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2024.04.19 Update – ACE 15yo, Bilingual Pay MOU, TEA Lawsuit, Sick Leave Notes, Labor Notes, Labor Month

ACE Members,

ACE Celebrates 15 Years
Collectively as employees we chose to establish our own independent labor association in 2009. The rank-and-file “membership representing the membership” model continues to serve us very well throughout ups, downs, budget woes, and management transitions. As a District employee since 2007, I have always seen ACE on our side advocating with the best interests of the membership.

Thank you to the leaders who came before us who served in official positions and the those who led as members to establish what we are today. We are fortunate to have members continue to volunteer to serve in union positions. Nearly every employee who is eligible to join chooses to support our organization by becoming a member. ACE exists solely because of member support. Making the choice to become a member not only grants an individual access to representation but also maintains that representation for all of us so that we can collectively have a voice at our workplace.

If member would like to submit a paragraph (or two, or three) to share a union story, contact Scott Olsen for it to be included as part of a future update message.

Bilingual Pay MOU (LINK)
Effective July 1, 2024 ACE and the District have established a pilot program through an MOU which will provide $100 monthly compensation to ACE workers who are required to use oral/written bilingual skills in Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin, and Cantonese. (Chosen languages are subject to change based on the needs of the District.) Immediate supervisors/managers will recommend/designate workers.

What if I’m providing bilingual services now?
You are doing so for no additional compensation. Start the conversation with your manager/supervisor about whether bilingual skills are going to be required.

How do I know if my position is designated?
You will be informed by your supervisor/manager. Document their response in writing (via email) to have a record that states the date compensation began and acknowledges that you are being required to provide this skill during the regular course of business.

Why wasn’t Russian, Hindi, Farsi, American Sign Language, etc. among the list of languages?
More evidence is needed to demonstrate that our service area demands languages other than the four currently listed. Keep a written log to record the number of times a student, community member, or parent, asks for services. Communicate the need with your manager.

ACE will also generate a digital Google Doc form to record the same data. We recognize this is tedious, but evidence the is necessary – in its absence we have no data to demonstrate the need for services.

This pilot program is a starting point. With more input and data to refine it, we can negotiate it to be included as a part of a future CBA section. This input and data come from you so that we can bring it to management.

Temporary Employee Usage Lawsuit (Attached)
Attached is the District’s opposition brief (response) to our lawsuit which challenges their opinion that the District has sole authority to hire temporary employees to perform work which falls under ACE classifications (job descriptions) so long as they work less than 75% of a college year. Which they say can go on indefinitely year after year:

The FAP and Petitioner’s opening brief allege that the District has violated Education Code § 88003(c) b ecause “[s]hort-term employees cannot perform work that is needed on a continuing basis and, as can be seen from the evidence provided, the District continuously hires short-term employees to perform the permanent work of ACE that is needed on a continuous basis.” (Pet. Brief, p. 6.) This assertion is also without merit and, if accepted, would result in absurdity.

… the District may employ classified employees or non-classified employees, the difference between which is whether the work is needed “on a continuing basis,” which is measured by the 75% threshold.

The alternative theory advanced by ACE would result in absurdity. The non-academic work at issue involves clerical tasks, helping students, assisting faculty, and generally supporting the District’s educational mission. Other non-academic work assigned to other bargaining units may include janitorial work, food-service, service as a sworn police officer, supervisory work, and all other duties that are not assigned to faculty. The language in Section 88003(c) regarding whether the work is needed “on a continuing basis” can only be interpreted in the context of each individual employee, and measured within the college year. Applying ACE’s rationale, the entire District’s need for janitorial services must end, and may not continue beyond the conclusion of any single employee’s temporary assignment, after which “the service required or similar services will not be extended or needed on a continuing basis.” Such an interpretation strains credulity, as most “service required or similar services” always exist – there is always some demand for clerical services, janitorial services, etc. However, there is not always sufficient demand for those services as to justify placing an employee in the classified service, e.g. in paid service for more than 195 days, at which point the employee may be “classified” and become part of a bargaining unit.

Using Rex Erickson and Josh Taylor’s (absurd) logic, what stands in the way of replacing all ACE positions with numerous unbenefited temporary positions that have indefinite sub-75% of a school year terms? While the District is not facing a budget cut, we are approaching a revenue plateau. We will hear this news during upcoming “town hall” meetings. FTES has not increased enough that we can grow ourselves through the Student Centered Funding Formula (SCFF), COLAs and property tax revenue have not closed the gap between Hold Harmless funding, and ERAF continues to widen the gap to becoming a Community Supported (formerly known as Basic Aid) district. While revenue is tight the District will be looking for ways to make ends meet. Defending ongoing work that is encompassed within our bargaining unit is a priority to preserve ACE positions.

Legal Update – Sick Leave Usage (Attached)
If you are asked to provide a doctor’s note following sick leave usage, contact Scott Olsen. We are clarifying existing language to determine whether it remains applicable following legal changes and reviewing how management is behaving.

