people in cities across the country.

Wherever the OWS movement goes from here, it has already taught the labor movement powerful lessons on the need to organize democratically and independently of the two major political parties. OWS has lifted many people from their bitter disappointments in politics as usual, and has presented an alternative way to fight against corporate greed and the growing inequality in U.S. society.

The American labor movement should embrace the Occupation protests, now growing all over the country. At the same time, the unions should now make every effort to deepen the link between OWS and workers’ struggles. Union halls should be turned into congresses of labor, the unemployed and community organizations for an ongoing democratic discussion of how to defeat Wall Street’s attacks.

From the perspective of the new OWS activists, the politicians in both major political parties have bailed out the bankers and speculators to the tune of more than $4 trillion — more than half of which is still sitting in the Wall Street coffers collecting interest while more than 27 million people are unemployed and more than 50 million people are now facing foreclosures.

And today, the “Super Committee of 12” is pushing forward to enact cuts of up to $3.5 million in the social safety net — particularly in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — over the next 10 years.

This is why the central question facing the OWS movement is how to put an end to the murderous cuts now being proposed by the political class in Washington, D.C., beginning with an end to the cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — all of which are imposed by the Wall Street/credit agencies’ dictates, in the name of balancing the budget deficits.

The trade unions have the means to help organize these mass mobilizations to demand: “No more concessions! Make Wall Street Pay for the Crisis!” With the growing momentum created by the OWS movement, the time is now for labor and its community allies to begin the process of constructing the kind of fightback movement that can put a stop to all of these assaults on the standard of living of 99% of the American people.

Building on the momentum of the OWS movement and forging coalitions such as those now taking shape in California is the only way to stop the dismantling of public education and other social services both in California and around the country.

 

 

AFT 1493 endorses Joe Ross for Board of Trustees

joeross_smccdWhile the San Mateo Labor Council has endorsed 4 candidates for the 3 open seats on the SMCCCD Board of Trustees in the November 8 election (Pat Miljanich, Karen Schwarz, Dave Mandelkern, and Joe Ross), AFT Local 1493 has decided not to endorse any of the incumbent candidates running for reelection and has only endorsed the candidacy of Joe Ross for election to the Board of Trustees.

In making this decision, the AFT 1493 Executive Commitee took into consideration the Board’s actions over the past 4 years, including its vote to overturn a state arbitrator’s ruling in favor of the AFT’s position, its unwillingness to support binding arbitration, and last, but not least, the Board’s decision to once again grant salary improvements to supervisory employees despite repeatedly saying that there was no money for improving the faculty salary schedule.

In contrast to the Board’s actions, Joe Ross said in a recent newspaper article that the best practice regarding salary adjustments is generally to increase salaries in the context of a full system-wide review.  On the issue of binding arbitration, Joe Ross said: “Any binding arbitration provision would need the informed support of all parties, including labor. But if labor is comfortable with a binding arbitration provision, I would support it.”

AFT 1493 urges faculty who live in San Mateo County to vote on November 8 for Joe Ross for the SMCCCD Board of Trustees because we think that the interests of faculty will be better served by the presence of Joe Ross on the Board of Trustees.

For more information about Joe Ross, see his website:  www.joeross.org

 

Trustees respond to AFT endorsement

Dear Advocate Readers:

We are disappointed that the Executive Committee of AFT 1493 has chosen not to endorse and support us for re-election to the Board of Trustees, but we still support the Faculty of the San Mateo County Community College District.

During our term as Trustees we have met with the AFT leadership and members individually and collectively on multiple occasions, and have always tried to work together in a spirit of honesty, integrity, and mutual respect. While we may disagree on certain specific issues, we feel that we have shown by our actions over the past four years that we are overwhelmingly supportive of our Faculty. The three of us have been endorsed by the San Mateo County Central Labor Council and by other District bargaining units. We remain committed to treating all employees of the District fairly and equitably.

