May 2018 Advocate: Part-timer appreciation event


Part-timers are appreciated at AFT event at Skyline!

by Michelle P. Kern & Katharine Harer, AFT 1493 Organizers

On April 12, AFT 1493 held a part-timer appreciation day at Skyline College in the lovely Multi-Cultural Room in Building 4. Union organizers, Katharine Harer and Michelle Kern, hosted the event and were joined in greeting and talking to part-time faculty by Skyline Chapter Co-Chairs Rob Williams and Paul Rueckhaus, and Advocate Editor and Skyline librarian, Eric Brenner.

Pizza and sweets were provided as snacks, and there were also plenty of beautiful gifts. Artful notebooks, fancy gel pens, and cute novelty erasers were very popular, as well as our red union tote-bags and t-shirts. Part time Cosmetology faculty member, Patrice Robinson, generously donated gift certificates for facials and massages in the Skyline Spa, which she’d especially prepared for the part-timer event.

In photo above: attendees at the event included: Kathleen McClung (at table in front), English; Rachelle Marquez (at table in red hat), Kinesiology; Patrice Robinson (just behind Rachelle), Cosmetology; Paul Rueckhaus (far back left), Health Science; & Regina Mitchell (in far back, talking to Paul), Cosmetology

In photo below: from left, Terry Chang, Chemistry; Paul Rueckhaus, Health Science; Katharine Harer, English; Frank Markovich, music; Eric Brenner, Library

Over the course of the day, which started at 1:00 and ended at 6:00, over 25 faculty members attended the event– part-timers dropped in to meet the union, chat and snack and full-timers joined to express their solidarity. Faculty attended from a wide variety of divisions, including SMT (Math, Bio, Chem), Language Arts, Kinesiology, Cosmetology, Counseling, Social Science, Library, Art and Music. Some faculty could only drop by quickly for a bite to eat and a quick chat, while others stayed for a while and were able to engage in rich conversations about their working conditions.

As part of the day’s events, we asked each part-time teacher to write responses to two prompts on a bright yellow card: “What is one thing that you’d like to improve about your working conditions?” And “What do you dream about seeing in the future for part-timers?” Many very thoughtful responses emerged, both on the cards and in many of our conversations during the course of the day.

Some of the issues raised included the need for office space for Skyline part-timers; raising the cap on classes so part-timers can teach more; better health coverage options, including the dream of full coverage; more opportunities (and better pathways) for full-time positions; and improved access to information about areas that impact part-timers’ lives: sick days, flex day funding, SLOs and opportunities for professional development were mentioned. Participants also highlighted the desire to be treated as peers and professionals with standing in their disciplines, asking why part-timers don’t have more opportunities for course planning and paid time for cross-curricular development.

In the same vein, part-timers who are pursuing advanced degrees noted that the current part-timers’ pay scale doesn’t provide any increase in salary for additional education as is extended to full-timers The columns for educational level on the full-timers salary schedule are a sign of respect and a recognition of professional achievement that is not offered to part-timers. Suggestions for improvements to working conditions for part-timers also included part-timer meetings every semester, part-timer appreciation by every department, and facilitation of adjunct collaboration with monthly meetings and special events. One yellow card brought up the interesting idea of having an Adjunct Advocate in every division, to look out for the interests of part timers and advocate on their behalf. In all, the discussions, and the feedback we received on the cards, reinforced that our part-timers have a deep understanding about the changes needed to improve not just their own jobs, but also to help develop their departments and better serve our student population: being treated as worthwhile professional assets to our campus communities rather than second-class citizens.

The information and feedback we received will be shared with our Executive Committee and our Bargaining Team and will help provide specific ideas and direction for the union’s advocacy for part-time faculty in our District.