The news came via text, Paula Joseph, chief steward at De Anza, will be retiring in October. She will be sorely missed – more on her contribution to ACE later – and while change is inevitable, her upcoming retirement is a good reminder that ACE only works thanks to the compassion, resourcefulness and dedication from members who voluntarily step up to help improve the workplace on behalf of their colleagues.
It takes active participation and commitment from all the members of a union to effectively protect and serve the membership as a whole. The most obvious benefit of a union is having an organization that is always there to represent and protect you and provide you with greater job security. The second is having greater bargaining power around health benefits and salary because of your concerted group effort to obtain the greatest possible result. To be clear, this doesn’t mean we always get it right or that the path to change can, at times, be excruciatingly slow. but whatever we do always comes from a desire to help others. Sometimes that last point gets lost when outcomes don’t match desired expectations.
Over the next year, there will be many changes affecting ACE and the work we do as classified professionals for Foothill-De Anza. From inevitable leadership changes within ACE to the outcome of our classification study to district wide budget concerns, just to name a few. The one constant will be the need for people to serve.
Back to Ms. Joseph. Words cannot begin to express the gratitude I have for Paula and her work as De Anza chief steward or her service to ACE. Her voice of reason, calm demeanor, clarity of thought and keen sense of humor have helped us become a better organization. After she encouraged me to run for President, she followed up by checking in weekly to make sure I was doing alright. At times those phone calls, for me, were the difference between moving forward or running away and her support is a lesson in giving to others that I will work hard to emulate long past my time with ACE. Thank you Paula.
Chris White, ACE President
(650) 949-7789, office
by Art Hand, Foothill Chief Steward
Chris has asked me to write an article for the July ACE newsletter about my 20-plus years’ experience as chief steward at Foothill. I immediately asked her how long? She promptly replied, 500 words or less. I said ok. So far that’s 45, counting this.
One of the reasons for my longevity in the position is because I can remember the job description, which hasn’t changed in all this time; it is simply, “to represent the workers to management.” Now there is often considerable complexity in that, depending on the situation, but it all stems from that one purpose.
Most of what I’ve learned that’s worth saying, I learned from books, movies and other people.
From Jill Kersey, formerly of AV at Foothill and De Anza, the Jill Kersey dictum: “If it’s important, write it down.”
Jill’s mind just insensibly produced (and, no doubt still does) fresh, original aphorisms in the course of conversation. There was apparently no effort to it; it was just an authentic talent, part of the essence and pattern of her mind. She said one in conversation that, as usual, I’d never heard before, and that was perfectly, self-evidently, true. About a week later I was at my desk trying to remember it when Jill happened to walk by. I stopped her, and said, “Jill! Jill. I was just trying to remember that thing you said last week. It was great. Do you remember it?”
Jill stopped, stood hip-shot facing me, looked kind of pityingly at me for a few seconds, and said, “If it’s important, write it down.” Turned and walked away without another word. It was a defining moment. That wasn’t it, I knew that, but it was more important, more memorable than whatever it was she had actually said. Before Jill left the District for another job, I asked her to write it down and sign it. It’s still stapled to my wall. I follow it religiously. I recommend you do it too. Because, you never know. That Kersey-inspired habit has proved determining more than once.
A Salesman Who Listened
Another I learned from my dad. He was a salesman for many years, but he had the peculiar habit—for a salesman—of listening. Actually, it’s a bit of a peculiar habit I’ve noticed, for people in general.
Many people have come to me over the years with problems. Usually what they bring does not result in or qualify as a formal grievance*. More often it’s a problem, and I’d be hard put to think of a single one that wasn’t an interpersonal problem, either with a supervisor or a coworker. What I do is listen (like my father, through his example, taught me).
Invariably, they want to tell me the story. So, I listen. It always involves some pretty strong feelings. Sometimes they cry. This is natural, never disturbs me, and I always keep Kleenex. Don’t think it’s just women who occasionally cry. It’s men, too. I usually don’t. I don’t think it would be particularly helpful if I did.
At some point, after the initial story, I start to employ what I learned from De Anza chief steward, Paula Joseph. Paula has a very extensive background prior to De Anza in personnel management. Paula pointed out to me, in one of our first conversations, that everybody wants to tell you their story, but what she wants and needs to know in order to be effective is “What Happened.” That is, the facts of the matter. I make it a practice to listen, mostly without interrupting until the story is told, thus relieving the sometimes unbearable tension of the situation for the worker who has carried this burden thus far and wants to deliver it to me in full. Plop. That done, I start to fill in my knowledge of the story with clarifying questions, all aimed at answering the essential Josephian question: “WWhathat Happened.”
Many times my coworker will talk it all out, answer all my “what happened” questions, talk some more, and basically arrive at a remedy for the situation they brought–largely through their own analysis–and go away thinking rather well of me. Often the result almost convinces me that I did something truly efficacious, and that I should continue my good work, at least for awhile.