Labor Code section 245.5 was amended to cover employees under a CBA, which grants protections under Labor Code 246.5:

  1. An employer shall not deny an employee the right to use accrued sick days, discharge, threaten to discharge, demote, suspend, or in any manner discriminate against an employee for using accrued sick days, attempting to exercise the right to use accrued sick days, filing a complaint with the department or alleging a violation of this article, cooperating in an investigation or prosecution of an alleged violation of this article, or opposing any policy or practice or act that is prohibited by this article.

The Booth Law Group, ACE, and the District are currently interpreting how this impacts Agreement language in Section 10.1 Sick Leave:

Whenever a worker is absent on sick leave for three or more working days or when a pattern of sick leave suggests a chronic illness, a medical report that outlines the nature of the problem and the probable date of full recovery may be required. If the information from the worker’s personal physician is insufficient, an examination by a physician of the District’s choosing may be required, at District expense.

Labor Notes 2024
This weekend I’m joined by Joseph Gilmore, Keri Kirkpatrick, Andre Meggerson, and Anothony Booth in attending a conference in Chicago focused on honing our union organizing skills and ability to support members. People who saw my message after I attended in 2022 noted that I returned back to California with a ton of union energy, so expect to have five times as much in 2024.

If you’d like to watch portions of the conference, they’ll be streaming live via YouTube (LINK) The conference workshop schedule is also available online.

The conference occurs every two years in Chicago. In odd years Labor Notes organizes regional “Troublemaker” Schools. In 2023 one took place in Oakland that Adriana Garcia and I attended.

Membership Application Form
The form on our homepage (LINK) can be completed online, but it can also be printed and handed to new employees who are eligible to join ACE. Sometimes a physical copy serves as a better reminder than an email. Messages may get lost in our inboxes. Paper on a desk may stand out a bit better.

Labor History Event Planning
Contact @Adriana Garcia to join in developing a union related event for labor awareness month. Currently the vision is open ended (endless opportunity) but may include inviting a guest speaker, hosting a panel of union members, showing a union related movie, or attending an International Worker’s Day (May Day) event.

In Solidarity,

Scott Olsen (he/him) | ACE President | 
650-949-7789 | M-F 8:00am-5:00pm

2024.02.08 Update – Bilingual Guidance, Travel & Conference Requests, DA Chief Steward, Site Meetings In-Person, District Housing Survey

ACE Members,

Bilingual Guidance
Generally, the reaction to the guidance issued last week was positive and members understood. The entire negotiations team stands behind the message and sees it as the way to demonstrate the value of the skills we are required to perform in service of the mission of the college/district. There were a handful of follow-up questions:

What if my manager/supervisor agrees with ACE’s position and supports bilingual pay for me as an employee?
They should email @Rocio Chavez and @Pat Hyland acknowledging that the skill is required in the department and needed in support college/district’s mission.

Is ACE saying I shouldn’t speak a language other than English in casual conversations with colleagues or students?
No. The bilingual pay we are seeking would only apply when required by your manager/supervisor. Social situations or when you are volunteering assistance in someone’s first language aren’t something we are asking to change.

We are really trying to compensate those who shoulder the weight of a specific language speaking population in an office due to their ability. The practice we’ve seen in the past has gone something like, “Oh! You’re fluent in Vietnamese? That’s fantastic. We’re going to direct all students and community members to you for that department support. In addition, we’re going to identify you as a point of contact for departments outside your work area.”

Won’t the district recognize what we provide and provide bilingual pay to us without causing a disruption?
No. What we saw in the last negotiations session is that there is a real disconnect between the district’s bargaining team and what happens at the college/district. There is little recognition of what we as classified professionals provide. The district’s chair of negotiations was their attorney, who is based in San Diego. As a team, their two main proposed items were takeaways: (1)eliminating personal leave, and (2)expanding the disciplinary period from one-year to two-years.

Management will regularly issue very supportive and positive statements, but those don’t translate to supportive and positive actions during negotiations. The hope is that we can highlight the importance of this skill and only have to withhold it for few weeks before we achieve parity among the district.

Travel and Conference Fund Requests
Apologies for delays in application approvals (specifically at Foothill.) Initially I was told there was told there was only $6,500 remaining for all ACE employees(!!!), but didn’t receive an accurate report until Feb 6th after some discussion and investigation. In total we have $110,000 for De Anza, $80,000 for Foothill, and $40,000 for Central Services. Expect pending approvals to be processed within the next week, in the order they were received.

Article 14.7 covers Travel and Conference. We receive $60,000* each year for all ACE employees which is distributed between the De Anza(50%), Foothill(30%), and Central Services(20%). Unused funds are carried over to the following year.  *per 2019 negotiations (Source)

In addition ACE has approached Human Resources to allow for the annual $1,600 maximum allowance per employee to be increased but they are startled with the notion of developing MOUs outside of the annual negotiations cycle. I’m told the creation of MOUs to address contractual items is common at other districts. Current approvals will fall under the existing language.

De Anza Chief Steward – Andre Meggerson
We’re happy to announce that @Andre Meggerson has been appointed Chief Steward for De Anza. Andre served as a steward while at De Anza and was a Chief Seward for Foothill. His experience is valued along with his ability to work with members and management. Thank you on behalf of all members for agreeing to continue serving in support of us.

