Budget, A Bond, and What’s Next
2018 is shaping up to be a roller coaster year. Potentially good budget news from the state is tempered by District enrollment and budget challenges. How could a bond help? As our classification study moves forward, questions remain regarding the impact proposed changes could have on budget reductions.
The governor’s 2018-19 budget includes $175 million to support each districts’ transition to a new student-centered funding model. For FHDA, this could mean an additional $2.4 million in ongoing funds but what it will take to meet the new funding model is largely unknown. A $2.51% cost of living adjustment (COLA) is also included and would bring approximately $2.8 million to FHDA. The COLA comes with an expectation that it help address PERS/STRS (pension) cost increases to the district. There are additional ongoing funds for growth (highly unlikely FHDA would qualify) as well as the new California College Promise. $265 million in one-time funding for maintenance and instructional support (approximately $4.6 million for FHDA) should also help off-set costs that would otherwise have to be covered by our general fund. The key take away here? The state has money but it will not continue to fund business as usual.
Since we are funded by the state as a district, and not two distinct colleges, this means the colleges must work more collaboratively to ensure student success. For example, no longer should it be ok that a student has to apply to both colleges to complete their degree when there are gaps in course offerings at their main college. This type of barrier does nothing to encourage a student to take a needed class within our district. We can’t afford to lose the enrollment. Now think about how this could be applied to financial aid or assessment or class scheduling. It would be a fundamental shift in the way we, as a District, operate. It is more complicated than simply flipping a switch but the edict from the state that student success and completion are the priority has been clear for the past 5 years and doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. Is FHDA up to the challenge? We need to be.
The proposed bond mentioned in Chancellor Miner’s memo could also bring some relief to the District’s general fund. Bonds are restricted funds used for repair, construction or replacement of school facilities. Salaries from employees directly working with the bond – typically in finance or technology positions – can be partially covered by bond funds. In 2012, during the worst of our last budget reduction cycle, $3 million in FHDA salary expenses were offset by bond funds saving a dozen or more positions which were slated for reduction. The bond can also cover general replacement costs, like the new computer you are scheduled to receive every five years, that would otherwise need to come from the general fund. While this source of funding isn’t meant to be on-going in perpetuity, it is more stable that rolling over one-time funds and gives us time to rebuild enrollment.
What does it mean in terms of budget reductions? The District is still committed to no reductions in the 2017-18 year (which ends June 30, 2018) and half of the $10 million reduction must be implemented by June 30, 2019. Could that mean July 1, 2018 cuts start? Anything is possible. This my fourth budget reduction – previous reductions have been as large as this one – and I have yet to see the colleges or district move that quickly, The process of identifying specific cuts is campus specific and, at some point, typically runs through the participatory process. Before any reduction affecting personnel or program elimination can take place, they must be approved by the board of trustees. That simply takes time.
To date, ACE has not been informed of any plans other than the general reduction amounts presented to the board of trustees in the fall. By law, the District is required to notify ACE at least 75 days, but no less than 70 days, before any layoff can occur. The only thing we know at this point, with continued enrollment decline the reduction amount might change. Savings from unfilled positions or costs offset by other one-time funding sources help buy time but they don’t change the need to cut ongoing expenses. Currently, as a cost savings measure, the District has committed to reviewing all vacant positions before refilling them. While it seems counter intuitive to hire when there may be reductions, the District is filling positions they’ve identified as necessary at this time. During the last reduction cycle, working with the District, ACE was successful in placing many affected workers into vacant positions when they did not have any right to the position but were otherwise qualified to do the job. Once positions are identified for elimination, it is our intention to try and do the same this time around.
I recognize all of this provides little solace, especially to newer members who may feel more vulnerable during these uncertain times. When there is a lack of funds or a lack of work, management has an absolute right to eliminate any position they choose. ACE’s role is to make certain they follow process outlined in CA ed code and our Agreement and work to mitigate any impact reductions may have on as few members as possible. Over the next couple of months ACE will be going over what layoffs and seniority mean and what we are doing to retain as many people as possible. This will take some creativity, flexibility and patience on all of our parts. To start, we will answer the two most pressing questions:
- Can you be laid off without warning? No. In virtually all circumstances, classified employees, even probationary employees, must receive at least a 60-day advance notice of a proposed layoff by state law (CA Ed Code 88017(b)). The notice must inform you of your bumping rights, if any, and return rights.
- What is seniority? Read the article below and attend this month’s site meeting for more information.
The other significant factor which could affect your position is the classification study. We have a date to receive the draft class descriptions – read the article below but spoiler alert, it’s January 31 – along with an updated timeline for completion. I understand people are concerned about changes to their classification under the best of circumstances. Budget reductions add an additional layer of stress and leave questions like: “How will I be affected? What happens to my seniority if my classification changes? Am I more vulnerable to layoff?” I can’t guarantee anyone will not be impacted by budget reductions, but I truly believe this classification study is an improvement over our current system in terms of increasing fairness with how jobs compare across the District, as well as how they generally compare to the market. If positions are consolidated, it should help reduce arbitrary and capricious position elimination as it requires management to focus on the work needed to address student success and enrollment growth as opposed to who they do or do not like. An updated assessment of the work being performed helps us negotiate where the work can go when a position is eliminated, and an updated classification structure should make it more difficult for management to create classifications with new titles which perform the same duties as eliminated classifications to avoid reinstating workers with reemployment rights.
