Feb. 2017 Advocate: Negotiators back at the table


AFT & District negotiators back at the table

by Katharine Harer, AFT 1493 Co-Vice President & Strategic Campaign Organizer

Katharine&MichelleT-ShirtPic-webOur 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, BOT-12-14-16-crop-weband 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.

Welcome Visits

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 kern@aft1493.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: kaplan@aft1493.org; or Katharine or Michelle directly to set it up: harer@aft1493.org or kern@aft1493.org.  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!

Dec. 2016 Advocate: AFT files Unfair Labor Practice Charge against District


AFT files Unfair Labor Practice Charge against District

In the November 2016 issue of The Advocate, the lead article addressed the October 17 email to all faculty sent by Vice Chancellor Kathy Blackwood which suggested that the AFT had made false “claims” about the District’s contract proposal and then provided what she called “factual information” (apparently suggesting that the Union was providing inaccurate information.) The Advocate article stated: “In fact, a significant amount of the so-called “factual information” that Kathy presented in that email were new proposals and information that was not presented during negotiations.” The article went on to clarify many of the incorrect or misleading points presented in that message.

In response to that email, AFT 1493 filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge with the California Public Employment Relations Board on October 25, which charged that the following actions violated sections 3543.5(a)(b)(c) and 3543.1(a) of the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA):

  • “Through its email communication on October 17, indicating that the Union had misinformed the faculty about the status of negotiations proposals by the District, the District acted to disparage AFT 1493 so as to drive a wedge between union representation and bargaining unit employees.”
  • The email “was intended to, and had the natural and probable effect of, undermining and derogating the Union’s ability to represent and negotiate on behalf of its members.”
  • “In soliciting unit members in the October 17, 20l6 email to contact the District…by stating: ‘Please feel free to contact Eugene Whitlock … or me … with any questions you have or if you need additional factual information concerning the District’s proposal’, as contrasted with contacting their exclusive bargaining agent, the District sought to determine for themselves the extent of employee support for positions espoused by the Union, and to interfere in the Union’s representation of the faculty bargaining unit.”
  • “The District’s action … interferes, restrains and coerces employees in their exercise of their right to representation by the Union.”
  • “The District’s action … was designed to erode and undermine the Union’s position as the exclusive bargaining representative. Regardless of the District’s motive, the District’s action had the natural and probable effect of eroding and undermining the Union’s position as the exclusive representative, thereby interfering in the Union’s representation of the faculty.”
  • “An Employer cannot solicit employee sentiment with respect to a subject it is going to raise with the Union in upcoming negotiations, mediation or fact-finding.”
  • “The District’s actions as alleged above constitute negotiations in bad faith.”

April 2016 Advocate: New 3-year contract proposals


AFT and District present proposals for new 3-year contract;  AFT includes workload equity proposal

by Monica Malamud, AFT 1493 Negotiating Team Member

The current faculty contract runs from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2016. This means that the contract will expire soon after the end of spring semester, so, in preparation for negotiations, the AFT conducted a survey last fall, to identify and prioritize issues which faculty wanted to bring up in this round, when the entire contract is open for negotiations.  The AFT considered the results of this survey, as well as other factors that impact the work of faculty, and put together an initial proposal for the new contract, which was presented to the Board of Trustees on February 17, 2016.

The District’s and the AFT’s negotiating teams have met twice already.  In the first two sessions, each team presented its initial proposal.

The AFT’s set of proposals is quite extensive and comprehensive, and we urge faculty to read it in its entirety online on the union’s website, aft1493.org. A brief summary is shown below.

AFT’s proposals

AFT’s proposals include, among others:
•    Article 5: elimination of the no strike clause
•    Article 7: re-definition of work hours to allow for conducting work in a virtual manner
•    Article 8: re-definition of “large classes” and associated load
•    Article 10:  addition of certain privileges for retired faculty
•    Article 11: expansion of family leave options, request for paid maternity/child bonding leave, new leave reason (public service)
•    Article 13: increase in funding for Professional Development Program
•    Article 17: binding arbitration
•    Article 19: guaranteed right to an interview for part-timers applying for a full-time position
•    Article 22: increase in unit banking to 30 units
•    Appendix D: workload equity (see description here)
•    Appendix F:  changes in FLC for biological and physical sciences labs, and for cosmetology lab classes
Additionally, the AFT is requesting new contract language on:
•    the class assignment process for full-time faculty
•    clear class cancellation guidelines
•    reassignment of faculty with cancelled classes
•    academic freedom
•    procedures for dealing with complaints against and investigations of a unit member
•    just cause and progressive discipline

