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ACE Update 11.02.2020: Opportunities; PGA – Replacement Hours & Updated Guidelines; Staff Development Leave Application Due 12/15; Upcoming Workshops

President’s Message


Election Day!  Make no mistake, several races and state initiative have squarely put public education on the ballot.  If you haven’t voted yet, the polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.  Same-day voter registration is available. Follow the links for election/voting information for the following counties: Alameda CountyContra Costa CountySan Benito CountySanta Clara County, Santa Cruz County, San Mateo County, and San Francisco County.  Your vote is your voice.

We wrapped up ACE Officer elections last week (see below for results) and I wanted to take a moment to say congratulations to newly elected officers.  With a mix of new and seasoned representatives, each one of them brings something unique to the table and I look forward to working with each of them. To those who ran for office and to those who voted, thank you.

In other news, the colleges and central services have forwarded to Chancellor Miner and the Board of Trustees their one-time collateral funds to address the district’s potential nine million dollar shortfall for 2020-21  I said it last month and I’ll say it again, the amount is a place holder.  Senior administration has indicated their priority will be to use one-time funds to meet this budget shortfall, and Chancellor Miner has affirmed there will be no layoffs for this year, but until we see the governor’s draft budget issued in late January, we won’t really know what we need to address in 2020-2021 or moving forward into 2021-2022.  To be clear, the loss of 3200 full-time equivalent students (FTES) over the past three years will need to be reconciled when hold-harmless funding from the state – extended through 2023-2024 – runs out. I’m going to reiterate my plea from last month that you show up, and speak up, at participatory governance meetings over the rest of this academic year so our college communities have a better understanding of the critical work classified professionals do.

Meanwhile, this is a good time to remind you to take advantage of negotiated benefits like professional growth awards (PGA) and staff development leave (SDL). They not only add money to your wallet – nearly $13,000 in additional salary through PGA – but they provide opportunities for professional growth not afforded to most classified professionals at other institutions. We just finalized a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the District changing the PGA application (see below) to have more hours be CalPERS pensionable.  As one out of six districts that offer SDL, it is an excellent opportunity for professional growth not easily undertaken when you’re working full-time.  SDL applications are due December 15.

Workshops for PGA, educational assistance, and staff development leave will be offered over the next week to help you take full advantage of these opportunities. The Professional Development Office at De Anza, the Office of Equity, Social Justice, and Multicultural Education at De Anza, and the Vision Resource Center through the State Chancellor’s Office are great resources for additional training directly related to community colleges.  Many of these workshops are eligible for PGA.

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

Upcoming Workshops

ACE Profession Growth Award (PGA) & Educational Assistance
This workshop covers how to get started with Professional Growth Awards (PGA), educational assistance, travel and conference funds, and SDL.

Thursday, Nov. 5 from 1:30 – 2:30 PM – Zoom invite sent via email.

Staff Development Leave (SDL)
This workshop is designed for staff ready to apply for SDL.

Tuesday, Nov.10 from 11 AM to noon. – Zoom invite sent via email.

New ACE Officers

Thank you to everyone who participated in the election process. It is worth repeating, our labor association only works due to the willing participation of the membership.

Elections results below. These officers’ term run from January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2022.

Treasurer: Kathy Nguyen
Recorder: Shawna Santiago
Vice President, Foothill: Phuong Tran
Chief Steward, Central Services: Anthony Caceres
Chief Steward, De Anza: Erika Flores
Board Member Central Services: Bill Baldwin
Board Member/Seat 2 De Anza:  Angelica Esquivel

PGA Changes: Replacement Hours for Old Awards, Updated Guidelines for New Awards

Last night, the board of trustees approved 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

2021-2022 Staff Development Leave Workshop – Applications Due 12/15

Staff Development Leave (SDL) applications for the 2021-22 academic year are due December 15, 2020.
A workshop to answer application questions will be held from 11 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Nov. 10 via Zoom.

We’re In A Budget Crisis, Why Are We Approving SDLs?
Funds designated for SDL are part of our negotiated Agreement and whether we use them or not won’t change the number of reductions the District needs to meet to balance its budget.

