CPFA is sponsoring AB-2277 (Wallis) to raise the part-time teaching limit from 67% to 85% of a full-time teaching load. If successful, this would allow for the possibility of a part-timer teaching as much as 12 semester units for a single district. The current limit is 10 units. While 2 additional units may not sound like much, for many it could mean adding an entire class and relaxing the need for daily commuting to other colleges in an attempt to cobble together enough work to make a living. A similar event occurred after the CPFA sponsored bill, AB-591 (Dymally), became law in 2008. That bill raised the cap from 60% to the current 67% allowing for the possibility of a part-timer teaching as much as 10 units instead of the then limit of 9 units.

If you were teaching when the cap was raised from 60% to 67%, you may recall that the transition was not instantaneous. It took some time before colleges felt comfortable increasing workloads. Even after increases started to occur, the majority of part-timers who benefited transitioned from teaching 6 units (40%) to teaching 9 units (60%). Even though 9 units were already allowed, it was rare because districts were fearful of getting too close to the limit. They were concerned that someone with a 60% load might pick up an extra bit of work making them eligible to sue for tenure. To this day, even in disciplines, such as math, where there are many 5-unit classes, it is very rare for a part-timer to ever teach more than 9 units.

12 units is actually an 80% load (13 units is 86.7%) and colleges should not be fearful of offering 12 units (four 3-unit classes) as this still allows some wiggle room before getting to 85%. There is, however, fear that 80% or higher would trigger federal mandates under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) forcing colleges to offer health care (an expense they want to avoid). This fear is unwarranted for two reasons: 

  1. The workload percentage is not measured against a 40 hour work week but against teaching load. Under the rules, if you teach 12 units, you are considered to be working 27 hours per week. The ACA mandate only kicks in when an employee works 30 or more hours per week.
  2. Even if point 1 is not enough, California now will (if districts would just take advantage of it) reimburse the full costs to provide healthcare to part-timers. 

There are other unreasonable fears. Full-time faculty are often afraid that this could result in more classes being taught by part-timers and thus result in a further reduction in tenured faculty and increased exploitation of part-timers. This fear, however, is not warranted. The number of classes that must be taught by full-time faculty in each district is mandated by law and known as the Faculty Obligation Number (FON). Districts already skate as close to that low bar as they can. The number of part-timers at a college is not at issue as it’s the overall percentage of classes taught by full-timers that matters. That overall percentage will not change no matter how many part-timers there are.

But, I hear you say, if the total number of classes taught by part-timers is capped because of the FON, and individual part-timers are allowed to teach more classes, then doesn’t this mean that at least some current part-timers must lose classes? This is where rehire rights should kick in.

It’s important to understand that while AB-2277 would allow for increased workload, it does not mandate it. A part-timer who has and wishes to continue teaching only one class should be allowed to continue doing so. It’s also important to know that AB-2277 does require districts to come back to the table, if the union wishes, and negotiate (or renegotiate) a rehire rights process for part-time faculty. All colleges should have a process in place right now that prioritizes part-timers based on both their length of service to the district (seniority) and their workload history. The idea is that classes are offered first to those with the greatest seniority but those offers would only include a level of workload consistent with the part-timers historical workload. Then, if classes remain to be staffed after everyone receives their customary load, additional classes, up to the legal limit, would be offered to the most senior part-timers. This would allow for customary load to increase instead of hiring new part-timers, and would protect against current part-timers losing their jobs. There are likely as many variations on how this is done as there are districts but most should have, by now, negotiated a process that, hopefully, would protect against existing part-timers losing workload in order to increase the workload of other part-timers. So the transition to higher workloads should occur over time and only when there are enough classes available to allow it to happen in a fair and equitable manner. As senior part-timers increase workload at one district, many will decline work at another district opening up opportunities for part-timers at that other district to pick up extra classes.

Unfortunately, there are still districts that do not have a rehire rights process that is fair and equitable. For those districts, the unions need to understand that they can, if AB-2277 passes, demand that their district renegotiate this issue. If needed, it will be up to the part-timers at those districts to educate their unions and demand that proper rehire rights be established consistent with what is described above. Unions should, first and foremost, ensure that no one loses work in order to enrich others.

Scott Douglas is currently CPFA’s Southern Regional Representative and serves on CPFA’s Legislative Committee. Contact him at sdouglas@cpfa.org.

Print Page

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.