District proposals

The most significant District proposals include:
•    Article 7: elimination of flexibility for flex days for all faculty.  A faculty member would be able to participate in non-District organized activities only if pre-approved in writing by a VPI or VPSS.
•    Article 12: elimination of the  clause that transfers of a full time faculty member to another college in the district shall only be denied if they would cause actual harm to the educational program of either college.
•    Article 19: redefining “break in service” for part-time faculty as one that exceeds two semesters.  Currently, a PT’s name is removed from the seniority list after a break in service that exceeds 3 semesters, or after 6 semesters if the PT requested, but was not given, an assignment.
•    Article 19: allowing administrators to teach a course.  Proposed language says that “an additional section of that course must be created specifically for that administrator so that no part time faculty are displaced.”
•    Appendix D: additions to the list of duties and responsibilities required of all faculty.
•    Appendix G: changes to the Faculty Evaluation Procedures, which include increasing the frequency of student questionnaires, making all tenured faculty evaluations “comprehensive” (as opposed to alternating between “standard” and “comprehensive”), requiring 3-5 faculty plus a dean observation for every tenured faculty evaluation, and adding a VP classroom observation for tenure-track evaluations.

Vice-Chancellor of Human Resources and General Counsel, Eugene Whitlock stated in the negotiations session that deans and Vice Presidents requested these changes to evaluation procedures. These changes are being proposed despite the fact that the faculty evaluation procedures went through a thorough examination and revision process that lasted two years; a task force composed of four faculty representatives, Skyline’s College President and the former Vice Chancellor for Human Resources was in charge of this process, and there was ample opportunity for participation and feedback before the new evaluation procedures went into effect, after they were ratified by the faculty and approved by the Board of Trustees.

The AFT negotiating committee will continue to provide faculty with regular updates as negotiations progress.

February 17, 2016

San Mateo Community College Federation of Teachers, AFT 1493

Minutes of General Membership/Executive Committee Meeting

February 17, 2016  – Skyline College

EC members present:  Najla Abrao, Eric Brenner, Victoria Clinton, Salumeh Eslamieh, Katharine Harer, Dan Kaplan (Exec. Secr.), Michelle Kern, Teeka James, Doniella Maher, Monica Malamud, Sandi Raeber-Dorsett, Joaquin Rivera, Janice Sapigao, Elizabeth Terzakis, Rob Williams, Shaye Zahedi.

AFT members:  Sue Broxholm (Skyline),

Guests:  Jessica Beard (CFT Organizer), Zev Kvitky (CFT Field Rep), Paul Bissember (CFT Organizer),

Facilitator:  Teeka James

Meeting began at 2:36 p.m.


  1. Welcome and Introductions



  1. Statements from AFT (non EC) members on Non-Agenda Items



  1. Minutes of January 27, 2016 AFT meeting

Minutes approved with two abstentions.


  1. Negotiation Update – Joaquin Rivera

The AFT and the District signed an agreement on the FT medical caps for 2016, and the Board will be approving it tonight.

The whole contract is open for negotiations.  Joaquin sent to the EC the first batch of union proposals:

  • Article 3: set window to revoke union membership to June 15 through July 15.
  • Article 5: eliminate no strike clause
  • Article 7: 4. Expand definition of office hours. 7.5. Delete requirement of 25 hours on campus. Discussion:  On the one hand, it’s good to have faculty on campus.  On the other hand, faculty can have a strong presence on campus and involvement with college life even if not physically present.
  • Article 13: increase funding for professional development
  • Article 17: add binding arbitration as the last step in grievance procedures
  • Article 22: increase banking to 30 FLCs
  • New language on class assignment: consider faculty preferences, limit preparations to 3.
  • New language on class cancellation: set timing and % below which class cannot be cancelled
  • New language on reassignment of faculty with cancelled classes: options to complete FT load; if not possible, then 3 years to make up the deficit.
  • New language on Academic Freedom

Question:  Should PT be guaranteed an interview for a FT position?

