President’s Message
A Decade of Independence

Independent: free from outside control; not depending on another’s authority. Ten years ago this month ACE was formally recognized by the State of California and the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) as the independent association it is today. We gained our independence due to a dedicated few, who rallied the many, after years of neglect by our former union. We have never looked back. I won’t retell the whole story on how ACE came into existence – you can read it here – but suffice it to say the move to independence has given us better access to representation and more control over the issues directly affecting classified staff at Foothill-De Anza. The courage and commitment needed to set out on our own leaves me speechless. I can’t begin to express my gratitude and the amount of respect I have for the original group who put us on this path. For some perspective, of the 72 community college districts throughout California, 95% of classified staff are represented by a union and less than one percent are represented by an independent union like ACE.

ACE exists solely for your benefit and the benefit of your coworkers but independence isn’t free. It costs money – see below on what ACE spends your dues on – and requires active participation from the membership to work. ACE has been fortunate every time we’ve needed both, the members have stepped up. In return, our independence has allowed us to support our members in a way which being a part of a national or international union never would have allowed us to do, such as forgiving and/or reducing dues when finances allow so you can keep more money in your pocket without sacrificing representation. One of our founding executive officers, Bradley Creamer, webmaster at Foothill said it best, “The most important thing I learned as part of an independent union was the value in making decisions ourselves… and the power to prioritize those important decisions”.

When it comes to personnel representation, ACE takes your right to privacy very seriously, which is why you don’t hear as much about it. While every issue isn’t resolved the way ACE or a member would like or want, unlike our previous unions, our attorney, labor representative and officers show up each and every time and work to do their very best on your behalf. You can read more below on what we’ve done in the past decade but in the last month alone we’ve had improper warnings removed from an employee’s file, made certain another employee was able to use their sick leave when their supervisor denied it, and filed a lawsuit against CalPERS when they denied the temporary five-percent salary adjustment as pensionable income for all employees covered by CalPERS.

The work we do is a continuous work in progress. Your feedback from our annual survey – see below for a few spoiler alerts – provided great direction to your negotiating team and to the organization. We’re working on incorporating some suggestions immediately, such as providing an online option whenever possible for attending meetings (facility and technical limitations make this a challenge for large meetings) and developing more training for those interested in assisting with the running of ACE as well as continued education around our Agreement, your rights as a member, and what rights and authority ACE has when dealing with the District.

With budget reductions behind us, and ACE is not aware of any more on the horizon, we still have a mountain of challenges ahead. Forty-one ACE positions will be eliminated as of June 30, 2019. Where does that work go? The continued budget challenges for the District. What impact will that have on negotiations? The classification study? As we move forward and start to address these questions, when it becomes difficult it will be easy to blame the District, to blame ACE, if answers aren’t immediate or to your liking. I would ask you to reject that impulse. Instead, seek out facts, be patient and recognize change takes time, and help ACE set a course which benefits all our members. A easy way to start? When new employees come on board, invite them to join you as a member of ACE.

Of service,

Chris White, ACE President
(650) 949-7789, office

“The fight is never about lettuce or grapes. It is always about people”. – César Chávez

Dues Forgiveness April 2019

ACE will forgive dues in your April paycheck (April 30).  For Classified Hourly employees, this will be reflected in your May 15 paycheck.

Why does ACE forgive dues? ACE works really hard to be as fiscally prudent with dues collected from members. When we spend less than we’ve budgeted for the year, we forgive dues. This year, because the classification study has taken longer than anticipated and re-classifications are on hold until it is completed, funds budgeted to cover costs associated with classification issues  – ACE pays half the cost for appeals – we’re on track to spend less than budgeted.

What does ACE spend dues money on? Access to representation was the main reason we chose to be an independent union and it is the largest expense in our annual budget.  Several months a year, our legal representation itemizes their bill, and the work they do on our behalf often exceeds the flat monthly fee we pay them.  Other expenses include potential legal costs such as: arbitration (ACE pays half), court filing fees and expert testimonies; accountants, insurance, financial audits and taxes; office supplies, web hosting and routine state fees for running a small business; and training for officers and stewards, food for site meetings and elective stipends for ACE officers.  We also have monies set aside for a strike fund and a 5% budget reserve.

Does ACE spend money collected from dues on political activities?  No.

Negotiations Update

Cathleen Monsell, Chair of Negotiations

Thank you ACE members! With 198 responses, a little over 50% of the membership, this year’s survey provided the most feedback we have received to date. It is clear you put a lot of thought into your answers and comments. and we truly appreciate the time you took to give us your feedback.Your negotiations team is meeting to review the results and, based off of your responses, establish what proposals ACE should bring to the bargaining table.  We will releasing the results at our next site meetings. So stay tuned!
A few spoiler alerts:
70.7%   Like working four ten-hour days during summer.
75.5%   Want to keep our current percentage-based dues structure.
42.6%   Live between 11 to 20 miles from work.
42.5%   Have or have had a second job due to the high cost of living.
A few not-so-surprising spoiler alerts:
93%  Increasing wages and containing the cost of health insurance were listed as top concerns.
94%  Hold a higher education degree.
An important note:
As a re-opener year for our Agreement, Article 8 (pay and allowances) and Article 18 (benefits) are automatically opened. ACE may only open two additional articles as part of this year’s negotiations cycle, meaning ACE members and leadership must prioritize what is brought to the table. Your feedback helps us prioritize.  Keep in mind the district operates from a you-have-to-give-something-to-get-something stance.

