Thank You

I have thanks for so many things but I wanted to focus on the two most important items, member support and feedback.

Thank you for your support over the last several years, particularly as it relates to the classification and compensation study.  It’s not perfect. There was no way it ever was going to be but I truly believe our classification and compensation structure, as a whole system, is better than what we had before. That is what we voted on, the structure of the system.  And then we made sure there was a process to address that parts that aren’t perfect. That’s where we are now.

A reminder, the four goals for the study were:

  1. Align job descriptions with current roles.
  2. Develop career ladders. 
  3. Determine the appropriateness of internal alignments.
  4. Conduct a market analysis of compensation in similar or like jobs in other districts.

We accomplished three out of four. We’re not done with career ladders and will continue to include them in future negotiations where appropriate. We take the support from our members seriously and use the ACE Constitution we collectively devleoped when we incoropared in 2009 to guide us in all of our decisions. Most importantly: 

  • Article 5.2:  “Serving as an Executive Board Member requires subordination of personal interests to those that represent the highest good of the members. Board Members shall have no greater rights than any other member of ACE”. 
  • Article 5.6: “Serving as a negotiating team member requires subordination of personal interests to those that represent the highest good of the members. Negotiators shall have no greater rights than any other member of ACE”.

A classification study takes a snapshot in time of the work being performed by workers. As ar result, we know two things that are relevant to today: 1) Some feel the consultants didn’t get it right the first time and we will have to figure out what is different so we can get a different result, and/or because it took so long to negotiate, people’s duties or the people themselves have changed in a position. For those that disagree, we created reclassification process that is as transparent as we knew how to make it. For those whose title changed and/or received a classificaiton different from their colleagues, and may feel they were downgraded or disrespected. I hear you. We all have a personal stake in our jobs and our roles within the District but the only way we can address this is through the reclassificaiton process. We are happy to help people talk through their position description questionnaire (PDQ) and will be holding a workshop to review best practices filling it out this coming Monday, April 26 at 10.  Check your email for a calendar invite from the professional development office at De Anza.

Thank you for your feedback with our annual negotation and ACE membership survey.  It is nice to get positive feedback but it’s more important, to me, to pay attention to the areas we can improve.  Finding ways to increase succession planning for new leadership is critical and i’m open to suggestions. So far asking people hasn’t worked. To help, In the coming months, i’ll be sending out some surveys to get feedback around:

  • Changing the time/ location/method of delivery to increase member participation?  Being transparent and keeping communication are vital in this work, what can we do to make sure our messaging is reaching as many members as possible? I’m still working on brevity :). 
  • What specific kinds of training would be interesting to the membership? 

As I have said on more than one occasion, this association only works with the active pariticiaption from all the membership.

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

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

2021 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

On March 19, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 95. This new law requires all California employers (including those with collective bargaining agreements) with 25 or more employees to provide paid supplemental sick leave to employees who are unable to work or telework due to certain COVID-19 related reasons. The law becomes effective on March 29, 2021, but applies retroactively to January 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021.

Reason for taking leave?

  • Caring for Yourself:  The covered employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 (see note below), or has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19, or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • Caring for a Family Member: The covered employee is caring for a family member who is either subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 (see note below) or has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19, or the employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 on the premises.  
  • Vaccine-Related: The covered employee is attending a vaccine appointment or cannot work or telework due to vaccine-related symptoms.

How much time off is covered?

  • 80 hours for full-time employees;
  • Part-time and hourly, based upon the number of hours the employee is normally scheduled to work over a two-week period.

Can an employer require certification from a health care provider before allowing a covered employee to take the leave?

  • No. The leave is not conditioned on medical certification. It may be reasonable in certain circumstances to ask for documentation before paying the sick leave when the employer has other information indicating that the covered employee is not requesting 2021 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick leave for a valid purpose.

Here are the complete 2021 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave FAQs from the Labor Commissioner’s Office.

How do you claim the use of this leave?

  • For now, human resources are asking employees to put it in as regular sick leave until they develop a new code for this round of COVID leave. Once they figure out their coding they will alert everyone on what is needed to get those days reversed.

ACE 2021-2022 Negotiation & Membership Survey Results

On April 6, Cathleen Monsell, chair of negotiations, sent out a negotiation and membership survey to get a better understanding of the issues important to members.  With a 56 percent response rate, below are a few highlights from the responses.

While more than half were able to choose their work schedule, 44 percent indicated their supervisor selected their work hours.  As a reminder, for any employee who works an alternate schedule (4/10s, 9/80s), and that schedule is assigned by their supervisor and/or appropriate administrator without their consent, then that employee will be entitled to holiday pay for the hours normally worked (i.e. 4/10 would get 10 hours holiday pay).  (Article 13.1)

In an effort to dismantle institutional racism in our district, 86 percent said we should negotiate to add holidays for Cesar Chavez, March 31st, and Juneteenth, June 19th, but 59 percent would be unwilling to “trade existing holidays like President’s Day” in order to observe these holidays.  Some suggestions were offered to split the holiday or try for a floating holiday option.  

