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03.02.2021 – General Membership Meeting, Classification/Compensation Study

ACE Members
I am pleased to announce we have reached an agreement with the District on our classification and compensation study.  A pdf was emailed to members which include:

  1. An FAQ regarding the tentative agreement.
  2. The MOU for the agreement includes classifications and their corresponding salary level.
  3. A general FAQ regarding the classification/compensation study and how decisions were made.

As we have said all along, this does not go into effect UNTIL the membership votes on it, and if it is passed by the membership, then approved by the Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees.  

A general membership meeting will be held next Tuesday, March 9 at noon.  A calendar invite will be sent to you shortly.  After the meeting, we will open online voting to approve or reject the study. 

A reminder, ONLY ACE members may attend general membership meetings.  If you’re receiving this email, you’re a member.  If a colleague says they didn’t get the email, please have them contact our president, Chris White.

We would like to thank you for your patience and support during this long process.  It was challenging but we all believe we are better off for it.

In gratitude,

Cathleen Monsell, Chair of Negotiations


Chris Chavez

Joseph Gilmore

Dana Kennedy

Terry Rowe

Andrea Santa Cruz


Chris White, ACE president

Anthony Booth, attorney for ACE

Bradley Booth, attorney for ACE

ACE Update 01.26.2021: Brighter Days; Return to Campus; Classification & Compensation Study Update; Representation & Participatory Governance

President’s Message

Brighter Days Ahead

Rolling into my 21st year with FHDA and for the first time in a long while, I am cautiously optimistic for a few reasons.  First, there’s a vaccine for COVID19, which means we may be able to get this pandemic under control by the end of the calendar year. It’s been hard for employees and students. Second, the state budget is better than anticipated.  While the increases to ongoing funds aren’t huge, it’s better than reductions.  Third, we will finish this classification/compensation study before the end of this fiscal year.

The anticipated doom and gloom from the governor’s 2021-2022 budget didn’t materialize in the draft released last week.  Sales, property, and income tax grew more than anticipated. Critical to FHDA, hold harmless funding for 2021-2022 was included. Many of the spending increases are one-time funding to address emergency financial assistance to students; food and housing basic needs for students; money for enrollment and retention strategies; expanding work-based learning; faculty professional development; and paying down deferrals.

On-going funding includes a 1.5 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA), growth of 0.5 percent, funding for online technology needs and mental health services, and expanding the apprenticeship initiative.  This is a draft and a lot can change between now and the final budget delivered in May.  Bottom line? Those cuts anticipated for July 1 will most likely get pushed back another year.  While FHDA is holding flat in enrollment – most other community colleges in the state have seen significant losses in enrollment since the start of the pandemic – at some point, we will have to address the loss of 3200 FTES when the hold harmless runs out.  This year just bought us a little more time to figure out what we need to do.

Classification and Compensation Study
We are down to the last few details in negotiations.  While we wait for the District’s response I took a moment to breakdown the process into a few different articles below – a general timeline, a classification study FAQ, and how the compensation portion of the study was determined – to remind us all of our objectives for the study and how decisions were made.  It’s worth your time to read it all.


Chris White, ACE President
(650) 949-7789, office

“The fight is never about lettuce or grapes.  It is always about people”. – César Chávez

Return To Campus

A return to campus is inevitable but when and how to remain looming issues.  To address these, Chancellor Miner has established a District task force, led by consultant Pat James, with the charge to support programs the colleges have identified they would like to come back to the campus. Membership will rotate as we move through the process but it will include people who are experts in their area.  When specifically asked if this included classified professionals, Chancellor Miner responded affirmatively.  They hope to start this process in February.  ACE will be sending out a short survey in the next week to help articulate what returning safely to campus looks like to you. This is separate from the District task force, so if you’re asked to participate on the task force, I encourage you to do so.

Can the District require a worker to return to campus?

Yes.  We are classified as essential workers.  Work expectations and your options with the District are identified here. Depending on the expectation, we may need to take these on a case-by-case basis, but ultimately, if you cannot work remotely and you are uncomfortable returning to campus you can use your paid leave (vacation or comp time) or unpaid leave to cover the time off.  As I have said on more than one occasion, the District has been very considerate in finding ways to get the work done and keep employees safe.  There is no indication that they are in any rush to alter the course.

What responsibility does the District have to ensure our workspace is safe?

Effective December 1, 2020, the California Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board (CalOSHA) approved emergency regulations requiring employers to protect workers from hazards related to COVID-19.