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
Cypress, Fullerton
 100% of pay Up to 240 hours
(1 mo.)
 6 yr. of service
 Kern CCD
Bakersfield, Porterville
 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

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 seniorityNo 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.

The Application

  • 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 Karen Smith at Foothill and Chris White with ACE.
  • 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.

ACE Update 10.20.2020: The Kitchen Sink, Negotiations, Officer Elections, COVID19 & Unions

President’s Message

The Kitchen Sink: From gratitude to budgets to elections and a few other things throw-in.  

Settle in, I have a few things to say.

Gratitude:  Thank you to everyone who donated leave to colleagues affected by the recent wildfires, including the Faculty Association who reached out to their membership to donate leave for employees in ACE. In my 20 years with the district, the generosity of the people who work here never ceases to amaze me.  I also want to extend thanks to the administration for giving employees a little grace during this time as we continue to navigate this pandemic. A special thanks to all of you for showing up and doing your work to serve students despite everything else happening in your lives. It’s a lot.  Managing kids and school and work. Not easy.  Living by yourself with very limited in-person interaction.  Not easy.  Less-than-ideal workspaces and fickle internet connections.  Not easy. Coping with friends and family affected by COVID19, or any illness, and not being able to help.  Not easy.  Seven months in, and what looks like many more months to go, this is a good time to remind you that you are not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis trying to work.  Be kind to yourself and take the time off when you need it. If you get pushback, please contact your steward. 

Budgets:  You know the story, our budget situation isn’t great but how bad is it?  First, it was an $11.5 million shortfall, now it’s $9 million. We need to decide on permanent cuts by Nov. 1, now we need to identify money to backfill the $9 million in shortfalls for another year. It could come from vacant positions (which is ongoing money and ultimately a cut) to one-time monies from carryforward balances. We were heading towards basic aid, now we’re not there. We have lost 3200 FTES (full-time equivalent student) since 17/18, but unlike previous recessions where students flock back to community colleges, our enrollment remains flat. It is better than the majority of community colleges across the state and nation who have seen a decline in enrollment but compounded with a 26 percent drop in non-resident enrollment, revenues are challenged.  Hold harmless money – funding from the state to make up the difference between our apportionment funding from 17/18 enrollment and where they would be funding us today based on our current enrollment – has been extended for an additional two years but it has to be approved by the legislature every year so the money isn’t an absolute guarantee.  What it all means? To quote the District in their 202-21 budget proposal “Reduction target will be refined as more information is obtained”. The FHDA Board of Trustees approved the 2020-21 budget at their October 5 meeting.  

ACE passed it’s 2020-21 annual budget in July.  We continue to spend 96 percent of dues on matters of representation.  As an independent labor association, we get to decide how we spend our resources and elected to forgive dues through December 2020 to help offset any financial burdens members may face as a result of the pandemic and it’s ensuing shelter in place.  

Participation: It is not ‘shared’ governance, it is ‘participatory’ governance.  The difference is subtle but important to remember because it clearly defines who has the authority to make decisions. In 1988, the California Legislature and the Governor approved AB 1725 directing the California Community College Board of Governors to develop regulations designed to:

…ensure faculty, staff, and students (have) the opportunity to express their opinions at the campus level, and to ensure that these opinions are given every reasonable consideration, and the right to participate effectively in the district and college governance, and the right of academic senates to assume primary responsibility for making recommendations in the areas of curriculum and academic standards(70900.5).

Upon direction from the Legislature, the California Community College Board of Governors adopted Title 5 regulations to implement AB 1725. Regulations pertaining to classified staff are found in §51023.5. The Board of Governors then directed each community college district Board of Trustees to adopt local policies (BP2224) and procedures to implement these Title 5 regulations. In other words, in participatory governance, constituency groups make recommendations to the administration and the board of trustees who then, ultimately, decide how budgets are spent and where cuts need to be made. For the first time in my 20 years, the board of trustees is looking to make some significant changes to their board priorities which could impact how we do business. They will be addressing these priorities at their Nov. 2 meeting. I encourage everyone to attend. ACE’s role is to make certain the District follows the process outlined in CA ed code and our Agreement when it comes to reductions or outsourcing and work to mitigate any impact they may have on as few members as possible.  

