REDUCING CLASS CAPS, NEW MOU BARGAINING, SPEAK OUT AT BOARD MEETING

As Summer session begins during this unprecedented time, we want to update faculty on a number of important and timely issues:

  • Efforts to reduce Fall class enrollment caps
  • Initial progress in bargaining on the new MOU
  • How faculty can advocate for a stronger MOU
  • Financial support for our undocumented students
  • Introducing AFT 1493’s new Executive Secretary

REDUCING FALL CLASS CAPS

As virtually none of our students will have a choice about taking classes in distance modalities this Fall, most will be struggling harder than ever to succeed under the challenging conditions of online learning. Add to this the multiple stresses of a combined health and economic crisis and our country’s intensified struggle for racial and social justice.

AFT believes strongly that reducing class sizes for Fall classes is one significant factor that can help address the huge challenges our students are facing. District Academic Senate President Jeramy Wallace sent an email (“Fall 2020 Class Size Maximums Guidance Document”) to all faculty on Friday evening (6/12) encouraging faculty to have “discussions with our deans immediately” about lowering course size maximums. AFT supports the Academic Senate’s efforts to reduce class caps, and we are working together on this issue.At the same time, AFT is in negotiations with the District to reach an agreement that will create the strongest language possible in the new MOU — see below for more details.

PROGRESS ON NEW MOU

On Friday, 6/12, our AFT bargaining team met with the District to bargain a new/extended MOU to provide additional protections and provisions for faculty teaching online in Summer and Fall. Because the bargaining is still in process, we can only share a sampling of the highlights — and lowlights. Read the bargaining report here. The teams will resume bargaining on the new MOU this Wednesday (6/17.)

So far, two positive outcomes are that the family leave options in the Spring MOU will still stand, and faculty are encouraged to consider using them. (We’ll send more details soon on how to take family leave.) Also, the District approved up to $100 compensation for each faculty member for extra resources, such as internet fees and upgrades, postage, equipment, etc.

Some key areas that are still being negotiated include:

  • Our negotiating team was unable to reach an agreement on class caps at Friday’s session, but class size will remain a key issue for this Wednesday (6/17) when we hope to reach a settlement. In the meantime, we encourage faculty to follow Jeramy Wallace’s call to begintalking to your deans about lowering caps for your Fall classes. Our goal is to have more specific language in the MOU, resulting in a more uniform method for reducing Fall class caps districtwide. We’ll update you soon.
  • The District rejected and offered no counter to the counselors’ workload proposal to allow counselors more time to meet with students.
  • The District excluded many of the MOU provisions from the Summer term.. They contend that teaching during Summer is voluntary.
  • Compensation on a per course basis for transition to distance modality.
  • The District views the Fall semester as a “return to normal.” This means faculty are expected to do everything rather than focusing on essential work, such as teaching classes, prepping and office hours, a provision they agreed to in the Spring MOU. AFT strongly disagrees that we will be working under “normal conditions” in the Fall.

HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR A STRONGER MOU  

Our AFT Contract Action Team believes that faculty members have a lot to say about the Not-Normal conditions of teaching under the pandemic: the monumental increase in workload and the many ways in which our already fragile students can fall through the cracks. It’s not realistic to imagine a “return to normal” this Summer or Fall in any way, shape or form.

It is imperative that we take action by telling the District what faculty members and students need to be successful during this unprecedented time.  We urge all members to:

Come to the AFT Members’ Meeting on June 24th at 2:30 pm – Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84433379930, agenda will be sent out soon. We’ll prepare together for speaking out, one member at a time, during public comments at the virtual Board of Trustees meeting, which follows that same evening starting at 6:00 pm (Zoom link: https://smccd.zoom.us/j/95367068285.)

What do the Board of Trustees need to know?

  • Board members need to hear first hand the realities of our lives and our students’ lives.
  • Students will be invited to speak out too.
  • What to tell the Board: Stories about your students and their needs, your typical day, your additional preparation for teaching and counseling students, the long unpaid hours you spend serving your students — whatever you feel is most important to emphasize given that we are teaching under an emergency and need appropriate support.