It requires that employers create a written program that includes the following elements:

  • Communication to employees about the employer’s COVID-19 prevention procedures;
  • Identification, evaluation, and correction of COVID-19 hazards;
  • The physical distancing of at least six feet unless it is not possible;
  • Use of face coverings;
  • Use of engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE) as required to reduce transmission risk;
  • Procedures to investigate and respond to COVID-19 cases in the workplace;
  • COVID-19 training for employees;
  • Testing for employees who are exposed to a COVID-19 case, and in the case of multiple infections or a major outbreak, implementation of regular workplace testing for employees in the exposed work areas;
  • Exclusion of COVID-19 cases and exposed employees from the workplace until they are no longer an infection risk; and
  • Records maintenance of COVID-19 cases and reporting of serious illnesses and multiple cases to Cal/OSHA and the local public health department.

A full FAQ regarding the CalOSHA regulations can be found here.  The District’s COVID training and Posting Documents can be found here.

Can you be required to take the COVID 19 vaccine as a condition of work?

The short answer: Yes. An employer can make a vaccination a requirement if you want to continue working there. But there are significant exceptions for potential concerns related to any disability you may have and for religious beliefs that prohibit vaccinations. So far the District has been quiet on this issue. On Dec. 16, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) confirmed that a COVID-19 vaccination requirement by itself would not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That law prohibits employers from conducting some types of medical examinations.

If our work can be done remotely, how can we ensure that option is available when we return to campus?

For at least ten years, the ACE Agreement has allowed for the option to work remotely (article 13.2.6). “At the request of the worker, and if the needs of the department can be met, the worker may be permitted to work out of his or her home via a computer terminal. The request and subsequent permission, if granted, shall be in writing”. Simply put it’s an agreement between you and your supervisor.  What the shelter in place (SIP) has taught us is that most work can be done remotely and refusal has nothing to do with liability, security, or any other reason that has been given when classified have asked to exercise this option. It’s a matter of managing.

Classification Study – A Long Delay

Classifications are bargained.  In 2016, ACE negotiated with the District to conduct a classification/compensation study for all work done within our unit.  The last time a comprehensive classification study was completed in our District was 1998.  Over 25 years since the last study, internal inequities developed and made it difficult to accurately create new positions or address reclassification.  The goal for this study was to:

  • Align job description with current roles.
  • Develop career ladders.
  • Determine the appropriateness of internal alignments.
  • Conduct a market analysis of compensation in similar or like jobs in other districts.

A review of current duties and the development of classifications was the first part of the process.  A compensation study was conducted after the classifications were developed.  A Joint Labor Management Classification Committee (JLMCC) was established to negotiate this process. ACE and the District mutually agreed to the selection of Koff & Associates after independent research and reference checks. It is important to note, the District agreed to do the study, they never agreed to implement the results.  That would have to be negotiated. 

The formal classification study kicked off in January of 2017. The process started out smoothly with a review of job duties and follow-up interviews with employees and supervisors taking several months to complete. Koff was slated to deliver preliminary draft descriptions in September but gathering information from supervisor/administrators was a little slower than anticipated.  We were still waiting for those draft classifications in April of 2018.  During this time, we learned Koff was assigning some classifications – mostly in ETS – to exempt status, meaning they wouldn’t be eligible for overtime. Both ACE and the District quickly agreed that all classifications in our unit would be non-exempt.  Draft classifications were distributed in late May and a couple more months were needed for feedback and review.  Final classification descriptions were completed in late October 2018. A year and a half after the start of the study.  Next step, a compensation study.  And this is where the study really stalled.

In January of 2018, the JMLCC agreed to which college districts and positions would serve as comparison benchmarks for the compensation portion of the study. The committee specifically agreed not to use the Bay Area 10, which includes FHDA, San Mateo CCD, West Valley CCD, San Jose-Evergreen CCD, and Ohlone College, and selected college districts based on Koff’s data analysis criteria, which would include comparable Southern California districts and City College of San Francisco. Koff delivered an initial compensation analysis to the ACE and the District in November of 2018.  By April of 2019, we were still waiting to review Koff’s analysis with the District.

On Wednesday, April 10, the JLMCC met to review the classification consultants finding for the compensation study to determine the steps we would need to negotiate to move forward.  At the beginning of this study, the JLMCC greed through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in January of 2017, that the salary study “would be used to determine the appropriateness of the internal alignment of the FHDA classifications”, “to compare FHDA salaries to comparable Community College Districts as determined by the committee” and that the “salary benchmarks will remain in the top three of the salary schedule for any external comparisons”.  At this meeting, we were told that management has taken over the internal alignment portion of the study and would change all the salaries basing it on the Bay Area 10. ACE was never provided with the data from Koff regarding their proposed internal alignment. This was in direct violation of our agreement and it appeared that the salary portion of the study was being unilaterally circumvented by the District.

On May 23 ACE 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. ACE argued the District is in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) because they were seeking to take unilateral action and impose conditions on their willingness to bargain. During this time the District refused to meet to negotiate other items, such as the 2019-2020 cost of living adjustment (COLA).  In September of 2019, ACE agreed to drop the ULP to move negotiations forward.  Remember, originally, the District never agreed to implement the study.  By withdrawing our ULP, the District agreed to implement the study, retroactive to July 1, 2019, and negotiate the compensation. It didn’t dismiss our assertion that we are operating from the terms agreed upon with the District in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding the salary portion of the study signed in January of 2017.

