President’s Message

The Kitchen Sink: From gratitude to budgets to elections and a few other things throw-in.  

Settle in, I have a few things to say.

Gratitude:  Thank you to everyone who donated leave to colleagues affected by the recent wildfires, including the Faculty Association who reached out to their membership to donate leave for employees in ACE. In my 20 years with the district, the generosity of the people who work here never ceases to amaze me.  I also want to extend thanks to the administration for giving employees a little grace during this time as we continue to navigate this pandemic. A special thanks to all of you for showing up and doing your work to serve students despite everything else happening in your lives. It’s a lot.  Managing kids and school and work. Not easy.  Living by yourself with very limited in-person interaction.  Not easy.  Less-than-ideal workspaces and fickle internet connections.  Not easy. Coping with friends and family affected by COVID19, or any illness, and not being able to help.  Not easy.  Seven months in, and what looks like many more months to go, this is a good time to remind you that you are not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis trying to work.  Be kind to yourself and take the time off when you need it. If you get pushback, please contact your steward. 

Budgets:  You know the story, our budget situation isn’t great but how bad is it?  First, it was an $11.5 million shortfall, now it’s $9 million. We need to decide on permanent cuts by Nov. 1, now we need to identify money to backfill the $9 million in shortfalls for another year. It could come from vacant positions (which is ongoing money and ultimately a cut) to one-time monies from carryforward balances. We were heading towards basic aid, now we’re not there. We have lost 3200 FTES (full-time equivalent student) since 17/18, but unlike previous recessions where students flock back to community colleges, our enrollment remains flat. It is better than the majority of community colleges across the state and nation who have seen a decline in enrollment but compounded with a 26 percent drop in non-resident enrollment, revenues are challenged.  Hold harmless money – funding from the state to make up the difference between our apportionment funding from 17/18 enrollment and where they would be funding us today based on our current enrollment – has been extended for an additional two years but it has to be approved by the legislature every year so the money isn’t an absolute guarantee.  What it all means? To quote the District in their 202-21 budget proposal “Reduction target will be refined as more information is obtained”. The FHDA Board of Trustees approved the 2020-21 budget at their October 5 meeting.  

ACE passed it’s 2020-21 annual budget in July.  We continue to spend 96 percent of dues on matters of representation.  As an independent labor association, we get to decide how we spend our resources and elected to forgive dues through December 2020 to help offset any financial burdens members may face as a result of the pandemic and it’s ensuing shelter in place.  

Participation: It is not ‘shared’ governance, it is ‘participatory’ governance.  The difference is subtle but important to remember because it clearly defines who has the authority to make decisions. In 1988, the California Legislature and the Governor approved AB 1725 directing the California Community College Board of Governors to develop regulations designed to:

…ensure faculty, staff, and students (have) the opportunity to express their opinions at the campus level, and to ensure that these opinions are given every reasonable consideration, and the right to participate effectively in the district and college governance, and the right of academic senates to assume primary responsibility for making recommendations in the areas of curriculum and academic standards(70900.5).

Upon direction from the Legislature, the California Community College Board of Governors adopted Title 5 regulations to implement AB 1725. Regulations pertaining to classified staff are found in §51023.5. The Board of Governors then directed each community college district Board of Trustees to adopt local policies (BP2224) and procedures to implement these Title 5 regulations. In other words, in participatory governance, constituency groups make recommendations to the administration and the board of trustees who then, ultimately, decide how budgets are spent and where cuts need to be made. For the first time in my 20 years, the board of trustees is looking to make some significant changes to their board priorities which could impact how we do business. They will be addressing these priorities at their Nov. 2 meeting. I encourage everyone to attend. ACE’s role is to make certain the District follows the process outlined in CA ed code and our Agreement when it comes to reductions or outsourcing and work to mitigate any impact they may have on as few members as possible.  

Over the summer, the District formed a consolidation task force of senior leadership and representatives from the constituent groups to look at ways the District and colleges could operate more efficiently and provide the colleges with guidelines for restructuring. What that specifically meant is anyone’s guess. I’m a firm believer that it is very difficult to implement change with the same people sitting at the table. When it comes to decisions relating to how we serve students, I’m not the right person for those conversations. I’d argue most of the representatives on the task forces probably aren’t the right people for the conversation. I don’t work on campus, I’ve never worked in direct student services, I attended community college 30 (gulp) years ago, I fully recognize the privilege my skin color (white) has have afforded me in life – my gender is a different story -and it wouldn’t benefit you or our students to have me at the table. How would I know what the impact of these types of decisions would have on today’s student body? This is why I asked Andre Meggerson, enrollment services at Foothill, and Sushini Chand, student support at De Anza, to represent ACE in these meetings. Their experiences are closer to our students. But their voice is one of the many in our District. To date, the task force has yet to present anything.   

