The Thing About Words
Last Monday, the Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees passed a resolution proclaiming May 19-25, 2019, Classified Staff Appreciation Week, in part “to recognize the invaluable role of classified staff in providing for the welfare and safety of the state’s community college students”.It is always wonderful to be recognized.
Recent actions by the District, such as their dismissal of our agreement related to the compensation portion of the classification study or that ACE had to file a lawsuit against CalPERS – which includes employees from all bargaining units including administrators – to have the five-percent salary adjustment included as pensionable income for classic and PERPA members, or for their lack of transparency in how work will get done after eliminating almost 50 ACE positions since June 30, 2018, doesn’t reflect the sentiment put forth in that resolution. To be fair, technically 95 percent of those positions were vacant at the time of elimination but what is missing in that technicality is the fact that over half of those positions recently had staff and/or a temporary or student worker doing that work. ACE continues to ask what happens to that work and addressing changes to vacant classifications when we are made aware of them. In many instances, we are still waiting on more thorough answers.
In the meantime, last July administrators approved an increase in a stipend they receive – from eight to twelve percent on their salary – for taking on additional work. As exempt employees they are not eligible for overtime pay and the stipend is used to compensate administrators for the additional work when positions get consolidated or special projects are assigned which, ostensibly, requires them to work in excess of 40 hours a week. Non-exempt employees, which includes ACE, CSEA, Teamsters, Police Officers, and Confidential employees are required by law to be paid overtime for work above 40 hours per week. Over the past three years – truthfully, at least the past decade – when classified positions are left vacant or consolidated and work is reassigned, rarely is overtime approved to address the additional workload.
I know we have very dedicated staff who go above and beyond to make certain students are minimally impacted by cuts in personnel or services. Many of you do this by forgoing breaks and lunch or taking work home with you because there just aren’t enough hours in an eight hour work day. Off-the-record comments by your supervisor that you’ll be rewarded down the line with a reclassification – a reminder that your level of classification is related to the complexity of your work not how much work you have to do – or afforded other preferential treatment or there is a promise that they will reassess workloads when the budget gets better. Nothing in writing but there is a promise and since we’re “all in this together”, in the end, management will do the “right thing”. Those promises rarely come to fruition. Often because they don’t have the authority to enact them or what they have proposed is illegal or is a bargained item, but they’re very grateful for your hard work. The end result? Their objective was met, the work got done and it didn’t cost them anything but a tug on your commitment to students. Meanwhile, they’re getting paid for the extra work they were assigned.
I also recognize that it can be very unnerving to confront your supervisor on this issue. You don’t want to be seen as not a team player or unwilling to help. And by asking that is not what you are saying. This is about reasonable workloads. The administration made the decision to eliminate positions and what work they are willing to sacrifice to solve the budget deficit. Add to the mix, a legitimate concern for retribution. This is where belonging to a union makes the difference. You have an advocate on your side. I won’t lie to you and tell you it won’t be uncomfortable or challenging, Sometime it is, sometimes it isn’t but you will not be alone. What I can tell you as a represented employee, you can’t be fired or demoted or your salary reduced or your work hours cut for asking. And if you do find your supervisor upset because you asked remember, you play an “invaluable role in providing for the welfare and safety of the state’s community college students”.
Chris White, ACE President
(650) 949-7789, office
“The fight is never about lettuce or grapes. It is always about people”. – César Chávez
Cathleen Monsell, Chair of Negotiations
On April 18, your negotiations team submitted the following articles to the District for negotiations.The articles chosen to open were guided by your feedback from the annual survey which was distributed in February. We reviewed the results at the April site meetings. As of today, we have not heard back from the district. In the meantime, the team will meet and put together our proposals to be ready when the District is finally ready to meet.
- Article 7: Employment Practices
- Article 8: Pay and Allowances
- Article 14: Worker Expenses and Materials
- Article 18: Paid Benefits
- Implementation of the classification study results
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.
Professional Development Survey
We still need your feedback. If you have not completed the Classified Needs Assessment survey sent by Mary Kay Englen of the Professional Development office at De Anza, please do so today. The survey closes next Wednesday, May 22.
The state allocated one-time professional development funding is specifically for classified staff (a first!) and your feedback is critical for the development of professional development activities relevant to the work classified staff do. The survey takes about 8 minutes to complete.
Fill out the survey here:
Classified Professional Development Day
Navigating Change with Heart
Friday, May 17 | De Anza
All classified staff are invited to attend.