We’ve been bargaining ever since. With over 125 classifications to review, an internal alignment structure to negotiate, developing a process for implementation and appeal, it takes a minute to get through it all but starting in October 2019 we were slowly getting through them.  Then the pandemic hit early March 2020.  By September, with no response from the District, ACE resent a substantive proposal. Negotiations have been moving forward, slowly. To be fair, the District does have its hands full with regulations, processes, and procedures around the pandemic and working from home.  I’m willing to extend them little grace. The devil is in the detail and we are knee-deep in the details. Clearly defined intention and wording are critical particularly around implementation and process. Ambiguity could mean the difference between no increase or a substantial increase in pay.

In this last round, the District sent a response on January 21.  ACE will be sending what is hopefully a final proposal this week.

Classification Study – FAQ

What is a classification plan?
A classification plan is a systematic framework for grouping jobs into common classifications based on similarities in duties, responsibilities, and requirements.
The purpose of a classification plan is to provide an appropriate basis for making a variety of human resources decisions such as the:

  • Development of job-related recruitment and selection procedures;
  • A clear and objective appraisal of employee performance;
  • Development of career paths, training plans, and succession planning;
  • Design of an equitable and competitive salary structure;
  • Organizational development and change management; and
  • Provision of an equitable basis for discipline and other employee actions.

In addition to providing this basis for various human resources management and process decisions, a classification plan can also effectively support systems of administrative and fiscal control.  Grouping of positions into an orderly classification system supports planning, budget analysis and preparation, and various other administrative functions.

Why are studies conducted?
Classification studies are conducted in order to assess changes in job functions over time, create new jobs, and accurately represent the full scope of duties during recruitment and performance evaluation. They are also useful in creating a solid foundation by which to compare positions within an organization to other, similar positions within a market.

What is the difference between a classification specification and position (or job) description?
“Position” and “Classification” are two terms that are often used interchangeably but have very different meanings.

  • A position is an assigned group of duties and responsibilities performed by one person. A position can be full-time, part-time, regular, temporary, filled, or vacant. Often the word “job” is used in place of the word “position.”
  • A classification or class may contain only one position or may consist of a number of positions. When you have several positions assigned to one class, it means that the same classification title is appropriate for each position; that the scope, level, duties, and responsibilities of each position assigned to the class are sufficiently similar (but not identical), and that the same core knowledge, skills, and other requirements are appropriate for all positions in the class.

A position or job description, often known as a “desk manual”, generally lists each duty an employee performs and may also have information about how to perform that duty.  A classification specification normally reflects several positions and is a summary document that does not list each duty performed by every employee.  The classification description, which is intended to be broader, more general, and informational, indicates the general scope and level of responsibilities, plus the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other requirements for successful performance, not detail-specific position responsibilities.

What is the relationship between classification and compensation?
Classification is the description of and the requirements to perform the work.  Compensation is the monetary value of the work, often influenced by two factors:

  • The external labor market; and
  • Internal relationships within the organization.

Why were some classifications recommended for a series (such as an I, II, etc.) and other classifications not recommended for a series?
Classifications may consist of multiple levels called a classification series (such as Administrative Assistant I and Administrative Assistant II) or consist of a single level (such as Program Coordinator).  The recommendation of multiple levels or a single level classification series depends on the allocation factors described previously, as well as the availability of work, the training requirements to become fully competent in the work, and the District’s needs and priorities.

What are the general definitions of levels?

