Fact vs. Fiction
When change hits, the first instinct for many is to run to colleagues or their supervisor for more information. Unfortunately, what we find there isn’t always accurate, and it’s all too easy to accidentally spread false narratives. With the current state surrounding budget reductions, it’s time to separate fact from fiction.
The colleges and District have determined how they’re going to reduce their budget. With a few filled, and many vacant, positions slated for elimination as well as restructuring, the $12.6 million dollar reduction may not be as large as originally anticipated but it is still a painful process. For ACE positions this means:
- De Anza has one (1) filled position slated for elimination but the employee elected to take the supplemental retirement plan (SRP);
- Central Services has one (1) filled position slated for elimination; and
- Foothill has three (3) filled positions slated for elimination with no bumping rights, two (2) filled positions slated for elimination with bumping rights, two (2) filled positions slated for elimination but the employees elected to take the SRP, and six (6) filled positions which will be administratively reassigned.
The colleges made their decisions through participatory governance and executive management discretion. ACE has no input in this process. Our role is to respond to the proposals as appropriate.
- De Anza made their decision primarily through participatory governance and some executive management decisions. Their final recommendation was approved here.
- Central Services made their decision by executive management.
- Foothill made their reduction decisions by executive management. Right now the administration is collecting input from participatory governance representative groups regarding their proposed changes. The administration has also provided alternatives should the College Advisory Council reject the proposed changes which could alter who is affected by these reductions. The Council will make their final decision on February 8. To be clear, ACE was given advance notice regarding their proposed reductions in late September and we asked senior management to wait a week so we could informally let our affected members know before anything was publicly announced. This was primarily due to the fact that 95 percent of those affected were eligible for the SRP. The choice not to share specific information with Foothill representative groups until late January/early February was made by the College Advisory Council at their October 5, 2018 meeting, not by ACE.
ACE worked with the human resources, by allowing the use of temporary employees, to hold positions open for affected employees.
- Human resources has opened priority recruitment to internal applicants only. These positions have been identified by the colleges and District to be critical to operations. As they fill and other positions are vacated, it gives the colleges and District an opportunity to reevaluate their reduction choices and, hopefully, rescind filled positions slated for elimination.
- The District has a goal to fill these positions by the end of February. If no internal candidates apply or are selected for these positions, the District will move to open them to external applicants.
Management has the right of assignment subject to the Agreement. They can choose which positions are eliminated or reassigned. An administrative reassignment is not a layoff, therefore seniority and bumping rights do not apply. ACE’s role is to make certain the work assigned is appropriate to the classification and that seniority lists are accurate. Our classifications are bargained, so this part takes a minute to sort out what duties stay, what goes, what is appropriate to a classification and what is not. If you hear changes are being made to a classification as a result of these reductions from anyone other than ACE, consider it a work of fiction.
- To date, ACE has not been officially notified of any reorganization and its specific impact on employees.
- At the risk of repeating myself, classifications are bargained and can not be arbitrarily changed or ignored by management to meet their staffing objectives. For members who will be administratively reassigned, ACE has written confirmation from human resources their classification will not change. Much like faculty have different service areas, our classifications are different to identify specific functions and skills sets needed to complete the work. The classification study, while not perfect, reinforced this concept that different work should be grouped separately to ensure appropriate skill sets and compensation are assigned. The goal is to not have any filled staff position eliminated, and we may be able to negotiate placement in different classifications, but it is unprofessional, not to mention incredibly insensitive, for anyone to suggest our work is easily interchangeable. Any changes to a classification need to be presented to ACE so we can bargain the effect. To date, ACE has yet to receive any request on this issue.
- ACE is working with our attorney to address the District and/or colleges failure to follow the terms of our Agreement surrounding reorganization and classification.
The colleges chose not to have any filled position slated for elimination involuntarily move (ie. bump) to the opposite campus, even if there is a vacancy in the appropriate classification. Management wants to select their employees, as is there right, but they can not do so in lieu of an affected workers rights. To avoid violating Ed Code and our Agreement surrounding seniority and bumping rights, management chose to resolve this issue by opening positions for internal recruitment hoping affected employees would apply and be selected; through the use administrative reassignment and placing affected workers into a vacant position in the same classification; or by rescinding a elimination (some have been done). Until an employee is given a formal layoff notice, we wait and then respond accordingly.
