Flex = flexible: Flex days and part-time faculty
by Monica Malamud, AFT 1493 Secretary
Over the years, there have been many questions about how flex days apply for part-time faculty. The language in our contract was not very clear, so different people could interpret it differently. For the Fall 2009 semester, in response to a request from the Vice Presidents of Instruction, the AFT and the District negotiated an academic calendar which had a flex day scheduled in the middle of the semester for the first time. The number of questions regarding the interpretation of flex days for part-time faculty, especially those who work in the evening, increased significantly.
The AFT leadership actively engaged in communications with Harry Joel, then Vice-Chancellor of Human Resources and Employee Relations, which resulted in clarification of article 7.11.2 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (aka “the Contract”). In an email sent to college presidents on March 4, 2009 Harry Joel wrote (emphasis added):
“We know that evening classes on March 11 will not be held due to this day (and evening) being a flex day. If an evening part time faculty member’s class is not held and he/she elects to participate in a flex day activity that day or another day, and a flex day participation from is submitted, he/she should be paid for the flex day.”
This interpretation is in line with Title 5 language on flex days. Article § 55720 (Operating under a Flexible Calendar), section (a) states (emphasis added):
[…] a community college district may designate an amount of time in each fiscal year for employees to conduct staff, student, and instructional improvement activities. These activities may be conducted at any time during the fiscal year. The time designated for these activities shall be known as “flexible time.”
So, even though certain days in the academic calendar are designated as “flex days” (as opposed to “instructional days”), the activities corresponding to those flex days can be carried out at any time during the fiscal year.
Although it was the mid-semester flex day which motivated this clarification, the conversations between Human Resources and Union representatives in spring 2009 resulted in unambiguous interpretation of the article 7.11.2 going forward. This was widely communicated to district faculty and administrators: in addition to the email sent by Harry Joel to the college presidents, Monica Malamud, then AFT 1493 president, sent an email to all faculty.
In order to reflect this shared understanding of flex days for part-time faculty in the AFT 1493 Contract, during negotiations sessions in the spring of 2013, the District negotiating team brought a proposal to the negotiating table. Joaquín Rivera and Brian Heid, AFT 1493 and the District’s Chief Negotiators respectively, signed the revised version of contract article 7.11.2, which went into effect immediately. The new language in 7.11.2 states that, in addition to participating in district- or college-sponsored flex activities, a part-time faculty member who is assigned to teach on a day of the week that has been designated as flex
“can elect to participate in a college-approved flex activity on an alternative day other than the College-designated flex day, show written verification of the activity, and receive regular pay for up to the normal student contact hours that the part-time faculty member is scheduled to teach on that day of the week.”
You can find a copy of the actual signed agreement on the AFT 1493 website (MOU-FlexDayObligation-2014.)
Now our contract follows Ed. Code and clearly states the obvious: “flex” means “flexible”.