70 percent were in favor of increasing the employee contribution to a flat rate of $10 per month to the Voluntary Employee Benefits Association (VEBA), which provides a benefit to post-1997 employees to cover part of their Medicare Part B premium.  Any changes to this benefit are negotiated through the Joint Labor-Management Benefit Council (JLMBC) and we are working with our colleagues in the other bargaining units to determine if and how we want to address this issue. 

Issues most important to members were retirement, cost of health insurance, and longevity awards.

Health insurance and wages remain consistent as top bargaining priorities, and in this pandemic year, not surprising, health and safety have taken a priority over other issues.  ACE is in the process of working with human resources on the return to campus plans to help ensure member safety.

For workers, the challenges of sheltering in place were largely concerns for safety and welfare with returning to campus (60%), ergonomics (51%), and reliable internet (41%). Office space (38%) and limited office equipment (38%) rounded out the top five.  Roughly a quarter of you had difficulties communicating with your supervisor and/or other departments.  Common comments included anxiety around returning to campus, balancing work and home life including challenges with childcare, schooling, and a lack of communication from senior management.  Many loved working remotely and would like to continue when we return to campus. Since ACE was incorporated in 2009 – and it probably carried over from our contract with SEIU- we have had the option to work remotely (article 13.2.6) at the discretion of your supervisor. What the shelter in place (SIP) has taught us is that most work can be done remotely and refusal has nothing to do with liability, security, or any other reason that has been given when classified have asked to exercise this option. It’s a matter of managing. While older technology and limited funding for upgrades were a legitimate issue, lucky for us we just passed an $898 million dollar bond. Money that could be used to provide appropriate resources for employees to easily work remotely.

Regarding ACE communication and site meetings:

  • 77 percent read the newsletter, if they didn’t common response was no time or too long. There were great suggestions to include personal stories, what ACE has done in the last month, and make it downloadable as a pdf. Challenge accepted.
  • Only 47 percent attend site meetings.  Common reasons were the meeting time is inconvenient, or for far too many, they can’t get away from their desk (59%).  Commonly requested topics include updates on current matters, training on benefits pertinent to classified employees, and understanding our agreement
  • What we do well? Communication and transparency.  What we could do better? Record meetings and workshops so they are available to those who couldn’t attend, timely notification of meetings, more succession planning, and training to encourage members to become leaders of ACE.

General Demographics

Our demographics are changing with nearly half of our members working for FHDA for 10 years or less. Roughly 35 percent have been with the district between 4 and 7 years.  

The breakdown of employees between campuses hasn’t really altered over the years.  Over half (56%) work on the De Anza campus, 28 percent at Foothill, 14 percent at central services, and a small (2%) but mighty contingency at the Sunnyvale campus.

General comments included help addressing poor management, suggestions for negotiations around pay and benefits, and more training around benefits and retirement.  There was gratitude to the negotiating team, ACE Executive Board, and our attorneys for the work they do on members’ behalf.

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.

ACE Classification Study – Reclassification Process and Next Steps

email sent 4/19/2021

Next Steps

For those who do not agree with their proposed classification from the study, please read thoroughly the next steps in the process. 

  1. You must submit a position description questionnaire (PDQ).
    1. See the email below for complete information on how to fill it out.  Your PDQ is based on your assigned classification in the new structure.
    2. A description from the consultants, Koff, breaking down the difference in class concepts (specialist vs. technician, etc.). to help with this process as you review options.
  2. Timeline for review.
    1. PDQs submitted to Monica Garcia ( in the office of human resources by 5 p.m. Friday, May 14, 2020.
      1. You can submit a PDQ after this date, but it will take longer for review as Koff works through all those submitted by the 14th.
    2. Koff will look to initially interview staff/supervisors regarding their PDQ the weeks of May 24-June 4.  This may be extended depending on the number of employees seeking to be reclassified.  For transparency purposes:
      1. Follow-up interviews with the consultants will be conducted with the staff member and supervisor together
      2. ACE and District Human Resources will have no input in this part of the process.  

As a reminder, if your position is reclassified and there is a pay difference, any retroactive pay will be back to the date you filed this appeal.  DO NOT DELAY.  