- Formal notice regarding positions selected for elimination, filled and vacant, will go to the Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees for approval at their March 4, 2019 meeting.
A lot can, and will, change between now and June 30, 2019. As shown above, Foothill still hasn’t committed a course of action. You can help separate fact from fiction.
- Know your source. Establish where the information came from before trusting what it says. Again, if it has to do with changes in classification or assignment, unless ACE has been involved in the conversation, it’s fiction.
- Consider the angle. What the does the person have to gain from telling you the information? Do they have any stakes in the situation? Agendas can influence how people share information. This is especially true as the colleges restructure.
Our goal throughout this process to to work diligently with members, the colleges and human resources to ensure no ACE member is laid off (we’re not there yet), and maintain the integrity of our work.
Chris White, ACE President
(650) 949-7789, office
“The fight is never about lettuce or grapes. It is always about people”. – César Chávez
Reorganization & Administrative Reassignment
A reorganization doesn’t have to create chaos. But many do when there is no clear plan for communicating with employees and other stakeholders early, often, and over an extended period. As the colleges emerge from their reduction plans, reorganization is inevitable. There are rules in our Agreement surrounding reorganization but it takes time to gather all the information so ACE can respond appropriately.
What constitutes a reorganization?
A reorganization may occur for various reasons, including:
- Improving business efficiency.
- Reducing costs/budgetary reasons.
- Repositioning/aligning business units.
- To meet the strategic needs of the College/District.
- Provide a better service model.
Some examples of what may be included in a reorganization include:
- Change(s) in reporting relationships, supervisors and/or location.
- Creation of new departments; dispersing of existing departments.
- Creation of new positions; reallocation of existing vacant positions.
- Reclassification of multiple positions in conjunction with other actions.
- Reduction in Force.
How does a reorganization work?
Articles 7 & 15 of the ACE Agreement cover the steps for implementing a reorganization. Some of the basic rules include:
- When a supervising manager plans to reorganize his or her department, the District shall notify the Union and the appropriate chief steward in writing prior to implementation to provide for an opportunity to meet and confer. If the Union does not respond within 15 working days, the changes shall be implemented as proposed. Failure to do so may result in a grievance against the District and/or department, ultimately requiring the them to resolve any issue brought forward by ACE before any reorganization may take place.
- The notification shall include: the proposed changes; impact, if any, on workers; date of proposed implementation; and the reason for the change. If there is a request to meet, the parties shall meet and confer over the impact of the proposed reorganization. When appropriate, such discussions shall include identification of tasks and priorities of position. If no agreement is reached regarding job classifications effected by the reorganization, the parties will appeal to the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources and Equal Opportunity. Within thirty (30) working days of receiving an appeal the Vice Chancellor will render a written decision.
- The decision of the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources may be appealed to a neutral party, jointly selected by the Union and the District. Within thirty (30) working days of receiving an appeal, the neutral party will render a final written decision.
- The final decision of the neutral party will be binding.
- No reorganizations shall take place without this process.
If you have questions about the possibility of a reorganization in your department, please contact your ACE representative.
Management has the right to administrative reassignment to adjust for overages in staff, to meet the need for specific skills or to alleviate special problems. ACE’s role is to make certain the assignment is appropriate to the classification. Administrative reassignment does not constitute a layoff, seniority and bumping rights do not apply.
In mid-January, Governor Newsom released his preliminary 2019-2020 budget. For the first time in several years, this budget brings good news. Community colleges could see $402 million ongoing Proposition 98 General Fund, including a 3.46-percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), enrollment growth, legal services for undocumented students and families and providing a second year of free tuition. It also includes $3 billion in a one-time payment to CalSTRS which will decrease the employer’s pension liabilities.
How this windfall translates to Foothill-De Anza still has to be determined. At the January 22 District Budget Advisory there remained a lot of uncertainty surrounding the new funding formula – the state seems to be changing the rules daily with the latest edict a ten percent cap (there was none initially) on the student success metric – and what the funding base for FHDA may be after the three-year hold harmless ends in 2021, particularly as the colleges continue to decline in enrollment.
As we begin the negotiations process, ACE will be monitoring the state and District budget proposals carefully.
Wanted: Central Services Chief Steward
by Chris White, ACE President
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.