From the Bay Area to San Diego, and from the Central Valley to
the Mojave Desert, part-time community college faculty, along
with full-time faculty and student allies, gathered at
Sacramento’s famed Sutter Club on Monday morning, May 1, to go
forth and make California legislators aware of the critical need
for part-time faculty healthcare and pay parity.
When it comes to union work, power and knowledge work hand in
hand. Union is not simply about expressing demands, speaking
truth to power, and being resolute in the face of adversity. It’s
about making connections, sharing truths, building solidarity,
empowering, and speaking to be heard.
Developing the knowledge to do these things and putting the power
of that knowledge to use was core to the workshops at the CFT
Part-Time Faculty Conference held May 1-2 in Sacramento.
Newsom keeps $200 million in ongoing funding for part-time faculty healthcare
Governor Newsom proposed significant increases for education and a 6.56% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in his revised proposal of the 2022-23 state budget released May 13. Education funding accounts for the majority of state budget expenditures, but the governor also proposes an inflation relief package and monies to combat housing insecurity.
A crowd of more than 100 members strong — some seasoned
part-timers with decades of experience, others new adjuncts for
which this was their first union event — were engaged as the CFT
Part-Time Faculty Conference opened to roars and cheers with its
theme of “Equity for Contingent Faculty.” The feeling one
had as a part-timer was best summed up by Lin Chan, co-chair of
the CFT Part-Time Faculty Committee, “You’re not one
person…you’re one of thousands.”
The results of CFT’s groundbreaking statewide survey of part-time faculty offer critical insights into the daily, personal, and structural challenges that part-time and contingent faculty experience when it comes to healthcare.
Samira Rostami has taught Communication Studies at Grossmont College since 2014, as well as at four other San Diego area higher ed institutions including the University of San Diego. Her health took a dramatic turn for the worse shortly after area campuses closed in late March 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.
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
Honour Harry works two jobs — as a freelance illustrator and doing children’s education at a local church — in addition to her job teaching art for the North Orange Community College District. Harry doesn’t teach on campus. Instead, she goes into nursing homes, often working with people who are in memory care and who are immunocompromised.
WASHINGTON — A new national adjunct faculty survey from the AFT
underlines the brutal economic reality faced by millions of
contingent and adjunct faculty at the nation’s colleges and
universities — and illustrates how the pandemic further eroded
job security and bolstered the need for public help.
Dozens of CFT members testified this week in front of two
different budget subcommittees of the California Legislature to
urge our elected leaders in Sacramento to support Governor
Newsom’s $200 million proposal in the state budget
to fund healthcare for part-time faculty in California’s
Following the launch of CFT’s campaign for part-time faculty
healthcare last fall and a successful letter campaign, the
governor included the $200 million in his January budget
During the holiday break, 1,400 people sent letters to Governor
Newsom and key legislators demanding funding for part-time
faculty healthcare. As a result of these efforts, the governor
allocated $200 million in his January 10 state budget
proposal to fund healthcare for part-time faculty on
an ongoing basis. This increase
represents more than 400 times the level of funding in the
existing state program.
For about three years the University Council-AFT engaged in
protracted negotiations on behalf of lecturers in their unit.
Their aims have always been about fairness — better working
conditions for lecturers and improved learning conditions for
students. Their fight has been about not only winning economic
and contractual gains for members, but gaining professional
respect and recognition for their teaching at the University of
California. Their campaign has been a true member-driven effort,
rooted in years of organizing by the statewide local that
represents both continuing lecturers and librarians, led by their
president, Mia McIver, and a committed negotiations team.
The pandemic has pushed many harsh realities in
higher education to the forefront, none more so than the
inadequacy of healthcare for part-time faculty. With the cost of
an average COVID hospitalization, according to a number of
sources, running in excess of $20,000, the financial effects
alone on an uninsured part-timer contracting COVID can be
devastating. Add a possible uninsured family member or members to
the mix, and the reality becomes even more frightening.