ACE could always use more members as stewards. Each Chief Steward can appoint up to two additional stewards at each location per our constitution, section 5.3 (LINK). What does a steward do?

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.

Now that we have a full executive board and a steward appointed, training will be scheduled soon. Reach out to @Andre Meggerson, @Anthony Caceres, and @Thomas Marks if you have any questions about becoming a steward.

“Many hands make work light” is a common saying among unions. As an independent organization we depend on members stepping forward to take leadership positions. We need you. If you have a minute to send a message of gratitude to a negotiator or board member (other than myself), I’m sure they’d appreciate hearing from you. Those serving as representatives do a ton of work to keep the organization operating smoothly. Scott Olsen may deliver the messages, but the work of a union is delivered by all of us as members.

Site Meetings In-Person
De Anza’s in-person site meeting went very well. We probably haven’t had one like it since Feb 2020 but the format does bring a few things that Zoom doesn’t offer (beyond pizza and salad.) Anthony Booth and I were in attendance to answer questions and address topics of concern. Direct access to legal expertise is a key benefit of our organization. The 40ish members who attended seemed generally satisfied. Please set aside time to participate during a future meeting.

Expect that the upcoming Foothill/Central Services meeting will transition to being in person.

District Employee Housing Survey
As a reminder, please take the time to participate in the district employee housing survey if you haven’t already (LINK). Proposed solutions are less likely to cater toward our needs if we don’t contribute our opinions.

Thank you to everyone who responded to the last message requesting support for Mario Ramos and his family.

In Solidarity,

Scott Olsen (he/him) | ACE President | 
650-949-7789 | M-F 8:00am-5:00pm

2024.01.31 – Bilingual Skills Guidance – STOP ✋

ACE Members,

By the end of the month, we were hoping to have made substantive progress on bilingual pay. Instead, the following guidance must be provided because of where we are currently:

If your manager/supervisor is asking you to provide services in a language other than English, you are not paid to do so or required to do so – STOP

The district has made the choice not to pay ACE members for language translation or communication (written/verbal) skills that they bring.

Complaints/Concerns can be directed to @Rocio Chavez and @Pat Hyland in Human Resources.

Note: The only classification in our bargaining unit that identifies a language other than English, is the Sign Language Interpreter (American Sign Language.)

Will this disrupt departments like Outreach, Financial Aid, International Students, English as a Second Language, EOPS, etc.?
Yes. In the last round of negotiations, the District chose to uphold the status quo and determined that our ability to communicate in another language has no additional value (even when it is requested of us.). Work stoppages are intended to be disruptive to demonstrate the skills we provide. If they are refusing to pay you for specific work, don’t do that work. Continuing to provide services for free undermines our ability to obtain compensation.

What are we specifically trying to gain?
Here is the proposed MOU language:

Bilingual Pay
The District acknowledges the contributions of those workers who possess bilingual skills. The professionalism shown by workers using these skills has enriched the educational environment for students with diverse communication needs.

  1. Each worker requested to use their bilingual skills in the regular course of business shall receive a bilingual stipend of one hundred ($100) per month.
  2. Bilingual pay will be for languages deemed appropriate by the District and may change as the needs of the District change.
  3. Those employees who, upon the recommendation of their immediate supervisor, and who successfully complete the Bilingual Performance Examination for another language including American Sign Language (ASL), will receive $100 per month in addition to their regular pay.
  4. To continue receiving bilingual pay, employees must successfully complete a short validated oral PASS or FAIL examination every three (3) years. Candidates who fail the Bilingual Performance Examination may re-test once every six months.
  5. Each worker that receives bilingual pay will only receive $100 per month no matter how many languages they are certified to speak.

This mirrors the language the District has already agreed to with the Police Officer’s Association (POA) in their Article 6.6 (Source). It is not unreasonable or impossible if they’ve already agreed to it with another unit within the district.

What do we do when a manager/supervisor is still asking us for bilingual services?
Contact a steward @Andre Meggerson, @Anthony Caceres, @Thomas Marks, or @Scott Olsen. We can inform the manager/supervisor of the current agreement with the district and clarify who their bargaining team members are if they have any questions.

If we’re successful, does that mean we can learn any language and get the additional $100?
Not necessarily. Read the proposed MOU language above. We must be requested to utilize the skill, the languages are determined by the district, we must pass a test, and we have to be re-validated every three years.

Is that proposed MOU language finalized?
No. It’s a starting point that we were hoping to engage the district with, but we haven’t received a written response in return. Which is why we are asking you to STOP to make the district understand this is important to our campus community.

My parents had the forethought to enroll me in a bilingual education (Spanish immersion) program at a young age. I certainly do not expect to benefit from bilingual pay in my Client Systems Specialist position, but I personally recognize the value of being able to understand another language and communicate in that language. In my second term as president, I’m confident we can organize to obtain compensation for language skills that are required of us which are beyond the scope of our classifications.

In Solidarity,

Scott Olsen (he/him) | ACE President | 
650-949-7789 | M-F 8:00am-5:00pm