These are difficult times for public education in the State of California. We fear that this decision by the Executive Committee does not represent the opinion of all of the Faculty, and instead of building a collaborative environment for making the tough decisions with which we are faced, this decision will only drive a wedge between the AFT and your Board of Trustees.

Sincerely,
Dave Mandelkern
Patricia Miljanich
Karen Schwarz
Trustees, San Mateo County Community College District

 

 

 

 

 

Vote for Sharon Hendricks for CalSTRS Board;
Ballots due by mail, phone or online by November 30

sharonhendricksCalifornia Community College faculty members get to elect one representative to the Governing Board of California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS). Sharon Hendricks, who is currently running for the Community College representative has been endorsed by the CFT, CCCI, FACCC and CPFA. “We are facing unprecedented attacks on teachers and public pensions while also witnessing great economic instability,” Sharon explains. “These are challenging times for our country, our state and our role as educators in the public sector.  Politicians are using the attacks on our pensions as a tool to undermine unions and weaken the middle class.  As the elected Community College representative to the CalSTRS Board, I will fight for the secure retirement for all part-time and full-time community college faculty.  I will also keep you informed and solicit your ideas about challenges facing CalSTRS and its members.”

Carl Friedlander, President of the Community College Council, states “Sharon Hendricks will be a thoughtful, forceful, and persuasive voice on the CalSTRS Board.  She understands both the fiscal and political challenges our retirement system faces and she will engage in the kind of regular, two-way communication with faculty that the current situation demands.”    

Advocate for Part-Time Faculty

“The retirement issues of part-timers are important to me,” she says.  “Only 7% of CalSTRS members work for Community Colleges rather than K-12.  More than half of the community college members in the CalSTRS Defined Benefit Program are part-time faculty.  It is critical that local unions, faculty associations, community college districts, and CalSTRS partner together to ensure that part-time faculty are getting fair and accurate calculations of their service credit, final compensation, and other factors that impact their retirement.  As the elected Community College representative to the CalSTRS Board, I will advocate for part-time retirement issues and be sure your interests are protected.”
“As a part-timer who is very familiar with our retirement issues, I wholeheartedly endorse Sharon Hendricks for the CalSTRS Board,” says Cliff Liehe, part-time instructor at City College of San Francisco and AFT Local 2121 grievance officer.  “She is an active member of the CalSTRS Part-Time Task Force, understands the complexities of part-time retirement issues, and consistently advocates on behalf of part-timers on those issues.  Her presence on the CalSTRS Retirement Board would ensure a strong voice on behalf of part-timers.”

Sharon has been working to ensure the retirement security of community college faculty at the state level, serving on the CFT and FACCC Retirement Committees as well as at the local level, speaking to local chapters’ and unions’ faculty groups regarding CalSTRS issues and the attacks on teachers and public pensions.  If you have questions for Sharon or want information about her campaign, please feel free to contact her.

Website: http://www.sharon4strs.com/
Email: sharon4strs@att.net. 
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/sharon4calstrs

FAQs for CalSTRS Board Election

Who is eligible to vote?
Eligible voters in the election are persons who were members of the Defined Benefit Program and/or participants of the Cash Balance Benefit Program employed by a community college district during the 2010-11 school year, between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011.

When will I receive my ballot?
Mailed ballots arrived at CalSTRS members’ homes on Oct. 1

What will the mailing look like from CalSTRS?

The envelope with the official election ballot enclosed should look similar to this:
strsballotenvelope

How long do we have to vote and when is the last day I can send my ballot in?
You will be able to vote between October 1st and November 30th.  Voted ballots must be postmarked or received by CalSTRS on or before November 30th to be counted.
Is mailing the ballot back to CalSTRS the only way to vote?
When you receive your paper ballot in the mail, you will have three options for how to vote in this election.  You can mail your paper ballot in, phone in your vote, or vote on-line.  Instruction on these various voting options will be enclosed in your mailing.

What do I do if I lost or didn’t receive my ballot?
For questions and general information regarding this election, contact the Election Coordinator, Tom Barrett, at electioncoordinator@CalSTRS.com or 800-228-5453.