This event is hosted by Central Services, De Anza and Foothill Classified Senates.
Whether you’re early or midway through your career, you’ll want to get a better understanding of your CalPERS benefits. Learn about your retirement income sources, how your pension is calculated, purchasing service credit, the importance of having a power of attorney on file, what happens if you leave your employer, and much more.
Friday, June 14 | De Anza MLC 260
1- 3:30 p.m.
Open to ACE members. Watch your email for details.
This workshop is hosted by ACE .
Volunteering at Work
Recently both campuses held weekend community events and there has been some confusion on whether an employees would get paid for assisting or are they volunteering their time? Article 13.2 of our Agreement defines when overtime accrues. “The District is subject to the following provisions concerning overtime which provide for overtime payment for all eligible workers who work over eight hours in one day in a five-day work week, over ten hours in one day in a four-day work week, over nine hours in a 9/80 or 4/36 work week, or over 40 hours in any work week, or on the sixth and seventh consecutive days of employment”. As permanent employees of Foothill-De Anza, if you are asked/told to do work related to the college or district over the hours listed above, you are entitled to overtime pay. If you aren’t required to work, in other words you can say no, but are offered the opportunity to volunteer, there are a few rules the District has to follow.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act ( FLSA), “public-sector employees may volunteer their services to the employer or jurisdiction for which they work, but their services must be different from their usual job duties”. As it relates to the recent community events, the work staff do as part of their permanent position and the knowledge set they bring as an employee working at FHDA, including if you are asked to talk about your area and the services your area provides or you’re asked to promote the college, you should be compensated. If you volunteered to set up tables or any other activity that does not require the knowledge and skills associated with your permanent position, it would be hard to argue it falls in your usual job duties and most likely you would not need to be compensated. Volunteer work does not count towards PGA. It is at management’s discretion to offer either overtime pay or compensatory time off and the rate of pay is one and one-half times the normal hourly rate as determined by current contract pay.
Know Your Agreement: Summer Work Hours
July 1 – August 23
To maximize human, financial and physical resources, FHDA observes modified hours of operation throughout the summer. Translation? Ten-hour days are back beginning Monday, July 1 through Friday, Aug 23. It also means confusion for staff and supervisors as to how this modified schedule is interpreted and applied.
- Summer work hours for ACE employees officially begin the week of July 1. If your supervisor chooses to implement a summer work schedule, it must begin July 1. For the other bargaining units, their summer work hours officially begin July 8, although they have the option to begin July 1.
- For the July 4 holiday, ACE employees will be paid for the number of hours they would have worked. All other bargaining units receive up to eight hours holiday pay and if they’re on an alternate schedule (i.e. 4-10-40), they must make up the additional two hours.
Article 13.1 – Working Time
13.1 – If a supervisor assigns a schedule to an employee without their consent then that employee would be entitled to holiday pay for the hours normally worked, (i.e. 4-10-40 would get 10 hours holiday paid).
Article 13.15 – Summer Hours
13.5.1 -Workers assigned to programs and departments where scheduling allows mandated four-day work schedule will be offered a four-day work schedule during the summer for the period beginning the first full week in July and ending the Friday before the Labor Day holiday. Under the summer schedule, the normal workday shall consist of ten hours starting and ending at times appropriate to the needs of the department and agreed upon by the worker and his/her supervisor.
13.5.2 – Workers who work fewer than 10 hours per day during the four-day summer workweek shall select one of the following options to cover time not worked:
- Use of earned vacation (see Section 10.1 regarding the circumstances under which certain amounts of sick leave can be converted to vacation);
- Use of earned compensatory time;
- Leave without pay;
- A revised work schedule and/or location in order to accommodate the employee if they feel they are unable to work a 10-hour per day four-day work schedule.
Who sets the schedule?
Employees will establish, with supervisor approval, a work schedule of four days of ten hours of work plus a half hour meal break for each day (minimum 10.5 hours total). Meal breaks may be longer upon request, and with the approval of the supervisor. The standard 10.5 hours work schedule will occur between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. to accommodate the meal break (7:00-5:30, 7:30-6:00, 7:15-5:45, etc.).
Can I stack my breaks to shorten the workday?
No. Employees may not stack break periods for later use or to combine with meal breaks and may not use breaks to account for late arrivals or early departures. It is a violation of labor law.
I am unable to work a 10-hour day may I set up an alternative schedule?
An employee, with supervisor approval may implement a modified schedule by requesting a different schedule or using accrued leave or leave without pay but cannot use Personal Necessity Leave.
