Happy New Year. At first glance, 2019 appears to be another challenging year but look a little closer and there are reasons to be encouraged. Potentially good news surrounding layoffs and temporary relief brought by the new state funding formula could minimize the actual reductions the District has to make. Challenges surrounding reorganization and the classification study remain. These challenges are not insurmountable but will require communication, flexibility and whole lot of patience.
The District still needs to reduce its budget by $12 million dollars beginning July 1, 2019, but the actual number of layoffs to achieve this target has been significantly reduced. How?
First, ACE and the District agreed to a process for recruitment and hiring to retain as many vacancies as possible. ACE extended the use of temporary workers in vacant positions to help the District save money and leave vacant, but needed, positions open as an option for placing affected employees and minimize the impact of bumping.
Second, the Board of Trustees approved the Supplemental Retirement Plan (SPR), providing more vacancies and/or opportunity for savings. For ACE, there were 29 members who took advantage of this historic opportunity. I recognize what a difficult decision this was for many to make and, with potential position elimination, some felt they had no other choice. It is bittersweet (don’t get me started on the vast amount of institutional knowledge walking out the door) but the opportunity these vacancies provide to those who remain is significant.
Third, through the actual budget reduction process. De Anza set out with the intent to minimize the number of classified staff laid off. Using savings from vacant positions and retirements facilitated by the SRP as well as reorganizing to better align staffing with college goals, in her December 13 message, Interim President Espinosa-Pieb announced De Anza will not layoff any classified staff and still be able to meet their budget reduction target. To minimize bumping, human resources has been working with Foothill and Central Services to reach the same goal. They’re very close.
Fourth, the new funding formula from the state, which focuses on student success and access and includes a few years of hold-harmless funding, adds a few million to our revenue and gives the District a couple more years to stabilize enrollment. With the old funding formula additional cuts would have needed to me made.
Reorganization and Management Right of Assignment
As noted above, reorganization is necessary if the colleges and District are to meet their budget reduction targets, Critical vacancies need to be filled, changes in student demand, state mandates, and resources dictate we must operate different. Staffing can be affected by this in a couple different ways.
Through administrative reassignment (Article 7.4.2) which moves a worker from a position targeted for elimination to a different department to fill needs and avoid layoff.
Redistribution or prioritization of job duties different than previously handled to account for vacated positions which aren’t refilled or due to changing priorities. 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 but they do have the right to determine what work the want done. ACE’s role is to make certain they follow process outlined in CA ed code and our Agreement.
We have 98% of the classification descriptions approved and a significant portion of the compensation portion completed. At first glance, the results are promising. Now the Joint Labor Management Classification Committee needs to evaluate the results and determine how best to move forward. With budget reductions, do we wait? The District would like too but they can’t unilaterally decided to do so. This is a negotiated item and refusal to take any type of action would constitute an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) on their part. We should reject the notion that we only focus on reductions and any changes to improve how we operate, build better systems and processes, provide opportunity for growth and evaluate how we compensate workers must wait until this crisis is over. The goal for this study continues to be to align job descriptions with the current roles and responsibilities of classified employees, develop career ladders where appropriate, and conduct a market analysis of compensation in similar or like jobs in other districts. Our budget crisis is dictating we must change. We need the information collected through the study to help us better navigate and prioritize whatever that change ultimately turns out to be.
Taking all of this into consideration, I have a million questions about the specific, as i’m sure you do too, but for the moment I am cautiously optimistic the District won’t have to do any layoffs. That’s a huge change from December. With a little more patience, flexibility and compromise, perhaps we can be certain there are no layoffs.
Chris White, ACE President
(650) 949-7789, office
“The fight is never about lettuce or grapes. It is always about people”. – César Chávez
Interest Payment for Five Percent Salary Adjustment Delay
As you know, with ongoing technical difficulties and regulatory demands, the District will not be able to implement the five percent temporary salary adjustment until March. Turning our frustration and anger into action, ACE and the other bargaining units worked collectively to hold the District accountable and negotiated additional compensation for employees due to the delay in implementation.
