Dec. 2016 Advocate: “We Ask for Respect, Fair Treatment, and Dignity”


“We Ask for Respect, Fair Treatment, and Dignity”

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

First of all, we are teachers.  That’s why we come to work, why we stay up late grading papers and planning our lessons.  It’s why we anguish about the students who fall through the cracks, the ones we try to help but sometimes can’t save.  But many of us can’t afford to live anywhere near the colleges where we work, traveling long distances through soul-numbing traffic to show up for class everyday. Many of us are having trouble making ends meet.  And we are all feeling the bite of the rising costs of healthcare, but if we are part-time instructors in this District, healthcare costs are really hurting us badly.

District revenues very strong, area cost of of living extremely high  

San Mateo County is one of the richest and most expensive areas in the country.  That’s why our district is “community funded”, running on local property tax revenues rather than state funding. Chancellor Galatolo proudly described on Opening Day how strong our District’s revenues are. However, the District’s current contract proposals do not reflect this spirit of abundance. In fact, they are “take aways”: decreasing raises and contributions towards benefits, limiting our flex day choices, changing faculty-approved evaluation procedures and ignoring workload equity. The irony is apparent — and the burn, the insult, hits hard.  As one faculty member wrote in a message to the Board of Trustees:  “Don’t take it out of our skins; we are already giving enough.”

Faculty feel disrespected

We feel insulted, we feel disrespected, and we’re fighting back.  In mid October, over 120 faculty members attended open forums at each of our colleges to hear from the AFT Negotiating Team about the District’s contract proposals, their declaration of Impasse and the realities of Fact Finding.  Your AFT Chapter Chairs opened the floor to ideas about how to fight for a better contract.  We listened to what you told us, and we responded by organizing a multi-prong campaign to help our Board of Trustees and the District understand how serious faculty is about the need for a fair contract.

On October 26, Skyline Chapter Co-Chair Paul Rueckhaus and Teeka James, CSM English Professor and AFT Secretary, made presentations during the Public Comments section of the Board of Trustees meeting, reading some of the many concerned comments about negotiations made by faculty at the AFT open forums and asking the Board to send the District negotiating team back to the bargaining table.

60 faculty messages presented to the Board

On November 9, Amber Steele, Dance Professor at Skyline, and Teeka James brought to the Board 60 messages– personal statements written by faculty members in answer to the question: “Why do you deserve a fair contract?”– and read a sampling of these messages to the Trustees. (See some examples.) Teeka then presented the stack of 60 statements, printed and pasted on colorful cards, to the Board.

In these statements, faculty members wrote to the Board about their reactions to the District’s proposals and the attitude that is implied in them.  One person wrote:  “The District’s proposals for contract changes indicate to us that you don’t trust us to do our jobs.”  Many people wrote about how hard it is to deal with an increased workload combined with economic pressures and the toll it takes on our personal lives and families: “Many of us are considering leaving in order to find a place where a balance between work and home life can be achieved.” And some of the statements pointed out that the District’s approach toward faculty has changed:  “…reversing the promising spirit of the past few years, based on collaboration, support and respectful compensation.”

No Take-Back Tuesdays

Some of the most inspiring and energizing actions that faculty are taking part in are No Take-Back Tuesdays (NTBT).  More and more of us are sporting bright red AFT T-shirts as we go about our business on Tuesdays:  in our classes, in meetings, in office hours, in division workrooms, in more meetings – everywhere we go on Tuesdays, we are representing in RED, declaring for the world to see:  “Faculty Deserve A Fair Contract!”  When we see one another, we pose and take a picture.  We acknowledge we’re in this together, and we’re stronger for it.

The union has purchased three orders of t-shirts in the last two months. We have every size and style you want. We have new big red round Stickers that say:  “Faculty Deserve A Fair Contract!”  We have bright red Door Placards. We have enough for every faculty office door on campus.  It’s a sea of red fighting back!  If you haven’t gotten a shirt, sticker or door placard, just ask your Chapter Chair.

Finally, we want to urge you to attend a very important Special AFT All-Faculty Meeting, starting at 5:00 PM at CSM on December 14 in Building 10, Room 401.  Mark your calendars, talk to three colleagues about it, and come to the December 14 Special Meeting about the contract.

If you think you deserve a fair contract, wear your shirt on Tuesdays, wear a red sticker any day of the week, put a placard on your door, and come to the meeting on December 14.  Together we can win! As one person wrote in their statement:  “We faculty deserve better.”



By Michelle Kern, CSM Chapter Chair

CSM quickly embraced the No Take Backs Tuesday campaign and t-shirt orders have been flying off the shelves and into the hands of faculty to wear at work every Tuesday.  It has been inspiring to talk to faculty from all over campus while delivering shirts around many departments every week.  The enthusiastic response also shows in the pictures faculty take and send us, eager to show their support for a fair contract, while wearing their red union shirts.

Many offices on campus are sporting red placards in support, and word of mouth is spreading that faculty need to become more visible in the campaign.  The unity and support is having a palpable effect.  I can feel the energy and the friendly nods between faculty members even when we are at our busiest.

Skyline NTBT Report

By Rob Williams, Skyline Chapter Co-Chair

Skyline College has got us seeing RED the last few Tuesdays and it shows no sign of stopping!  In addition to email requests for shirts I have received countless messages of support and affirmation. There is a genuine sense of camaraderie and not just on Tuesdays but every day since we started. The stickers and door placards have also been a hit.

Recently, my Creative Writing class asked why I was wearing the red shirt each week and after I told them they asked what they could do to support faculty. I gave each one of them a sticker and told them to spread the word. One of my students, who is a reporter for the Skyline View–the campus newspaper–expressed interest in doing a story on our plight. Tell your students! They care, and they know it is affecting them as well.  Keep up the great work everyone!

Cañada NTBT Report

By Monica Malamud, AFT 1493 President

It was great to see so many faculty members proudly wearing their red union shirts on campus.  At one meeting where new hiring requests were being made, over 50 college employees were in attendance.  A number of faculty members showed up in their red shirts, even some of the presenters, while other presenters wore the red stickers that said, Faculty Deserve A Fair Contract, to show their support.  In classrooms and workrooms, in the Library and the Learning Center, faculty members came to Cañada wearing RED, and red door placards have begun appearing on faculty office doors.