What We Know
Welcome to fall quarter. I hope you were able to take some time this summer and do things you like with people you love. The start of a new academic year always ushers in feelings of excitement, opportunity, and for some, a bit of nervousness too. Based on the phone calls and emails I have received following Chancellor Miner’s August 29 email regarding the Districts continuing budget challenges, Fall 2017 seems to bring with it an extra set of concerns.
Concerns primarily around the approved FHDA budget which cuts $10 million over the next three years. This reduction is from six years of enrollment decline. The District has set reduction targets of $2 million for this year (17/18), $3 million in 18/19 and $5 million for 19/20. Chancellor Miner, “these targets are based on projections that enrollments will be flat or declining by no more than 1% over the next three years. The targets will be reviewed quarterly for any changes in key assumptions, so they may be adjusted.” It makes sense, you can’t continue to spend more than you make. How those cuts are supposed to be made, and what happens if there is a decline of more than 1%, is less clear. For ACE, we focus on what we know.
We know that the governor’s 17/18 budget included ongoing increases to base apportionment funding and a small COLA. The total increase from these funding sources could offset the $6 million loss FHDA took in 16/17 due to a larger than anticipated enrollment decline but it doesn’t address the revenue losses from previous years. We also know some operational costs, like health care and PERS/STRS contributions paid by the District, are increasing annually and contribute to the budget deficit. We know reductions need to come from ongoing revenue sources and the $40 million set aside in one-time funds do not impact the approved $2 million permanent reduction for 17/18. They do buy the District more time to regain enrollment losses and increase ongoing revenue.
We know the colleges have developed and begun implementing comprehensive plans to increase enrollment which include reaching out to new audiences, creating new programs, and meeting student demands with more online options. The small increase in ongoing funding from the State and the colleges detailed plans to address enrollment – see the FHDA Board of Trustee meeting from September 11 for more details – leave us cautiously optimistic the tides may turn. We also know everyone could help increase enrollment simply by taking a class. As an added bonus, it is also the quickest way to earn hours towards your Professional Growth Award (PGA).
We know management gets to determine how they want to address budget shortfalls. We know our role is to respond to, and minimize, any impact budget reduction decisions may have on our members. We also know how many open positions the District carries forward each year, some vacant for years. We know how much the District spends annually on temporary workers in ACE positions. We know the contributions ACE and the other collective bargaining groups made during the last budget shortfall to help the District save $40 million in one-time funds. In short, we know the District has more than enough cushion in ongoing funds, and should not have to not cut any filled ACE positions, to absorb the $2 million reduction for 17/18. Fall 2017 enrollment will be a significant indicator on how we approach 18/19 and beyond.
We know none of this makes it any less stressful to staff who have historically been impacted when budget reductions need to be made. Until we know specifically how the budget will affect ACE members, we continue to do the work we have always done. In this issue we have provided examples of our work on behalf of members and the membership as a whole. This work doesn’t stop regardless of the state of the budget. Our classification study continues. It is a little behind schedule but the sample recommendations provided by the consultants last week prove promising. More details below. The negotiations team received good feedback from the survey sent out in early August. They are working on how best to address the issues and suggestions provided by you. Look for more from them in early November. In the meantime, if you have questions, comments, concerns or suggestions about the budget or any other issue, please do not hesitate to reach out to myself or any member of the ACE executive board.
Chris White, ACE President
(650) 949-7789, office
New De Anza Chief Steward
ACE is pleased to announce the appointment of Erika Flores as chief steward for De Anza. Before coming to De Anza, Erika served for over two years as a steward with SEIU representing members at the non-profit youth serving agency where she worked. She joined De Anza in 2016 as a program coordinator II for the Student Success and Support Program. Erika is your first point of contact for ACE on the De Anza campus, so please take a moment to introduce yourself. On behalf of the ACE executive board, we are confident that you’re in good hands.
