President’s Message


Whether it is $10 million, $15 million, or from the latest budget update,  $17.6 million in budget reductions, one of the constant comments from the board of trustees, management, and staff revolves around the impact these cuts will have on how we serve students closely followed by the statement that “all of the work we do at Foothill-De Anza is critical to student success”.  The colleges and district have laid out their general target reductions based on a percentage from each area to “share the pain”.  Foothill presented their plan at a town hall and through PaRC, De Anza presented their plans through the Instructional Planning and Budget Team (IPBT) and the Student Services Planning and Budget Team (SSPBT). There has been discussion in terms of how we will be different once we come out the other side but the specifics on what that really looks like has yet to be articulated and it needs to be. You can’t cut student services by 40% and expect to provide students, even a fewer number of students, with same level of service.  Something has to give.

To be clear, these cuts aren’t, and can’t, be about doing more with less.  For an institution which still serves nearly 36,000 students each quarter – in comparison, West Valley-Mission serves approximately 17,000 students and San Mateo Community College District serves approximately 26,000 students – when it comes to classified staff, we are pretty lean in our operations. From the last budget crisis in 2010-12 – where ACE experienced a 20% staffing reduction  – the majority of growth in ACE positions have come from categorical funds revolving around new state mandates like Student Success and Support Programs (3SP), student equity and Strong Workforce.  All of which have specific requirements around staffing and the work these funds support.  Previous ACE staff reductions from the general budget in the ares of business operations, instructional support, facilities, and administrative support never came back and the majority of that work was absorbed by those who remained. With no clear direction, other than the mandates provided by the state, and too many competing priorities, the end result has not been a recipe for sustainability or growth and we needed it to be.

Moving forward what do the targeted reductions really mean? Do their plans have clear priorities and objectives? If, and when, a position or program goes away, what does that mean? Is the work not done? Is it redistributed? Are the services no longer offered? Are they offered in a different way? How do we measure the impact of these reductions on students, outside of anecdotal comments, to determine if we have made smart choices so we can adjust as needed?  While these decisions have gone through the shared governance process – except for central services which has no real shared governance process  –  ultimately, the responsibility and implementation for these cuts fall to management.  There are provisions in ed code and our Agreement which define what can happen to the work from a laid off position but if we don’t hold management accountable to choices made for reduction, we will once again end up absorbing more work on a rudderless ship.

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 May 2018

ACE will forgive dues in your May paycheck (May 31).  For Classified Hourly employees, this will be reflected in your June 15 paycheck.
We are able to forgive dues for a third time this year directly due to the representation provided by our attorney and labor representative. Their concerted efforts have saved ACE over $100,000 this year in potential legal costs. Savings we are passing back to you.  How? By successfully resolving a number of issues for our members including, a challenge to the districts use of temporary employees (a critical issue as we move through budget reductions); back pay for a worker on the 39-month rehire list who was not properly notified of open positions; back pay for a worker not properly compensated from a previous work schedule; and helping a member transfer sick leave from another CalPERS institution after the district denied the workers request.  For the 2017-18 fiscal year, ACE also forgave dues in your November 2017 and March 2018 paychecks for the reasons listed below.

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.

Seniority Lists

After many rounds of review and double-checking by ACE, human resources, and our former Foothill chief steward, Art Hand – who helped to calculate seniority for the past 30 years – we feel we are at a good point to share seniority information with you.

Guiding principles:

  • Be kind: Whether your new with limited seniority or you’ve been here a while, the lack of clear, decisive information around the impending budget cuts makes everyone anxious and nervous around the security of their employment.As a general rule, it is not ok to ask someone when they’re going to retire to save positions or give a new, younger person a chance. Nor is it ok tell newer staff they’re going to get laid off or bumped so they might as well leave now. This goes for management and staff alike.  Please be conscious when you discuss seniority around your colleagues. You never know someones story.
  • Be open:  Both colleges and the district have said there will no layoffs of full-time employees through June 30, 2019.  The seniority lists we are using were pulled as of April 16, 2018 and are a snapshot in time.  A lot can change over the course of a year.
  • Be patient: There are over 400 ACE members and only 4 people (ACE chief stewards and president) who will be working with you to determine your seniority. The chief stewards do this work on top of their full-time FHDA job.  It could take a up to a week to respond to your request.

Calculated by the number of hours in paid status you have earned in a classification for which you have held permanently, plus higher classes you have held permanently. CA Education Code 88127.

Example: If you were a Widget Maker I for two years and six months ago moved to the Widget Maker II classification, you continue to earn seniority for the Widget Maker I classification while earning seniority as a WMII. The calculation? You have 2 years and 6 months of seniority as a WMI, and 6 months seniority for the WMII classification.

