President’s Message

Happy Summer.  It’s the start of a new fiscal year for the district and I am cautiously optimistic it brings with it a decent salary increase, completion on the classification study, and new opportunities for staff as more positions open and the colleges restructure after this last round of reductions.

The governor approved a 2019-2020 budget which includes a decent cost-of-living adjustment (3.26%), funding to help off-set the District’s contribution rate for CalPERS and CalSTRS over the next three years (think cost savings), and an additional year of hold-harmless funding under the new student-centered funding formula for districts like FHDA struggling with enrollment. Add to the mix the District addressing its structural deficit through reductions in 2017-18 and 2018-19 and their decision to budget for a loss in enrollment in 2019-20 means there is some money on the table to negotiate.  At the very least, we should be able to address some form of extension or ongoing basis of the temporary five-percent COLA which ended on June 30.  The articles ACE elected to negotiate were finally opened by board of trustees July 8. Your negotiations team will be busy this summer. Watch your email for updates.

As part of negotiations, we included implementation of the classification study.  In addition to the unfair labor practice (ULP) we filed against the district in May, this is another tool to get the District to to the table to address the draft study findings.  With the reductions and managing retirements from the SRP behind them, the District should be in a better position to address this issue in a more timely manner.

Lastly, while many colleagues retired June 30 it brings with it opportunity as current staff move to different positions and new staff members come on board. Do me a favor, please give everyone in a new role a minute or two to make it their own.

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

July 4 Holiday Code for Timecard

If you are working 4/10’s or 9/80’s for the summer because your supervisor closed the office on Fridays, you will need to use code 152 on your timecard to account for the extra hour or two (depending on your schedule) for the July 4 holiday.

If your office isn’t closed on Fridays or, it is but you are working eight hour days and using vacation, comp time or unpaid leave to cover Fridays, you do not need to enter anything for the July 4 holiday.

Negotiations Update

Cathleen Monsell, Chair of Negotiations

Health Benefit Negotiations
The 2020 CalPERS health benefit rates have been released and it is good news! At the June 20th Joint Labor Management Benefits Council (JLMBC) meeting it was agreed, due to little change in the rates, employee contributions will remain at the 2019 level. This is the fourth year in a row which the bargaining units have been able to negotiate no increase to employee contributions for health benefits.

Health benefits are paid from three sources: employee contributions, district contributions, and a Rate Stabilization Fund (RSF). The RSF is projected to drop by $1.6 million to cover the difference between what employees and the District pay and the true monthly cost for health benefits. As part of this negotiation, it was also agreed that one million in District one-time money will be added to the RSF.  Another one million would be added to the RSF if the hold-harmless provision in the state budget is approved for a fourth year, as proposed in the Governor’s May revise. It was approved.

ACE Negotiations
At the July 8, FHDA Board of Trustee meeting they agreed to reopening the Articles ACE requested: Article 7, employment practices, Article 15, workers expenses, and implementation of the classification study. In addition, Article 8, pay and allowances and Article 14, benefits are automatically reopened. The District did not open any additional articles.

Know Your Agreement:  Performance Evaluations

Love ‘em or hate ’em, a performance evaluation is one of the most important tools managers and employees have to gauge and improve performance in the workplace. If you don’t receive regular feedback or your performance evaluation is skipped, you need to ask for it. I know they say no news is good news, but I also know that many managers will avoid tough conversations about performance. This becomes problematic when new managers come in and have a different set of expectations.  Even if all is going well, it’s still helpful to talk about work processes and to obtain real-time feedback on what’s working (and not working) to allow for idea generation and forward momentum.

Article 7.10 covers the rules regarding performance evaluations but a few key takeaways:

  • After completion of the probationary period, classified employees shall be evaluated at least once in each 24-month period. If you’re still receiving salary step advancements, performance evaluations are typically conducted annually.
  • Your immediate supervisor should prepare and present your performance evaluation.  Not their boss or another administrator, not the faculty director of the area in which you work but the one who signs your time card. If any of those have more direct day-to-day contact with you, they can ask for feedback but your supervisor should conduct the evaluation.
  • Performance appraisal reports shall be written on forms provided by the District. Anything else presented by your evaluator has no official context and will not be considered as part of the performance process.
  • Both the evaluator and you must sign the District evaluation form.  Your signature does not indicate you agree or accept the evaluation as presented, it merely acknowledges that you have received it.
  • Respond, in writing, to any part of the evaluation which you disagree.  If you respond within 10 days of receiving the evaluation, the Director of Human Resources will review the response and the appraisal before placing it in your permanent file. This is your opportunity to have your feedback included in the evaluation process. Use it, and be certain to provide factual information for your disagreement.
  • Performance reviews can not be grieved.  In other words, ACE cannot take any action against the supervisor or the District because you don’t agree with the evaluation. ACE can help you write a response and will step in if your supervisor tries to impose any discipline action in conjunction with the evaluation.
  • Any negative documentation will be shared with the employee prior to inclusion in any performance evaluation.  In other words, no surprises. If you’re blindsided by your review, use the written response option to document your objection.
  • Any worker who has their advancement withheld due to their performance evaluation may request a review by the Director of Human Resources of the appraisal.  The Director of Human Resources shall meet with the worker and the worker’s ACE representative and issue his/her decision.

