part-time faculty raise their hands for action

Securing annual funding for part-time faculty healthcare is an unprecedented legislative win. The next step is to secure that healthcare at the local bargaining table.

While such bargaining must take place in each district, CFT is leading an effort to coordinate collective bargaining strategy and practice to strengthen the position of local unions at the negotiating table. To this end, in what is now Phase 2 of the Part-Time Faculty Campaign, CFT hosted regional kickoff meetings attended by more than 300 members and in-depth training for negotiating teams. CFT hopes to draw more attention to the dire need for high-quality affordable healthcare through member actions at local governing boards and Campus Equity Week October 24-28.

The first in-person kickoff event in Fresno was an overwhelming success. 

“We saw a turnout of over 50 rank-and-file members,” reported Keith Ford, president of the State Center Federation of Teachers. “Many were folks that I had seen on our membership rolls, but never in person.”

The positive turnout has Ford optimistic about their efforts with their local governing board and upcoming board elections, which will also be key in Local 1533 winning healthcare for part-time faculty.

Members of the San Jose/Evergreen Federation of Teachers found the meetings informative, great for camaraderie and mutual support, and turned the information and inspiration they received into action by having members show up at the district board of trustees meeting, sitting in the front row, and wearing their union t-shirts for visibility. 

Local President Steven Mentor delivered a five-minute report focused on the statewide healthcare campaign for part-time faculty, expressing the local’s “desire to negotiate an MOU on it ASAP.” 

Laila Dellapasqua, vice president for part-time faculty with the El Camino College Federation of Teachers in Torrance, described how the Los Angeles kick-off event made her excited about “being in a coalition with part-time faculty locals and full-time advocates.” 

Elaine Robinson, Yuba Federation

Similarly, Elaine Robinson, president of the Yuba College Federation of Teachers, representing only part-time faculty, said the Sacramento kick-off was both a pleasant and inspirational surprise.

“The campaign kickoff event we attended in Sacramento brought out more people from my local than events we held locally,” said Robinson. “Many Yuba members also teach in the Los Rios Community College District. Both I and members of the Los Rios College Federation of Teachers are looking at lists to find part-time faculty who teach in both districts.”

LA PT faculty members

This cross-local coordination will be key in making sure that each district implements quality, affordable healthcare for its part-time faculty. Additionally, multi-district adjuncts teaching more than 40% of a full-time assignment will now get healthcare coverage as incentivized in budget trailer bill AB 190. The language in AB 190 provides districts a powerful incentive.

AB 190 encourages districts to provide health insurance by reimbursing them up to 100% of their healthcare costs with four key provisos: 1) the district offer health insurance to all part-time faculty with an assignment equal or greater than 40% of a full-time assignment; 2) the health benefits provided are the same as those of full-time faculty in the district; 3) individual premiums for part-time faculty are no higher than those of full-time faculty, 4) multi-district part-time faculty with total teaching assignments equal or greater than 40% of a full-time assignment are offered district reimbursement for health insurance coverage.

The district incentive combined with the $200 million in annual funding for healthcare drive the need for a winning local bargaining strategy.

Marlo Smith, lead negotiator at Adjunct Faculty United, the state’s largest local of only part-time faculty, at the North Orange County Community College District, attended the Healthcare Negotiator Training held on Zoom in late September.

In this session, CFT staff laid out the necessary steps for local unions and negotiating teams to move forward. Trainers reiterated the criteria needed for 100% district reimbursement and compared how part-time faculty and districts both win with 100% versus 50% reimbursement. They also rolled out a bargaining toolkit and honed in on the particulars of the healthcare bargaining process, including potential pushback that negotiating teams might expect at the table and strategies to challenge that pushback.

Smith also attended the Orange County kickoff event and said it “got everyone excited and left me very motivated.” She appreciated seeing the CFT president at these events. Since 2019, under the direction of Jeff Freitas, the CFT has worked to develop and implement a Strategic Plan, a key component of which is a demand for “equity in higher education for faculty.”

Jeff Freitas

The first part of the plan led CFT to establish the Part-Time Faculty Campaign, secure annual funding for part-time faculty healthcare and the incentive for districts to offer it, conduct a groundbreaking statewide survey of part-time faculty, and revive the Part-Time Faculty Conference.

“Healthcare for part-time faculty is just the first step,” Freitas said. “Ultimately our campaign will involve our recently passed resolution that calls for an end to the two-tier system in the community colleges.” When asked to imagine what the end to a two-tier system would look like, Freitas said that he envisioned not just “equal pay and benefits for equal work” but also “job security, respect and more faculty working full-time jobs.”

Campus Equity Week

From October 24 to 28, Campus Equity Week will call out the dire need for quality, affordable healthcare for part-time faculty. Actions will also highlight other longstanding issues, such as the need for pay parity, paid office hours for part-time faculty, and the overall improvement in working conditions.

At El Camino College, for example, Local 1388 is planning a robust series of events addressing not only healthcare, but unemployment and retirement. The local also plans to address food and housing insecurity for part-time faculty and students.

  • Find everything you need in our Campus Equity Week Toolkit, from facts and union positions, to signs, Zoom backgrounds, and elements for a social media campaign.

— By Geoff Johnson, assigning editor of Part-Timer, member of the CFT Part-Time Faculty Committee and the AFT Guild, San Diego and Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community Colleges