This is why your participation in this process is critical. Many of you have life experiences closer to our students and as the campuses and District reconvene their participatory meetings you need to be at the table.  While ultimately senior leadership gets to decide how we are structured, you, and students, will be the ones impacted by decisions made at these meetings. You have just as much right to speak up and advocate for the students you serve as anyone else on campus. For example, with flat enrollment, there has been advocacy from some instructors and students about letting lower enrolled classes run with the hope that it will help capture late enrolled students looking for classes.  We tried that strategy for a decade and saw no improvement.  Some years we spent millions only to lose millions more.  Meanwhile, staffing for student support services was decimated to make up for the losses. I encourage you to show up and to use your voice.

A good leader seeks input from its constituents, not because Title V says they should.  A good leader explains their decisions and is honest about the impact they will have on students and employees. I remember when we retrained employees when a department closed down or one college welcomed affected employees so no one would be laid off.  Let’s help senior management be good leaders.

Participatory governance meetings are public and open to all employees. 

Central Services

Committee Meeting Date Meeting Time Contact info
District Budget Advisory Committee  3rd Tues. of the  month during the academic year 1:30 – 3 p.m. Carla Maitland, 
http://www.fhda.edu/_about-us/_participatorygovernance/_DBAC-agenda-and-meeting-summaries
District Diversity and Equity Advisory Committee (DDEAC) Random Pat Hyland, hylandpat@fhda.edu; 
http://hr.fhda.edu/diversity/b-district-diversity-and-equity-advisory-committee.html
Educational Technology Advisory Committee (ETAC) 2nd Wed. of the month during the academic year 12 – 1:30 https://ets.fhda.edu/governance-committees/etac/
Central Services Classified Senate 4th Tues. of the month 10:30 – 11:30 http://hr.fhda.edu/classified-senate/
Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees Meeting 1st Monday of the month 6-8 p.m. http://fhda.edu/_about-us/_board/index

De Anza
You will find all of their participatory governance committees listed here:  http://www.deanza.edu/gov/
Foothill
You will find all of their participatory governance committees listed here: https://foothill.edu/gov/

Elections: The upcoming local, state, and national elections (Tuesday, Nov.3 in case you have been living in an isolation chamber) will have a significant impact on public education. State proposition 15 (public school funding) and proposition 16 (affirmative action) could impact how we serve students for decades. If you live in our district service area, three board of trustee seats are up for re-election with four candidates vying for the spots.  Make sure you’re registered, get informed, make a plan, and vote. 

For ACE, the upcoming officer elections will be held online Oct. 27 through the 30.  Candidate names will be released later this week once they are verified the member is eligible and willing to serve. 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”. 

In both elections, your vote is your voice. 

A few other things:  ACE continues to negotiate the classification study and the negotiating team feels good about the direction we are heading. In the next month or so we will be sending out a member survey for 2020-21 negotiations.  As some areas push to return to campus, ACE is monitoring the plans, policies, and procedures put forward by the campuses to help make sure everyone is safe. At the October FHDA Board of Trustees meeting, the board authorized Chancellor Miner to sign a resolution regarding the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s remote work pledge leaving open the possibility for staff to continue remote work, where appropriate when we return to campus. Our Agreement has allowed this option for well over a decade (article 13.2.6).  Most importantly, we continue to represent members as needed on issues of discipline or worker safety, appropriate compensation for work performed, workplace accommodations, and a host of other items.  Personnel items are personal, which is why you don’t hear a lot about them.

In solidarity,

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

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


Officer Elections

Thank you to everyone who nominated themselves or a colleague to run for office.  Our recorder is confirming their eligibility, and willingness, to run and will be releasing all the candidates’ names by the end of the week.  As I have said on numerous occasions, our labor association only works due to the willing participation of the membership.
As a reminder, the following positions are up for election.

  • Treasurer
  • Recorder
  • Vice President – Foothill
  • Chief Steward – De Anza and Central Services (one at each location)
  • Board Members – Central Services and De Anza Seat 2 (one at each location)

A description of each officer’s role and responsibilities can be found here.

