SB 114

SB 114: Transparency in pay for adjuncts: An approach to achieving equal pay for equal work

by Judith Michaels, CFT Legislative Director

San Mateo Community College district gives adjunct faculty no salary placement credit for advanced degrees or further professional development study beyond the required state minimum qualifications. This kind of denial of professional progress inhibits adjunct faculty from investing time and money in seeking higher degrees or furthering their professional training. If districts placed adjunct faculty on salary matrices that recognized this investment, these faculty would be encouraged to spend the time and money to further their professional growth.

Comparable salary schedules

SB 114 by State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), continues CFT efforts to help part-time faculty receive pay and benefits that are coherent with those of tenure and tenure track faculty by recognizing the need for community college districts to determine the compensation of part-timers using a salary schedule that places these faculty on comparable salary steps as full-time faculty with similar academic preparation and years of experience. That is, districts must develop a core salary schedule for faculty that is based on experience and education. If districts use more than one schedule, each cell on an additional part-time, adjunct salary schedule will be a locally negotiated percentage of each core salary schedule cell; in other words, part-time faculty are to be paid in a manner that mirrors the same relationship to the placement of full-time faculty on the core schedule.

Some locals in other jurisdictions, for example, the San Francisco Community College District, and the Los Rios College District, have already negotiated such schedules, under which districts compensate part-timers from a salary schedule that mirrors the full-timers schedule. The schedule has columns, which reflect increasing amounts of education, and rows, sometimes called “steps,” which reflect years of experience. In the interest of equity, SB 114 will create pressure to ask other districts to take this important step.

Reporting to STRS

Another feature of this bill will be to ask community college districts to report part-time faculty salaries to the California State Teacher’s Retirement System (CalSTRS) and to the affected employees as a percentage of full-time salary. The current variety of compensation methods makes comparisons about the status of part-time faculty very difficult and results in inequities in salary and service credit when districts report salaries to the State Teacher’s Retirement System based on classroom hours. Repeated problems have occurred, and continue to occur, with accurate calculation and reporting of service credits from districts to STRS and from STRS to part-time faculty members, with particular detriment to part-time faculty members who work in more than one district.

Additionally, whereas full-time faculty earn one year of service credit for teaching one school year, service credit for a part-timer depends upon the “full-time equivalent” (FTE) for each type of service rendered. Types of service may include credit classes, teaching noncredit (adult education) classes, substitute teaching, counseling, library duties, holding paid office hours, etc. Although San Mateo does not, many districts do use more than one FTE, depending on the adjunct’s assignment. Because of the difference between part-time and full-time salary schedules, and the disparity among districts, neither the individual faculty member nor STRS can easily determine individual accrued service credits. Errors are frequent because districts, especially those with a variety of hourly rate schedules, do not clearly relate part-time service to full-time service.

In 2009, the CFT sponsored AB 360 (Ma), which asked the retirement system to conduct a study to examine the feasibility of either creating a new program for part-time community college instructors or modifying current programs to make retirement benefits more equitable for part-time instructors. Although the bill stalled, STRS did establish a task force to address issues of inequitable retirement benefits for part-time faculty. CFT members serving on the task force include STRS Board Members Carolyn Widener, Phyllis Eckler, Ernest Kettering, Cliff Leihe, David Milroy, and Sam Russo. The task force will hear and debate three options developed by STRS at their March 15, 2011 meeting, with the thought that a coherent recommendation would go to the STRS board for adoption this year.

SB 114 will not conflict with this good work, and will be an important first step in helping community college districts to report part-time salaries consistently and assisting STRS in more consistent calculations when part-time faculty work in more than one district. Additionally, it is essential for our locals to put this issue on the table so that part-time and full-time salaries can become more coherent. The legislature has a long history of addressing the pay and workload inequities of part-time faculty. SB 114 will help districts and their faculty to remedy this situation by providing transparency so that the salaries of full-time faculty, and the salaries of part-time faculty performing a variety of duties that may have a variety of compensation patterns, can be more easily compared.