Welcome New Members

De Anza
Martha Espinosa – Administrative Assistant, Outreach

Helen Nguyen – Instructional Support Technician, Student Success
Central Services
Joseph Goodrich – Community Services Officer, Police
Aaron Izquierdo – Community Services Officer, Police
Lena Tang – Accountant, OEI

A Decade of Action

Starting with a strong Agreement, over the past decade, together we have been able to:

Increase compensation.

  • Cost of living adjustments (COLA) and salary schedule increases.
    • From 2009-2010 through 2012-2013, while in a severe recession, the state offered no COLAs. At the same time, the state also instituted a number of workload reductions, crippling course repeatability options for community members and impacting FHDA’s revenue significantly. From 2011-2013, ACE experienced a 20% reduction in positions, roughly half of what was proposed, in large part due to the hard work of our first president, Blanche Monary.
Year Total COLA Received Additional COLA negotiated by ACE  COLA Offered By District COLA Included In State Budget
2013-2014 2.075% 0.50% 1.57% 1.57%
2014-2015 2.50% 1.65% 0.85% 0.85%
2015-2016 3.0% 1.98% 1.02% 1.02%
2016-2017 0.60% 0.60% 0% 0%
2017-2018 0% 0% 0% 1.56%
2018-2019 5% for 2018-19 5% for 2018-19 0% 2.71%

In 2015-16, we also increased the difference between step 6 and 7 on the salary schedule by 1% and reduced the waiting period for advancement from two years down to one.
In 2018-19, secured an additional $160 interest payment for all staff when the District was unable to implement a temporary five-percent salary adjustment in a timely manner.

  • Professional Growth Award (PGA)
    • In 2014-15:
      • Increased all awards earned after July 1, 2014 from $70 to $90 a month.
      • Increased the maximum number of awards from 10 to 12.
    • In 2016-17:
      • All awards, regardless of when they were earned, are now worth $90 a month.

If you were to earn all possible awards, the maximum benefit is now worth $12,960 per year.
A $4,500 increase from 2014.

Secure benefits.

  • No increase to employee health benefit contributions for the past three years.
  • Increased the District’s health benefit contribution from $976 per employee per month (PEPM) to $1011 PEPM.
  • Increased the District’s contribution for post-1997 retirees:
    •  Bridge to Medicare program monthly District contribution increased from $284 to $400 for an employee and $568 to $800 for an employee plus one.
    • Secure a one-time District contribution of $800,000 to the Volunteer Employee’s Benefit Association (VEBA) fund which covers Medicare eligible retires.
  • Added an additional paid holiday.

Represent members.

  • Letters of warning removed, suspensions reduced and made certain the District follows the progressive steps of discipline.
  • Addressed issues around classification, working out of class, leaves, benefits, changes to work schedules, worksite accommodations, and reemployment rights for laid off workers.
  • Retroactive pay for employees not properly compensated when they were working out of class, working differential shifts or their 39-month reemployment rights were violated.
  • ACE led the way in recouping overcharges to members for health benefits in 2010.  The result yielded $20,000 in reimbursements to both active and ACE retires.
  • Intervened on behalf of workers when the issue has nothing to do with performance – the District overpays you and wants the money back immediately – to ensure the remedy isn’t a burden to the worker.
  • On multiple occasions, successfully mediated issues between members and their supervisors when there was no Agreement violation.

Increase opportunity.

  • Negotiated a process so internal candidates can apply and interview for open positions before external candidates.
  • In 2016, after establishing non-classified staff were performing the same work, converted five (5) classified hourly members with limited benefits and no guarantee of hours to permanent positions.

Reduce dues.

  • ACE was incorporated in 2009 and the dues were set at 1.05% of base pay.
    • Under SEIU, dues were set at 1.5% of base pay.;
  • In 2016, ACE permanently reduced dues to 0.0095 of base monthly salary.
  • Over the past five years, on average, ACE has been able to forgive dues twice a year.  This occurs when budgeted costs for classification and legal issues aren’t spent, usually the result of our legal representatives resolving issues before any costs are incurred.

Thank You

I have said on more than one occasion, “it takes active participation and commitment from all the members of ACE to effectively protect and serve the membership as a whole”.  I’d like to thank a couple of people who have recently gone the extra mile on behalf of all the members.

