San Diego Adult Educators, Local 4289
San Diego Adult Educators has been the only organization representing the Continuing Education faculty of the San Diego Community College District. Originally we were an independent organization affiliated with the California Council for Adult Education (C.C.A.E.) and the Southern Section component of C.C.A.E., C.C.A.E.-S.S. Our name in the early sixties was the ‘San Diego Postsecondary Teachers’ Association’. It was changed in the mid-sixties to the ‘Council for Adult Education’. The change to ‘San Diego Adult Educators’ became effective in 1971. At that time the Community College District was still a part of the San Diego Unified School District. In 1973, by voter mandate, the Community Colleges and Continuing Education became a separate district with its own Board of Trustees and delineation of function agreements.
During that time, many of our members demonstrated strong leadership throughout the state and nation. Berneice Crust, Judson Bradshaw, Alice Leicht, Clarence Cruz, and Shirle Nester were presidents of the C.C.A.E.-S.S. Many others not mentioned held officer positions.
We struggled through “meet and confer” until that glorious day─Collective Bargaining became law. We were feverishly wooed by CTA and CFT. We never had any doubt, and when it came time to decide─CFT won hands down. We had been steadfast members of AFT-CFT with our affiliation since 1976. Our name did not change; we just added AFT. Initially we came in under AFT Local 1931’s charter, but on October 1, 1982, we were granted our own charter and became Local 4289.
During our beginning phase, it took 18 months to achieve our first contract with Patricia Ricard, president, and Shirle Nester, negotiations chair. We had a lot to learn, and with the help of AFT staff representatives Rudy Kne, Jim Robinson, and Vinnie Russell, we designed an excellent contract.
Rene Haase followed Pat as president with Catherine Stoll and Joan Severson, the next elected presidents. Joan was the recipient of the CFT Women in Education Award in 1983. John Sullivan became the first two-year president and served until 1984, when Virginia Kellner, who received a San Diego County CFT Award for outstanding service to her local in 1987, became our leader. She started out as a site rep; became an officer, corresponding secretary, membership chair, and served on the negotiating team.
Shirle Nester is the first recycled president, having served once before in 1974-75 when SDAE was an independent. In June 1986 she was once again elected president and continues to serve in that position. She is also chair of the task force to recommend trailer legislation to AB 1725 for the CFT Community College Council. She was recognized by the CCAE as a Master Teacher and received an Outstanding Teacher Award from that state organization.
SDAE/AFT initiated several innovations, one of which gives the Continuing Education faculty some career ladder opportunities and adjunct faculty some security. Professor positions were negotiated in 1982, and 23 instructors were promoted. Fixed-term assignments were also implemented at that time, and some hourly instructors were awarded these fixed-term assignments.
SDAE/AFT took on one of the most difficult cases regarding lay-off of tenured faculty-more properly called The Foundation Suit. In March 1983, seven language instructors were terminated teachers of French, Spanish, and German. SDAE/AFT filed a suit. The San Diego Community College District had ceased offering these classes but did offer them through the San Diego Community College Foundation.
All language classes in the fall of 1983 were discontinued and transferred under the Foundation. Our suit addressed the issue that these classes indeed were still being offered. That suit is still pending-and now has gone to the Appeals Court. The seven teachers affected have experienced great stress. It is hoped that by late 1989, six years later, a “win” decision will be handed down. This could become a landmark decision for terminated teachers. John Sullivan, President of SDAE at that time, and Raul Martinez, Grievance Officer, led the way.
The 1987-1989 negotiations showed an 18 percent salary increase over two and a half years. The successful bargaining was accomplished by the expert negotiations team comprised of Raul Martinez; Gary Gleckman, benefits chair; Judy Quinton, adjunct representative; Shera Heitmann, counselor representative; Jim Park, member at large; and Shirle Nester, with CFT representative Clarence Boukas at the helm.
Some members of SDAE never quit working for the Union. Even after retirement, Lydia Stewart kept the books for three years after she retired, and Leona Plummer has kept the Shoptalk newsletter professional in appearance and style with her expertise with the computer. Leona retired two years ago. What would we do without those dedicated teachers? Shoptalk has been recognized with Honorable Mentions and third place, 1989, Union Teacher Press Awards. Leona’s layout and President Nester’s monthly messages were both third-place winners.
In 1989 the union established a memorial scholarship fund in the name of the late Virginia Kellner, who passed away in November 1988, to go to an ESL student each year, to continue his/her education. Its contributors were fellow teachers, SDAE, CFT, friends, and administrators. The first scholarship was awarded June 1989. SDAE also gives ten $50 scholarships to help Continuing Education students. Teachers recommend names to the union, and a union committee selects the winners.
Today SDAE/AFT represents some 1100 adjunct faculty and 110 contract faculty. Our goal, as always, is more contract faculty. The heart of SDAE is our adjunct faculty; we will always represent them and our contract teachers. As always, the most important thing to us in Continuing Education is our student-the future of America.
(Shirle Nester, contributor)