Elections held online October 27 – October 30


Register to Vote

With several initiatives on the California ballot directly affecting public education, this is a good time to make sure you’re registered to vote, get informed, and make a plan to vote.

Register, check your registration, and/or encourage others to join you.  https://registertovote.ca.gov/

Get informed. Non-partisan information can be found at https://ballotpedia.org or https://www.lwvsjsc.org.  The Silicon Valley Council of the Blind had the League of Women Voters at their September meeting to review all of the initiatives on the ballot.  You can hear a recording of that meeting here: http://www.svcb.cc/psaudio/20/ps0920.mp3

Vote before or on Tuesday, Nov. 3.  


Negotiations Update

Chair of Negotiations, Cathleen Monsell

In early September, ACE sent the District our substantive proposal for the classification study.  We are still waiting for a response.  

Frustrated by the constant delay? We are too but we know the District uses delay as a negotiating tactic. Delaying a decision and ignoring deadlines is meant to create anxiety and pressure us into making concessions. We have compromised and our proposal is more than fair.  We’ve come this far, we can wait a little longer. A sign that a conclusion may be forthcoming? The district has estimated potential personnel cost increases in the 2020-2021 budget for both the ACE and the Administrators classification/compensation studies.  


Welcome New Members

Please take a moment to welcome our newest members.  Invite them to a site meeting, answer their questions or point them to their steward if they need additional guidance.  Our association only works with active participation from all our members.

Foothill 
Katherine Lee, program coordinator II, TLC
Rhonda Wood, administrative assistant, counseling
Carlos Pacheco Miranda, program coordinator, Family Engagement Institute

De Anza
Mazzetta Campbell, child development teacher, CDC
Leah Riley, administrative assistant, PSME 
Suzanna Ramirez, administrative assistant, Psychological Services


COVID 19 and Unions

by Anthony Caceres, chief steward central services

The world as we know it has come and gone. The COVID-19 Pandemic has altered many aspects of society. The continued fight against injustices has transformed America. With much going on in our world, we grasp for some normalcy, a sense of stability. As America’s economy shifts and suffers from global events, American workers face difficult times. The private sector has experienced lay-offs, furloughs, and devastation to its workforce. The public domain has seen its fair share of crippling economic ramifications. As we navigate these murky waters, we may wonder what the role of unions is in these trying times.

Our unions not only act as the voice for a collective of workers but they hold significant political power. As COVID-19 continues its destructive path, unions are on the front lines fighting for employee safety and influencing workplace policies. Across the country, we have seen unions vocally address the safety of their workers, from food processing facilities to transit workers. ACE itself has been vocal to ensure all members receive the proper protection and all safety measures are followed. Furthermore, unions such as National Nurses United, are advocating for policy changes. In a response statement, NNU stated that their 155,000 members required the highest level of protection, and systemic changes were needed to adequately address the pandemic within hospitals. It is the duty of unions to fight for their workers, whether on the bargaining table or through emergency situations. The history of unions is marked by occasion after the occasion where policies, initiatives derived from the work conducted by unions. It is times like these that will look for reasonableness, direction, and effective application. Unions are playing a larger role in steering the American workplace through these hard times all while fighting to enact sweeping changes to better prepare for the next crisis.

In the face of decades-old injustices, unions have contributed to the advancement of workers but often to the exclusion of minorities. History shows us that white supremacy has been the spirit by which America has existed. Unions have not escaped from this and have perpetuated the status quo. From union fights in New York on behalf of black teachers to Cesar Chavez fighting to create a space for minority workers to have a voice, at times America’s unions have fallen short of their core missions. The African American community has experienced these injustices to a degree most simply do not understand. Unions have negatively impacted our fellow Americans through exclusionary practices and downright discriminatory policies. Railroad unions, teacher unions, transit unions, police unions all have at different moments in history, excluded African Americans from their ranks. In the aftermath of the horrific killing of George Floyd, we have once again seen this white supremacy mindset exercise its power. As mentioned previously, unions have enormous power and can often shape entire industries and politics. In this case, police unions across the country have attempted to defend actions that clearly violate human decency and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for American citizens. Our very own unions have voiced their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight towards justice for all. It takes this type of assertion and leadership to create the necessary change. It is not the time for cowardice but for conviction and admiration for truth and justice. This is a moment in history where unions will need to once again create monumental shifts and lead the efforts to create equitable workplace conditions.