What guidelines does a supervisor follow to determine if a request for an alternate schedule should be approved?
- Buildings should remain locked on Fridays, except where the department has been approved for an exception schedule and is officially open.
- Supervisors should work with employees regarding requests for alternate schedules to ensure that:
- Energy resources are not used inefficiently to operate buildings that are otherwise closed.
- Employees are not working alone where a safety concern might exist.
- Required resources and systems support needed to complete their work are actually available for employees to use.
- Special considerations for child care or other extenuating circumstances are taken into consideration with an attempt to find a solution that works for both the District and the employee.
- Supervisor must ensure adequate coverage and appropriate supervision for the official hours of operation. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to determine when an employee’s work schedule includes Friday that a level of supervision is adequately-addressed.
- Supervisors and classified staff should be familiar with the provisions of the applicable bargaining unit agreements affecting employees on a 4-10 work schedule.
A few more facts.
- FHDA has no policy regarding working from home as an option and there is nothing in our Agreement prohibiting it. Any agreement to do so is between the worker and their supervisor.
- Safety is a legitimate concern, but again, there is no FHDA policy or anything in our Agreement that states you cannot work alone.
- The definition for “appropriate supervision” is at your supervisor’s discretion.
Please keep in mind that the goal for this summer work schedule is to save resources. If you are unable to work a 10-hour day and you do not have accrued leave and cannot take time off without pay, be flexible in your request, be clear on what work you will get done and be accountable with it. Your supervisor does have the final say on your work schedule.
The Story of Unions
by Anthony Caceres
Labor, strikes, wages, workers’ rights, unions. We have all heard these terms but their importance is often undervalued. There are few institutions as embedded into the fabric of American society as labor unions.
The fight for better working conditions, wages, benefits and worker treatment has existed since the inception of the worker-employer relationship. For many decades the American worker suffered from dilapidated working conditions and inadequate pay for the work performed. This may sound like a distant history that is far removed from the reality of our current workplace. However, we are not far off from returning to pre-unionization work environments.
In 1886, American workers took a small step towards collective power. The American Federation of Labor was formed to serve as an association for various trade unions. Workers rallied together to improve safety conditions across the country while implementing contractual language that targeted immediate worker needs. The long term worker rights became an ongoing battle between the newly formed union and well established employers.
Furthermore, it was the work of Unions that conceived the concept of fair wages which transformed the lives of workers. Moreover, these victories led to the formation of America’s middle class and the economic prosperity previous generations enjoyed.
From the 1930s to the 1980s, the United States experienced its highest union membership rate, peaking in 1954 at 34.8%. These 5 decades saw the growth of the middle class with clear upward economic mobility. Many families benefited from the living wages and higher standard of living unions provided. However, a consistent attack from anti-union proponents has chipped away the power unions once had. As of 2018 the membership rate in the United States was at 10.5%. There has been a clear decrease in union participation paralleled with stagnant wages, evaporating benefits packages and a redefining of what a worker is.
Since the inception of organized labor movements, employers have sought to undermine the power of the collective through legislation, company policy and effective propaganda. It has resulted in an era of unprecedented economic loss by workers. The ability to collectively bargain has continued to diminish as new trends and industries within our economy begin to take a stronger hold of the workforce. Every industry in America is or has been impacted by the demise of organized labor and the repercussions are severe. It is our succeeding generations that will burden the economic hardships if unions all but disappear.
Now, you may be thinking what do these historical events and patterns have to do with me? The local struggles classified staff have endured throughout the years are a microcosm of the larger labor struggle America is undergoing. Ten years ago, the Association of Classified Employees (ACE) in its current form may have been nothing more than a dream. FHDA Classified staff endured roller coaster years with both the California School Employees Association (CSEA) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Each union fought admirably for staff at various moments in time but also underperformed at the most crucial of times.
On the eve of its 10 year anniversary, ACE stands firm in its dedication to represent the interests of members to the fullest extent. Ten years ago ACE was created as an independent union for one sole reason. To have the autonomy needed to fight for staff in the toughest of times. The independence afforded to the union has given it leverage on a playing field that is often void of any. As external factors continue to put pressure on workplaces and employers look to balance budgets, workers are at a higher risk of job insecurity. As it was 133 years ago when the AFL was founded, workers are facing grim prospects but if we take to heart the fight our fellow Americans undertook, our reliance will not be on the individual. It will lie at the feet of our collective power and ability to organize and stand up for the right to have economic prosperity and undergo the pursuit of happiness.