The District has agreed:
- For every employee in active status as of January 2019, an interest payment of $160 will be included in January 2019 payroll.
- If, for any reason, the $160 is not included in the January 2019 payroll, the District will provide an interest payment of $170 in the February 2019 payroll.
- Employees who separated from the District in December 2018 will receive an additional $100 when they receive their retroactive pay from the five-percent increase.
- If the District cannot implement the agreed upon five-percent increase for 2018-18 by March 1, 2019, including all associated pay retroactive to July 2018, the District shall notify all bargaining units of the additional delay by March 1, 2019 and shall propose additional monetary consideration to address the continuing delay.
At the first negotiations meeting, held December 11, the newly elected team appointed Cathleen Monsell to serve as Chair of Negotiations for the duration of the Agreement. The chair serves as a member of the ACE Executive Board, coordinates meetings with the negotiating team and the District, provides updates to the membership, and serves on the Joint Labor Management Benefits Committee.
The team is developing a survey to solicit membership feedback on items to negotiate. Look for it in late January/early February. Your feedback is important.
A couple things to keep in mind regarding negotiations:
- It’s a pay-to-play system. We have to give something to get something.
- Items involving financial consideration are impacted by the Governor’s state budget proposal (the draft is released in late January and finalized in mid May) and the District’s financial health.
Staff Development Leave Committee Member Needed
ACE needs a representative for the Staff Development Leave (SDL) Committee. This committee is comprised of members from ACE, CSEA, POA, Teamsters and human resources and works collectively to approve SDLs for qualified members. The committee meets in early February to review and approve applications and then works by email to approve updates/changes to approved leaves throughout the year.
If you are interested in serving, please contact Chris White by this Friday, January 11.
Please note this is a district wide committee and requires members to be able to attend meetings on the Foothill campus.
At the December 12 board meeting, the ACE Executive Board authorized up to $50,000 for our attorney to pursue legal action against CalPERS regarding their determination the five-percent salary adjustment for 2018-19 did not qualify as pensionable income. Following CalPERS rules, the negotiated temporary salary increase was purposely placed on the salary schedule so it would qualify as regular pensionable income. Why CalPERS has determined it does not qualify is puzzling, particularly since CalSTRS has determined it does and both agencies are subject to the same pension reform rules.
Why does it matter?
Simply put, increases in compensation impact your final retirement benefit. As the state changes our funding formula, including how cost of living adjustments (COLA) are allocated, they affect all community colleges and could mean we negotiate salary increases for a single year vs. an ongoing basis, at east through the hold harmless phase of the new funding structure. That change should not be detrimental to workers retirement benefits.
Why is ACE taking legal action and not the District?
CalPERS decision affects employees in all bargaining units as well as administrators. I can’t answer why the District chose not to take a more aggressive response on behalf of their employees but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. Often, one group has to lead the fight which benefits many, a core concept of labor unions. You should know our attorney doesn’t recommend legal action unless they strongly believe they have a winning case. They don’t want to waste our time or money. The funds authorized here are meant to cover court filing fees, expert testimony and any other cost associated with pursuing this action, excluding our attorney’s time to represent ACE in this action.That is covered under the monthly stipend we pay them.
As new officers begin their tenure in January, I wanted to take a moment to thank a couple of ACE board members who will be stepping down or changing roles.
Annette Perez will be changing roles with ACE, moving from treasurer to board member, Central Services. Serving as treasurer since ACE was incorporated in 2009, Annette has been steadfast in her role to make certain we are responsible with members’ dues and ensuring the fiscal health of ACE. Lucky for us, she isn’t stepping down all together and will serve as a board member so we can continue to benefit from her experience and insight.
