Participatory Governance In Budget Reductions?

By now the colleges’ and central services have submitted their reduction proposals to district senior management. The application deadline for the Supplemental Retirement Plan (SRP) has also passed.  Hours and hours of input from participatory governance groups have gone into these decisions with careful thought regarding the impact on students, programs and employees. An outside third party is doing the analysis on the SRP based on who applied to see if it is viable to move forward or not. So in theory the end result, while still painful, should be a list of reductions guided by input and understanding from the participatory governance groups on why choices were made and the impact they will have on students, programs and employees.

The thing about theories, they’re just a theory until you put them to the test. For the past year and a half, both colleges have shared general reduction numbers, targets and goals but the details have been fuzzy on how they get there. This fall, things got real.  In late September, Foothill senior management shared with ACE their specific reduction plans.  Based on the people identified in the positions selected for elimination and their eligibility for the SRP, ACE requested Foothill’s senior management to hold off providing details at their upcoming October 5 College Advisory Council so we could figure out how to best address this with affected employees. We offered the college the option to share details at their following October 12 meeting or later.  At the October 5 meeting, the College Advisory Council voted to not share details until January. The end result? Reduction choices were made by senior management.

At De Anza, the participatory groups had a challenging time choosing where to cut.  Short nearly $2 million and pressure to maintain identified programs, the Instructional Planning and Budget Team (IPBT) received a two-week extension to try and find more savings so identified programs aren’t cut.  Part of that choice includes banking on the SRP being implemented with savings coming from some of those positions.  What happens if it doesn’t? From their October 31 meeting notes “The team would look at more vacant classified position and ACE filled positions in order to meet the target”. Who decides? With a July 1, 2019 implementation date and a lengthy bumping and notification process, timelines are quickly shrinking, many of these decisions will ultimately left to management.  In Central Services, with no participatory governance process, the choices are solely left to management.

All of this is a longed winded way of saying, participatory governance, while admirable, has no teeth when ultimately deciding the fate of peoples livelihood.  Every affected group can make a compelling argument for the critical nature of their program or service and the impact it has on students and the colleges and District.  Ultimately, someone has to be accountable for those choices.  That someone is senior management, and ultimately, the Foothill – De Anza Board of Trustees.  The critical part in all of this? Choices must be explainable. How will these reductions impact students? Where does the work go? The participatory governance process gives you the opportunity to ask these questions and document answers. And anyone who tell you these choices won’t have a impact because we’re serving fewer students is either naive, willfully ignorant or outright deceitful.

It is important to remember, the initial reductions presented to District senior management won’t look the same as when they are finally presented to ACE in mid December. They still have an initial bumping analysis process to go through where the the colleges get to review their choices and see if they want to change anything.  Implementation of the SPR also changes choices.  Whatever reductions are ultimately chosen by senior management, ACE’s role is to address how they affect our members and the work we do.  That work starts in January.

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

Election Results

Congratulations to newly elected officers and negotiators.  With a mix of new and seasoned representatives, each one of them brings something unique to the table, we are in good hands moving forward.  To those who ran for office and to those who voted, thank you.  It takes active participation and commitment from all the members of ACE to effectively protect and serve the membership as a whole.

  • ACE officer terms begin January 1, 2019 and run through December 31, 2020.
  • Negotiators terms began November 1, 2018 and run through the October 31, 2021.  The negotiators will choose a Negotiations Chair by secret ballot at their first meeting.

Central Services
Annette Perez – Board Member
Terry Rowe – Negotiator

De Anza
Erika Steward – Chief Steward
Cynthia Smith – Board Member, Seat 2
Cathleen Monsell – Negotiator

Denise Perez – Vice President
Chris Chavez – Negotiator

Kathy Nguyen – Treasurer
Joseph Gilmore – Negotiator at large
Dana Kennedy – Negotiator at large
Andrea Santa Cruz – Negotiator at large

Upcoming Workshops

Staff Development Leave (SDL)
  This workshop is designed for staff ready to apply for SDL.
De Anza
•  Wednesday, Nov. 14 | 3- 4 p.m. | Admin 106
Thursday, Nov. 15 | 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. | Room 2018

Professional Development Opportunities
This workshop covers how to get started with Professional Growth Awards (PGA), educational assistance, travel and conference funds, and SDL.
De Anza
• Wednesday, Dec. 5 | 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. | DA Amin 106
• Monday, Dec.  3 | 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. | Toyon Room (2020)

Wanted: Central Services Chief Steward
by Chris White, ACE President

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 me, by Friday, November 30.