Level of Work Description
Entry-level Work assignments are generally going to fit a routine and established pattern with supervisors overseeing and checking work on a consistent basis until the employee has attained a level of competency to independently perform the range of duties and where the level of supervision would be eased.
For both one-of-a-kind and repetitive tasks, the supervisor makes specific assignments that are accompanied by clear, detailed, and specific instructions.
The employee works as instructed and consults with the supervisor, as needed, on all matters not specifically covered in the original instructions or guidelines.
For professional positions, based on the level of education required to perform the work, there is an expectation that the employee would have the necessary framework to make judgments in applying guidelines, processes, and policies, and procedures and take action based on the standards the profession adheres to.  Supervisory oversight would be more limited to monitoring unusual assignments which would require an interpretation and application of standards.
Journey-level Work assignments involve performing the full range of duties assigned to the classification; at this level, supervisory controls are eased to the extent that the employees are expected to use judgment in applying guidelines, processes, and policies and procedures when performing tasks and making decisions.  Supervisory oversight would be more limited to monitoring unusual assignments that fall outside normal operating procedures.
The employee uses initiative in independently carrying out recurring assignments without specific instructions, but refers deviations, problems, and unfamiliar situations not covered by instructions to the supervisor for decision or help.
The supervisor assures that finished work and methods used are technically accurate and in compliance with instructions or established procedures.  Review of the work increases with more difficult assignments if the employee has not previously performed similar assignments.
Professional positions work on tasks that are varied and complex, requiring the use of considerable discretion and independent judgment in performing assigned work or ensuring the efficient and effective functioning of an assigned program or operational area.  Assignments are given with general guidelines and incumbents are responsible for establishing objectives, timelines, and methods to deliver work products or services.  Work is typically reviewed upon completion for soundness, appropriateness, and conformity to policy and requirements.
Advanced journey-level Work assignments involve working on tasks that are varied and complex, requiring the use of considerable discretion and independent judgment in performing assigned work or ensuring the efficient and effective functioning of an assigned program or operational area.  Assignments are given with general guidelines and incumbents are responsible for establishing objectives, timelines, and methods to deliver work products or services.  Work is typically reviewed upon completion for soundness, appropriateness, and conformity to policy and requirements.
The supervisor makes assignments by defining objectives, priorities, and deadlines and assists the employee with unusual situations that do not have clear precedents.
The employee plans and carries out the successive steps and handles problems and deviations in the work assignments in accordance with instructions, policies, previous training, or accepted practices in the occupation.
For professional positions, the supervisor sets the overall objectives and resources available.  The employee and supervisor, in consultation, develop deadlines, projects, and work to be done.
The employee, having developed expertise in the line of work, is responsible for planning and carrying out the assignment, resolving most of the conflicts that arise, coordinating the work with others as necessary, and interpreting policy on their own initiative in terms of established objectives.  In some assignments, the employee also determines the approach to be taken and the methodology to be used.  The employee keeps the supervisor informed of progress and potentially controversial matters.  Completed work is reviewed only from an overall standpoint in terms of feasibility, compatibility with other work, or effectiveness in meeting requirements or expected results.

Establishing Minimum Qualifications

While we recognize the institutional culture and value placed on education, the education and/or experience listed in the classification specification are minimum requirements; placing higher levels of education or experience which are not required for the work performed places barriers for applicants who would otherwise qualify for the job.  The minimum qualifications in the classification specification provide a “typical way to obtain the required qualifications,” in recognition of the fact that there are other ways of qualifying for the work.
The minimum qualifications:

  • Should not be so restrictive that they exclude candidates who might reasonably have the ability to do the work.
  • Should not present artificial barriers to employment;
  • Need to be practical in the sense that they are obtainable in the general labor market;
  • Should address Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs), however, KSAs that can be obtained on the job should not be factored into the requirements; and
  • Need to be tied directly to the job duties.
  • A classification or class may contain only one position or may consist of a number of positions. When you have several positions assigned to one class, it means that the same classification title is appropriate for each position; that the scope, level, duties, and responsibilities of each position assigned to the class are sufficiently similar (but not identical), and that the same core knowledge, skills, and other requirements are appropriate for all positions in the class.

Food for thought:  As we talk about dismantling systemic racism within our institution and we can recognize that institutions of education have historically excluded or disadvantaged black and brown communities, what it would do for applicants who would otherwise qualify for the job if we didn’t place higher levels of education or experience which are not required for the work performed?

Compensation Study – Comparator Agencies

A classification study takes a snapshot in time of the work being performed by workers.  But that only tells part of the story.  Compensation is another key component in this process.  A study of the current labor market will provide new information to determine whether the organization’s pay structure is appropriate or may need adjustment based on the work identified in the classification portion of the study. Paying people fairly is good for recruitment and retention.

In developing the list of potential agencies for the compensation study, Koff & Associates (K&A) evaluated a number of comparative indicators related to Foothill-DeAnza Community College District’s (District’s) demographics, financials, and scope of services provided.  The following details the methodology and the specific criteria included in the analysis.

  1. Organizational type and structure: K&A generally recommends that agencies of a similar size and structure providing similar services to that of the District be used as comparators.
  2. The similarity of population, staff, and operational budgets: These elements provide guidelines in relation to resources required (staff and funding) and available for the provision of services.
  3. Scope of services provided and geographic location: Organizations providing the same services are ideal for comparators, and most comparator agencies included in the analysis provide similar services to the District.
  4. Labor market: In the reality that is today’s labor market, many agencies are in competition for the same pool of qualified employees, and individuals often don’t live in the communities they serve. The geographic labor market area, where the District may be recruiting from or losing employees to, is taken into consideration when selecting comparator organizations.