Erika’s office is DA Admin 105 and she can be reached at ext. 5730 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Has ACE Done Lately?
by Chris White, ACE President
Hand’s First Law, 1976
Chief Steward Art Hand, Foothill
Never has this quote rang more true than during my tenure as president of ACE. Some of the issues we address are resolved quickly, but for many others, resolution seems to move at a glacial pace. And when the issues are confidential in nature and we can’t, and won’t, discuss them openly it is easy to think nothing is getting done. The list below, by no means exhaustive, is a good example of the work ACE has done since January of 2016 for individual members and the membership as a whole.
Individual Member Assistance
- Prevented duties in a members’ job classification from being reassigned to their supervisor.
- Assisted a member in getting paid retroactively for working out of class. Assisted several other members in getting their working out of class paperwork evaluated and through the approval process in a timely manner.
- Assisted several members in removing formal written reprimands from their permanent file when the district failed to follow progressive steps of discipline.
- Assisted a couple of members in obtaining work site accommodations so they would be able to perform their work.
- Restored vacation leave to a member who had been incorrectly required by the district to use it before they could use parental leave.
- Assisted a member in transferring sick leave accrued at another PERS institution.
- On multiple occasions, successfully mediated issues between members and their supervisors, where there was no Agreement violation, to help establish a more productive working environment.
- Assisted a member in setting up a payment plan for benefits used by the employee but the District failed to deduct from their paycheck and wanted reimbursement paid in full immediately.
- Prevented a position elimination during a department reorganization when the proposed new position was the same work the affected employee had previously been compensated for working out of class but the department didn’t want to permanently reclassify.
- Clarified the process to a supervisor when they incorrectly invited another manager to evaluate their employee.
- Assisted two (2) members in securing resignation and/or retirement in lieu of termination.
- Answered general questions regarding Agreement interpretation, management’s right of assignment, and health and fringe benefits for 15 to 20 members each month.
ACE General Membership
- Launched the classification study which included conducting two (2) general session kick-off meetings, hosting six (6) PDQ assistance workshops and scheduling over 200 follow-up interviews to make certain members had an opportunity to provide input in the process if they chose to do so.
- Converted five (5) classified hourly positions to permanent positions to eliminate an excessive use of district-funded student workers in the area.
- Met with FHDA Chancellor on several occasions in addition to meeting with four of the FHDA Board of Trustees to discuss issues affecting ACE members.
- Successfully negotiated several key items including: no increase to employee health care premiums for the second year in a row; added a holiday in December; established a hiring process for internal candidates to be considered before external ones in open positions; reduced the 2-year wait period to one year before advancing from step 6 to step 7 on the salary schedule; and secured increases to travel and conference funding and educational assistance.
- Permanently reduced member dues by 10% and forgave dues for two months.
- Added a member education component to monthly site meetings to cover topics related to our Agreement. Topics have included: What ACE does, voluntary transfer process, sick leave vs. personal leave, comp time vs. overtime, summer working hours, employee performance evaluations, staff development leave, progressive steps of discipline, travel and conference funding, stewarding, and the difference between ACE and the Senates.
- Re-instituted the ACE Report, a monthly newsletter covering updates pertinent to ACE members and their employment with FHDA as well as topics discussed at site meetings.
- Sponsored and coordinated member training covering CalPERS, PGA’s, educational assistance, and travel and conference funding.
- Instituted quarterly steward training with ACE attorney and labor representative to better represent our members.
- Established an orientation to meet new employees and introduce them to ACE.
Representation of Members
by Anthony Booth, Labor Representative
Disputes between the public employer and the exclusive bargaining representative must be resolved either through an unfair labor practice charge before the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), through an arbitration provision found in the collective bargaining agreement or through Superior Court, depending upon the issue.
When the District violates any section of the collective bargaining agreement, a grievance is filed. The steps to file a grievance are laid out in Article 12 of the Agreement.
If there is ultimately no agreement between the association and the district through the grievance process, an impartial arbitrator is brought in to settle the dispute.
Common contract violations include:
- 16.4 – Skipping one of the steps of the progressive steps of discipline.
- 7.10.3 – Not sharing negative documentation with employee before putting in evaluation.
