President’s Message

As we wait for movement on negotiations and the classification study I think it is important to reflect on a couple other items that have been popping up over the last month and what you can do to help.

Reorganization and Management Right of Assignment
As I have said on more than one occasion, as a result of the latest round of budget reductions, reorganization will be necessary for the colleges and District to operate efficiently and effectively. Critical vacancies are being filled but there is still more work than people.  Add to the mix changes in student demand, state mandates, and declining resources and work that may have once been a priority is shifted and you’re asked to do something different.

There is some confusion over management’s ability to assign the work performed by classified employees. They have the absolute right to assign your work. Management retains the right to assign work to employees in the proper classification. The only possible restriction on this right would be found in three separate place, the Government Code, the Education Code and the collective bargaining agreement between Foothill-De Anza Community College District and ACE.

A review of those documents indicates no prohibition on management’s right to assign work. The Government Code merely defines what are mandatory matters for bargaining. Assignment of work is not enumerated as a mandatory matter of bargaining. The Government Code goes on to state at section 3543.2 (4), that if a matter is not enumerated, that matter is reserved to the public school employer and may not be a subject of meeting and negotiating.

That doesn’t mean that the District can make you do work out of your classification without paying you more, nor does it mean it can assign you more work than you can do in your 8 hours of work but they do have the right to determine what work the want done. ACE’s role is to make certain the work is appropriate to the classification. Without ACE, the District could change your classification, have you do work completely unrelated to your classification and decide if, and how much, they will pay you for that work.  If your duties are changing, review your classification, they are listed under the human resources website, and/or talk to your steward.

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.

In the meantime, what has ACE been up too?

In March, ACE filed a lawsuit against CalPERS regarding the temporary five-percent salary adjustment and their denial that it would qualify as pensionable income for all members.  A court date for February 2020 has been set to determine if we should be in front of a hearing officer at the CalPERS or are we properly before the court. Once that is decided we can then have a hearing on the merits, either before an administrative law judge at CalPERS or in court in front of a judge.  As a reminder, the decision in this case will impact employees from all bargaining units including administrators. In May, we filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) charging the District with failing to act in good faith and violating their duty to bargain fairly around the classification study. We are still waiting on a response.

When it comes to personnel representation, ACE takes your right to privacy very seriously, which is why you don’t hear as much about it. While every issue isn’t resolved the way ACE or a member would like or want, unlike our previous unions, our attorney, labor representative and officers show up each and every time and work to do their very best on your behalf. In the last few months alone we’ve:

  • had improper warnings removed from an employee’s file;
  • addressed issues around classification, working out of class, leaves, benefits, changes to work schedules and worksite accommodations; and
  • on multiple occasions, successfully mediated issues between members and their supervisors when there was no Agreement violation.

ACE exists solely for your benefit and the benefit of your coworkers but independence isn’t free. It costs money and requires active participation from the membership to work. ACE has been fortunate every time we’ve needed both, the members have stepped up. In return, our independence has allowed us to support our members in a way which being a part of a national or international union never would have allowed us to do, such as forgiving and/or reducing dues when finances allow so you can keep more money in your pocket without sacrificing representation. 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”.

You can help.

  • Get involved. Officer elections are this month.  We also have an opening for interim chief steward at Foothill. Not your style? Attend a site meeting or send a representative. For DA, meetings are generally held the first Tuesday of the month at noon in Admin 109. For FH/CS, meetings are generally held the third Tuesday of the month at noon in the Toyon Room.  We’ll be serving pizza.
  • Vote.  Throughout the year, ACE will send you surveys to get your feedback.  It’s your feedback that guides your ACE team at the bargaining table.
  • Give feedback, offer solutions. Other than myself, all of the ACE’s officers do this work in addition to their full-time FHDA jobs.  None of us thinks that we have all the answers but we will work with you to find answers to your questions.
  • Speak up. If you are constantly denied vacation because you’re the only one who does your work and your supervisor is concerned how the work will get done without you, tell us. We will work with you and your supervisor to come up with a solution but we can’t help you if we don’t know about it.
  • Be patient.  As my friend and former Foothill Chief Steward Art Hand likes to remind me, everything always take longer than you think. Period.

As your ACE president, it’s my pleasure to speak with you about any of your concerns and answer any questions you have about your union and the Agreement.  Call or e-mail me anytime.