The comparator agency analysis includes specific data for each proposed agency:

  1. Geographic Proximity
  2. Educational Administrator, Tenured, and Academic Temporary (Full-Time Equivalent [FTE])
  3. Student Enrollment
  4. Classified Staff (FTE)
  5. All Funds – Revenue
  6. Revenue per Student (per $1,000)
  7. Median Household Income
  8. Median Home Price
  9. Cost of Living

The overall ranking is based on the absolute value difference between the agency on each factor and the District regardless of whether the agency is higher or lower for that factor.  The analysis includes data for informational purposes only, such as the Median Home Price and Median Household Income comparison data.  These criteria are not part of the overall comparison score, as these two factors are components of the % Above/Below U.S. Cost of Living Average.  The analysis utilizes the Cost of Living in the overall rank, as an indicator of the local economy for each agency.

The recommended agencies are those agencies that were identified as being the most similar to the District based on the eight factors analyzed above except for the recommendation to include Chabot-Las Positas Community College District and West Valley-Mission Community College District.  Koff recommended including Chabot-Las Positas Community College District and West Valley-Mission Community College District, as opposed to the other districts, because Chabot-Las Positas and West Valley-Mission are within the local geographic labor market (and is more comparable in terms of cost of living and cost of labor factors).

The list of comparator agencies for our study include:

  1. San Mateo Community College District
  2. Coast Community College District
  3. Peralta Community College District
  4. Ventura Community College District
  5. Mt. San Antonio Community College District
  6. San Francisco City College District
  7. Riverside Community College District
  8. Santa Monica Community College District
  9. North Orange Community College District
  10. Contra Costa Community College District
  11. Chabot-Las Positas Community College District
  12. West Valley-Mission Community College District

With issues of classifications and compensation, using this data-driven approach to determine comparator agencies is a change for the District and one of the key reasons we selected Koff to conduct this study.  Traditionally, the District has used the Bay 10 – West Valley, Mission, San Mateo, Skyline, Cañada, Ohlone, San Jose City, Evergreen, Foothill and De Anza –  for comparison with mixed results.  Our cost of living may be similar to Ohlone (Fremont) or Evergreen (East San Jose), but the size of our institutions in terms of student enrollment and staffing are vastly different.  Using a defined set of criteria, like the eight identified above by Koff, allows us to see real differences between FHDA and the comparator agencies, both in terms of the comparator agency itself and the factors that affect the economy in which the agency is located.

Based on preliminary independent research, in most instances, FHDA pays more than other community colleges.  We have been reviewing the information and negotiating with the District based on what makes sense given the fiscal climate.

We’re conducting a compensation study when there is no money?
Yes.  Separate from the District’s budget challenges it is important to know if people are being compensated appropriately for the work they do.  Using a strong, industry-focused compensation survey as the foundation for pay decisions allows us to make fairer decisions and manage resources more wisely.

We’re getting a raise?
Some may, some may not. If you’ve fortunate enough to work in a classification that is already at a market rate based on our comparator agencies, good for you.  Not everyone has been.

It is worth noting, this analysis is not based on the quantity or quality of work. Those are both management issues. 

Representation and Participatory Governance

There has been a little confusion on the appointment of classified professionals to participatory governance committees.

Per ed code, the authority to appoint representatives to serve on any college or district committees lies with the exclusive bargaining unit, not the Senate.  For ACE, if a committee makes decisions that will have a fiscal or employment impact on members in our unit, ACE retains its authority to serve as the official representative. For committees where this isn’t the case, ACE has deferred its authority to the Senate to appoint a representative.

CA Ed Code 70901.2. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, when a classified staff representative is to serve on a college or district task force, committee, or other governance group, the exclusive representative of classified employees of that college or district shall appoint the representative for the respective bargaining unit members. The exclusive representative of the classified employees and the local governing board may mutually agree to an alternative appointment process through a memorandum of understanding. A local governing board may consult with other organizations of classified employees on shared governance issues that are outside the scope of bargaining. These organizations shall not receive release time, rights, or representation on shared governance task forces, committees, or other governance groups exceeding that offered to the exclusive representative of classified employees.

It is also important to note that the Senate and bargaining units have very different charges which are not interchangeable. It would be prudent for any committee making decisions that impact classified professionals to have both organizations represented.

PGA Changes: Replacement Hours for Old Awards; New Guidelines for New Awards

Changes to our Professional Growth Award (PGA) program in order to do two things:

  1. Help those with old PGA awards have more hours count towards pensionable income after CalPERS adjusted what they would accept; and
  2. 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:

  1. Section one will be retitled as Certificate, Course, or Degree.
    1. Section 1a will cover accredited courses and continuing education units (CEU).  We have removed the minimum hours required to use this section.
    2. Section 1b is new and will cover many job-related certificated skills training previously listed under section five.
    3. There is no maximum for either of these activities and you are allowed to carry these hours forward to future awards.
  2. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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:

  1. Please send an email to  Be sure to include your CWID.
  2. 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).
  3. 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:

  1. Job-Related certificated training. These hours will now be listed under section 1b.
  2. All rules under PGA guidelines apply to new awards. The suspension of rules for previously earned PGAs does not apply to new awards.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. PGA Review Panel:  Kris Lestini, Mary Medrano, Kit Perales, Denise Perez, Shawna Santiago

ACE Update 06.05.2020: Standing Against Racism; July 4; Summer Work Hours; Vacation and SIP; PGA Section 5 and CalPERS

President’s Message

Ant-racist books, black lives matter books

Standing Against Racism

While long term action is needed, ACE will continue to stand beside and support our black colleagues, students, and the Black Lives Matter movement in the ongoing fight for justice.  The events that have taken place in the last week demand that each of us stand up in opposition to the ongoing police brutality seen in so many communities of color throughout this country.  More succinctly, black lives matter.

