Since my last update, an important bill, AB 897, was authored by Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside) to raise the 67% workload cap on part-time faculty in California’s Community Colleges System to 80-85% of a full-time workload (Read the previous Chair Report, fall 2018, online for more on why CPFA supports raising the workload cap). AB 897 has been sponsored by the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and co-sponsored by the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges (FACCC) and, yours truly, CPFA. Although the bill initially stalled in the Assembly’s Appropriation Committee, it was eventually turned into a “two-year bill.” What this means is that AB 897 has been put on suspension until the end of the calendar year and will re-run the legislative process next spring, and that is very good news! CPFA will be in Sacramento to attend the hearings, walk the halls of the Capitol, and visit with legislators at every step of the way to ensure its final passage.
For reasons discussed fully in last fall’s journal, CPFA supports any step in the right direction, even if this results in supporting piece-meal legislation. Of course, the ideal situation would be to eliminate the cap altogether, since it is a completely arbitrary and draconian law — preventing part-timers from working in any one district more than 67% of a full-time workload is totally unprecedented. Nonetheless, CPFA’s view is that any increase of this cap, no matter how small, should be considered progress.
Regrettably, not everyone is in agreement on this issue nor does everyone see it for what it truly is (more on this below). Part-time faculty issues have been politicized (yet again) with this bill, and the so-called “controversies” that surround it are being stirred up by just a couple of districts and statewide community college institutions, such as the Community College League of California, and the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the Community College Association (CCA). The League will not support it unless references to seniority are removed, and some very out-spoken full-time faculty leaders in CCA have so far stalled on this modest step. CCA’s claim is that raising the cap will (apparently) do “more harm” than the current cap, but perhaps this is because the closer to a full-time load we get, the more conspicuous the exploitation is! It is unfortunate that even some part-timers have opposed any move to raise the cap because they reason that by giving districts and local bargaining units the flexibility to opt for raising the cap, which would thereby give part-timers the option to take on an 80-85% workload would (somehow) hurt their ability to keep their existing workload.
While CTA/CCA do not openly oppose the cap increase, they have (so far) failed to endorse it, and the absence of their support is frustrating. To put it mildly, they are being overly cautious, maintaining there are too many “concerns” with the bill. However, rather than work bilaterally with CFT, the sponsor of this bill, to address their misgivings (as is the usual and appropriate way to go about it), CTA/CCA have taken an unprecedented approach: circumventing the bill’s primary stakeholders and pushing their agenda through by way of unilateral talks with Medina’s office. Ultimately, their decision to ignore CFT, CCCI, and FACCC’s loyal partners on many community college issues and an equal member in the Council of Faculty Organizations (CoFO), is off-putting, to say the least, and is enough to give any reasonable person cause to be suspicious.
As co-sponsors, CPFA will continue to promote this bill because it is about much more than equity in the workplace; AB 879 is about improving the educational opportunities for our students. With the flexibility to increase workloads of part-time faculty, the California community college system will be able to offer students more classes on demand and students will get more one-on-one support from their instructors, which as we all know goes a long way towards boosting student success.
Let’s not forget that the California Community College of Independence (CCCI) and the University Professional & Technical Employees, CWA 9119 (UPTE) are also strong supporters of AB 879. Please consider contacting Kelly Reynolds (916) 319-2061 to show your support! Tell them that CPFA sent you. (If you do call, let me know!)
CPFA will have more updates on AB 897 in our next journal, spring edition, 2020.
Final Notes: CPFA has been active this summer, especially in regards to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) issue. This federal law has been harming part-time faculty because many of us have been contributing to CalSTRS for most of our community college career and, while not contributing to Social Security (SS), did contribute before teaching or did so for work in the private sector. When one finally retires from CalSTRS, the SS benefits will be drastically reduced. For more on this topic, be sure to read the WEP story in this issue.
Last but not least, a warm welcome to our newest member of the CPFA Executive Council, Scott Douglas, who will be taking on the duties of Director of Membership, previously held by Carol Whaley. Carol has in turn taken on the position of Director of Publications—which, by the way, if you have enjoyed this fall’s edition of the CPFA Journal, you should reach out and congratulate her on a job well done!
John Martin is the current Chair of CPFA. He has been teaching African American History and American Politics in the CCCS for over 30 years.