 

Campaign for an oil tax to fund education misses deadline, but plans new initiative for 2012 ballot

tax_oilThe campaign for a California ballot initiative that would impose an oil extraction tax to fund K-12 and higher education failed to collect the required 504,760 valid signatures needed to qualify for the ballot before the September 30 deadline, but the organization plans to try again to get the initiative on the ballot for next year.

The leaders of the campaign reported that there were many challenges to overcome in the first round of the battle. They began with no immediate help or funding from established organizations. Many organizations were unable, unwilling, or skeptical of getting involved with such an ambitious and challenging project.  However, with lots of help and grass roots support, the campaign turned the tide and built a strong, dynamic organization which includes many major supporters and organizations (see the endorsement list, both organizational and individual at the campaign’s website: www.rescueeducationcalifornia.org)

The organizers feel that the next time will be different. They believe that they have learned from their successes and shortcomings. They will have more resources, have built a broader base of support, will have a longer signature gathering period when campuses are in session, more college and university students pledged to lead the effort, and they have a productive analysis of the first campaign to help guide them.

The campaign will begin gathering signatures around mid-November and will have 150 days (approximately 5 full months) until the middle of April to gather the 504,760 signatures. This will enable the initiative to qualify for the November 2012 (Presidential) General Election ballot, when the chance of getting it passed increases, since there will be a higher turnout of sympathetic voters.

The organizers have been reaching out to an expanded group of labor, educational, environmental, and social justice activists, as well as student, teacher, and parent organizations, in order to make Round 2 an inspiring success. They are also emphasizing the importance of raising adequate funds for this effort. Please go to the website to get information to legally and efficiently donate, or set up a fundraiser. “TAX OIL TO FUND EDUCATION” T-shirts are available to aid in this effort.

 

SMCCCD students active in oil tax initiative drive

Student activism at our colleges has been at a high level recently, the most activity since the struggle against the last round of budget cuts a year ago.
The reason for the renewed activism was a campaign to qualify a California ballot Initiative that would have imposed a 15% tax on oil extracted in California, similar to what is done in virtually every other oil-producing state in the country. These revenues would have provided $2 to $3 billion dollars per year to fund education in the state, from K-12 to all segments of higher education!

To get this Initiative on the ballot required obtaining a little over 500,000 signatures statewide by September 30 and students all over the state worked to meet that goal. The Associated Students at CSM passed a resolution in support of this Initiative, and then set up tables on campus for over a month in their effort to obtain as many signatures from fellow students as possible. Students at both Cañada and Skyline Colleges also engaged in signature gathering efforts on their campuses.

csm_student_bailey_girard-webcsm_student_matt_schmeeckly-web
Bailey Girard (left) and Matt Schmeeckly were the main student organizers of the CSM Oil Tax Initiative campaign

A visiting faculty member from City College of San Francisco, where students were also engaged in the signature gathering effort, commented: “Everywhere I went on the CSM campus people were collecting signatures.” In fact, over 500 signatures were collected in a little over a month in our District alone.

Many students expressed the sentiment that after receiving so much bad news over the last few years about how tuition was being raised again and again, that finally something positive was potentially on the horizon; and that optimism caused the students to make a serious effort to get this Initiative on the ballot.

One student was heard saying: “It always saddens me to lose when we struggle for something as important has funding education, but it’s much worse to lose without fighting hard.” The leading organizers of the initiative campaign have just announced that they plan to try again to get the initiative on the ballot for next year.

cartoon-taxless

 

Calendar

Board of Trustees Candidates Town Hall:

Tuesday, November 1, 1 pm
Bay View Dining Room, CSM College Center

—–

AFT 1493 Executive Committee /
General Membership Meetings:

November 9, 2:15 pm – 4:45 pm
Skyline, Room 6203

December 7, 2:15 pm – 4:45 pm
CSM, Building 10, Room 401
City Conference Room B