Over the summer, the District formed a consolidation task force of senior leadership and representatives from the constituent groups to look at ways the District and colleges could operate more efficiently and provide the colleges with guidelines for restructuring. What that specifically meant is anyone’s guess. I’m a firm believer that it is very difficult to implement change with the same people sitting at the table. When it comes to decisions relating to how we serve students, I’m not the right person for those conversations. I’d argue most of the representatives on the task forces probably aren’t the right people for the conversation. I don’t work on campus, I’ve never worked in direct student services, I attended community college 30 (gulp) years ago, I fully recognize the privilege my skin color (white) has have afforded me in life – my gender is a different story -and it wouldn’t benefit you or our students to have me at the table. How would I know what the impact of these types of decisions would have on today’s student body? This is why I asked Andre Meggerson, enrollment services at Foothill, and Sushini Chand, student support at De Anza, to represent ACE in these meetings. Their experiences are closer to our students. But their voice is one of the many in our District. To date, the task force has yet to present anything.   

This is why your participation in this process is critical. Many of you have life experiences closer to our students and as the campuses and District reconvene their participatory meetings you need to be at the table.  While ultimately senior leadership gets to decide how we are structured, you, and students, will be the ones impacted by decisions made at these meetings. You have just as much right to speak up and advocate for the students you serve as anyone else on campus. For example, with flat enrollment, there has been advocacy from some instructors and students about letting lower enrolled classes run with the hope that it will help capture late enrolled students looking for classes.  We tried that strategy for a decade and saw no improvement.  Some years we spent millions only to lose millions more.  Meanwhile, staffing for student support services was decimated to make up for the losses. I encourage you to show up and to use your voice.

A good leader seeks input from its constituents, not because Title V says they should.  A good leader explains their decisions and is honest about the impact they will have on students and employees. I remember when we retrained employees when a department closed down or one college welcomed affected employees so no one would be laid off.  Let’s help senior management be good leaders.

Participatory governance meetings are public and open to all employees. 

Central Services

CommitteeMeeting DateMeeting TimeContact info
District Budget Advisory Committee 3rd Tues. of the  month during the academic year1:30 – 3 p.m.Carla Maitland,
District Diversity and Equity Advisory Committee (DDEAC)RandomPat Hyland,;
Educational Technology Advisory Committee (ETAC)2nd Wed. of the month during the academic year12 – 1:30
Central Services Classified Senate4th Tues. of the month10:30 – 11:30
Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees Meeting1st Monday of the month6-8 p.m.

De Anza
You will find all of their participatory governance committees listed here:
You will find all of their participatory governance committees listed here:

Elections: The upcoming local, state, and national elections (Tuesday, Nov.3 in case you have been living in an isolation chamber) will have a significant impact on public education. State proposition 15 (public school funding) and proposition 16 (affirmative action) could impact how we serve students for decades. If you live in our district service area, three board of trustee seats are up for re-election with four candidates vying for the spots.  Make sure you’re registered, get informed, make a plan, and vote. 

For ACE, the upcoming officer elections will be held online Oct. 27 through the 30.  Candidate names will be released later this week once they are verified the member is eligible and willing to serve. I have said on more than one occasion, “it takes active participation and commitment from all the members of ACE to effectively protect and serve the membership as a whole”. 

In both elections, your vote is your voice. 

A few other things:  ACE continues to negotiate the classification study and the negotiating team feels good about the direction we are heading. In the next month or so we will be sending out a member survey for 2020-21 negotiations.  As some areas push to return to campus, ACE is monitoring the plans, policies, and procedures put forward by the campuses to help make sure everyone is safe. At the October FHDA Board of Trustees meeting, the board authorized Chancellor Miner to sign a resolution regarding the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s remote work pledge leaving open the possibility for staff to continue remote work, where appropriate when we return to campus. Our Agreement has allowed this option for well over a decade (article 13.2.6).  Most importantly, we continue to represent members as needed on issues of discipline or worker safety, appropriate compensation for work performed, workplace accommodations, and a host of other items.  Personnel items are personal, which is why you don’t hear a lot about them.