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

Negotiations Update

Cathleen Monsell, Chair of Negotiations

On Thursday, Sept. 5, the ACE negotiating team emailed their proposals to the district in advance of the Sept. 9 bargaining meeting.  On Monday, Sept. 9 the district and ACE met to review the proposals.  Scheduling conflicts delayed a second bargaining session onThurs., October 3.  ACE came to the table expecting a response to the proposals submitted last month. We were met with a request to, again, review the proposals presented at the Sept. 9 meeting.  Our labor representative has sent a notice to the district to provide any additional questions immediately to them so both sides can be ready to bargain the next time we meet.  We met on Oct. 17 with some forward progress.  We meet again late Monday, Oct. 21.

Upcoming Workshops

Staff Development Leave Application Q&A
Nov. 6 from 2-3:00 p.m.
De Anza MLC 233 and ZOOM
Professional Growth Awards (PGA)
Nov. 12 from 2 – 3:00 p.m.
De Anza MLC 233 and ZOOM

Watch your email for calendar invite.

Know Your Agreement:Staff Development Leave

2020-2021 Staff Development Leave Applications Due 12/15
A workshop to answer application questions will be held from 2 – 3:00 p.m via ZOOM on Wednesday, Nov. 6.   Watch your email for an invite.

SDL Quick Overview

  • Up to 10 months paid time off at 85% of full pay.
  • To be eligible, you must have completed seven (7) years of service to the District.
  • Applications are due December 15 of the fiscal year preceding the leave.
  • The leave may be used to complete interrupted studies, learn by observing methods used in industry or other educational institutions, or get a substantial start on a goal of better education.
  • During the leave the worker will be entitled to all the benefits of classified contract workers except that only 85% of service time will be credited by the Public Employees Retirement System.
  • During the leave the worker shall earn 85% of the normal credit for sick leave and seniority. No vacation credit shall be earned during SDL.
  • Travel and conference funds and educational assistance are available during the leave. Courses paid through educational assistance cannot be used to qualify for a Professional Growth Award (PGA).
  • Classified hourly are not eligible for SDL.
  • Funding for a minimum of ten (10) SDL leaves are granted annually.

How are SDLs Funded?
As part of our negotiated Agreement, SDLs are paid by a separate district fund and have no negative impact on the workers department budget. This allows the department supervisor to hire another staff member to work out of class or use a temporary worker and not wonder how the work will get done while another worker is out on leave.

How Common Is Staff Development Leave for Classified Staff?
Out of the 72 community college districts in California representing 114 community colleges, very few offer staff development leave for classified staff. SDL is a negotiated benefit for FHDA classified staff, and while a few other institutions offers SDL, none are as extensive as ours.

 Institution  Paid Benefit  Leave Length  Eligibility
 FHDA  85% of full pay  Up to 10 mo. 7  yr. of service
Los Rios CCD
American River, Folsom Lake, Sac City, Consumnes River
  85% of pay  Up to 5 mo.  7 yr. of service
State Center CCD
Fresno, Reedley, Clovis
  50% of pay  Up to 1 yr.  5 yr. of service
North Orange CCD
Cypress, Fullerton
 100% of pay  Up to 240 hours
(1 mo.)
 6 yr. of service
Kern CCD
Bakersfield, Porterville
 60% of pay
90% of pay
 Up to 1 yr.
Up to 6 mo.
 7 yr. of service
3 yr. of service
 Merced College  50% of pay or the difference in pay
between worker on leave and a   substitute employee
 Up to 1 yr.  7 yr. of service

The Application

  • Applications for the succeeding college year must be received by the Director of Human Resources before December 15.
  • Unit members may submit a copy of their request for leave without appropriate signatures by December 15; however, all signatures must be received by January 31.
  • The written application must present a detailed description of the proposed activities of the leave and the potential value of these activities to the District as well as the learning outcomes that are expected from this leave.
  • If the worker intends to enroll in school, the application must identify the educational institution to be attended and, by academic term, a list of courses (with course descriptions) the worker will be taking.
  • The application shall contain precise dates for the beginning and ending of the leave.
  • If a unit member is attending school full time, which is 12 units either semester or quarter for undergrad and 8 units, semester or quarter, for graduate, then the unit member does not have to participate in other activities related to the leave.
  • If the unit member is not going to school full-time, other activities related to the leave must be completed in fulfilling the 12-unit minimum. For this purpose, one hour of activity per week equals one unit and so forth.
  • Any changes to the leave must be submitted in writing to the Director of Human Resources who will consult with the Staff Development Leave Committee, to approve such changes prior to the unit member participation in those changes.