Moving forward, rumors about reductions will take shape and misinformation will spread. Before you pass it on, ask yourself how you know something to be true? If it is about a position elimination or a concession affecting your pay and you didn’t hear it from ACE, it’s a rumor. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please ask me or any other ACE board member. We will always do our best to address your concerns and share what we know when we can.
Chris White, ACE President
(650) 949-7789, office
With budget reductions a looming reality for the District, the question of seniority has come up several times from members. What is it and how does it work? Below is a quick primer.
The concept of seniority comes from CA Education Code 88127 “… Whenever a classified employee is laid off, the order of layoff within the class shall be determined by length of service. The employee who has been employed the shortest time in the class, plus higher classes, shall be laid off first. Reemployment shall be in the reverse order of layoff”. “Length of service” means all hours in paid status, whether during the school year, a holiday, recess or any period that a school is in session or closed, but does not include hours worked in overtime.
A few facts about seniority:
- Your seniority is attached to your permanent classification. This often doubles as your working title, i.e. program coordinator II, financial aid outreach coordinator, etc. Sometimes people amend their working title to clarify their role for the audience they serve, eg. Student Employment Coordinator as opposed to the general financial aid coordinator classification. This title change is not a change to your permanent classification.
- Your salary level – 41, 48, 52 – corresponds to the salary you earn and could be attributed to several different classifications. It is not a factor in determining seniority.
- Seniority is not affected by how your position is funded, i.e. general funds, categorical funds, grant funded etc.
- Seniority comparisons are district wide. If a Widget Maker II were laid off, we would look at all Widget Maker II positions across the district to determine seniority rankings and not just the campus where a position is being eliminated.
- Your seniority is tracked by the number of hours you earn in a classification for which you hold or have held permanency. The clock starts from your date of hire. It is cumulative for any position which you hold or have held permanency. If you were a Widget Maker I for two years and six months ago moved to the Widget Maker II classification, you would continue to earn seniority for the Widget Maker I classification. In other words, you’d have earned 2 years and 6 months seniority in the WMI classification and 6 months seniority in the WM II classification.
- When you work out of class, you do not earn seniority for the working out of class position unless you are directly hired into the position where you have been working out of class (Article 8.9.3). You continue to earn seniority in the classification which you hold permanency.
- Temporary employees do not earn seniority and have no rights to any classification in which they’ve worked during their temporary status, even if they are eventually hired permanently into the position. In other words, no time spent working as a temporary employee will be counted towards seniority.
How does the classification study affect seniority?
There are three possible outcomes to classification as a result of this study.
- Consolidating classifications which do the same work;
- Title changes to more accurately reflect the current market; and
- The creation and/or elimination of classifications to reflect the work currently being done or not being done.
If a classification is eliminated, any worker in the affected classification will carry all of their seniority from the eliminated classification to their newly assigned classification. Any worker who is placed in a new classification but their previous classification remains will begin to earn seniority in their new classification while continuing to earn seniority in their old classification. This is no different than what happens under our current classification structure when a position is reclassified or a worker moves to a new classification.
Classification Study: Updated Timeline
by Chris White, ACE President
January 31. The date our classification consultants are expected to deliver the draft class descriptions to the Joint Labor Management Classification Committee (JLMCC). Draft class description distribution to members should occur mid February with review and any informal appeals completed by March 31. In other words, you will have an opportunity to provide feedback. Finalization of classification descriptions should be completed by June 30. For the compensation study, the consultants have provided a preliminary list of comparison agencies. ACE and the District must agree on which comparison agencies to use and ACE would like more clarification from the consultants on their selection process before we move forward on this portion. To address this, a meeting has been scheduled.
When reviewing the draft class descriptions it is important to remember classifications are generalized and not every word from the PDQs will be on the final class 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.
When positions are classified, the focus is on assigned job duties and the job-related requirements for successful performance, not on individual employee capabilities or amount of work performed. Positions are evaluated and classified based on such factors as knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform the work, the complexity of the work, the authority delegated to make decisions and take action, the responsibility for the work of others and/or for budget expenditures, contacts with others (both inside and outside of the organization), and the impact of the position on the organization and working conditions. A class description is a summary document that does not list each duty performed by every employee.
Which brings me to my next point – subject matter expertise. ACE and the District mutually agreed to the selection of Koff & Associates after independent research and reference checks. These consultants bring a vast amount of knowledge and experience to the table that internal employees lack. As you review your draft class description it is critical that you keep the points listed above in mind, especially if a recommendation includes a title change or consolidation of classifications or a reduction in minimum qualifications and you might interpret the recommendation as a “downgrade” of a position. It is worth noting again, 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.
Ultimately, you have the final say and none of the recommendations may be implemented without a vote from our members. It is our goal is to have as many concerns and issues addressed before we get to a vote.
- 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.
Wanted: Foothill Chief Steward
by Chris White, ACE President
I’ve been in denial for a while but i’m slowly coming to accept the fact that our Foothill Chief Steward, Art Hand, will be retiring at the end March. To take advantage of Mr. Hand’s twenty-something years of stewarding, we’re beginning the search now for his replacement. Read on to find out what it takes to be a steward and next steps in the selection process.
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 me, firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, February 9. It would be great to have a replacement selected by the end of February.