There Is A Lot of Work To Do
A few things are clear to me, we have done a lot over the past year including wrapping up the classification/compensation study which increased pay for 75 percent of our membership, negotiated health benefits for plan year 2022 which are still comprehensible and affordable, and navigated a pandemic so no one lost their job. Concerns around returning to campus, fuzzy vaccine mandate procedures, financial costs due to delays in implementing the compensation study, a missed holiday, and upcoming ACE elections remind me we still have a lot of work to do.
Return to Campus
It is within the purview of the District to ask you to return to campus, and to be clear, quite a few of our colleagues have been working on campus for the past year. ACE and the District continue to follow the California Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board (CalOSHA) approved emergency regulations. The District has encouraged workers to submit written requests to their supervisor for any personal protection equipment (PPE) and has extended COVID 19 sick leave (see below) for any concerns related to time off for COVID or vaccine related needs. They have repeatedly stated they want to encourage flexibility when it comes to returning to campus. ACE will be surveying the membership within the next two weeks to see what options were actually provided to staff who returned to campus and/or continue to work remotely. The participatory governance groups will be addressing a district remote work policy and administrative procedures (AP) in the upcoming weeks. We’ve had the option to work remotely in our agreement for well over a decade and ACE will be watching to make sure the policy or AP do not violate our agreement. Your senate should be including you in this process.
The union was not involved in developing or implementing vaccine protocols and we have requested to bargain the impact. We are still waiting for a response on a couple of critical issues.
Representation and ACE Elections
Member representation remains a priority for ACE. Within the last month, the ACE Executive Board authorized two legal actions against the District (see below) affecting the membership at large. We continue to represent countless members to make certain they were treated fairly by management on issues around compensation, work placement, or discipline. While the state included a 5.07 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for 2021-2022 budget, the District does not automatically pass it through to employees. Your negotiating team makes that happen. They’re at the table now. Imagine how different all of this would look without a collective bargaining agreement.
Representation doesn’t happen without you. Elections for new ACE officers and negotiators are scheduled to take place in October. Positions and job descriptions are listed below.
I have said on more than one occasion, our association only works with the active participation of the membership. You have shown up in spades to make this work. Often after speaking with their colleagues, new employees join ACE. Our calls to action for officers or committee members are filled quickly. Attendance at site and board meetings continues to increase, and I am humbled by the ACE officers and negotiators who represent this organization with humility, grace, and a demonstrated willingness to always put the good of the members first. Simply put, thank you.
Chris White, ACE President
(650) 949-7789, office
“The fight is never about lettuce or grapes. It is always about people”. – César Chávez
The District is extending the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which requires all California employers (including those with collective bargaining agreements) with 25 or more employees to provide paid supplemental sick leave to employees who are unable to work or telework due to certain COVID-19 related reasons. This leave is extended through December 31, 2021.
Reason for taking leave?
- Caring for Yourself: The covered employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 (see note below), or has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19, or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- Caring for a Family Member: The covered employee is caring for a family member who is either subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 (see note below) or has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19, or the employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 on the premises.
- Vaccine-Related: The covered employee is attending a vaccine appointment or cannot work or telework due to vaccine-related symptoms. This would include time off needed for testing. If you are required to provide a test, we are still negotiating with the District to have them cover that cost.
How much time off is covered?
- 80 hours for full-time employees; No additional hours are allocated by this extension.
- For those who return to campus and are exposed to or become ill as a result of workplace exposure, and if they had used all 80 hours, the District would put the individual on paid administrative leave.
- Part-time and hourly, based upon the number of hours the employee is normally scheduled to work over a two-week period.
Can an employer require certification from a health care provider before allowing a covered employee to take the leave?
- No. The leave is not conditioned on medical certification. It may be reasonable in certain circumstances to ask for documentation before paying the sick leave when the employer has other information indicating that the covered employee is not requesting 2021 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick leave for a valid purpose.
The ACE Executive Board has authorized two lawsuits against the District. Two items of note:
- ACE and our attorneys do everything possible to work with the District to avoid taking a legal response. The District chose to either not respond or flat our refused our request to bargain the issues.
- Representation for these lawsuits is covered in the monthly stipend we pay our attorneys. We do not pay extra for their time, their research, their expertise. The money allocated for the lawsuits covers filing fees, expert testimonies and anything not directly related representation.
Juneteenth 2021– The ACE Executive board authorized a lawsuit against the district to acknowledge Juneteenth 2021 as a national holiday and to compensate workers who worked on that day with holiday pay. This is an official request for holiday pay for classified employees represented by ACE, who were required to work on June 18, 2021, a national holiday as stated by President Biden by signing the enacting legislation on June 17, 2021. The board authorized up to $20,000 for this action.
Interest payment due to delay of implementation of the salary study – The ACE Executive Board authorized the filing of a lawsuit against the District for interest on the unpaid money owed to workers due to delay of implementation of the salary study. They authorized $20,000, initially, to cover the costs of the suit.
