Why Are SMCCD Faculty Fighting for a Fair Contract?
All faculty members at Skyline, CSM and Canada, including Instructors, Counselors, Librarians, Coaches and Nurses, work according to the rules and provisions of a contract between the district and the faculty union, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) 1493. The contract determines salaries, the cost of health benefits, how many hours we’re expected to work and many other areas of our working conditions. Our contract expires every few years, and our faculty union and the district each send their representatives – their bargaining teams – to the “table” to negotiate changes and improvements to the prior contract.
This time around, our union has been bargaining with the district for ONE year! That wouldn’t be so bad if we were close to agreeing on a fair contract that addresses the needs of our faculty, but that’s not happening. In fact, the district’s bargaining team has responded with a loud and clear “NO!” to almost every proposal faculty has put forward. That’s why you may see your teachers wearing their REDforED union T-shirts or posting signs on their office doors about a fair contract. That’s why 100 of us packed the meeting of the SMCCD Board of Trustees in November, and we plan to return as many times as needed to make our case.
What Is Workload Equity?
Faculty members are extremely overworked in our district. The administration’s expectations for faculty members’ duties — beyond teaching and meeting with students — are unsustainable, creating health issues, demoralization and, in some cases, causing faculty to leave the district and work elsewhere.
We love our jobs and love helping students – that’s why we work here. But we can only stretch ourselves in so many directions. When the tasks and duties asked of us keep us from being the best teachers we can be, when we don’t have time to help our students as much as we want and need to do, and when we don’t have time to be with our families or get adequate rest – something needs to change. That something is called “Workload Equity.”
Our faculty union has been working to change the language in the contract to restrict the amount of non-teaching work faculty are required to do because that language doesn’t exist in our current contract. However, the district claims there’s no problem — kind of like a factory owner who turns up the speed on the assembly line or requires workers to take shorter breaks and work longer hours in order to be “more productive” for the factory owner and doesn’t see any problem with that! Good teaching requires time to focus on each student’s needs. It has been shown over and over again that students’ learning conditions are closely aligned with faculty working conditions – which means that when we have time to be there for students, to be fully present, not exhausted, not pulled to multiple meetings and endless departmental and college obligations, we are better teachers and students are more successful.
We hope you will join us in demanding a fair contract for all faculty. Come with us to the next Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, February 26th!