Staff Development Committee

  • This Committee shall be composed of two representatives of ACE, two representatives of CSEA, and two administrators designated by the Chancellor, one of whom will serve as chairman.For ACE, this is Karen Smith at Foothill and Chris White with ACE.
  • Each application that has been submitted and has received the recommendation of the immediate supervisor and the appropriate administrator shall be forwarded to the Classified Staff Development Leave Committee for review and recommendation to the Chancellor.
  • FHDA Board-approved leaves will be announced by March 1 of each year.

Returning From Staff Development Leave

  • If a leave is granted, the worker must agree in writing to render, upon return from leave, a minimum of two months of service to the District for each month of staff development leave.
  • Failure to render this service will require the worker to refund the salary paid by the District during the leave.
  • Within thirty days of return from a leave, the worker shall submit a written report to the Classified Staff Development Leave Committee of the activities of the leave, emphasizing the value to the District and the learning outcomes achieved.
  • If the worker attended school during the leave, he or she shall also submit a transcript or other appropriate documentation showing satisfactory attendance and successful completion of the course work as soon as reasonably possible.

Officer Elections: Oct. 28 -Nov. 1

Nominations Accepted October 15 – 18
Elections held online October 28 – November

The following positions are up for election.

  • President
  • Vice President – Central Services and De Anza (one at each location)
  • Chief Steward – Foothill
  • Board Members – Central Services and De Anza Seat 1 (one at each location)
Nominations for president is open to all members.  Nominations for campus specific positions are limited to members of that campus.

A description of each officer’s role and responsibilities can be found here.  Terms are two years in length and run from January 1, 2020 through December 30, 2021.   All executive board members are required to:

  • Attend ACE board meetings held the 2nd Wednesday of every month from 1-2:30 p.m. They rotate between the two campuses.
  • Attend the site meeting for the campus they represent. At De Anza, these are held the 1st Tuesday of the month; At Foothill, these are held the 3rd Tuesday of the month. Both meetings are  from noon – 1 p.m.

All positions require subordination of personal interests to those that represent the highest good of the members.  No officer shall have greater rights than any other member of ACE.

Elective stipends are provided to officers for their work on behalf of ACE.  A member is eligible to be a candidate if they are a non-probationary, permanent, classified employee in the District and is a member of ACE for one (1) full year.

So, what office are you running for in the upcoming election?

VEBA: A Post-1997 Medical Benefits Fund

By Christine Mangiameli
Foothill College, ACE Board Member, VEBA Board Trustee

What is the VEBA?
You’ve probably heard a colleague refer to them as pre-1997 or post-1997, but what does that mean? In short, it refers to an employee’s eligibility to receive medical benefits from the District upon retirement. Employees hired after July 1, 1997 do not have ongoing medical benefits.  This is most employees today.
Rising health care costs and the District’s decision to stop contributing to retiree’s health benefits, reached a tipping point for post-’97 employees in 2010.  In response, the collective bargaining units – ACE, CSEA, FA, POA, Teamsters, and later Administrators – began the process of establishing a fund called the Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Association (VEBA) to help offset medical benefits costs for post-1997 retirees.

How is the VEBA funded?
In 2010, ACE and FA agreed to set aside $250,000 each as part of a salary negotiation with the District to help fund the VEBA.  The District matched those contributions, setting up the VEBA with an initial $1 million in funding.  In 2016, the bargaining units negotiated an $800K one-time District contribution. Ongoing funding is provided by all district employees in the form of $2 (employee), $4 (employee +1) or $6 (employee +family) and is included in their monthly health care contribution rate.

Why is this important to you?
Time flies.  Think about that for a second, a minute, a few minutes.  It doesn’t feel like anything, but it doesn’t stop.  Now it’s a year later.  Ask anyone; they thought they’d work here a few years, and ten years later they are still one of us.  Each of us will face the day when retire on a fixed income, and this is one of the best benefits our ACE union has negotiated for us.  The highest employee contribution today is $6/month; the current return on that is $100/month.  No one on Wall Street can beat that investment!  We have to think long term, not just about today, and VEBA is designed to be there. Even if you don’t stay with the District until retirement, once you meet the requirements, the benefit is yours when you file for and pay your Medicare premium.  Benefits like these set the standard that non-union employers follow.

Who is eligible for the VEBA?
Eligibility is based on three factors for anyone hired on or after July 1, 1997:

  1. You worked at least, half-time as a regular employee and were eligible to enroll in the District’s active health coverage for 15 years or more prior to your retirement; and,
  2. You separated from employment as a regular employee in any position for which you were eligible to enroll in District active health coverage, regardless of whether or not you have retired (service or disability) from PERS or STRS; and,
  3. You are Medicare eligible and have enrolled in and begun receiving Medicare coverage, and have paid a premium for Medicare coverage.

