CONTRACT CAMPAIGN UPDATE
AFT & District negotiators back at the table
by Katharine Harer, AFT 1493 Co-Vice President & Strategic Campaign Organizer
Our AFT bargaining team is back at the table. The District and the Board of Trustees realized a change was needed in the status quo around contract negotiations. Seven months into the process with the brick wall of Fact Finding skirted — for the time being – we are back at the table. The District made changes to its team, brought in a Facilitator and removed their Chief Negotiator, Eugene Whitlock. These sessions are confidential, but the one thing we can tell you is that there is progress because the two sides are talking again.
You made it happen
Why did the District and the Board move to change up the process, to put the declaration of impasse aside and re-start negotiations? Our analysis is pretty simple: YOU spoke out, YOU stood up, YOU showed up. You let the powers that be know that the issues under consideration mattered to you and you wanted a fair contract – if not now, pretty damn soon. The union’s goal during this contract campaign was to get the two sides back to the table, and that’s what’s happening.
You’ve worn your RED AFT t-shirts every No Take Back Tuesday for nearly three months. More than 500 of you signed the Workload Equity Petition. Sixty of you sent messages to the Board through our Action Network site, and we hand-delivered them for you. You put up door signs and wore stickers. You showed up at multiple Board meetings. On December 14, smack in the middle of Finals Week, over 30 of you responded to our call and participated in a silent protest in the Board Room. You held large signs that read: “We Are Waiting,” “Fair Contract Now,” and “We Deserve Respect.” You stood all along the back and sides of the room, holding your signs, saying nothing, for nearly two hours. You made your point.
Seven months without a contract and our January paychecks were short because of increases in the cost of benefits that haven’t yet been negotiated. (Any increases in compensation or in the medical cap that are ultimately agreed upon in negotiations will be paid to faculty in retroactive pay.) Keep wearing your shirts! Open the Action Network messages you receive from the union and respond when the union needs you.
Katharine has resumed making her new FT hire Welcome Visits. She’s focusing on CSM and moving to Cañada in a couple of weeks. Then she’ll circle back to Skyline to visit anyone who didn’t get a visit last semester. She brings a Welcome Bag of useful information and treats and, of course, contract campaign swag: stickers, door signs and T-shirts. Flag her down if you see her in the hallways – she’s a mobile campaign unit and she loves meeting new members and reconnecting to folks she already knows.
Michelle Kern will be visiting any new part-timers who got started teaching last semester or this Spring. She is also available to make an appointment to visit any part-timer who has some questions about their rights or anything union-related. Email Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org. Part-timers will also get a Welcome Bag with goodies, so contact her now to make sure you are sporting the latest in union swag.
Re-building our COPE (Committee on Political Education) Fund
Our union’s membership is high but our COPE membership relatively low. Why does that matter? Our COPE allows us to contribute money to political races and campaigns. Unions aren’t allowed to legally use any of our members’ dues money for political purposes. When we helped Maurice Goodman get elected to our Board of Trustees in November 2015, we pretty much tapped-out our COPE fund. We will continue to need funds to help elect BOT candidates who are union-friendly and to support initiatives that help advance education and support our students and communities. We need to be prepared for attacks to public education and to unions that will be coming down the pike, especially now with the new regime in Washington D.C.
If you aren’t already a COPE member, please join now. You can contact the AFT office: email@example.com; or Katharine or Michelle directly to set it up: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Your COPE contributions come directly out of your monthly paycheck, they’re non-taxed, and can be at any amount you choose. FLASH! The next 10 members who join COPE will receive a special gift from the union!