We need to listen, we need to learn, we need to act. 

To be honest, I do not know what support looks like in terms of our Agreement but I am committed to listening to our black colleagues, being teachable, and acting when needed. What I do know is that the intersection of human rights, civil rights, and workers’ rights has always been a part of the struggle for independent power and we must continue to uplift those movements in an intersectional way to ensure we are able to make a difference for those we serve.

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

July 4 Holiday

The July 4 holiday falls on a Saturday, therefore it will be observed on Friday, July 3. 

If a supervisor assigns a schedule to an employee without their consent then that employee would be entitled to holiday pay for the hours normally worked, (i.e. 4-10-40 would get 10 hours holiday paid) (article 13.1). If you are assigned an alternate work schedule and Friday is your normal day off, you are entitled to observe the holiday on another workday designated by the District unless the day is mutually agreed upon by the employee and the supervisor (article 9.1).  

If you choose to work an alternate work schedule, you will be paid for eight hours and must make up any difference. If the holiday falls on your normal day off, adjust your schedule accordingly to accommodate eight hours for the holiday.  Always work with your supervisor regarding any changes to your schedule.

Welcome New Members

Please take a moment to welcome our newest members.  Invite them to a site meeting, answer their questions, or point them to their steward if they need additional guidance.  Our association only works with active participation from all our members.

Davon Cole, mobility driver, Disability Resource Center

Summer Work Hours

July 6 – August 28

As we continue to work remotely, we will adjust to summer work hours as if we were on campus. Translation?  Ten-hour days are back beginning Monday, July 6 through Friday, Aug 28.  It also means confusion for staff and supervisors as to how this modified schedule is interpreted and applied.  

Article 13.1 – Summer Hours
13.1 -Workers assigned to programs and departments where scheduling allows mandated four-day work schedule will be offered a four-day work schedule during the summer for the period beginning the first full week in July and ending the Friday before the Labor Day holiday. Under the summer schedule, the normal workday shall consist of ten hours starting and ending at times appropriate to the needs of the department and agreed upon by the worker and his/her supervisor.

13.4.3 – Workers who work fewer than 10 hours per day during the four-day summer workweek shall select one of the following options to cover time not worked:

  1. Use of earned vacation (see Section 10.1 regarding the circumstances under which certain amounts of sick leave can be converted to vacation);
  2. Use of earned compensatory time;
  3. Leave without pay;
  4. A revised work schedule and/or location in order to accommodate the employee if they feel they are unable to work a 10-hour per day four-day work schedule.

Who sets the schedule?
Employees will establish, with supervisor approval, a work schedule of four days of ten hours of work plus a half-hour meal break for each day (minimum 10.5 hours total). Meal breaks may be longer upon request, and with the approval of the supervisor. The standard 10.5 hours work schedule will occur between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. to accommodate the meal break (7:00-5:30, 7:30-6:00, 7:15-5:45, etc.).

Can I stack my breaks to shorten the workday?
No. Employees may not stack break periods for later use or to combine with meal breaks and may not use breaks to account for late arrivals or early departures. It is a violation of labor law.

I am unable to work a 10-hour day may I set up an alternative schedule?
An employee, with supervisor approval may implement a modified schedule by requesting a different schedule or using accrued leave or leave without pay but cannot use Personal Necessity Leave.

What guidelines does a supervisor follow to determine if a request for an alternate schedule should be approved?

  1.  Supervisors should work with employees regarding requests for alternate schedules to ensure which accommodate special considerations for child care or other extenuating circumstances in an attempt to find a solution that works for both the District and the employee.
  2. Supervisors must ensure adequate coverage and appropriate supervision for the official hours of operation. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to determine when an employee’s work schedule includes Friday that a level of supervision is adequately-addressed.
  3. Supervisors and classified staff should be familiar with the provisions of the applicable bargaining unit agreements affecting employees on a 4-10 work schedule.

Bottom line?
If you are unable to work a 10-hour day and you do not have accrued leave and cannot take time off without pay, be flexible in your request, be clear on what work you will get done and be accountable with it.  Your supervisor does have the final say on your work schedule.

Vacation Limits While Shelter-in-Place

As we continue to shelter in place (SIP), some employees may find they are getting close to reaching their vacation leave accrual maximum.  When the balance exceeds the limits, a worker ceases to earn vacation until the balance is below the maximum earnable.