Based on this example, imagine calculating seniority for someone who has held several classifications within the district over numerous years. It is not as simple as looking up a name or a classification.  For everyone in a affected classification, their seniority has to be checked one by one, to add higher classes they’ve held, to accurately calculate the seniority ranking for the entire classification. It takes time.

A few reminders about seniority:

  1. The clock starts from your date of hire. Hours as a probationary employee count because you’re a permanent employee of the district.  Hours as a temporary employee do not count.
  2. It does not include overtime.
  3. How your position is funded does not affect seniority.
  4. Comparisons are district wide.
  5. Time working out of class only counts if you are directly hired into the higher class.  If you were working out of class and your position was reclassified to the higher classification, that time working out of class does not count.  There must be a competitive process and you must have been directly hired into the higher classification for the time to count.

How does the classification study affect seniority?
There are three possible outcomes to classification as a result of this study.

  1. Consolidating classifications which do the same work;
  2. Title changes to more accurately reflect the current market; and
  3. 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.

Next steps

  1. Two options to review your seniority:
    1. Electronically – an excel spreadsheet with your classification(s) and where you rank within the classification as a whole.  This is the most expedient method.; or
    2. In person – 30 minute meeting to review classification and where you rank within the classification as a whole.
  2. Contact your chief steward or ACE president by email with a request to review your seniority.  Be sure to indicate if you want the information sent electronically or you would like to set up a meeting.
    1. Central Services:    Irma Rodarte 
    2. De Anza:                 Erika Flores
    3. Foothill:                  Josh Pelletier
    4. ACE:                      Chris White

Attack On Public Unions: Janus vs. AFSCME

There is currently an attack on public sector unions by way of a case in front of the Supreme Court, Janus v. AFSCME. This case seeks to weaken unions by taking away service fees (fair share fees) from unions, which would create a system were all are receiving benefits from the hard work and participation of some, without doing participating or paying anything.

What is a service fee?

An agency shop is a workplace in which a union acts as an agent for all the employees, regardless of their union membership. Nonunion members must pay fees to the union because the collective bargaining will benefit nonunion as well as union employees. A non-member that pays fees, rather than dues paying member, is a service fee payer.

The non-voluntary payment of fees was affirmed by the United States Supreme court in a case called Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. The Supreme Court said unions could continue to charge agency service fees from non-members, because they would receive all the benefits of collective bargaining. However, Abood ruled that service fees could not be used for activities unrelated to the union’s role as bargaining agent. Therefore, non-members may only be required to pay for their share of union bargaining and contract enforcement.

This system was set up so that some employees could not enjoy a free ride from those union members working hard and contributing their funds to ensure greater rights and higher salaries for all.

Janus v. AFSCME

The Supreme Court is revisiting this issue and will be rendering a decision in Janus v. AFSCME some time in the coming months. If the Court rules for Janus, which most observers believe will occur with the vote from Justice Gorsich, we know that public employee unions will no longer be able to collect fees from service fee payers.

Representation for Non-Members

Some employees may believe it is better not to pay union dues, because they believe they will get the benefit of the union without paying. Without funding, it is possible that ACE may not be able to provide the best representation for its members. To be clear, there will not be any responsibility for ACE to provide representation to anyone who does not belong to the union and pay dues. Those folks will have to either pay ACE for representation or provide their own.

Stronger Together

One thing is certain; this minor setback will not succeed in weakening our Association. This court decision is intended to divide and weaken unions. However, this decision will only make us stronger, if we all work together, we can continue to accomplish so much for the betterment of our membership. It is imperative that all of the white collar classified employees at Foothill De-Anza Community College stick together and maintain their membership in ACE.

Classification Study Update

ACE received all of the draft classification descriptions and the Joint Labor Management Classification Committee (JLMCC) met to review the proposed changes.  The committee agreed to minor changes which better aligned with our Agreement, district practice and the education code. There was also a lack of clear language regarding career ladders, a priority for the JLMCC along with a clear explanation why some positions were very specific while others who did the same type of duties were placed in a more general classification.  Koff is reviewing our comments and making  requested changes. They are expected to have the revised classification descriptions back by Friday, May 11.

If the consultants hold to to the timeline, the JLMCC will review the changes the week of May 14 with the goal to disperse the descriptions to our members the following week.  We have scheduled drop-in member questions with the consultants for May 30 and 31 on both campus.  These will be 15-minute sessions and details on how to sign up will be sent with your draft classification description.

Negotiations Update

Cathleen Monsell, Chair of Negotiations

ACE returns to the table Wednesday, May 9.