Consensus:  Yes, if they meet certain conditions:  PT would need to meet all the requirements of the job posting, and in addition meet certain conditions (such as length of employment in the district, satisfactory evaluations).


  1. Union relations

Our local needs to have a working relationship with CSEA, especially in the context of negotiations, but also for grievance related matters.  Elizabeth reported that since she and Lezlee have a very good relationship with CSEA at Cañada, perhaps they can persuade CSEA at Cañada to put pressure on the CSEA leadership at the district level to get them to work more collaboratively with AFT.


  1. Police on campus

The District has hired a consultant to help the Board decide whether there should be armed police on campus.  There was a unanimous vote to direct Teeka to strongly oppose the presence of armed police on campus.  The EC’s position is that the focus should be on preventing the kinds of incidents that may prompt police to fire arms.


  1. Building Power organizing campaign

Regardless of future changes in the composition of the Supreme Court, we need to continue building power in the union.

The counts of conversations and filled out cards was tallied and posted for all to see.  This is a way to have accountability.

How did you manage to talk to people?

  • Go to mail room
  • Office mates/neighbors
  • Catch faculty as they’re exiting the classroom


  • Other stuff occupied our time
  • Procrastination
  • It’s hard to find people


  • Team-up with someone else
  • Talk about issues (such as workload), not about the union as a whole
  • Sign up to have Paul B help you


  1. Strategic Campaign Initiative Organizing Project update – Katharine Harer, Michelle Kern

Katharine and Michelle updated the EC on the Education Conference scheduled for March 19.  They have been busy with the Building Power campaign.  Katharine is submitting an application requesting a third year grant for the SCIO.  Katharine and Rob will attend training in Southern California this weekend.


  1. A conversation about ethics – Elizabeth Terzakis

The president at Cañada was asked to leave under undisclosed circumstances.  Eugene Whitlock contacted Elizabeth to ask her if faculty thought that the District should disclose the reasons for this separation.


How does the union feel about asking the District to disclose this kind of information?  What if this kind of information is disclosed about faculty who leave the District?

Consensus:  reasons for separations may remain undisclosed, but the union should ask Ron to make faculty whole.


  1. Senate discussion of class size issue – Doniella Maher

The Senate discussions at Cañada about class cancellations and class size have gone away.  Individual faculty brought up these issues at Senate, but then they were not interested in participating in a larger conversation about these issues.  It seems like faculty at Cañada are on a wait-and-see attitude, given that the process for hiring a new president has started.


  1. Prevention of sexual violence and domestic abuse – Shaye Zehedi

Shaye is very involved in a community collaborative project working on prevention of abuse and violence: Project Survive.  Project Survive focuses on prevention and education.  Suggestions:  check with Skyline professor who teaches Human Sexuality, check with Wellness/Health Centers on campuses.


  1. Statements from EC members on Non-Agenda Items


– Nina is interested in coming back to the union EC.

– Leigh Anne Shaw would like release time to be increased for Academic Senate Governing Council and Curriculum Committee.


-Eleven faculty members are going to the CFT Convention

-Party at Paul’s on April 9, 3-7 p.m.


  1. Closed Session – CONFIDENTIAL

Due to lack of time, Dan reported on ongoing issues with only one faculty member.


Meeting adjourned at 5:23 p.m.


January 27, 2016

San Mateo Community College Federation of Teachers, AFT 1493

Minutes of General Membership/Executive Committee Meeting

January 27, 2016  – Cañada College

EC members present:

Najla Abrao, Eric Brenner, Vicki Clinton, Salumeh Eslamieh, Katharine Harer, Dan Kaplan (Exec. Secr.), Michelle Kern, Teeka James, Doniella Maher, Monica Malamud, Joaquin Rivera, Paul Rueckhaus, Janice Sapigao, Elizabeth Terzakis, Rob Williams, Shaye Zahedi.

Guests: Zev Kvitky (CFT Field Rep), Laura Kurre (CFT Training Director), Paul Bissember (CFT Organizer), Kathy Blackwood (Executive Vice-Chancellor), Ron Galatolo (Chancellor), Eugene Whitlock (Vice-Chancellor for Human Resources and General Counsel), David Feune (Director of Human Resources)

Facilitator: Doniella Maher

Meeting began at 2:32 p.m.