A few words about this negotiated process and reclassification:

  • Unless you have written documentation from the consultants that your classification should have been different than what was presented and ratified by the FHDA Board of Trustees, retroactive pay can only go back to the date you file the reclassification. That is our agreement with the district which cannot be individually bargained. Two things:
    •  If it could, imagine how arbitrarily it could be changed, and not necessarily in your favor. 
    • This is what your negotiating team could get the district to agree to and doesn’t necessarily reflect what they wanted. It’s a pay-to-play structure and you must give something to get something.  What would you be willing to give up?
  • You can file for reclassification, but your supervisor cannot change the classification you’ve been assigned, nor do they have a say in whether your position is considered for reclassification.  This is also part of the agreement. 
  • Reclassification doesn’t necessarily mean you get classified into a higher classification. It’s a review of your duties and you are placed in a classification most appropriate to those duties.  That might not be what you think. 

I understand some of you are frustrated with the process and/or outcome and we are doing our level best to address your concerns.  Part of that is confronting the issue(s) through this reclassification process.  

email sent 4/7/2021


On Monday night the Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees approved the results of our classification study.  For those whose salary increased, expect to see any retroactive pay, going back to July 1, 2019, and your new salary level reflected in your paycheck by the end of July.  

For those who do not agree with their proposed classification, please read thoroughly, the steps for reclassification.

  1. Complete the attached position description questionnaire appeal form (PDQ).
    1. Whichever classification best suits your work (link below for a full listing of the new classifications), use that description as your guide to submitting the reclassification paperwork.  
      1. Be thorough, provide examples, and after each duty explain what you currently do that rises to the level of the classification you are requesting.
      2. If you submitted a PDQ when the study started, or the PDQ was filled out by someone previously in your position, you must show what is different now compared to what was originally presented. 
    2. You must show that you perform a majority of the duties of the classification you are requesting to be placed. 
    3. If you cannot find an appropriate classification within our system, it is still possible to file an appeal, but you should try to identify a classification that exists at another community college.  Most college/district websites contain classification descriptions in the human resources section.  Note:  please read below regarding the difference between position and classification before you look outside the proposed structure.  
  2. You will need to have your immediate supervisor (the one who signs your timecard), sign the form.  Why?
    1. To acknowledge they have seen the request.  They do not make the determination if the request is appropriate or not.  
    2. If your supervisor delays (be reasonable) or refuses to sign the form, contact ACE immediately.   
  3. The deadline to submit a request for reclassification form is as follows:
    1. If we anticipate budget cuts by July 1, 2022, all requests shall be received by the District Office of Human Resources by August 31, 2021.
    2. In the even budget cuts are delayed until July 1, 2023, the completed reclassification requests shall be received by the District Office of Human Resources by August 31, 2022.
    3. If your position is reclassified and there is a pay difference, any retroactive pay will be back to the date you filed this appeal.  DO NOT DELAY. 
    4. Forms should be emailed to Monica Garica,, in human resources.  Please be certain to copy ACE, when you submit your PDQ. 
  4. After you submit your reclassification forms.
    1. Be patient, it’s going to take a moment to get through all the requests. How long?  Depends on the number and/or complexity of the reclassification requests.
    2. The PDQs will be sent to the consultants, where they will prepare a report and impartial analysis on each request for reclassification. The review will be based on the following:
      1. The completed PDQ which could include follow up questions with you,
      2. Follow up with your appropriate supervisor,
      3. Internal or external audits of other similar or related positions as necessary, and 
      4. Any other relevant information. 

A full listing of the new ACE job classifications will be found here:

ACE Classification Specs_April 2021

A Few Reminders:

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 the class descriptions it is critical that you keep this in mind, especially if a recommendation includes a title change or consolidation of classifications or a reduction in minimum qualifications where you might interpret the recommendation as a “downgrade” of a position.

Position vs. Classification:

Positions and classification are two words that are often thought of as interchangeable; but in fact, have very different meanings.  In a classification plan,  

Position = assigned a group of duties and responsibilities performed by one person. 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. 

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 the amount of work performed. 

Classification = may contain only one position or may consist of a number of 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; and
  • the same core knowledge, skills, and other requirements are appropriate for all positions; and the same salary range is equitable for all positions.  

A class description is a summary document that does not list each duty performed by every employee.

ACE Dues Forgiveness Ends After March Paycheck

After a year of forgiving dues in response to member needs related to the COVID 19 pandemic, ACE dues collection will resume with your April paycheck (April 30).  ACE has been able to forgive dues because we are an independent labor association that gets to decide how we spend our dues money.  Over the years, through prudent spending and savvy investment planning, we were able to save money for an emergency such as this pandemic. 

This change is timely.  Moving into the appeal phase of the classification/compensation study, we have agreed to pay half the cost of appeals. 

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.

PGA Changes: Replacement Hours for Old Awards, Updated Guidelines for New Awards

Changes to our Professional Growth Award (PGA) program in order to do two things:

  1. Help those with old PGA awards have more hours count towards pensionable income after CalPERS adjusted what they would accept; and
  2. Update the PGA application and guidelines to move many items currently allocated under section five to section one.

