Bittersweet would best describe the end results of the 2022-2023 legislative season for community college part-time faculty.
One of the clear positives was the realization of a record 8.22% cost-of-living allowance for California Community Colleges, up .09% from Governor Newsom’s initial proposal of an 8.13% COLA in January. The COLA followed off a fairly robust COLA of 6.56% in 2021-2022.
“Getting the Governor to not only fully fund the 8.13% COLA, but to raise it to 8.22%, is reflective of CFT’s and other education advocacy groups’ efforts to get both the governor and the legislature to make community college funding and student success a priority,” said Jim Mahler, Chair of CFT’s legislative committee.
The high COLA should hopefully translate into needed salary increases for part-time faculty particularly hit hard by inflation and enrollment declines due to COVID.
On the other hand, two bills aimed at improving part-time faculty pay went down to defeat. Supported by CFT, AB 1190 (Irwin) did capture the interest of a number of part-time faculty seeking to increase the number of paid office hours. If passed, the bill would have mandated local districts negotiate with bargaining units for part-time faculty to be compensated for the number of office hours in direct load proportion to the number of hours full-time faculty are expected to provide.
“It’s hard to provide that extra support that students need for success when admin can’t support faculty with needed compensation,” said Marlo Smith, Vice President of Adjunct Faculty United at North Orange Community College. Under AdFac’s current contract, faculty are compensated for just “ten (10) minutes of office hour time for consultation with for each fifty (50) minutes of assignment,” the implication being that teachers should simply meet with students for ten minutes after class. Had the bill passed, it would have required North Orange to negotiate double the amount of paid office hours to its part-time faculty.
Sadly, the bill, like the CFT sponsored AB 260 (Santiago), which would have required districts to negotiate with local bargaining units for part-time faculty to be paid in direct proportion to what the full-time counterparts do for the same or equivalent duties, was held up by the Assembly Appropriations committee. Ultimately, it was decided not to move the bill forward due to the costs involved.
Another disappointment was the veto of AB 811 (Fong) which, if passed, would have allowed students “to repeat, up to, but not exceeding, two times, a credit course in in arts, humanities, kinesiology, foreign languages, and English as a second language, for which the student and is retaking for enrichment or skill-building purposes.” The bill, which had additionally called for students receiving a less than satisfactory grade to be able to repeat a class five times, as opposed to the current practice of three times, had been significantly whittled down. Up until crossing the governor’s desk, the bill had received strong support.
While not directly related to part-time faculty, the additional student enrollment resulting from the bill’s passage would have increased teaching sections, and with it, part-time faculty jobs.
Perhaps more importantly, the bill, at its heart, was about promoting student equity by allowing successful students and lifelong learners to enhance personal skills and enrich themselves. In addition, it would have given students who struggle academically another chance.
Still, there was an up note for part-time faculty with the addition of language to trailer bill, SB 142.
A provision written into SB 142 made a change to education code 22807.5. The change states that a contracting agency in a community college district may provide insurance to all part-time faculty employees who have an appointment of at least one semester and whose teaching assignment with one or more community college districts equals or exceeds two courses or 40T of the cumulative equivalent of a minimum full-time teaching assignment.
For locals like the Cerritos Faculty Federation, who offers their full-time faculty coverage through CalPERS, the change in language is welcome news. “Now, with what has been an obstacle before removed, I’m feeling optimistic about our negotiations for full-time equivalent part-time healthcare,” said Cerritos Faculty Federation president Lynn Wang.
Written by: Geoff Johnson