President’s Message

As I close out my second term as president of ACE, I wanted to thank all of you for your support and inspiration. It is always wonderful to talk with new and veteran colleagues to get a better understanding of the issues important to you. Over the past year, your ACE representatives have worked hard to address your concerns. The results aren’t always perfect, the work is often slow going (hello classification study), and sometimes disheartening (hi negotiations) but it is always done with the goal to make your working conditions at FHDA the best they can be.

A few of our accomplishments this past year include navigating the largest budget reduction in the district’s history ($17.6 million). We were able to minimize the elimination of filled positions – 1.5  out of 17 identified filled positions were cut – with 45 vacant ones also eliminated. No one went down in pay and out of 400 positions – 99 percent of which are full time – only one was reduced by 50 percent. In addition, your costs for benefits did not go up. We were also able to negotiate six percent cost of living adjustment for this year, increase funding for travel and conference, and develop a timeline for completion of the classification study with a financial implementation date back to July 1, 2019. Not to mention the countless members we have represented to make certain they were treated fairly by management on issues around compensation or discipline. Imagine how different all of this would look without a collective bargaining agreement.

There is still more work to be done. We still have our lawsuit against CalPERS regarding 2019-20’s five percent salary adjustment with a slated court date of February 2020. We  dropped our unfair labor practice (ULP) against the District to get them to the bargaining table where we still have additional items to iron out (see below). A successful bond or parcel tax could open further negotiations around compensation and additional one-time funding from the state in 2019-20 leaves open the possibility for more professional development opportunities.

Member representation remains a priority for ACE.  Recent changes to our constitution, approved by you, more clearly define our fiscal obligation to members vs. nonmembers. We continue to operate the business side of ACE as efficiently as possible, forgiving dues when we can, keeping 96 percent of our operating costs directly tied to member representation, and investing our money more strategically to make it work for us. Out of all the work ACE board members, stewards and negotiators do, I hope it is clear that we all do this work from a desire to help and because we believe in the concept that we are stronger together.

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

Dues Forgiveness November 2019

ACE will forgive dues in your November paycheck (Nov. 30).  For Classified Hourly employees, this will be reflected in your December 15 paycheck.

Why does ACE forgive dues? ACE works really hard to be as fiscally prudent with dues collected from members. When we spend less than we’ve budgeted for the year, we forgive dues. This year, because the classification study has taken longer than anticipated and re-classifications are on hold until it is completed, funds budgeted to cover costs associated with classification issues  – ACE pays half the cost for appeals – we’re on track to spend less than budgeted.

What does ACE spend dues money on? Access to representation was the main reason we chose to be an independent union and it is the largest expense in our annual budget.  Several months a year, our legal representation itemizes their bill, and the work they do on our behalf often exceeds the flat monthly fee we pay them.  Other expenses include potential legal costs such as: arbitration (ACE pays half), court filing fees and expert testimonies; accountants, insurance, financial audits and taxes; office supplies, web hosting and routine state fees for running a small business; and training for officers and stewards, food for site meetings and elective stipends for ACE officers.  We also have monies set aside for a strike fund and a 5% budget reserve.

Does ACE spend money collected from dues on political activities?  No.

Professional Growth Awards and CalPERS

Professional growth awards (PGA) are an incentive for workers to participate in activities designed to enhance and update performance through continuing education and involvement in professional organizations and associations, and to improve the capabilities of the worker during the period of employment with the District. Two hundred hours are needed for an award and those hours can be earned across six different categories.   This extra compensation is not part of an employee’s base pay and is attributed as special compensation when reported to CalPERS.

With a large retiree exodus in June and a new account administrator at CalPERS, some of the activities allowed under PGA were called into question regarding their eligibility as pensionable income.  In fact, CalPERS has made the determination that only hours earned in section one (college, adult education or trade school courses) meets the definition for special compensation as defined by the California Code of Regulations, section 571:

Under topic #2, Educational Pay, where PGA is categorized:

“Educational Incentive is defined as compensation to employees for completing educational courses, certificates and degrees which enhance their ability to do their job. A program or system must be in place to evaluate and approve acceptable courses. The cost of education that is required for the employee’s current job classification is not included in this item of special compensation”.

Under topic #5, Statutory items, subsection d:

“If an items of special compensation is not listed in subsection (a), or is out of compliance with any of the standards in subsection (b) as reported for an individual, then it shall not be used to calculate final compensation for that individual”.

From my research, these rules were instituted as early as 1994

What does this mean?

Your awards are still worth $90 each but for pensionable reporting purposes, CalPERS will prorate the percentage of an award to those hours attributed to section one.

What can ACE do?

The response received from Anthony Booth of our legal team:

“There have been some questions received by ACE regarding what, if anything, ACE can do to challenge PERS’ unwillingness to accept certain PGA award credits, which were previously accepted as valid.
Unfortunately, this is a regulatory issue administered by PERS, pursuant to the California Code of Regulations. As they have evaluated their process, they have determined that they were not properly following their own regulation when admitting certain credits.
Unfortunately for us, courts will ALWAYS defer to the administrative agency responsible for promulgating and applying their own regulations. Thus, we cannot challenge this change because PERS has determined that certain credits do not meet the standard of “educational courses, certificates and degrees”, which is well within their rights”

ACE is working with the District to have any rolled forward educational hours substituted for already earned PGAs, including classes which were not part of a PGA application.  Some people would have this if they used educational assistance to pay for the classes. We are waiting to hear from CalPERS whether this substitution would be acceptable or not as the District is not comfortable agreeing to anything until they’ve heard from them.  We have already negotiated additional funding  ($20,000 per year for two years) for affected employees to take courses at no cost to them to replace hours on already earned PGAs which are not pensionable.  ACE also has an email into a representative with CalPERS to find out what happens to the contributions employees made, and those made by the district on behalf of employees, on those awards; what specifically do they mean by “completing educational courses, certificates and degrees which enhance their ability to do their job”; moving forward will it be CalPERS or the District’s responsibility to review appropriateness of courses; and a whole host of other questions.

I can understand your frustration and disappointment and we are all working as diligently as we can to find solutions for affected employees.

Bond vs. Parcel Tax – A Primer

The district is considering placing a general obligation bond or parcel tax or both on the March 3, 2020 ballot.  Over the past few months the District has been surveying the community on what type of programs and/or measures they would support with a bond or parcel tax; holding town halls and other community outreach efforts regarding the Flint Center; and preparing a list of capital projects and equipment needs should the board decide to move forward with a bond and/or parcel tax initiative. The FHDA Board of Trustees will be reviewing a resolution brought by the District to act on a bond and/or parcel tax or both for the March 3, 2020 eledtion at a special meeting on Monday, November 25 at 6 p.m. at Foothill.  You should attend.

What is the difference between a parcel tax and a bond?

Parcel tax General obligation bond
Definition A levy on parcels of property typically set at a fixed amount per parcel. Cannot be based on a property’s value. A levy on property based on assessed value and used for voter-approved debt.
Voter approval requirement Two-thirds or 66.67 percent of voters 55 percent of voters
Restrictions and requirements
  • Use of funds restricted to the public programs, services, or projects described in the tax measure. May include salaries.
  • Chief Business Officer (CBO) required to give public update to school board each year on the amount of funds generated and how funds are being spent.
  • Duration of tax must be specified in measure, typically three to seven years.
  • Funds may only be used for school facilities. May not be used for teacher or administrator salaries.
  • Independent annual audit and citizens’ oversight committee review required.
  • Measure must include a specific list of projects.
  • Two-thirds of governing board must approve the bond.
  • Measure must be on a statewide or regularly scheduled local election.
  • Property tax may not exceed $25 per $100,000 of taxable property value.
Pros and cons
  • Considered a regressive tax. Property owners pay a fixed amount per parcel, regardless of property value.
  • Possible to exempt certain groups of property owners, such as senior citizens.
  • Stable, short-term funding for three to seven years.
  • Flexibility in use of funds for programs and salaries.
  • Provides less revenue overall than a general obligation bond.
  • Can be problematic upon expiration of parcel tax authorization if revenue has been used for ongoing expenses, such as employee compensation.
  • Considered a progressive tax. Property owners pay more or less based on assessed value of property.
  • Opportunity to reduce projected costs to taxpayers through refinancing of bonds.
  • Long-term funding of 10 to 30 years.
  • Restricted to funding facilities but can offset general fund dollars that would otherwise cover facilities debt, scheduled maintenance, technology and instructional equipment replacement/upgrades, and salaries directly related to administrative oversight work on construction projects authorized by voters in a bond measure.

What bonds or parcel taxes has Foothill-De Anza passed?

Foothill – De Anza successfully passed two bond measures: Measure E in 1999 for $248 million and Measure C in 2006 for $490.8 million.  A full list of projects for both of those measure can be found under the bond measure web page.  In 2010, FHDA was unsuccessful in passing a parcel tax, estimated to provide an additional $7 million annually, garnering 57 of the 66.67 percent of votes needed to pass.

Negotiations Update

by Cathleen Monsell, chair of negotiations

We continue to negotiate with the District on the implementation of the classification study.  Our legal representative had to make clear our dismissal of the unfair labor practice (ULP) didn’t not dismiss our assertion that we are operating from the terms agreed upon with the the District in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding the salary portion of the study signed in January of 2017. We agreed to drop the ULP and bargain the issue.  We’re waiting for the District to bring a proposal to the table. We met on Nov. 7 and meet again on Nov. 20.  We also still need to define a process for travel and conference fund applications and are addressing the issues with PGA and CalPERS.

Ratification Vote

Thank you to everyone who voted.

ACE 2019-2020 Negotiated Agreement
Number of Eligible Voters: 353
Number Who Voted: 206
Response Rate 58%

1)   Yes I approve

Number of Votes: 205

2)   No I do not approve

Number of Votes: 1

Officer Election Results

Thank you to everyone who voted.   Officers elected for January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021. Terms are staggered so not all officer positions were up for election this year.

ACE                                                  De Anza
Chris White, president                     Vins Chacko, vice president
Keri Kirkpatric, board member seat 1

Central Services                                    Foothill
Scott Olsen, vice president             Christine Mangiameli, board member
Andre Meggerson, chief steward

Thank You Josh Pelletier

Josh has been chief steward for Foothill since March of 2018. He has served with gravitas, professionalism and compassion and his advocacy for workers leaves a lasting impact on the ACE organization. On a personal note, I want to thank Josh for his counsel and friendship.  On more than one occasion, he has listened to me lament and provided sound advice, and a laugh, so I could continue to do this work.

We wish him well in his new role as supervisor for community outreach at Foothill.

Wanted:  Interim Board Member, Central Services

ACE is seeking an interim board member for Central Services.  The position would start January 1, 2020 and run through December 31, 2020.  ACE board members serve in addition to their full-time FHDA job. The position is voluntary with ACE providing an optional $125 monthly stipend.

As part of the executive board, board members are directly responsible for:

  1. The operation of ACE.
  2. Assuring the appropriate expenditure of funds.
  3. Proper and legal administration and implementation of the Constitution.
  4. Any representation of ACE that has been authorized by the Board in order to bind ACE or agree to any issues subject to collective bargaining and EERA.

Duties of the Board Members:
There are four (4) Board Members nominated from and elected by the General Membership. The Board Members shall:

  1. Ensure that the interests and directives of the General Membership are represented at Board Meetings.
  2. Serve on two (2) College or District Committees pertinent to ACE business and report back to the Board.
  3. Attend the Classified Senate meeting at each location. At least one Board Member from each site should attend, but two (2) members should not serve on the same Senate.

Serving as a Board Member requires subordination of personal interests to those that represent the highest good of the members. Board Members shall have no greater rights than any other member of ACE.

Attendance at Meetings
Executive board members are required to attend all general membership and site meetings in their respective jurisdictions and meetings of the executive board unless the absence is excused by the president of a majority of the Board.

Current meetings of the Central Services ACE Board Member 2019 – 2020:

  • District Human Resources Advisory Committee (HRAC), which rarely meets.
  • ACE Board Meetings: the second Wednesday of every month, alternating between campuses.
  • Central Services Classified Senate meetings.
  • Any special projects or committees.

Next Step
If you’re interesting in serving as the board member for central services, please send an email to no later than Friday, Dec. 6.