Some have expressed concern, with the SIP, they can’t go anywhere, some have far too much work and cannot get away, while others have mentioned the connection to work is their main source of interaction with others and the thought of being home alone is untenable.  Is there an option to suspend the vacation accrual limit or pay us out for vacation earned above the maximum?  We presented the District with a few suggestions regarding this issue and the following is the response we received from Myisha Washington, director of human resources:

“We agree that the shelter-in-place that we are under is creating some unusual circumstances for staff and we do not wish to create negative consequences. We are encouraging employees to take their vacation as we believe it is important even during this time period, and even if there is no place for them to go. I would hope that having time away from work can provide a needed break regardless of where a person spends that time.

We can and will work with the employee and supervisor/manager to work out an arrangement, but would consider the rare exception in an extenuating circumstance if the employee is considered essential and no other arrangement can be made.

Please have the employee work with their supervisor/manager to request time off or an exception”. 

The District was unwilling to waiver from this stance.  

Vacation Leave Basics – Article 9.2

  • You must complete six months of employment before you may use vacation leave.
  • Vacation accrual rate:
    • Years one – three you earn 6.66 hours each calendar month (10 days annually);
    • Years four – seven you earn 10 hours of vacation per month (15 days annually);
    • Years eight – thirteen you earn 13.33 hours per month (20 days annually); and
    • Beginning the fourteenth year you accrue 16 hours per month (24 days annually).
    • Classified hourly accrual rate based on twice the length of time required for full-time workers.
    • Part-time workers (20-35 hours week) are entitled to that proportion of vacation granted to full-time workers that are equal to a full-time contract.
  • Vacation must be used in increments of one (1) hour or more.
  • Workers may accumulate a maximum of two years of accrued vacation. For example, if you have two years with the District and are earning vacation at 6.66 hours each month, for a 12-month employee, the balance can’t be more than 159.84 hours.  The maximum adjusts with the rate of your vacation accrual.
  • When you retire/resign from Foothill-De Anza, you are paid out for any unused vacation.
  • When the balance exceeds the limits, a worker ceases to earn vacation until the balance is below the maximum earnable. There is no other recourse and you will lose it.
  • Workers who reduce their contract (partial unpaid leave, extended sick leave) have vacation accrual prorated by the percent of the contract reduced.
  • You will be notified via your paystub (yellow highlight) that you are within two pay periods of reaching your maximum accrual.  It is easy to miss.

Approaching Limit

Exceeds Limit

Scheduling Vacation

  • Generally, each worker should be given a choice of time for vacation but the District reserves the right to schedule leave at its convenience provided that every attempt is made to schedule vacation leave so that workers who choose to do so have at least five consecutive days off and such scheduling is not done in an arbitrary and capricious manner.  In other words, don’t buy a plane ticket and then ask for the time off.  Your supervisor does not have to approve it.
  • If two workers in the same group wish to take a vacation at the same time, the first choice goes to the person with the longest service in the District.
  • A worker can change their scheduled vacation time but only if it does not require any other worker to change their scheduled vacation.
  • If a worker becomes seriously ill or injured during a scheduled vacation, they may submit a signed statement from a physician that the worker was unable to continue vacation and have the time deducted from earned sick leave.

If you are having difficulty scheduling a vacation or have questions, please contact your steward.

Negotiations & Budget Update

Negotiations:  Late last week the District contacted ACE with the following: “We don’t have a specific suggestion to offer just yet but would like to discuss how we might conclude negotiations regarding the ACE Classification Study”.  While we have given the District a couple of proposals with no response, the negotiating team is finalizing a proposal with the hopes to present it to the District by early next week. 

The other outstanding item in negotiations is health care contribution rates effective January 1, 2021. We bargain health benefits collectively with the other units and are still waiting for CalPERS to release their 2021rates.  CalPERS usually sets rates in late May and finalizes them in early June. They have indicated a delay due to COVID19 and have not made public when they expect to report new rates.

As part of our negotiations agreement for 2019-20, we extended the six percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) to June 30, 2021.  Beginning July 1, 2021, it is reduced to 3.5 percent but becomes permanent. We had also negotiated language if the District were to pass the parcel tax or a bond, we could reopen salary but the fiscal challenges for FDHA and the state (see below) have erased any additional COLA for 2020-21. 

Budget:  Last month we talked about the upcoming District budget challenges and the myriad of uncertainties making it difficult to define what it means in terms of planning for 2020-21. Over the past month, the District has been able to get a slightly clearer picture from the Governor’s May budget revise – significantly impacted from COVID 19 and corresponding revenue losses – along with our own loss of revenue due to enrollment decline over the past decade. We’re still left with multiple scenarios on how this budget plays out including the hope for an infusion of funds from the federal government to the state to address COVID19 revenue losses, massive IOUs from the state to colleges for funding in future years, and uncertainty around non-resident revenue which makes up 15 percent of our budget. Ultimately, we are looking at a minimum of 10-15 million in reductions by June 30, 2021. While the impact from COVID19 has certainly made this more challenging, our own enrollment losses and living on borrowed time through hold-harmless funding meant these cuts were always coming.  

