October-November 2022 Advocate: Solidarity parties build support for better faculty contract

Contract campaign

Lumpia, tiramisu cake & tamales! —
Faculty celebrate previous contract wins
& unite to fight for more at campus solidarity parties

What’s better than spending time with your colleagues — in person, not in zoom squares — while chowing down on delicious goodies?  Solidarity!  That was the not-so-secret ingredient at Skyline’s Solidarity Party on September 28th, CSM’s on October 12th, and coming up today at Cañada (Wednesday, October 19th)12:30 – 2:00 pm in Building 9, Room 154. At the gatherings, faculty members mingled and caught up with one another while they watched an AFT video showcasing colleagues who spoke out to the Board of Trustees during the last round of bargaining. We learned about this round’s proposals – most of which are stalled at the bargaining table – and how faculty can exert our power to move these issues forward.

Faculty at CSM party watch video of AFT 1493 activists speaking out

“Being here today, I felt empowered to get more involved with the union and to have a voice for faculty.”

– Alex Urbina, CSM Promise Scholars Counselor

“Joining the meeting today was an opportunity to feel seen, heard and supported.”

– Patrice Reed-Fort, CSM Faculty Coordinator for EOPS CARE & CalWorks

“It was useful to hear about the issues that others in our campus community are having.” 

– Alex Wong, CSM Physics

“I do think the Skyline Solidarity party was probably the best union meeting I have attended.  I appreciated the relaxed atmosphere, and I thought it was good being able to hear what other members thought was important and being able to express what I think is important. I think the most important PT issue is to get rid of the two-tier system altogether.”

Sue Broxholm, Skyline Math [Read about Sue in this issue’s “Faculty Focus”]


Faculty express needs for better benefits and compensation; AFT leaders answer questions

Participants at the Skyline and CSM gatherings were vocal about issues affecting their working conditions and their personal lives, from the lack of paid parental leave to the need for an affordable healthcare plan for part time faculty, to the exorbitant cost of living in the Bay Area and the need for higher compensation.  Members of the AFT negotiating team answered questions and listened carefully to members.  At CSM, they were joined by Steve Lehigh, Economics professor and member of the District Budget Committee, who called out the shocking lack of equity in our district: property tax revenues are steadily growing while faculty are slipping further behind economically.

“Administration should keep in mind that they are stewards, not lords, as they manage tax-payers’ resources. There is a great need to end the two-tier system and treat all part-timers as partners and co-laborers. Part time faculty ought to be fully compensated for our hard work.”

– Anton Zoughbie, Skyline part-time Philosophy


District refusing to move on key contract proposals

Some of the most important issues AFT negotiators are trying to win in this round include:

  • an adjusted salary formula that will provide all faculty with fair compensation – higher salaries & less out of pocket expenditures for health benefits;
  • quality, affordable healthcare plans for part-time instructors;
  • fully paid parental leave;
  • a fair & consistent procedure for cancellation of classes;
  • a transparent process for faculty who need disability accommodations;
  • further progress toward part-time parity; and
  • further increases in lab rates across all disciplines.

The District has refused to move forward on any of these issues!

Part-timers have to pay for vision and Delta Dental out of their pockets.  For example, I haven’t visited a dentist in ages because it’s too expensive.  And I pay at least $1500 out of pocket for my vision care and glasses, which are not covered by the premium reimbursement. It’s high time we treat adjuncts with respect and care by providing comprehensive health care benefits.”

– Suji Venkataraman, Skyline part-time ECE


Major wins in previous negotiations

In our last round of bargaining, AFT negotiators — with essential on-the-ground support from faculty members — won historic changes to our contract.  For the first time, the District agreed to set a Part-Time Parity goal; adjunct salaries increased and an expanded part-time salary schedule was put in place that recognizes experience and education; lab rates across science, art, music and KAD were increased; much-needed protections for faculty subject to investigations and discipline were added to the contract; and a pilot program to address unsustainable workload outside of the classroom was agreed upon. These improvements would not have happened without faculty activism.

“When teachers are happy, students are happy.”

– Younga Choi, Skyline Math

Happy means we can afford to live in the Bay Area.  Happy means our basic human needs are being actively supported by the District.  Happy means we can focus on our students rather than worrying about our medical, food, gas and housing costs.

AFT’s Contract Action Team (CAT) organized the campus solidarity parties to inform and ignite our members. To win “at the table” we need to step up and let the District and the Board of Trustees know how important these proposals are for our working conditions and students’ learning conditions.  Throughout the semester, CAT members will be actively reaching out to colleagues one-to-one to hear about your issues and to invite you to get involved.


There’s power in collective action!
Come to the October 26 action to demonstrate to the Board of Trustees & the District that better working conditions matter to you!

AFT’s Contract Action Team (CAT) is planning an action on Wednesday, October 26, at the Board of Trustees meeting.  We’ll meet at 5:15 at CSM Building 1, second floor, in the conference room down the hall from the AFT Office.  We’ll share pizza, do an “art build” where we make posters, and then walk down to the District Office at 6:00 pm.  We’ll wear our “Red for ED” AFT T-shirts, hold our signs proudly, and a small group of faculty members will speak on the issues that aren’t moving at the bargaining table.  CAT is asking parents to bring their child/children to the Action to impress upon the Board and District Administration that many of us want to continue to build our families — and paid family leave matters!

CAT is made up of all of us!  All faculty are invited to come to CAT meetings where we map out strategies to involve and activate our colleagues in fighting for what we deserve: a fair contract! CAT meets every other Friday from 3:30-5:00 on Zoom (link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/7052173089)  The next CAT meeting is October 28.

Scene from Skyline solidarity party