Our unions are facing tremendous pressures in modern times and are fighting tooth and nail for workers. It is a moment of reflection, of self-analysis to ensure unions are truly protecting all of their members. When much of society is crumbling, unions remain firm and committed to doing better. It is when things go wrong we appreciate all that is right. Unions are right, unions are vital, unions are needed. Our unions will need to make the change we seek to see and continue to be vocal for what is right. No matter the circumstance, no matter the crisis, America’s unions stand ready to fight for their workers. History may judge unions for their inequities but history will show that in the moments we all needed them, unions were there to answer the call. The American spirit is reflected in our unions, citizens coming together for a common cause.  Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the civil unrest, and political instability, unions are a refreshing reminder of all that is great about the American experiment.


ACE Dues Forgiveness and
Employee Health Care Contributions for 2021 Plan Year

email sent to all members 07/16/2020

ACE membership

In what feels like a never-ending sea of uncertainty, here are two things that we hope will take some of that away.

The Short Version:

  1. ACE will continue to forgive dues through December 30, 2020.
  2. The employee health care contribution rate for 2021 will not go up.

Dues forgiveness through December 30, 2020

Earlier this month, we surveyed the membership and asked two questions: 1) Due to COVID-19 and the resulting shelter in place (SIP), has your income been negatively impacted? 53 percent of you said yes. 2) When asked why 27 percent had lost their second job, 46 percent stated a loss of income from another financial contributor to the household, 75 percent stated increased household expenses from working remotely and the SIP, and nearly 9 percent needed to reduce their contract to take care of family members as a result of SIP. For the second question, survey respondents could check all that apply. The survey had a response rate of 52 percent.

This information helped inform our budget planning for 2020-2021. Our priority is always to support our membership. Through smart financial planning over the years along with savvy financial investing by our treasurer – our interest income increased 15 percent over the previous year – we are able to support the membership in this tangible way. We still have $500,000 for a strike fund, $10,000 for a five percent reserve, $25,000 for unsettled litigation (CalPERS), and $100,000 for any legal action related to the classification study.

The takeaway? This is only possible because we are an independent labor association. If we still belonged to CSEA or SEIU, we would have no control over how our dues are spent.

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”.

Employee Health Care Contribution Rates for 2021 Plan Year

​Yesterday, the Joint Labor-Management Benefits Council (JLMBC) agreed employee health care contribution rates for 2021 will remain at the 2020 level. This is the fifth year in a row in which the bargaining units have been able to negotiate no increase. And health care costs are rising. This year, the overall increase to premiums is 5.3 percent. Over the past five years, the average increase has been three percent a year.

How can we keep our cost the same? Health benefits are paid from three sources: employee contributions, district contributions, and a Rate Stabilization Fund (RSF). The RSF started with $10 million dollars almost a decade ago to help stabilize rising health care costs. To date, we have used approximately $3 million of the RSF which was supposed to be depleted within three years. The RSF covers the difference between what employees and the district pay and the actual premium cost. Over the past five years, the bargaining units have also been able to negotiate an additional $2.8 million in one-time money to the RSF and increase the amount the District pays per employee per month (PEPM), from $976 to $1,011.

The takeaway? This is only possible because of collective bargaining. It is worth saying again, health care costs are rising every year, and without collective bargaining that cost would get passed on to you.

On behalf of the ACE Executive Board

Chris


PGA and CalPERS – Request for Previous Application Materials

READ THOROUGHLY

For members affected by CalPERS’ decision to only include section one and certain types of training in section five of the Professional Growth Award (PGA) application towards pensionable income.

  1. If you would like to review your previous award(s) information, please send an email to whitechris@fhda.edu.  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 back up material will be provided.  This should help you determine how many hours you have under section one, whether they were used for a award or carried forward, 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 two weeks.  To not overburden an already short-staffed human resources department.  Your patience is appreciated.

If you would like all of your PGA’s to qualify as special compensation under CalPERS’ rules, we have already negotiated additional funding ($20,000 per year for two years) for affected employees to take courses at no cost to replace hours on already earned PGAs which are not pensionable.  In addition, we are still working with the District on an MOU to hopefully include courses which were taken but not included on an application, waiving the requirement for a 100 new hours per award, and/or allowing courses taken on Staff Development Leave (SDL) which were paid with educational assistance.  ACE and the District are committed to helping staff have as many previously earned PGAs count towards pensionable income as possible.

As a reminder, awards are still worth $90 each.  It is only the activities under CalPERS rules for educational incentive special compensation which has changed.