By Daniel Thompson, CPFA Legislative Analyst

This year the CPFA Legislative Task Force met with over a dozen offices of members of the California State Assembly and State Senate.  The Legislative Task Force advocated two main legislative proposals involving: (1) raising the cap on the number of courses that Part-time Faculty can teach and (2) strengthening the language for seniority rights as well as just cause language.  While the Taskforce was unable to obtain authorship from any members of the State Legislature for this cycle, we are optimistic about moving forward with both proposals again this fall.

To briefly summarize the two legislative proposals, the first one concerns raising the cap on the part-time faculty teaching load from 67% to 85% of full-time faculty.  Similar efforts to raise the cap in recent years passed in both houses of the State Legislature without any opposition (on two separate occasions) only to be vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom on the erroneous grounds that raising the cap would somehow force Districts to start paying health benefits to Part-time Faculty.  In response, the Taskforce has created a new introduction to the bill that meticulously corrects the record: 

CPFA’s New Introduction To AB 1856

Existing law sets a cap on the amount of work a part-time, temporary community college instructor may attain within any one college district of no more than 67% of a full-time equivalent load. This bill would adjust that cap up to 85% and modify the requirement that community colleges, as a condition of receiving funding allocated for the Student Success and Support Programs, negotiate part-time, temporary faculty rehire rights based on a minimum standard of 80% to 85% of a full-time equivalent load instead of 60% to 67% as required in existing law.

The language of this bill is identical to the previously proposed AB-1856, Medina, which passed unanimously in both the Assembly and the Senate before being vetoed by Governor Newsom on September 25, 2022. In the prior legislative session, an essentially identical bill, AB-375, Medina, also passed unanimously in both the Assembly and the Senate before being vetoed by the Governor on October 8, 2021.

In vetoing AB-375, the Governor opined that the bill would result in significant cost as modifying the workload cap from 67% to 85% would result in a triggering of a requirement to provide health coverage to the approximately 37,000 part-time, temporary faculty who teach about half of all community college courses. As discussed further below, this opinion was misguided. Even though the Governor approved an addition to the budget of $200 million to be used to offset the cost of healthcare for part-time, temporary faculty, he still vetoed AB-1856 on the grounds that it was premature ahead of knowing how the new $200 million would be used. Again, the Governor erred in linking the workload cap with healthcare.

The reality is that a full-time faculty workload in a community college equates to lecturing 15 hours per week during each of the Fall and Spring semesters. A part-time temporary faculty member’s workload is determined by computing the percentage of hours lecturing each week out of 15. For example, teaching a standard three-hour class would constitute a 20% workload during one semester. If a part-time, temporary faculty member was to teach an 85% workload, this would equate to lecturing 12.75 hours per week. [The numbers in this example are typical and used for illustration purposes. There may be slight, insignificant, variations in the actual numbers between different community colleges.]

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that an employee who works 30 or more hours per week must receive health benefits. The IRS has provided guidance [Internal Revenue Bulletin: 2014-9] to institutions of higher education stating that it is reasonable to assume that for each hour of lecturing, a college instructor spends an additional 1.25 hours in unscheduled preparation. As such, if a part-time, temporary faculty member works an 85% load, lecturing for 12.75 hours each week, they may reasonably be considered to have worked a total of 28.69 hours per week. Therefore, this would not trigger any mandate from the ACA; no health care would be required. Moreover, the bill will not mandate that any part-time teacher be required to teach an 85% load. It would require that community colleges negotiate rehire rights for workloads in the range of 80-85%. At 80%, per the numbers seen above and considering the IRS guidelines, a part-time, temporary faculty member may be considered to work a total of 27 hours per week.

The second proposal significantly strengthens seniority rights language, including calling for a uniform standard on calculating seniority at all California Community College Districts.  Another revision offered would require all Districts to provide just cause language in a timely manner for any reduction in workloads or termination of contracts of Part-time Faculty.

About The Author:

Daniel Thompson teaches political science at Butte College. He joined the CPFA Executive Council last year as Legislative Analyst.

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