September 2020 Advocate: Where’s the equity for part-time faculty?


SMCCD: Where’s the equity for part-time faculty? It’s time for the 70% to get their fair share!

by a SMCCD part-time faculty member

San Mateo County Community College District is one of the wealthiest districts in one of the most affluent counties in the state, where property taxes consistently provide very healthy revenues. Although it is a very wealthy district, SMCCD does not pay our part-time faculty fairly, and approximately 70% of all faculty in the district is part-time. Our union has been fighting for part-time faculty pay parity at the bargaining table for a long time, but our district is one of the only California community college districts that has not complied with a 2001 state mandate to define pay parity for part-timers and move their faculty compensation to a parity-based system. Last Spring AFT 1493’s petition for part-time pay parity was signed by 640 faculty members and supporters in less than two weeks. As faculty contract negotiations are about to address compensation issues, it is time for our district to finally accept our union’s proposal to set part-time pay rates at 85% of full-time salaries and pay part-timers comparable salaries to neighboring districts.

What is part-time parity? Why is it important and what does it mean? Part-time parity, in a nutshell, is equal pay for equal work: the intention to not exploit part-time/adjunct faculty, in order to enrich instruction and create equitable conditions. SMCCD has long espoused and encouraged taking actions to address serious inequities such as the need for diversity, racial and gender equity, and other social justice issues. However, the district is complacent about an enormous inequity: the fact that SMCCD does not pay part-time faculty equitably in proportion to full-time faculty salaries. In fact, they pay part-time faculty significantly lower than other districts we’ve studied.

Part-time parity is not just about the wages adjunct faculty are paid, but also about the work that goes into preparing classes, grading, and ensuring every class is taught with equity, a lens on diversity, and an understanding of the diverse composition of students attending any one of the SMCCD campuses. However, while full-time faculty are compensated for prep time, grading, etc., part-time faculty are not. In fact, when assessing parity, the assumption is that full-time faculty are allotted and paid for thirty hours per week–15 hours teaching time plus 15 hours for prep and grading, with the additional hours allotted for committee work, special projects and office hours.

Comparing SMCCD part-time pay to neighboring districts

To understand how SMCCD’s pay for part-time faculty compares to similar districts in the area, we examined the part-time faculty compensation for three neighboring districts–City College of San Francisco (CCSF), West Valley-Mission Community College District, and Foothill-DeAnza Community College District. All three of these districts (like almost all other Bay Area districts) pay a salary vs. an hourly wage, and include office hours and prep hours in the composition of salary. SMCCD does not—our district continues to pay part-time faculty at an hourly rate.

How does SMCCD compare to neighbor districts in part-time pay parity?

  • CCSF: 86%
  • Foothill-DeAnza: 83.5%
  • Mission/West Valley: 78%
  • SMCCD: 60% – 73%

The three districts we used to compare compensation for part-time faculty were selected as they closely neighbor San Mateo County and are in comparable socio-economic areas. When drawing comparisons, we examined a faculty member with a Master’s degree (36 units or less Master’s), and with 9 semesters of teaching experience (Step 5 per the SMCCD compensation schedule). Full-time faculty assumptions are an instructional load of five 3-unit classes. These three college districts assume that a part-time faculty member is working the equivalent of 78% to 86% (referred to as “parity percentages”) of a full-time faculty member if they worked an equal load. Included in the compensation are office hours, prep time, etc. All compensation assessed was for the 2020-21 contract year.

  • CCSF functions at 86% pay parity as defined by their current contract. Testing the data, a comparison was drawn between a full-time faculty member (as described above) and a part-time faculty member teaching 100% (15 units/semester) The full-timer would receive an annual salary of $76,580. A part-timer would receive an annual income of $65,858 or 86% pay parity.
  • The Foothill-DeAnza District did almost as well. Based on the same education and experience parameters, a full-time faculty member in the Foothill district would earn $76,679.90 annually, and a part-timer would earn $64,027.72 for a full-time load, or 83.5% pay parity.
  • The West Valley-Mission District pays part-timers at 78% parity, with an equally-ranked full-timer getting an annual salary of $84,833 and a part-timer receiving $66,172 for a 15-unit load.

San Mateo Community College District is significantly below the 85% pay parity goal that our union is currently proposing, while the three nearby college districts are all at or close to that percentage. SMCCD does not pay close to a commensurate salary.

Calculating SMCCD part-time pay parity percentages

Because part-time faculty in our district are paid at an hourly rate rather than an annual salary, calculating pay parity is quite tricky. Part-time faculty are allotted an hour paid for each hour actually teaching (3-unit class = 3 hours per week teaching in the classroom; 9 units taught = 9 hours teaching), and one hour per week per 3-unit class for office hours. A few different formulas can be used to calculate pay parity. We used two different methods below and found our part-time pay rates to be 72% and 66% of full-time salaries, depending on the formula used.

The California Federation of Teachers ranks part-time pay for all districts in the state by making the following assumptions, which we can use to calculate the pay parity percentage for a part-timer. (We’ll continue to use the same experience and education levels of Step 5/Column 2 on the SMCCD full-time faculty salary schedule.)