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

Officer Elections

Thank you to everyone who nominated themselves or a colleague to run for office.  Our recorder is confirming their eligibility, and willingness, to run and will be releasing all the candidates’ names by the end of the week.  As I have said on numerous occasions, our labor association only works due to the willing participation of the membership.
As a reminder, the following positions are up for election.

  • Treasurer
  • Recorder
  • Vice President – Foothill
  • Chief Steward – De Anza and Central Services (one at each location)
  • Board Members – Central Services and De Anza Seat 2 (one at each location)

A description of each officer’s role and responsibilities can be found here.

Elections held online October 27 – October 30

Register to Vote

With several initiatives on the California ballot directly affecting public education, this is a good time to make sure you’re registered to vote, get informed, and make a plan to vote.

Register, check your registration, and/or encourage others to join you.

Get informed. Non-partisan information can be found at or  The Silicon Valley Council of the Blind had the League of Women Voters at their September meeting to review all of the initiatives on the ballot.  You can hear a recording of that meeting here:

Vote before or on Tuesday, Nov. 3.  

Negotiations Update

Chair of Negotiations, Cathleen Monsell

In early September, ACE sent the District our substantive proposal for the classification study.  We are still waiting for a response.  

Frustrated by the constant delay? We are too but we know the District uses delay as a negotiating tactic. Delaying a decision and ignoring deadlines is meant to create anxiety and pressure us into making concessions. We have compromised and our proposal is more than fair.  We’ve come this far, we can wait a little longer. A sign that a conclusion may be forthcoming? The district has estimated potential personnel cost increases in the 2020-2021 budget for both the ACE and the Administrators classification/compensation studies.  

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.

Katherine Lee, program coordinator II, TLC
Rhonda Wood, administrative assistant, counseling
Carlos Pacheco Miranda, program coordinator, Family Engagement Institute

De Anza
Mazzetta Campbell, child development teacher, CDC
Leah Riley, administrative assistant, PSME 
Suzanna Ramirez, administrative assistant, Psychological Services

COVID 19 and Unions

by Anthony Caceres, chief steward central services

The world as we know it has come and gone. The COVID-19 Pandemic has altered many aspects of society. The continued fight against injustices has transformed America. With much going on in our world, we grasp for some normalcy, a sense of stability. As America’s economy shifts and suffers from global events, American workers face difficult times. The private sector has experienced lay-offs, furloughs, and devastation to its workforce. The public domain has seen its fair share of crippling economic ramifications. As we navigate these murky waters, we may wonder what the role of unions is in these trying times.

Our unions not only act as the voice for a collective of workers but they hold significant political power. As COVID-19 continues its destructive path, unions are on the front lines fighting for employee safety and influencing workplace policies. Across the country, we have seen unions vocally address the safety of their workers, from food processing facilities to transit workers. ACE itself has been vocal to ensure all members receive the proper protection and all safety measures are followed. Furthermore, unions such as National Nurses United, are advocating for policy changes. In a response statement, NNU stated that their 155,000 members required the highest level of protection, and systemic changes were needed to adequately address the pandemic within hospitals. It is the duty of unions to fight for their workers, whether on the bargaining table or through emergency situations. The history of unions is marked by occasion after the occasion where policies, initiatives derived from the work conducted by unions. It is times like these that will look for reasonableness, direction, and effective application. Unions are playing a larger role in steering the American workplace through these hard times all while fighting to enact sweeping changes to better prepare for the next crisis.

