Negotiations at a standstill, with District refusing to move on many proposals
by Marianne Kaletzky, AFT 1493 Executive Secretary
Very little progress in negotiations since last Spring!
AFT negotiators have been at work for many months now to negotiate a new, fairer contract to replace our most recent faculty contract with SMCCCD, which expired at the end of June 2022. In February 2022 we submitted our initial proposals for the next contract to the District, and in March the District held a public hearing on their and our initial proposals, a process required by law and also known as “sunshining.” However, the District did not give us negotiating dates until May, and though we have been meeting regularly since then, we have not made much progress due to the District’s flat refusal to show any movement on our core non-economic demands. So far, AFT negotiators have presented proposals for:
- A month of paid parental leave before new parents must use sick days or take leave at partial pay. This issue is especially important to newer hires who have not yet accrued many sick days. Faculty should not have to choose between spending time with newborns and earning a wage to support their growing family.
- A clear disability accommodations process, including the requirement that the District give a status update on requests for accommodation within 30 days of receiving them.
- A provision on remote work that gives all faculty the option to work up to 50% of their hours remotely, with an additional provision for counselors giving them the right to take at least half their counseling appointments remotely. Even with individual counselors on hybrid schedules, counseling departments are able to provide in-person availability for all students. And data from all three colleges shows that students continue to have a strong preference for remote counseling.
The District has failed to move on any of these proposals. While the District may not be willing to accept our initial proposals, we do want them to be taken seriously, and we hope that their negotiators will work with ours to find room for movement in both directions and arrive at a compromise acceptable to both parties. Instead, District negotiators have responded to AFT with counterproposal after counterproposal that simply reiterate the status quo, often giving no justification other than “we’re not interested in negotiating over that,” “that’s a management right we’re not interested in giving up,” or “that’s not a mandatory subject of bargaining.” (Mandatory subjects of bargaining are those–including wages, benefits, and working hours–that an employer must negotiate over, but nothing prevents SMCCCD from negotiating on other subjects, except those explicitly designated as illegal.)
AFT has proposed medical, dental & vision benefits for part-time faculty equivalent to those offered to full-timers
In addition, on September 20th AFT presented a proposal to give part-timers with loads of 40% or more access to medical, dental, and vision benefits equivalent to those offered to full-timers. This proposal would almost certainly be self-funding: in response to lobbying by CFT members including members of our Local, Governor Newsom and the legislature have allocated $200 million to provide healthcare to part-timers at California Community Colleges, and have laid out program points to allow districts to get reimbursed up to 100% of their costs by the state as long as they provide quality, affordable healthcare to their part-timers. If SMCCCD agrees to our proposal, it would save the District hundreds of thousands of dollars currently used to pay part-time healthcare reimbursement stipends, which could instead partly be used to pay for part-time dental and vision coverage. The District stands to save money while giving part-timers a significant improvement over the current stipend program, which falls short of covering many part-timers’ total healthcare costs, does not allow part-timers to cover dependents, does not cover dental or vision, and requires part-timers to pay out of pocket and wait until the end of the semester for reimbursement. The District has not offered any response to our proposal beyond saying they want to cost it out, and they have not given us any negotiating dates since September 20th.
Come to the Oct. 26th Board meeting to support healthcare for part-timers and paid parental leave
We have not yet arrived at compensation or full-time medical benefits, as economic issues are generally negotiated last. But it’s clear that we’ll need to put serious pressure on the Board of Trustees (who direct the District’s negotiating team) if we want to settle a fair contract in a reasonable amount of time.
On Wednesday, October 26th, we will be holding an action to demand a fair contract for all. Because it’s AFT’s Campus Equity Week, we will be focused on two key proposals that offer a more equitable workplace for faculty while allowing us to better support our students: healthcare for part-timers and paid parental leave. To support our case for paid parental leave, we are asking faculty to bring your families and community supporters, including children of all ages (we’ll have activities!) Join us on Wednesday, 10/26 at 5:15 at CSM Building 1 to eat pizza and make signs. We’ll then march to the District Office for the 6 p.m. meeting, where we’ll give the Board a visible demonstration of our member commitment to winning a fair contract, and support faculty and community speakers making public comments on our behalf. Can you join us? Please RSVP today to let us know: