With elections behind us and a new president coming on board (Yay, Scott!), i’m spending my time tying up loose ends, trying to make the transition as smooth as possible, and looking forward to what comes next.
After six years as ACE president, navigating a major budget reduction, a classification/compensation study, and a pandemic, it’s got to get easier. Right? It can if we are intentional in what we do.
ACE is a continual work in progress with the goal to always do better for the membership. We’ve already taken the first, good step, electing Scott Olsen as the next president. What are you willing to do next?
Chris White, ACE President
(650) 949-7789, office
“The fight is never about lettuce or grapes. It is always about people”. – César Chávez
ACE Dues Are an Investment
by Scott Olsen, president-elect
Conversations surrounding what we pay for union dues come up almost as often as the sun rises. I was raised by my parents to be very frugal and to examine where I spend money, so trust that I’ve done the math and proven that the net benefits of paying dues outweigh the payroll deduction.So how much are we really paying?
- 0.0095 of base monthly salary goes toward dues:
- On average ACE forgives dues twice per year, making the rate 0.0079 effectively. Reminder: ACE did not charge dues for the entirety of 2020.
- Base monthly salary does not include professional growth awards, longevity awards, OSSP-np, etc. – all benefits ACE has bargained for – as you earn more from these, ACE doesn’t take more!
What are we getting? Representation. The bulk of our dues go toward paying our excellent lawyers, who we consult with often on issues regarding wages, benefits and working conditions. The ACE board often must resort to legal action to resolve a dispute on behalf entire the membership or for individual members. The Booth Law Group is a key member of our team when it comes to holding the district accountable to labor law, ed code and our contract.
- If you’ve benefited from a negotiated COLA, your dues have more than paid for themselves.
- If you’ve obtained one professional growth award, your dues have more than paid for themselves.
- If you’ve received a longevity award, your dues have more than paid for themselves.
- If you’ve seen an increase because of the recent classification study, you know…
These opportunities don’t happen without dues paying members. Benefits we can obtain because of collecting dues pay dividends far beyond what we collect for current and future members.
The District is estimating it will be sometime early next year before they can process the retro portion of the compensation study. This is frustrating for everyone involved. It has turned into a very complicated process, with already strained resources and staffing, they simply do not have the bandwidth to get it done before then.
- For anyone who was an FHDA employee at the time the classification/compensation study was approved by the Board of Trustees (April 2021) and leaves their employment with FHDA before the District can run the retro active payment, they will receive the money due to them.
- For tax planning purposes, you will be given plenty of notice so you can adjust your holdings if you choose to before this money is paid out.
As a reminder, ACE will be filing a lawsuit against the District for interest on the unpaid money owed to workers due to delay of implementation of the salary study.
ACE will forgive dues in your November paycheck (November 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.
Thursday, Nov. 18 – 1:30 p.m.
Via Zoom – check email for invite from Susan Cheu, vice chancellor of business services
This town hall will cover a potential shift for the District from Student Centered Funding Formula to Community Supported (Basic Aid).
The District can to ask you to return to work on campus. For the time being, they have expressed a willingness to remain open and flexible in staff requests to remain remote but they are looking to move more instruction and support services back to in-person for winter and spring. Most other colleges around us – West Valley/Mission, Cabrillo, San Jose-Evergreen – returned in the fall.
A few weeks ago, ACE surveyed the membership focusing on employees who were required to return for fall quarter or had already been on campus to determine what gaps in safety and accommodations still needed to be addressed. Overall, less than 20 percent of classified in our unit were required to be on campus starting fall quarter. Of those, less than 10 percent were required to be on campus every day. These numbers will grow over the coming winter and spring quarter so it is important to address issues now.
As part of the safety protocols, ACE and the District continue to follow the California Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board (CalOSHA) approved emergency regulations. We are also continuing to make sure employees have the safety equipment and accommodations, when applicable, to work on campus.
For the majority on campus, mandates were clear and safety protocols were implemented but follow through on enforcement needs improvement. Since we sent out the survey, we have clarified with the District that any issues students, employees or the public related to vaccine mandates or safety protocols will be handled by the supervisor. If those continue to be a concern or your supervisor isn’t addressing an issue, please contact your chief steward.
75 percent of respondents stated their supervisors were supportive when they brought an issue to their attention. However, citing lack of time and resources or authority to address an issue were the top reasons management had not made any efforts to actually address the issues raised.
For those who were required to work on campus, a need for student or employee support were the two main reasons accommodations were denied. While data from the colleges were sparse verifying this need, as a people-centered institution it’s hard to argue these needs aren’t legitimate. For anyone who has medical or childcare issues, ACE can work with you and the District to determine if other options are available.
As part of a comprehensive return to campus protocol, other options you would like to see that haven’t been addressed included testing options for all employees (45 percent), better communication around exposure on campus (20 percent) and public posting for room safety (less than 10 percent).
Common themes in the comments included better enforcement of safety protocols (mask wearing, especially amongst staff) and clearer posting for the public on mask mandates and social distancing.
ACE is continuing to work with the District to:
- make certain PPE is available upon request;
- enforce management’s responsibility for mandate and protocol enforcement;
- finalize a tentative agreement that the District will cover the cost of testing for employees required to test weekly;
- assist any member who has medical or family-related issues that may prevent them from returning to campus; and
- advocate for a remote work policy that is more equitable and inclusive and requires more thorough reasoning if the option to work remotely is denied.
To encourage and enable classified workers to enhance their value to the District through further job-related education, the upgrading of their skills, or retraining for a different career path, a Staff Development Leave has been established.
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 is 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 offer 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|
|100% of pay|| Up to 240 hours|
|6 yr. of service|
| Kern CCD|
| 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
|Up to 1 yr.||7 yr. of service|
- 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 end of the leave.
- If a 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 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 Chris White.
- 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 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.
In the September ACE Report, we mistakenly included time off for vaccine related issues was still covered under Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). It does not. That was a separate COVID-19 sick leave which expired September 30, 2021.
The District is extending FFCRA which requires all California employers (including those with collective bargaining agreements) with 25 or more employees to provide paid supplemental sick leave to employees who are unable to work or telework due to certain COVID-19 related reasons. This leave is extended through December 31, 2021.
Reason for taking leave?
- Caring for Yourself: The covered employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 (see note below), or has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19, or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- Caring for a Family Member: The covered employee is caring for a family member who is either subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 (see note below) or has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19, or the employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 on the premises.
How much time off is covered?
- 80 hours for full-time employees; No additional hours are allocated by this extension.
- For those who return to campus and are exposed to or become ill as a result of workplace exposure, and if they had used all 80 hours, the District would put the individual on paid administrative leave.
- Part-time and hourly, based upon the number of hours the employee is normally scheduled to work over a two-week period.
Can an employer require certification from a health care provider before allowing a covered employee to take the leave?
- No. The leave is not conditioned on medical certification. It may be reasonable in certain circumstances to ask for documentation before paying the sick leave when the employer has other information indicating that the covered employee is not requesting 2021 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick leave for a valid purpose.
Changes to our Professional Growth Award (PGA) program in order to do two things:
- Help those with old PGA awards have more hours count towards pensionable income after CalPERS adjusted what they would accept; and
- Update the PGA application and guidelines to move many items currently allocated under section five to section one.
In June of 2019, with a large retiree exodus 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 made the determination that only hours earned in section one (college, adult education or trade school courses) met 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”.
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.
To have more hours count as pensionable, we have agreed to the following changes to the PGA application and guidelines:
- Section one will be retitled as Certificate, Course, or Degree.
- Section 1a will cover accredited courses and continuing education units (CEU). We have removed the minimum hours required to use this section.
- Section 1b is new and will cover many job-related certificated skills training previously listed under section five.
- There is no maximum for either of these activities and you are allowed to carry these hours forward to future awards.
- Section five will be retitled as Job-Related Conference, Seminar, or Lecture. Participation in job-related special activities, such as seminars, conferences, conventions, institutes, and lectures offered by colleges, adult schools, professional associations, and community organizations.
For previously earned awards only:
We had 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. In addition, to help have more hours count we negotiated the following:
- Suspended the limit of 200 hours while on Staff Development Leave. You may submit hours for courses taken during past staff development leaves that were not counted due to the 200 hours limit. Official transcripts are required.
- Allow courses omitted from any previous PGA application. Submit hours for any course not submitted in previous professional growth award applications. Reminder, you must have been a district employee at the time the course was taken. Official transcripts are required.
- Allow courses not counted due to receiving educational reimbursement from the District. You may submit hours for classes taken that were not counted due to receiving educational reimbursement from the district. Official transcripts are required.
- Job-Related certificated training. You may submit hours for previously completed job-related activities/training where certification was provided. This refers to items previously reported in section five “Job Related Special Activities” in prior awards. Please provide copies of previous PGA applications with section five applicable items highlighted. The committee will review all items to make sure they are job-related/job skill-building sessions.
- New Job-Related Certificated training. You may submit hours for new job-related activities/training where certification was provided. The committee will review all items to make sure they are job-related/job skill-building sessions. Certificates/transcripts are required.
- Apply any carryover hours from section one. If you have carryover hours in section one, you may apply them to any previous award where replacement hours are needed.
For these previously earned awards, the review and application process is effective immediately and will continue through June 30, 2022. Current employees must submit the completed application, hours audit, and applicable documentation by the deadline in order to request a review of hours for the PGA substitution process. Applications submitted after June 30, 2022, will be deemed late and will not be processed.
To review your previous award(s) information:
- Please send an email to email@example.com. Be sure to include your CWID.
- This request is for a copy of your completed application(s) and the tally sheet(s) used by the PGA committee. No backup material will be provided. This should help you determine how many hours you have under section one and applicable hours under section five 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).
- Turn around time to receive the request for information is approximately three weeks. To not overburden an already short-staffed human resources department. Your patience is appreciated.
For new PGA awards:
The application and guidelines have been updated to reflect the following changes:
- Job-Related certificated training. These hours will now be listed under section 1b.
- All rules under PGA guidelines apply to new awards. The suspension of rules for previously earned PGAs does not apply to new awards.
- PGA is publicly funded. As public pensions and CalPERS continue to be scrutinized by the public it is imperative that the activities we submit as special compensation follow the rules set by CalPERS. The burden of verifying the eligibility is on the District before the income will be reported as pensionable. We do not want to provide cause for a CalPERS audit by reporting income as pensionable which does not meet their definition for educational pay.
- The authority to accept or deny an activity, along with which section of the PGA application it is attributed, is at the discretion of the PGA Review Panel. These are your colleagues who are donating their time to administer this program and who have consistently demonstrated they will do all they can to have hours count towards an award. You may not always like their answer. Be kind.
- PGA Review Panel: Kris Lestini, Mary Medrano, Kit Perales, Denise Perez, Shawna Santiago