- 13.2.3 – Supervisors forcing employees to take comp. time instead of overtime.
Unfair Labor Practice Charge
An unfair labor practice charge is filed with the PERB when the association believes that an employee is being treated differently because of their membership in a union, which is a protected activity. It will also be filed when the district acts unilaterally when they should be bargaining the issue with ACE.
- coercive questioning of employees regarding their union activity;
- threatening employees or discriminating against employees because they participated in union activities;
- promising benefits to employees if they refuse to participate in union activity; or
- implementing a new rule that affects working conditions like in 2010 when the district tried to implement furlough days to balance the budget without negotiating with ACE.
When a dispute between the Association and the District relates specifically to the interpretation of specific statutory language, it falls within the exclusive purview of the courts. For ACE, most of these disputes are around interpretation of the CA Education Code.
The enabling statute for the Public Education Employment Act, Government Code sections 3540 et. seq. specifically states: “This chapter shall not supersede other provisions of the California Education Code…”, meaning, for ACE, the CA ed code is seen as the main governing law.
The Courts and PERB have determined that the PERB has no jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of the CA ed code. Therefore, even if there is agreement language regarding an employee’s right to re-employment, that language cannot diminish the rights afforded employees under the CA ed code. For example, a laid-off member on the 39-month re-employment list applied for a lateral or lower class position different from the position which they were laid off. They met the basic qualifications set forth in the official job description but weren’t chosen for the job. ACE filed suit and argued CA ed code and the courts state such a laid-off worker shall be offered the job over an applicant not currently with the district. The district argued our Agreement was the standard to decide this issue because it had language specifically covering reemployment rights and none of it covered workers in positions other than ones which they held permanency. The result? The laid-off worker was reinstated in the position which they applied with full back pay and all rights and benefits restored. Simply put, the CA ed code is the base and cannot be violated.
Representation: No Lawsuit or Agreement Issue
ACE is your advocate!
There are times when there is no power given to us through the law and an issue is not covered in the Agreement. In these cases, a lawsuit or a grievance would not be the appropriate action. However, we still do all we can to help you solve your issues. This includes:
- Listening. Finding out what happened to see what our best course of action may be.
- Mediation. Meeting with you and your supervisor to try and resolve the issue.
- Advocate. Working directly with human resources to try find a solution.
In these instances, there is no obligation on management to work with us and our power of persuasion is put to the test.
Development Opportunities Training
- Tues., Oct. 10: 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. | FH Hearthside
- Thurs., Nov. 3: 12 – 1:30 p.m. | DA MLC 246
Classification Study: Update & Reminders
by Chris White, ACE President
The Joint Labor Management Classification Committee (JLMCC) met with the consultants last week for an update. Gathering information from supervisor/administrators has been a little slower than anticipated – through no fault of the consultants – and they are just beginning the process of developing draft job classification and they anticipate this to take 4-6 weeks. This means we are behind schedule from the original timeline and the draft job classification should be ready for review beginning of November. Staff will have an opportunity to provide feedback in this process.
The preliminary information provided by the consultants at the Sept. 13 meeting was very promising. The four main themes from their work include: consolidating classifications which do the same work; title changes to more accurately reflect the current market; creation and/or elimination of classifications to reflect the work currently being done or not being done; and establishment of career ladders where applicable. The JLMCC still needs to meet and negotiate the effects of any changes to the classification structure, like combining classifications and what it means for seniority, etc. We won’t address the compensation portion until the consultants have agreement from us on the content of the classification descriptions.
- 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.
- Authority: A Joint Labor Management Classification Committee (JLMCC) was established to negotiate this process. Representing ACE are Cathleen Monsell, chair of negotiations, Chris White, ACE president, and Bradley Booth, attorney for ACE. Representing the District are Myisha Washington from human resources, Lisa Mandy, De Anza administrator, and Kevin Harral, Foothill administrator. Neither side has more authority and the consultants report to the committee. ACE and the District mutually agreed to the selection of Koff & Associates after independent research and reference checks.