  • Full-time workload is 15 units per semester; full-time hours are considered to be 40 hours a week (30 hours per week of class time and prep, 5 office hours and 5 hours for governance and committees). Calculating using this method, a full-time faculty member (at Step 5/Column 2) would receive an annual salary of $63,864 (75% of $85,152) for instruction and prep/grading only (the other 25% of the salary is set aside for office hours and committee work). The CFT formula divides that number by 525, which is the total number of hours worked annually (35 weeks x 15 units/hours) to get an hourly rate. For the example used, $63,864 divided by 525 hours equals an hourly rate of $121.65. This rate compared to the hourly rate of a part-timer, which is $88.65 per hour, equals 72% parity. Using this common calculation method, current SMCCCD parity is on average ~60-73% of full-time faculty, depending on specific salary levels. The more education and more experience a part-timer has, the lower the parity percentages between their compensation and that of a similarly trained, experienced full-timer.

CFT’s assumptions used to calculate PT pay parity:
– 75% of FT work is instruction, prep and grading
– 25% of FT work is office hours & committee work
SMCCD FT faculty salary (at Step 5/Col. 2) : $85,152
75% of $85,152 = $63,864
To find hourly rate for teaching, prep and grading:
divide 75% of FT salary by 525 (total annual hours)

$63,864/525 = $121.65
PT hourly rate (for same step 5): $88.65
$88.65 is 72% (parity) of $121.65

Comparing pay per units taught

When we examined the issue from a pay per units taught perspective—comparing a full-timer’s and part-timer’s pay specifically for in-class teaching plus office hours for a 3-unit class–we came up with a lower parity rate for part-timers. Using the calculations above, the hourly teaching rate of a full-timer at Step 5/Column 2 is $121.65 (not including office hours or committee work). Since full-timers are compensated the same hourly rate for office hours (not the substantially lower special rate that part-timers get,) we multiply that rate times 4 (hours/week for class time plus office hour) and times 17.5 (weeks) for a total compensation of $8516 for teaching a 3-unit class. A part-time faculty member (again, at Step 5) is paid $88.65/hour for teaching time and $55.80/hour for office hours.To calculate their total for teaching a 3-unit class, we first multiply $88.65 times 3 (hours/week) and times 17.5 (weeks/semester) to get $4654 for instruction; then we multiply $55.80 times 17.5 to get $976 for the semester’s office hours. If we add $4654 and $976, we get $5630 for teaching the same 3-unit class. $5630 calculates to 66% (parity) of $8516.

Since this parity model only looks at instruction and office hours, but excludes grading and prep time, this is still far from an accurate comparison. It’s ridiculous to assume any faculty member does not need any time for preparation, grading, etc. The difference lies in the fact that full-time faculty are allotted time in their compensation (15 hours/week) for those duties.

Pay per 3-unit class (FT vs. PT)

Full-timer’s pay:
FT hourly rate for teaching, prep, grading
& office hours = $121.65
$121.65 x 43 (hours/week )x 17.5 (weeks) = $8516 total for 3-unit class

Part-timer’s pay:
PT hourly rate for teaching = $88.65
PT hourly rate for office hours = $55.80
$88.65 x 3 (hours/week ) x 17.5 (weeks) = $4654 for class time
$55.80 x 17.5 (weeks) = $976 for office hours
$4654 + $976 = $5630 total for teaching 3-units & office hours

$5630 (PT) = 66% (parity) of $8516 (FT)

Comparing part-time paychecks between districts

The discussion about parity is challenging to understand by someone not engaged in salary negotiations. To break everything down to the bottom line we decided to compare what a part-timer and a full-timer at the same Step 5/Column 2 level actually bring home in a paycheck (gross pay before taxes.) As mentioned above, the CCSF, West Valley-Mission, and Foothill-DeAnza districts all make compensation easy to calculate, and their part-time faculty are earning decent wages based on a direct percentage of a full-time faculty salary for equivalent loads. But SMCCD makes it extremely challenging. Assuming 9 units taught = 9 hours of classroom instruction per week for two semesters, 35 x 9 = 315 instructional hours; 315 instructional hours x $88.65 (hourly rate at the part-time Step 5/Column 2) = $27,924. Office hours = 35 weeks x 3 hrs/week x $55.80 (special rate) = $5,859. Calculating using this method, the SMCCD part-time instructor working 9 units makes $33,783 annually – the actual gross pay amount. A part-time instructor at CCSF at the equivalent step and column, teaching the same units, makes $39,515; at West-Valley/Mission an instructor at the same step and column teaching 9 units makes $39,703; and at Foothill/DeAnza, the same instructor, teaching the same 3 classes would make $38,416.

Comparing part-timer pay for teaching 9 units at local districts
(Using Step 5/Column 2)

  • CCSF: $39,515
  • West Valley/Mission: $39.703
  • Foothill/DeAnza: $38,416
  • SMCCD: $33,783

(While this comparison looks at Step 5/Column 2, part-timers with more education and experience have even lower parity percentages in comparing their pay and that of a similarly trained and experienced full-timer.)

Why should a part-time faculty member with the same education and experience get paid about $6000 more per year for teaching the same 9-unit load at neighboring districts than we do in our wealthy district?

Looking at it another way, that Master’s level part-time instructor, teaching three classes a semester at SMCCD, and getting paid $33,783 annually, would need to teach 7.5 classes per semester to make the same as a full-timer at the same step and column, whose salary is $85,152.

The wages paid by SMCCD completely discount the value of part-time faculty and our need for fair compensation to support ourselves and families. We are severely exploited — because we love teaching our students and will do whatever we need to in order to continue teaching. We are exploited by our love for teaching, our love for our students, and we are exploited by not receiving equal pay for equal work.

It is reprehensible that we are still fighting for part-time equity in a district that espouses equity as a primary objective. The only assumption we can make is that equity and living wages are not intended for part-time faculty. But we hard-working part-time faculty members deserve it!

Please make YOUR voice known and demand a fair contract and FAIR COMPENSATION!