Anthony Caceres served as Interim Vice President at De Anza for the past six months while our elected VP was out on leave. Anthony’s commitment and enthusiastic support for ACE is greatly appreciated and I am certain he will remain a key contributing member of this organization for years to come.

Bradley Creamer has served as the ACE webmaster since we incorporated in 2009. When I reached out to Bradley to help us reduce costs, he found a comparable web host and set about the task of moving servers, saving ACE hundreds of dollars a year in operational costs without compromising security or support.


Know Your Agreement:  Sick Leave vs. Personal Leave

At A Glance

  • Sick leave is cumulative, personal is not.
  • Personal leave must be scheduled in advance (whenever possible) and needs supervisor approval. Sick leave does not.
  • The worker uses sick leave to cover medical appointments for themselves; personal leave to cover medical appointments for immediate family.
  • Your supervisor may not deny your request for time off for your medical appointment(s) nor may they request that you try to schedule your medical appointment(s) on your day(s) off.
  • Your supervisor may request additional information before granting personal leave. You may give a generalized answer such as financial appointment or dependent care obligation.

10.1 – Sick Leave
Sick leave provides continuation of pay to the District worker who cannot perform her/his duties because of physical or mental illness or injury.

  • Earn eight (8) hours per month.Classified hourly and part-time earn amount equal to the percent of a full-time contract.
  • No limit to the amount of sick leave which either full or partial contract workers may earn and accumulate from year to year.
  • Sick leave may be used in increments of one-quarter hour or longer.
  • A worker has available for use all of their earned sick leave plus the balance of their full potential entitlement for the current fiscal year.
  • Sick leave may be used for the workers appointments with doctors or dentists
  • Up to seven days of sick leave can be used for care of an ill member of the worker’s immediate family (as defined in Section 10.15) after all personal necessity leave has been exhausted. Under certain circumstances approved by the Director of Human Resources, sick leave can also be used for other reasons of personal necessity.
  • Whenever a worker is absent on sick leave for three or more working days or when a pattern of sick leave suggests a chronic illness, a medical report that outlines the nature of the problem and the probable date of full recovery may be required. If the information from the worker’s personal physician is insufficient, an examination by a physician of the District’s choosing may be required, at District expense.
  • During any fiscal year a worker may convert up to 60 hours of earned sick leave credit in excess of 240 hours to vacation leave credit at the rate of six hours of sick leave credit for four hours of vacation leave credit. The request to convert sick leave credit to vacation leave credit under this section must be made in writing to the Director of Human Resources and will be approved only if the vacation leave credit does not cause the vacation leave balance to exceed the maximum accrual allowed (2 years).

10.15 Personal Leave
For the purpose of this section “personal necessity” means obligations or unavoidable duties of an individual worker that must be performed during regularly scheduled working hours.

  • Full-time earn 40 hours each fiscal year. Part-time earn amount equal to the percent of a full-time contract.Classified hourly earn three days a year.
  • Eligibility for personal necessity leave begins on the first of the calendar month following six complete months of employment.
  • May not be used in lieu of vacation or sick leave (except after an illness of 10 working days or more and no full-pay sick leave is available, a worker may use personal necessity leave.)
  • Unless there are unavoidable and compelling reasons (i.e., medical appointments or illness after being on extended sick leave) personal necessity leave may not be taken in conjunction with any holiday, sick leave, vacation, or other leave of absence.
  • Personal necessity leave is not cumulative.
  • It must be scheduled in advance with the supervisor whenever possible. When advance scheduling is not possible because of an emergency situation, the worker is required to notify the supervisor as soon as possible that the worker is requesting personal leave. All personal leave must have the approval of the supervisor as evidenced by the supervisor’s signature on the time sheet.
  • Unless there are unavoidable and compelling reasons (i.e., medical appointments or illness after being on extended sick leave) personal necessity leave may not be taken in conjunction with any holiday, sick leave, vacation, or other leave of absence.
  • To ensure confidentiality, a worker may request Personal Necessity Leave by the subsection number without giving the exact nature of the request. The worker’s appropriate supervisor(s) may require a more exact explanation before granting Personal Necessity Leave, in which case the worker may respond orally and the response shall be considered confidential between the worker and his/her supervisor(s). In unique emergency situations additional hours of personal necessity leave may be granted by the Director of Human Resources.
  • Circumstances under which personal necessity leave is appropriate include, but are not limited to:
    •   Emergencies or obligations related to the worker’s home or family members, including medical or dental appointments for the worker’s family members when the nature of the appointment requires the worker’s presence, or special family obligations such as attending a family member’s graduation or marriage ceremony;
    •   Emergencies or obligations related to the worker, including appointments for the purpose of conducting personal legal affairs or financial transactions, receipt of a court order requiring absence from work, or observation of a major religious holiday of the worker’s faith.

If you’re uncertain whether to use sick leave or personal leave or you’re having a difficult time scheduling the leave you need, contact your ACE steward for guidance.