  1. Welcome and Introductions



  1. Statements from AFT (non EC) members on Non-Agenda Items



  1. Minutes of December 9, 2015 AFT meeting

Minutes approved with one abstention.


  1. Budget presentation – Kathy Blackwood

Kathy distributed a handout, and went over it. Handout is posted online together with minutes of this meeting. After the presentation, there was Q&A.

  1. Q) If property values continue to rise in our area, then it’s going to be increasingly difficult for faculty to live in the area. How is the District planning for that in the long-term?
  2. A) Our District is planning on building a third housing complex at Skyline. The District also offers starter loans. Rents have gone up in San Mateo County by 10%.
  1. Q) Has our District considered housing vouchers?
  2. A) This is a complex issue. It’s taxable income. Besides, what is fair? What if someone does not want a voucher? Would they get cash? Perhaps it makes more sense to put money into transportation vouchers or shuttles.
  1. Q) Any estimates on the increases of medical benefit costs?
  2. A) It sounds like they are in the double digits
  1. Q) Has our District considered setting up a group plan for PT medical benefits?
  2. A) No. Our commitment is to negotiate something such that they can get into CalSTRS Kaiser, with the District’s contribution prorated based on the %FTE. The District is targeting a start date of for Kaiser health coverage for part-time faculty in January 2017.


  1. Building Power organizing campaign

Zev gave an overview of the Friedrichs case. Arguments have already been heard at the Supreme Court. Decision will delivered by June, perhaps earlier. There may well be a decision that is negative to unions. If so, the entire public sector in the country will be “right to work”, i.e., members pay, others do not, but they get the union benefits. Unions would still be legally obligated to represent everyone in the unit. Experience has shown that once a state becomes a “right to work” state, there is a campaign to encourage workers to drop their membership from the union.

Individualized contact lists were given to every EC member. The task is to use the focus of our contract negotiations (workload equity), to engage all faculty, to have one-on-one conversations with them. There are about 15 names on each EC member’s list. The goal is to complete at least 10 contacts by the next AFT meeting (February 17).

EC members also received folders with materials to support this task:

  • The rap – a script for the conversation
  • Contact forms: EC members must bring contact forms filled out
  • Commitment cards: either EC member or faculty fills out the card
  • Flyers for the “Schools our Children Deserve” conference

Tips for the conversations:

  • Be yourself, be genuine and authentic
  • Listen
  • Asking for something: asking fee payer to join the union, ask members to fill the commitment card. Say that we want to know how faculty wants to be involved.
  • A good answer to “why should I join?” is bringing up the workload issue, since everyone is affected. Give examples of recent union gains: raises, increased medical benefit stipend for PT.

EC members were paired up, practiced the rap and then exchanged more tips.

By the next AFT meeting, bring all the materials (filled in contact forms, corrections to the contact lists, questions, challenges).


  1. Strategic Campaign Initiative Organizing Project update – Katharine Harer, Michelle Kern

Michelle and Katharine went over some of the highlights of the conference. Regarding the logistics, Katharine passed a sign-up sheet for volunteers. Jeff Duncan-Andrade and Joshua Peschtalt are the keynote speakers.

Nina put together a teaching and learning symposium at Skyline and Najla, Katharine and Michelle tabled at the event.


  1. Negotiations – Joaquin

Both CSEA and ASCFME had agreed to an increase of $35/110/135 for FT medical benefits. We know how our Board thinks about every union getting the same. Joaquin recommends that we agree to this and move forward, and strive for better coordination with CSEA and ASCFME in the future.

Negotiations survey:

Over 300 people participated in the survey. Salary and benefits were the top priority, but other issues came very close too. We will bring up all of these issues in the negotiations proposal. In the comments, there was a lot regarding workload issues.

Joaquin asked that everyone go through the contract and look for areas that require clarification.


  • Have our rep in the District Budget committee look for money in the budget.
  • Revisit the formula (if one is going to be used)


  1. Drive toward efficiency: a vision statement?



  1. Party

It will be held on April 9th at Paul’s house in San Francisco.


  1. Statements from EC members on Non-Agenda Items



Meeting adjourned at 5:14 p.m.