What a year 2021 was! We are hopeful and excited about 2022 despite the continued challenges of COVID. Here is the Federation’s 2022 State of the Union Address.
Federation membership remains strong, though we have a few colleagues who are not currently members. Throughout the spring semester, the Federation will be directly reaching out to our non-member colleagues to discuss the union and the benefits and importance of membership. Strong membership numbers and engaged members will be crucial to negotiating a good 2023 contract.
The Federation’s Financial Health and Discussion of Changing Dues
The 2020 reorganization of our office and a focus on trimming expenses have strengthened our union’s financial position. Our reserves continue to grow and, according to our accountant, we are much closer to reaching an appropriate level of reserves for a union our size. As a reminder about how our dues are spent, some of our dues go to the California Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers who provide support and benefits. Our dues also go to local expenses such as professional services and maintaining our office. Union Officer stipends come from release time paid for by the District (much like Senate or other special assignment release time), not our dues.
The Executive Board has identified an unfair issue with our current dues structure. We still use a flat monthly dues rate, which is regressive in nature. A FT faculty member making $65,000 a year pays the same dues as a FT faculty member making $85,000 a year; a PT faculty member with one assignment pays the same dues as a PT faculty member with three assignments. In the spring, the Federation will ask members to consider changing to a “percentage of income” rate to replace the flat rate. We can use a percentage of income structure in a way that would not change what the majority of members now pay in dues while a few folks on the edges will pay a little more or a little less every month. The percentage of income dues structure, if approved by members, will be more fair.
Organizing for a Stronger Voice
The Federation’s Executive Board launched a number of projects to strengthen our union and support our members. The new website has been useful for providing members with union-related information and updates.
In Fall 2020, we launched Federation Meet Ups in divisions across campus and for Part-time faculty on an experimental basis and in 2021 the number of Federation Meet Ups expanded. These monthly meetings last about 45 minutes and provide an opportunity for members to get the latest Federation and work updates, ask questions, share ideas, and meet up. We see these meetings as crucial to building the kind of union culture necessary for a strong voice on campus. We would like to see these meetings happen in every division and program. We will help you get your division Meet Ups going if they are not happening already—just drop us a note.
In February 2021, the Federation’s Executive Board proposed to the membership some major changes to the structure of the union with the goal of building our union’s capacity. When the members voted to approve the changes, we added officer positions, clarified officer roles and responsibilities, and created a number of standing committees (part-time faculty, organizing, grievance, communications, research, and social). Angela Simon has organized a retiree committee. If you want to lend a hand to the Federation, these committees are a great way to get involved.
In the political arena, Federation members revitalized the Committee on Political Education (COPE), which is a separate legal and financial entity that gets involved in El Camino College BOT elections and local and state elections. The COPE made significant progress in 2020, especially in building relations with the Trustees and community, labor, and political leaders in the South Bay and across the state.
In the 2022 election cycle, the COPE will be active in the BOT elections (2 seats are up this year) and we encourage you to lend a hand. Who our bosses are matters. The Federation is now meeting regularly with 4 out of 5 BOT members as well as the ECC President. These relationships were crucial to the successful reopening of our contract to recover nearly all of the 2020 COLA that the previous BOT and administration refused to pass on to its employees.
All things Contract: Contract Reopener, MOUs, Pay, and Negotiations
Because of the efforts noted above, the Federation led a successful campaign to convince the BOT and administration to reopen our contract with the goal of recovering the state issued COLAs in 2020. The efforts with the help of Federation and community members eventually led to a combined 7.2% COLA, effective December 1, 2021, for all salary schedules and pay rates.
Since March 2020, amidst the global pandemic, the Federation negotiated a number of MOUs and held a number of meetings with the district to ensure a safe, equitable workplace, whether we were working remotely or returning to campus.
The Federation also continues to field questions and handle grievances from members and monitor and enforce our contract. One of the bigger issues we have worked on is ensuring accurate and timely payment for our labor. You should always check your contracts and paychecks for accuracy and if you have questions about your pay, please reach out to us.
Our current contract, which the BOT ratified in October 2020, will expire December 31, 2022. We have sent out a survey to see what is important for our next contract. Please fill it out. We believe we will be in a better position at the bargaining table this time around, but there is a lot of work to get us to that place. Please join your colleagues and step up your participation in the union. The most important determinant of our success in contract negotiations is the attention and active engagement of our members.
On our website, we have our current (and older) contract, MOUs for working during COVID, information for filing for unemployment benefits, and more. Use the website to learn more about your rights and benefits as a union member. The resources for calculating correct load and pay will be available soon on our website.
The California Federation of Teachers (CFT) has launched a statewide campaign to urge the legislature and the Chancellor’s office to fund part-time faculty health care. After a few years of hard work, including the recent petition campaign, there was movement in Sacramento. In his 2022 state budget, Governor Newsom has included $200 million to help community colleges pay for part-time health care benefits. The next step is to lobby the legislature to accept and even expand on Newsom’s proposal in the May revise. We will keep you posted and may ask for help for this basic economic right to be funded. By the way, the state budget is looking very healthy for the next year or two.
Hong Herrera Thomas (HIST) put together a really helpful “faculty resource” guide. You can download the guide here: https://aft1388.org/ecc-faculty-resources
Lastly, we really appreciate the work you do for our students, the college, and the communities we serve. If you ever have questions or want to lend a hand to the Federation, please get in touch with us.
The Executive Board