March/April 2017 Advocate: Negotiations Update


More than 8 months without a contract:  Some progress, but not enough; Faculty stand firm

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

Knowing they have faculty’s unflagging support, our AFT negotiating team has continued to work at the bargaining table for a fair contract, with the deadline to move to Fact Finding (April 15) quickly approaching.  The good news is that there’s been some movement on issues that matter to faculty; the bad news is that there hasn’t been enough movement, as of this writing, to settle the contract.

Those of you who attended the three Negotiation Update & Strategy Sessions at each campus on March 14, 15 and 16 heard it from the horses’ mouths. Joaquin Rivera, Chief Negotiator, and Monica Malamud, team member, presented the most current state of bargaining.  Faculty members who were able to attend these meetings were focused and concerned, especially when shown the District’s proposal for compensation over a three year period, 2016-2019.  Faculty felt that the compensation numbers are shockingly low for a district rich in community funding, and the new “method” employed by the District of lumping their share of STRS and their commitment to step and column increases in with the amount available for faculty salaries and benefits was looked on as not just unfair but highly offensive.

District’s “Total Comp” strategy

The District is refusing to use the formula from the previous three-year contract to determine the share of property tax revenue that goes to faculty salaries. If that formula were used, faculty would receive just about the same 4.78% salary increase as we did last year because the District’s property tax revenue for 2016-17, was just .02% lower than for 2015-16. Instead of sticking with the same formula, the District has proposed an entirely new way of bargaining, called “Total Compensation”, which in effect is a complicated scheme to reduce salary increases even though their revenues are as high as ever. Instead of negotiating on salaries and benefits separately, the District is offering one total dollar amount for “compensation”; however that dollar amount is not just for salaries and benefits, but also must pay for the District’s increase in STRS payments (faculty already pay our share of STRS in each paycheck) and the cost of all faculty’s step and column increases. These two items have never been included in negotiations before.

The numbers

So what is the District actually offering?  A sum that would amount to a 3.84% salary increase, if it were applied only to salary.  However, if we were to allocate some of this money towards improvements in benefits and additional steps in the faculty salary schedules, the salary increase would be even lower.  For example, after taking out the cost of benefits (based on an amount that will provide no out-of-pocket costs for individual Kaiser coverage within 2 years for full-time faculty, and increasing medical benefits for part-timers) and including the cost of adding an additional step for part-time faculty and a step 25 for full-timers (3% after 2 years), the actual salary increase for 2016-17 would be 3.07%. On March 14, just before our faculty forums, the District presented a new offer that would add an additional one-time payment of 1% that would not be included on the salary schedule, thus bringing the salary increase for 2016-17 to 4.07%. (Accepting such a 1% off-schedule increase for 2016-17 would mean that the salary increase for 2017-18 would be based on about 1% less than the actual 2016-17 salary received.) Based on lower estimated future tax revenues, the projected salary increase for 2017-18 would be 1.71% and for 2018-19 it would be 2.62%.

       District Proposal
2016-17 2015-16 (to compare) 2017-18 2018-19
Available for Salary/Benefits Increase 3.84% $2,086,982 4.78% $2,475,020 2.43%** 2.87%**
FT Health Benefits Increase $228,428 $357,519*
PT Health Benefits Increase $90,000 $52,131*
Add New Step to FT schedule $85,404
Add New Step to PT schedule $18,854
Increase to Salary Schedule 3.07% $1,664,296 4.78% $2,475,020 1.71%** 2.62%**
Off-Schedule One-Time Payment 1%
Total Salary Increase offered 4.07% 4.78%

*Health benefits were negotiated separately in previous contract    **Estimated projections

Faculty support

Faculty also voiced their continued support for the creation of contract language around non-teaching duties, flexible flex days and an added step at the top of both the full-time and part-time salary scales, among other issues.  Participants at all three meetings suggested strategies faculty would be willing to engage in to help win a fair contract.  Wearing “the shirt” on Tuesdays is a given.  Showing up at Fact Finding, if we do go there, is an idea many faculty supported.  Other ideas were discussed and considered.  One faculty member at Skyline commented that power is only moved by power, and he asked the group:  “What will our power be?”

Without showing our hand just yet in terms of specific actions, we want you to know that the union is proud to represent a group of faculty that doesn’t give in and stands firm. Keep wearing the RED shirt on No Take Backs Tuesdays and open your weekly Action Network emails for up-to-the-minute information.  Be ready for action!

Cañada Meeting Report

by Doniella Maher, AFT 1493 Cañada Executive Committee Co-Rep.

On Tuesday, March 14, a group of Cañada faculty met to discuss the current state of negotiations and possible next steps.  Faculty expressed their commitment to the workload equity part of the negotiating process and confirmed that they do not want that part to be dropped.  Faculty also emphasized the importance of a step increase and expressed frustration at the most recent total compensation offer from the District. Faculty also agreed with the negotiating team that three non-flexible flex days would negatively impact professional development in some disciplines and provide little support for professional development in others. Faculty discussed possible steps forward to make a visible and significant statement of their position on these issues should the need arise.

Skyline Meeting Report

by Barbara Corzonkoff, Skyline College Business Instructor

On March 15th, a group of Skyline faculty representing a wide range of disciplines met with Joaquin Rivera, AFT chief negotiator, for an update on contract negotiations and to suggest possible future strategies to help move contract negotiations along.  Some members thought workload equity was the most important issue while others thought salary and benefits were the top issues.  During the discussion, several faculty members made strong arguments about the need to solve the problem of workload inequity.  One faculty member reported that the cost of health benefits for himself and his wife just jumped to over $700 a month.  Members contributed ideas and suggestions for faculty activism that could help improve the outcome of negotiations and Fact Finding, if we end up going there.  Many expressed interest in attending Fact Finding and reporting back to colleagues. Faculty complimented the negotiating team for their progress and hard work, and Joaquin responded that the team greatly values members’ participation and support.

CSM Meeting Report

by Michelle Kern, AFT 1493 CSM Chapter Chair

The group that gathered at CSM on March 16th to hear the updates on negotiations included faculty from departments that we often don’t hear from, which is a real gain to the conversation.  One faculty member had a very helpful suggestion about money that hasn’t come up before—back interest on retro-pay from dragging out the process of the negotiations, since faculty are losing money while working without a contract.  Faculty with families, rising housing costs, and bills to pay have been patiently waiting for resolution while trying to avoid take-backs that don’t respect our workload or our profession.

If the process goes to Fact Finding, faculty were encouraged to go to the meetings to see the tenor of the discussions, which tend to be very revealing about the attitude of the District regarding faculty compensation.