Scott Olsen has served as board member for Central Services since January of 2017. In that short period of time he has shown himself to put the interest of members first and always operated from the position of improving ACE for our membership as a whole. Scott will continue to work on some special projects on behalf of ACE and I am certain he will remain a key contributing member of this organization for years to come.
ACE strives to have a vibrant, active and engaged membership. Knowledgeable, well versed, engaged stewards are essential to the success of an engaged membership. Stewards primary roles are to:
- enforce our Agreement;
- represent workers in grievance and disciplinary proceedings; and
- build relationships with members and management in the workplace.
Elected by the membership to two-year terms, ACE stewards serve in addition to their full-time FHDA job. The position is voluntary with ACE providing an optional $250 monthly stipend. However, most don’t do this work for the money. They do it because they want to help their colleagues.
Per our Agreement, release time is granted so stewards can meet with workers and management to resolve issues. It is important to remember there are no definitive answers on the best way to approach an issue but stewards start from the point of view that they will represent a member fairly, in good faith, and without discrimination by:
- listening to all points of view carefully;
- working with people on their problems;
- knowing when to tell management or members they are wrong and saying so (politely);
- securing the facts;
- knowing when to ask for help; and
- understanding the members and supervisors as individuals.
Article 5.3 of the ACE Constitution clearly defines the role of steward with our organization. Article 6 of our Agreement grants stewards the right to leave their permanent assignment during work time to perform the duties of a steward.
Article 5.3 Steward(s) – ACE Constitution
Chief Stewards from each location are elected to office as part of the Executive Board as described in Article 10. Up to six (6) additional stewards are appointed by the Executive Board. Stewards serve until they resign their position or are removed by action of the Executive Board and/or the Chief Steward. Stewards are members in good standing.
a. Duties of the Chief Stewards
- Chair the Stewards Council and report activities of Stewards to the Executive Board in closed session.
- Be responsible for recruiting stewards and presenting candidates to the Executive Board for approval.
b. Duties of the Chief Stewards and Steward(s)
- Represent their respective jurisdiction in all membership meetings in the absence of the members.
- Be the first line of contact with administrative or supervisory staff subject to this Constitution.
- Be responsible for the enforcement of all applicable collective bargaining agreements in their respective jurisdictions.
- Be responsible for holding management accountable for all applicable safety and occupational health laws, rules and regulations, and are responsible for notifying appropriate administrative or supervisory staff of unsafe working conditions.
- Shall have copies of the Constitution and all necessary working agreements available at all times.
Stewardship requires subordination of personal interests to those interests that represent the highest good of the members. Stewards shall have no greater rights than any other member of the ACE.
Article 6- Steward(s) – ACE Agreement
6.1 Number –The District recognizes the right of the Union to designate up to 14 stewards and 14 alternates provided that an alternate will be released to perform the duties of a steward only when the steward is unable to perform those duties.
6.2 Notification – Once a year, the Union shall notify the Director of Human Resources, with a copy to the supervisor, of the names of the stewards and alternates and the group they represent. If a change is made, the District shall be advised in writing of such change.
6.3 Leaving His/Her Assignment – After notifying her/his immediate supervisor, the steward shall be permitted to leave her/his normal work during reasonable times in order to assist in informal resolution of potential grievances and in investigation, preparation, writing, and presentation of grievances. The stewards shall advise the supervisor of the grievant of her/his presence.
The steward is permitted to discuss any problem with all workers immediately concerned, and, if appropriate, to attempt to achieve settlement in accordance with the grievance procedure, if possible on an informal basis.
6.4 Emergencies – If, due to a bonafide emergency, an adequate level of service cannot be maintained in the absence of a steward where he/she is requested to assist, the steward shall be permitted to leave her/his normal work only after the emergency no longer exists.
6.5 Authority – Stewards shall have the authority to file grievances as specified in Article 12, Section 12.2.2.
If you’re interesting in serving as chief steward or stewarding in general, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.