Since 1998, the California Part-time Faculty Association (CPFA) has been a leader in calling out the injustices facing part-time faculty working within California’s community college system: no job security, no due process, scant seniority rights, unequal pay (compared to full- time faculty teaching the same courses), no compensation in most cases for work performed outside the classroom, such as, course prep, grading time, and so forth. As CPFA marks its 25th anniversary, it can be frustrating to still find that these are the norms of some 72 districts across the state, and this is still the reality of the higher education landscape.

As a statewide organization, CPFA speaks by and for all part-time faculty, and we’ve worked tirelessly to use our voice to push for progress on every front. From drafting resolutions and protesting outside the capitol, to proposing language for new legislation to legislators and their staff at the capitol, CPFA has come a long way. Even when our greatest achievements come up short of our ambitions (although certainly not from any lack of effort on our part), it’s important to acknowledge the gains we have made. For example, we can look back at AB 591, which raised the workload cap from 60% to 67% as a shining example of what is possible if we set our sights high and are willing to work with all stakeholders in the largest community college system in the world to achieve broad, systemic change.

Many CPFA members raise their voices through a myriad of statewide organizations, and this is another way we work to achieve broader change. Prominent faculty organizations, such as, CCA, CFT, CCCI, FACCC and CWA 9119 all have part-time faculty working within their ranks, and we have seen some success with this strategy. For example, CFT was able to get the Governor to sign off on $200 million for healthcare benefits for part-timers in need, and CCA has been making a valiant push for parity pay. In the past, CCCI and FACCC have also put forth legislation to address compensation for part-time faculty office hours. Although progress is slow, it’s vitally important that we continue to increase our engagement with these groups.

Others of us (myself included), impatient with justice looming ever on the horizon, are seeking change in the system through the courts. Long Beach Community College was the first public higher education institution to be sued for failure to compensate part-time faculty for work performed outside the classroom, such as course prep and grading time, and now there are nearly a dozen ongoing lawsuits against different California Community College districts for violating California labor laws (For more information on this effort, contact me: Admittedly, even this approach, while potentially far reaching, is only going to get at one piece of a larger problem, that of the two-tier system.
Within this edition, you’ll find two articles taking up the issue of the existing two-tier system, which may help to illuminate this larger issue that underlies all of our efforts towards broad, systemic change. I hope our faithful readers will take their message to heart.

While this conversation is growing and taking shape, CPFA will continue to support all avenues for change; whether it is working to improve legislation, advocating for fair and just working conditions, or educating all stakeholders on the fundamental inequalities that persist in the system.

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