In the face of decades-old injustices, unions have contributed to the advancement of workers but often to the exclusion of minorities. History shows us that white supremacy has been the spirit by which America has existed. Unions have not escaped from this and have perpetuated the status quo. From union fights in New York on behalf of black teachers to Cesar Chavez fighting to create a space for minority workers to have a voice, at times America’s unions have fallen short of their core missions. The African American community has experienced these injustices to a degree most simply do not understand. Unions have negatively impacted our fellow Americans through exclusionary practices and downright discriminatory policies. Railroad unions, teacher unions, transit unions, police unions all have at different moments in history, excluded African Americans from their ranks. In the aftermath of the horrific killing of George Floyd, we have once again seen this white supremacy mindset exercise its power. As mentioned previously, unions have enormous power and can often shape entire industries and politics. In this case, police unions across the country have attempted to defend actions that clearly violate human decency and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for American citizens. Our very own unions have voiced their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight towards justice for all. It takes this type of assertion and leadership to create the necessary change. It is not the time for cowardice but for conviction and admiration for truth and justice. This is a moment in history where unions will need to once again create monumental shifts and lead the efforts to create equitable workplace conditions.

Our unions are facing tremendous pressures in modern times and are fighting tooth and nail for workers. It is a moment of reflection, of self-analysis to ensure unions are truly protecting all of their members. When much of society is crumbling, unions remain firm and committed to doing better. It is when things go wrong we appreciate all that is right. Unions are right, unions are vital, unions are needed. Our unions will need to make the change we seek to see and continue to be vocal for what is right. No matter the circumstance, no matter the crisis, America’s unions stand ready to fight for their workers. History may judge unions for their inequities but history will show that in the moments we all needed them, unions were there to answer the call. The American spirit is reflected in our unions, citizens coming together for a common cause.  Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the civil unrest, and political instability, unions are a refreshing reminder of all that is great about the American experiment.

ACE Dues Forgiveness and
Employee Health Care Contributions for 2021 Plan Year

email sent to all members 07/16/2020

ACE membership

In what feels like a never-ending sea of uncertainty, here are two things that we hope will take some of that away.

The Short Version:

  1. ACE will continue to forgive dues through December 30, 2020.
  2. The employee health care contribution rate for 2021 will not go up.

Dues forgiveness through December 30, 2020

Earlier this month, we surveyed the membership and asked two questions: 1) Due to COVID-19 and the resulting shelter in place (SIP), has your income been negatively impacted? 53 percent of you said yes. 2) When asked why 27 percent had lost their second job, 46 percent stated a loss of income from another financial contributor to the household, 75 percent stated increased household expenses from working remotely and the SIP, and nearly 9 percent needed to reduce their contract to take care of family members as a result of SIP. For the second question, survey respondents could check all that apply. The survey had a response rate of 52 percent.

This information helped inform our budget planning for 2020-2021. Our priority is always to support our membership. Through smart financial planning over the years along with savvy financial investing by our treasurer – our interest income increased 15 percent over the previous year – we are able to support the membership in this tangible way. We still have $500,000 for a strike fund, $10,000 for a five percent reserve, $25,000 for unsettled litigation (CalPERS), and $100,000 for any legal action related to the classification study.

The takeaway? This is only possible because we are an independent labor association. If we still belonged to CSEA or SEIU, we would have no control over how our dues are spent.

One of our founding executive officers, Bradley Creamer, webmaster at Foothill said it best, “The most important thing I learned as part of an independent union was the value in making decisions ourselves… and the power to prioritize those important decisions”.

Employee Health Care Contribution Rates for 2021 Plan Year

​Yesterday, the Joint Labor-Management Benefits Council (JLMBC) agreed employee health care contribution rates for 2021 will remain at the 2020 level. This is the fifth year in a row in which the bargaining units have been able to negotiate no increase. And health care costs are rising. This year, the overall increase to premiums is 5.3 percent. Over the past five years, the average increase has been three percent a year.

How can we keep our cost the same? Health benefits are paid from three sources: employee contributions, district contributions, and a Rate Stabilization Fund (RSF). The RSF started with $10 million dollars almost a decade ago to help stabilize rising health care costs. To date, we have used approximately $3 million of the RSF which was supposed to be depleted within three years. The RSF covers the difference between what employees and the district pay and the actual premium cost. Over the past five years, the bargaining units have also been able to negotiate an additional $2.8 million in one-time money to the RSF and increase the amount the District pays per employee per month (PEPM), from $976 to $1,011.

The takeaway? This is only possible because of collective bargaining. It is worth saying again, health care costs are rising every year, and without collective bargaining that cost would get passed on to you.

On behalf of the ACE Executive Board


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.