What is happening today with the VEBA?
The VEBA trust set up a web site (  Eligible retirees are notified to submit their application and are reimbursed quarterly to offset their Medicare Part B fee.  The current payout rate is $100 a month ($1200/year).  We are looking at ways to increase the benefit payout.
To help stabilize the VEBA fund, the joint union negotiations on health care and the VEBA Trust Board is keeping an eye on the fund to secure it for all qualified post-’97 retirees.

Wanted: Interim Chief Steward, Foothill

by Chris White, ACE President

Foothill’s current Chief Steward Josh Pelletier has moved up into a supervisor role and will not be able to complete his term with ACE, which ends this Dec. 31, 2019.  We are seeking a replacement to finish his term.  A new chief steward will hopefully be elected in our upcoming elections and begin Jan. 1, 2020.

ACE strives to have a vibrant, active and engaged membership. Knowledgeable, well versed, engaged stewards are essential to the success of an engaged membership. Stewards primary roles are to:

  • enforce our Agreement;
  • represent workers in grievance and disciplinary proceedings; and
  • build relationships with members and management in the workplace.

Elected by the membership to two-year terms, ACE stewards serve in addition to their full-time FHDA job. The position is voluntary with ACE providing an optional $250 monthly stipend.  However, most don’t do this work for the money.  They do it because they want to help their colleagues.

Per our Agreement, release time is granted so stewards can meet with workers and management to resolve issues. It is important to remember there are no definitive answers on the best way to approach an issue but stewards start from the point of view that they will represent a member fairly, in good faith, and without discrimination by:

  • listening to all points of view carefully;
  • working with people on their problems;
  • knowing when to tell management or members they are wrong and saying so (politely);
  • securing the facts;
  • knowing when to ask for help; and
  • understanding the members and supervisors as individuals.

Article 5.3 of the ACE Constitution clearly defines the role of steward with our organization.  Article 6 of our Agreement grants stewards the right to leave their permanent assignment during work time to perform the duties of a steward.

Article 5.3 Steward(s) – ACE Constitution
Chief Stewards from each location are elected to office as part of the Executive Board as described in Article 10. Up to six (6) additional stewards are appointed by the Executive Board. Stewards serve until they resign their position or are removed by action of the Executive Board and/or the Chief Steward. Stewards are members in good standing.
a. Duties of the Chief Stewards

  1. Chair the Stewards Council and report activities of Stewards to the Executive Board in closed session.
  2. Be responsible for recruiting stewards and presenting candidates to the Executive Board for approval.

b. Duties of the Chief Stewards and Steward(s)

  1. Represent their respective jurisdiction in all membership meetings in the absence of the members.
  2. Be the first line of contact with administrative or supervisory staff subject to this Constitution.
  3. Be responsible for the enforcement of all applicable collective bargaining agreements in their respective jurisdictions.
  4. Be responsible for holding management accountable for all applicable safety and occupational health laws, rules and regulations, and are responsible for notifying appropriate administrative or supervisory staff of unsafe working conditions.
  5. Shall have copies of the Constitution and all necessary working agreements available at all times.

Stewardship requires subordination of personal interests to those interests that represent the highest good of the members. Stewards shall have no greater rights than any other member of the ACE.

Article 6- Steward(s) – ACE Agreement
6.1 Number –The District recognizes the right of the Union to designate up to 14 stewards and 14 alternates provided that an alternate will be released to perform the duties of a steward only when the steward is unable to perform those duties.

6.2 Notification – Once a year, the Union shall notify the Director of Human Resources, with a copy to the supervisor, of the names of the stewards and alternates and the group they represent. If a change is made, the District shall be advised in writing of such change.

6.3 Leaving His/Her Assignment – After notifying her/his immediate supervisor, the steward shall be permitted to leave her/his normal work during reasonable times in order to assist in informal resolution of potential grievances and in investigation, preparation, writing, and presentation of grievances. The stewards shall advise the supervisor of the grievant of her/his presence.
The steward is permitted to discuss any problem with all workers immediately concerned, and, if appropriate, to attempt to achieve settlement in accordance with the grievance procedure, if possible on an informal basis.

6.4 Emergencies – If, due to a bonafide emergency, an adequate level of service cannot be maintained in the absence of a steward where he/she is requested to assist, the steward shall be permitted to leave her/his normal work only after the emergency no longer exists.

6.5 Authority – Stewards shall have the authority to file grievances as specified in Article 12, Section 12.2.2.

Next Step
If you’re interesting in serving as chief steward or stewarding in general, please send an email to