Members holding signs for part-time equity

COVID and the subsequent student enrollment drop during the last two semesters have placed great burdens on contingent faculty, from scrambling to teach remotely to negotiating personal and family challenges to facing reduced assignments and a loss of healthcare benefits.

In response to this precarity, CFT has put forth one of the most robust legislative campaigns ever on behalf of part-time contingent faculty. This is exemplified by CFT’s push for funding in the state budget to provide part-timers with healthcare coverage, legislation to raise the part-time teaching cap in community college districts, and legislation to mandate that contingent faculty receive equal pay for equal work.

The CFT Part-Time Faculty Campaign, as reported in the previous issue of the Part-Timer, has enjoyed tremendous success since its launch in October. Due to the strong efforts of CFT’s legislative team, coupled with more than 1,400 letters from members calling for the governor to fund healthcare for part-timers, Newsom proposed $200 million in ongoing funding for the state part-time faculty healthcare insurance fund. Since then, CFT’s campaign has organized overwhelming numbers of part-time and full-time faculty to testify in support of the funding at Assembly budget hearings on February 14, 16, and April 5.

Equal pay for equal work

Jim Mahler, head of CFT’s legislative team and president of the Community College Council, called this a “watershed moment.” Mahler said, “Both the governor and Department of Finance have recognized not only that healthcare for many part-time faculty has only been a pipe dream until now, but also that part-time faculty need to be allowed to increase their assigned load in a given district.”

CFT is redoubling its efforts to raise the maximum per district part-time teaching load from the current 67% to 80–85% through its sponsorship of AB 1856, carried again by Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside. The need for the bill is simple — too many part-time faculty have to patch together teaching assignments at multiple districts to make a living. Passage of the bill will allow part-time faculty to increase their assignments in individual districts, which will allow them more time for students and family, in addition to being more climate-friendly, and with gas prices around $6 a gallon, less of a financial burden.

The bill would also improve rehire rights. Currently the Education Code requires districts to negotiate only “minimum standards for the terms of reemployment preference for part-time, temporary faculty assignments.” There is no specific language calling for districts to allow for a part-timer’s reemployment preference load to reach the highest level possible under state law.

AB 1856 calls for districts to “not restrict the negotiated terms (of re-employment) to less than the range of 80 to 85 percent, unless explicitly agreed upon for an individual part-time, temporary faculty member by that faculty member and the district.” This language adds a further level of security and opportunity regarding part-time appointments, while giving the part-time faculty member the opportunity to choose whether or not to work at the load maximum.

Pay parity is also on the table in the form of the CFT co-sponsored bill AB 1752, carried by Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles. The bill, if passed, would require community college districts, starting January 1, 2023, to begin negotiations with the exclusive bargaining representatives to establish part-time faculty be paid in direct proportion to the pay full-time employees receive for the same or comparable duties. Moreover, the bill calls for the length of time and number of courses being taught to be part of the determination of payment — a key point since part-time and full-time faculty salary schedules will differ widely in terms of how length of service and accumulated teaching units are paid. In the clearest terms possible, the bill calls for equal pay for equal work.

Both bills were easily approved by the Assembly Higher Education Committee on April 5, just one day after a joint CFT/CTA press conference announced a lawsuit filed by Long Beach City College part-time faculty Karen Roberts and Seija Rohkea, who is also president of Adjunct Faculty United, AFT Local 6106. The lawsuit seeks back pay and retirement contributions for unpaid work outside their classroom hours which they are expected to do, like prep, grading, student consultations, and other duties.

CFT’s commitment to AB 1752 is underscored by CFT President Jeff Freitas. “Every day part-time faculty in our community colleges go above and beyond for California students,” Freitas said. “But part-time faculty are exploited across the state, hurting not only their ability to provide for themselves and their families, but their ability to be there for their students and communities as well. AB 1752 is critical to ensure that these valuable educators receive the pay and respect they deserve to do their important work.”

— 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