But I won’t be doing this that much longer, so this message is for you: if you can remember the job description (see the second paragraph), if you can listen and think and ask good questions, and if you find you are mostly all grown up, then you might consider being my replacement someday. I’m not at the point yet where I hesitate to buy green bananas, but you may have noticed I’m not getting any younger here. You’re out there, I know, so you better start thinking about it. Don’t worry about stepping into my shoes. Bring your own. Cowboy boots might be good. I’ve got a pair. They make me taller.
* Formal grievance: an alleged violation or misapplication of our Agreement.
by Bradley Booth, Attorney, ACE
There is some confusion over management’s ability to assign the work performed by classified employees. They have the absolute right to assign your work. Management retains the right to assign work to employees in the proper classification. The only possible restriction on this right would be found in three separate place, the Government Code, the Education Code and the Collective Bargaining agreement between Foothill-De Anza Community College District and ACE.
A review of those documents indicates no prohibition on management’s right to assign work. The Government Code merely defines what are mandatory matters for bargaining. Assignment of work is not enumerated as a mandatory matter of bargaining. The Government Code goes on to state at section 3543.2 (4), that if a matter is not enumerated, that matter is reserved to the public school employer and may not be a subject of meeting and negotiating.
That doesn’t mean that the District can make you do work out of your classification without paying you more, nor does it mean it can assign you more work than you can do in your 8 hours of work. It also means that you shouldn’t work through your breaks and lunch break as these are mandated by law and cannot be negotiated away. If you have any of these problems please contact ACE immediately and we will intervene on your behalf and get the matter resolved.
The staff of Foothill-De Anza are fortunate to have union and senate leaders who recognize the benefits of working together to improve staff welfare. We work in a complementary fashion, often serving on the same committees but performing different functions. By clearly understanding each organization’s charter, we ensure that classified employees have input into the participatory governance process while at the same time are assured that classified bargaining rights are protected.
All classified staff whose positions fall under ACE.
Mandatory; only full dues-paying members may represent ACE on committees.
All classified staff regardless of their bargaining unit affiliation.
Mandatory. .95% of base monthly salary for full-dues members; .85% for service fee payers.
Only full dues-paying members are eligible to vote.
All classified staff.
ACE is the exclusive bargaining agent for unit members.
The Classified Senate is a professional organization that supports, facilitates, implements and promotes awareness of participatory governance policy.
To focus on collective bargaining issues such as wages and benefits and issues pertaining to working conditions.
- Wages, including salary schedule and placement, service recognition awards, professional growth awards, promotions, seniority, layoff and re-employment rights, initial classification and reclassification.
- Hours of employment, including pre-retirement reductions.
- Health and welfare benefits, including holidays and vacations.
- Leaves, transfer and reassignment policies, including sick leaves, bereavement leaves, military leaves, industrial accident leaves, personal necessity leaves, and unpaid leaves of absence.
- Safety conditions of employment, including district-initiated disability leaves.
- Procedures to be used for the evaluation of employees.
- Procedures for processing grievances and disciplinary actions.
- Selecting from its membership representatives to serve on governance and district/college committees specific to bargaining issues such as hiring committees for classified positions and campus/district budget committees.
- Provide a means of communication between classified staff and the college community regarding contractual issues.
To focus on issues related to the participatory governance policy and to ensure equal representation on campus committees, projects and issues.
- The voice of classified staff with regards to participatory governance, including work on college accreditation.
- Appointment of classified staff on campus committees that review non-restrictive policies, procedures, practices and needs assessments, such as equity and basic skills committees.
- Development and implementation of classified staff professional development.
- Provide a means of communication between classified staff and the college community on participatory governance issues.
With the exception of the ACE President, every classified staff member who serves on behalf of ACE or one of the Senates does so in addition to their full-time FHDA job. See the links below for a complete list of officers for each organization.
- ACE, click here.
- Central Services Classified Senate, click here.
- De Anza Classified Senate, click here.
- Foothill Classified Senate, click here.
Classification Study: Reminders
by Chris White, ACE President
The consultants are developing draft job classifications from information collected through the PDQs and follow-up interviews. Draft job classifications will be presented at an undetermined date in fall quarter and staff will have an opportunity to provide feedback in this process.
- We have already agreed with the district that NO ONE will go down, in pay or classification, as result of the consultants findings. Read that again. One more time and pass it on.
- Classifications are generalized and not every word from the PDQs will be on the final classification description. Positions and classification are two words that are often thought of as interchangeable; but in fact have very different meanings. In a classification plan, a position is assigned a group of duties and responsibilities performed by one person. A classification may contain only one position, or may consist of a number positions. When there are several positions assigned to one classification, it means the same title is appropriate for each position because the scope, level, duties, and responsibilities of each position assigned to the classification are sufficiently similar (but not necessarily identical); the same core knowledge, skills, and other requirements are appropriate for all positions; and the same salary range is equitable for all positions.
- The goals for this project: To align job descriptions with the current roles and responsibilities of classified employees, create career ladders were appropriate, and conduct a market analysis of compensation in similar or like jobs in other districts.