In June of 2019, with a large retiree exodus and a new account administrator at CalPERS, some of the activities allowed under PGA were called into question regarding their eligibility as pensionable income.  In fact, CalPERS made the determination that only hours earned in section one (college, adult education or trade school courses) met the definition for special compensation as defined by the California Code of Regulations, section 571:

Under topic #2, Educational Pay, where PGA is categorized:

“Educational Incentive is defined as compensation to employees for completing educational courses, certificates, and degrees which enhance their ability to do their job. A program or system must be in place to evaluate and approve acceptable courses. The cost of education that is required for the employee’s current job classification is not included in this item of special compensation”.

Your awards are still worth $90 each but for pensionable reporting purposes, CalPERS will prorate the percentage of an award to those hours attributed to section one.

To have more hours count as pensionable, we have agreed to the following changes to the PGA application and guidelines:

  1. Section one will be retitled as Certificate, Course, or Degree
    1. Section 1a will cover accredited courses and continuing education units (CEU).  We have removed the minimum hours required to use this section. 
    2. Section 1b is new and will cover many job-related certificated skills training previously listed under section five.
    3. There is no maximum for either of these activities and you are allowed to carry these hours forward to future awards.
  2. Section five will be retitled as Job-Related Conference, Seminar, or Lecture. Participation in job-related special activities, such as seminars, conferences, conventions, institutes, and lectures offered by colleges, adult schools, professional associations, and community organizations. 

For previously earned awards only:

We had already negotiated additional funding  ($20,000 per year for two years) for affected employees to take courses at no cost to them to replace hours on already earned PGAs which are not pensionable.  In addition, to help have more hours count we negotiated the following:

  1. Suspended the limit of 200 hours while on Staff Development Leave.  You may submit hours for courses taken during past staff development leaves that were not counted due to the 200 hours limit. Official transcripts are required.
  2. Allow courses omitted from any previous PGA application.  Submit hours for any course not submitted in previous professional growth award applications. Reminder, you must have been a district employee at the time the course was taken. Official transcripts are required.
  3. Allow courses not counted due to receiving educational reimbursement from the District.  You may submit hours for classes taken that were not counted due to receiving educational reimbursement from the district. Official transcripts are required.
  4. Job-Related certificated training.  You may submit hours for previously completed job-related activities/training where certification was provided. This refers to items previously reported in section five “Job Related Special Activities” in prior awards. Please provide copies of previous PGA applications with section five applicable items highlighted. The committee will review all items to make sure they are job-related/job skill-building sessions. 
  5. New Job-Related Certificated training.  You may submit hours for new job-related activities/training where certification was provided. The committee will review all items to make sure they are job-related/job skill-building sessions. Certificates/transcripts are required.
  6. Apply any carryover hours from section one.  If you have carryover hours in section one, you may apply them to any previous award where replacement hours are needed.

For these previously earned awards, the review and application process is effective immediately and will continue through June 30, 2022. Current employees must submit the completed application, hours audit, and applicable documentation by the deadline in order to request a review of hours for the PGA substitution process. Applications submitted after June 30, 2022, will be deemed late and will not be processed.

To review your previous award(s) information:

  1. Please send an email to  Be sure to include your CWID.
  2. This request is for a copy of your completed application(s) and the tally sheet(s) used by the PGA committee. No backup material will be provided.  This should help you determine how many hours you have under section one and applicable hours under section five to estimate how many of your completed PGA’s are eligible as pensionable income per CalPERS. 200 hours of credit equals one award. For example, if you’ve completed eight awards but only have 1,000 hours in section one, CalPERS will credit five awards as pensionable (5 x 200 = 1,000 hours).
  3. Turn around time to receive the request for information is approximately three weeks.  To not overburden an already short-staffed human resources department.  Your patience is appreciated.

For new PGA awards:
The application and guidelines have been updated to reflect the following changes:

  1. Job-Related certificated training. These hours will now be listed under section 1b.
  2. All rules under PGA guidelines apply to new awards. The suspension of rules for previously earned PGAs does not apply to new awards. 


  1. PGA is publicly funded.  As public pensions and CalPERS continue to be scrutinized by the public it is imperative that the activities we submit as special compensation follow the rules set by CalPERS.  The burden of verifying the eligibility is on the District before the income will be reported as pensionable. We do not want to provide cause for a CalPERS audit by reporting income as pensionable which does not meet their definition for educational pay.
  2. The authority to accept or deny an activity, along with which section of the PGA application it is attributed, is at the discretion of the PGA Review Panel. These are your colleagues who are donating their time to administer this program and who have consistently demonstrated they will do all they can to have hours count towards an award.  You may not always like their answer. Be kind.
  3. PGA Review Panel:  Kris Lestini, Mary Medrano, Kit Perales, Denise Perez, Shawna Santiago