The District and colleges are in preliminary discussions on how to best address this challenge.  Chancellor Miner and Vice-Chancellor of Business Services, Susan Cheu have both emphasized we can’t address this reduction as we have historically done, which is through a percentage cut from each campus and the District.  Instead they are suggesting an approach focusing on what we absolutely need to offer in order to support our core values and mission.  This latter approach requires collaboration across the District we have been unable to produce in previous reductions. What is different this time?  For the first time in my memory (this will be my fifth budget reduction in 20 years), senior management has publicly acknowledged support staff is already cut to the bone, consolidations may be necessary, and we simply won’t be able to do everything we’ve done. The focus is on who we want to be versus what we need to cut shifts the conversation. This is the part where you come in. When those participatory governance meetings are scheduled to discuss priorities, show up, and speak up!

To get a better grasp on funding availability for personnel, ACE has requested a list of vacant positions (this money is budgeted but not spent) along with financial costs and job assignments for temporary and district-funded student workers.  While there are legitimate uses for temporary workers and we know student workers help off-set the loss of positions from previous reductions, they must be the first line of reduction before any permanent staff.

PGA, Section Five, and CalPERS Eligibility

Last fall, we were hit with the news that only hours earned in section one of the Professional Growth Award (PGA) would be accepted by CalPERS and be eligible as pensionable income.  There is a little bit of good news on this front. After more review from CalPERS, some courses and certificates listed under section five may be counted.  

As a reminder, for CalPERS 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”. The regulation doesn’t say they need to be accredited or have units attached to them, they just need to enhance a worker’s ability to do their job.  Many courses or certificates in section 5 meet this description.  To be clear, not all do.  For example, CalPERS and Social Security workshops or attending a work-related conference would not count. Software training, equity workshops, job-specific courses, and/or certificates, like those through the state’s Vision Resource Center (former Learning) would. You must be able to verify it is a formal course or certificate, complete with date of attendance, hours completed, and validation from whoever provided the training.  Listening to a podcast or reading articles related to your work and having your supervisor sign that you’ve done the work, does not count. 

CalPERS has been very clear they will not be reviewing what is submitted and has an expectation that the District will not submit anything as special compensation that does not meet their requirements.  For people who have submitted paperwork to retire, human resources are reviewing and validating hours earned in sections one and five.  For those not ready to retire, you can review your hours earned in section five and add them to hours earned in section one.  That will tell you how many awards are pensionable. If you find yourself doing mental gymnastics and fancy flowcharts to justify how an activity falling under section five enhances your ability to do your job, it most likely does not. Please do not put the PGA committee or the District under the scrutiny of CalPERS.  We do not want an audit.

Under section one, there is still no answer from CalPERS or the District on whether they will accept :

  • courses not included in previous applications (including courses taken while WOC as an administrator);
  • waiving the requirement for 100 new hours per award; or
  • allow courses taken during Staff Development Leave but not included on an application because they were paid with educational assistance.

Why? CalPERS asks what agreement did we have regarding those circumstances and currently, use of those hours would be prohibited. It might not be possible to undo that language.  Our memorandum of understanding (MOU) which allows workers to take a class, paid by the district through educational reimbursement, to replace hours that wouldn’t count towards pensionable income from previously earned awards doesn’t run contrary to our agreement.

PGA and CalPERS – Request for Previous Application Materials


For members affected by CalPERS’ decision to only include section one and certain types of training in section five of the Professional Growth Award (PGA) application towards pensionable income.

  1. If you would like to review your previous award(s) information, please send an email to  Be sure to include your CWID.
  2. This request is for a copy of your completed application(s) and the tally sheet(s) used by the PGA committee. No back up material will be provided.  This should help you determine how many hours you have under section one, whether they were used for a award or carried forward, 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).
  3. Turn around time to receive the request for information is approximately two weeks.  To not overburden an already short-staffed human resources department.  Your patience is appreciated.

If you would like all of your PGA’s to qualify as special compensation under CalPERS’ rules, we have already negotiated additional funding ($20,000 per year for two years) for affected employees to take courses at no cost to replace hours on already earned PGAs which are not pensionable.  In addition, we are still working with the District on an MOU to hopefully include courses which were taken but not included on an application, waiving the requirement for a 100 new hours per award, and/or allowing courses taken on Staff Development Leave (SDL) which were paid with educational assistance.  ACE and the District are committed to helping staff have as many previously earned PGAs count towards pensionable income as possible.

As a reminder, awards are still worth $90 each.  It is only the activities under CalPERS rules for educational incentive special compensation which has changed.