In order to be meaningful, progress reviews should occur as one part of an ongoing dialogue between managers and employees. Formal reviews are an opportunity to celebrate earned success, reflect on experience, recalibrate goals and start fresh, but they should never be a substitute for everyday feedback and coaching.

Annual 403 & 457 Plan Review

By Scott Olsen

As part of your employment with Foothill-De Anza, you have access to a ten 403(b) and 457 tax shelter annuities (plans which let you set aside monies on a pre-tax basis) for the purpose of retirement. Participation in these plans is voluntary and do not come with any District matching funds (they contribute to your CalPERS pension). You can open an account at any time. To find out more about what the District offers, visit here.

On June 19th representatives from each bargaining unit met with the District to review 403/457 plan participation and provide feedback on the current offerings. Companies are chosen by FHDA based on demand, not merit, so they are not equal in terms of their services and the fees they charge. Financial advisors are not required to act in your best interest. Many will sell investment products with high expenses that will net them the most money in return.  Do you research.

In 2018 , for FHDA, the top three vendors for overall contribution were Fidelity, CalSTRS Pension2, and Vanguard. The District is researching the option to add Fidelity and Vanguard as 457 vendors but due to system limitations they are limited to ten vendors and if one is added, another would have to go away. ACE will be seeking feedback from members before a follow-up meeting with the District and other bargaining units this fall on what options members would like to see.

A few things we learned:

Did you know CalSTRS Pension2 is a 457 option for CalPERS members? Did you know that Pension2 offers a self-directed brokerage account (SDBA) that allows participants to contribute to thousands of different mutual funds (including Vanguard and Fidelity)? We asked that some wording be added to the district documentation to make sure the availability of these options was clear to employees.

If you already have an account, check with payroll before you transfer between vendors It is important to have them review your paperwork prior to submission. A recent incident with an employee who tried to transfer funds independently left their entire account balance in limbo for two months while transfer errors were corrected.

I highly recommend reading the following books:

  • “A Random Walk Down Wall Street” by Burton G. Malkiel
  • “The Little Book of Common Sense Investing” by John C. Bogle

They have been extremely informative regarding retirement investing, how the financial services industry works and helped me to sleep better at night (each provided a mixture of boredom and sound strategy). Check your local library to borrow a copy for free.

Sollidarity: The Story of Unions

by Anthony Caceres

The most important word in the language of the working class is solidarity”. Those words spoken by Harry Bridges still ring true today. The modern workplace is a result of hard fought battles undertaken by unions. Individuals such as Harry Bridges devoted their entire lives to improving the lives of workers. It is because of unions we enjoy the many benefits and privileges in our workplaces. The issue at hand is the role unions will play in shaping the future workplace in America. The future appears to be a replay of past times with employers reverting to old tactics to weaken the voice and collective power of workers. Unions have constantly faced opposition but have held strong. However, recent legal cases have decreased the power unions once held and have fully opened the door to the dismantling of unions. Furthermore, public perception of unions has been altered by the private sector and the ideology behind right-to-work. What we are seeing is a drastic reversal in labor relations and a return to an imbalance of power between employer and employees.

The JANUS vs. AFSCME court case directly impacted the financial security of unions by diminishing the power and ability of unions to collect fees which has resulted in the weakening of the systemic structures that uphold progressive labor negotiations and effective labor practices. Prior to the JANUS court decision, right-to-work laws in several states were implemented for the exact same reason. These laws systematically weakened unions by voiding them of the ability to recruit new members and collect fees. In an already unfair and unbalanced labor environment, unions have become an optional secondary choice. Americans are choosing to take a dangerous path that can have dire consequences. History has taught us that we cannot simply rely on the goodwill of employers but must demand better treatment and workplace benefits.

With labor relations in such dire straits, one may ask what can be done. Echoing the words of Harry Bridges, we must be unified in purpose and in mind. There must be solidarity among the ranks of the working class with a complete understanding that together we rise but divided we fall. It takes all members of a union to maintain the financial viability and negotiation power of the union itself. If we experience more and more departures from union ranks, there will come a time where unions will all but disappear. After all, this is the will of those who seek to undermine worker rights and establish modern economic slavery. The dependency on the good nature of capitalistic employers is naïve at best. Profit over people has been the motto of countless American companies and there is no reason to believe this will end. Unions are the last reliable institution for workers but the decay of labor relations is on the horizon. It is up to every single one of us to call to mind the sacrifices and difficulties by which our modern workplaces came to be. If it is a better world we are attempting to leave for a new generation, we must fight to ensure strong unions are a cornerstone to economic and social prosperity.

It is up to every single one of us to call to mind the sacrifices and difficulties by which our modern workplaces came to be. If it is a better world we are attempting to leave for a new generation, we must fight to ensure strong unions are a cornerstone to economic and social prosperity.