CalPERS lawsuit update – In March 2019, ACE filed a lawsuit against CalPERS regarding a temporary five-percent salary adjustment for the 2019-20 fiscal year and their denial that it would qualify as pensionable income for all members. CalSTRS, which follows the same pension reform rules, allowed the temporary five percent to be counted as pensionable income. PERS objected to the filing of the suit because there was never an administrative hearing prior to the filing of the lawsuit. After assuring the Court that ACE could have an administrative hearing the Court dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning it couldn’t be filed again until there was a hearing. We finally have a date in late December for the administrative hearing.
It takes active participation and commitment from all the members of a union to effectively protect and serve the membership as a whole. ACE officer elections are just around the corner and you should run for office. Have you thought about it? Have you spent time thinking over the issues that affect you at work and how you would fix them?
Let me ask you this: do you have good ideas about how to make our association better? Do you say to yourself, “why doesn’t ACE do something about ______? Do you want to make a difference?
Too often people wait for someone else to create the change they want. Stop waiting. Running for office is scary. You’re not sure what to do, how you’re going to add one more responsibility to your plate, and you’re worried you will make mistakes. It is understandable but holding an elected position can be one of the strongest ways to inspire others and create change within our organization.
As a member of the executive board, you’re not alone. Decisions are made collectively and approved by the membership. Training, release time, and elective stipends are offered to officers to support the work they do for ACE. As an independent labor association, ACE decides what issues are important to us, how we spend our money, and, most importantly, how we represent our members. We might not always get it right and the path to change can, at times, be excruciatingly slow but the work we do always comes from a desire to help others. I’m not sure how that desire is ever a mistake, even when outcomes don’t match expectations.
A member is eligible to be a candidate if they are a non-probationary, permanent, classified employee in the District and is a member of ACE for one (1) full year. The following positions are up for election.
- Vice President – De Anza and Central Services (one at each location)
- Chief Steward – Foothill
- Board Members – De Anza Seat 1 and Foothill (one at each location)
- Negotiators – one from each location and three at large
For officers, terms are two years in length and run from January 1, 2022 through December 30, 2022. All executive board members are required to:
- Attend ACE board meetings held the 2nd Wednesday of every month from 1-2:30 p.m. Typically, they rotate between the two campuses but currently they are held online via Zoom as we work remotely.
- Attend the site meeting for the campus they represent. At De Anza, these are held the 1st Tuesday of the month; At Foothill, these are held the 3rd Tuesday of the month. Both meetings are from noon – 1 p.m.
For negotiations, term is three years in length and runs until the next contract is ratified by the membership. All negotiators are required to:
- Attend all of the planning and negotiating meetings, unless the absence is excused by the chair of the team or the majority of the team. Immediately upon the second unexcused absence they may be removed from the team.
- The chair of negotiations must serve on the District Benefits Committee pertinent to negotiations.
- The negotiators choose a negotiations chair by secret ballot after a new team is elected.
All positions require subordination of personal interests to those that represent the highest good of the members. No officer shall have greater rights than any other member of ACE. A description of these elected position’s role and responsibilities is posted here.
Nominations Accepted October 19 – 21
Elections held online November 2 – 4
So, what office are you running for in the upcoming election?
2021-2022 Adopted Budget
As an independent labor association, we get to decide how we spend our dues or, if we do not need the money, not collect dues. At the August board meeting, the ACE Executive Board approved the 2021-2022 ACE operating budget and included two months of dues forgiveness for December 2021 and May 2022.
ACE spends dues money on access to representation, the main reason we chose to be an independent union. It is the largest expense in our annual budget. Several months a year, our legal representation itemizes their bill, and the work they do on our behalf often exceeds the flat monthly fee we pay them. Other expenses include potential legal costs such as arbitration (ACE pays half), court filing fees and expert testimonies; accountants, insurance, financial audits and taxes; office supplies, web hosting and routine state fees for running a small business; and training for officers and stewards, food for site meetings and elective stipends for ACE officers. We also have monies set aside for a strike fund and a 5% budget reserve. We do not spend money collected from dues on political activities.
Fiscal Audit for Years Ending June 30, 2020 and 2021
Prior to the supreme court decision Janus v. State in 2018, which eliminated service fee payers, every year we would conduct a fiscal audit to make certain the percentage of our chargeable expenses were greater than the fee collected from service fee payers (90 percent of member dues). Over the years, we consistently spent 93-94 percent of dues collection on chargeable expenses and nearly all activities were chargeable with the exception of board member trainings, food for site meetings and a small percentage of legal fees.
After Janus, absent any changes required by law we continued to conduct a fiscal audit with this same methodology for testing the accuracy and completeness of the information presented in our financial statements. This testing process enables an independent certified public accountant (CPA) to issue what is referred to as an opinion on how fairly our financial statements represent our financial position and whether we comply with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
Due to the pandemic, we did a two-year audit for years ending June 30, 2020 and 2021. Since our last audit in 2019, the accounting rules have changed. The auditors now split expenses between program expenses, and management and general expenses. The former covers any expense which would be used to promote member benefits. The latter covers activities absolutely necessary based on the organizations structure rather than based on mission. This change moved previously chargeable expenses like accounting, audits, subscriptions, insurance, office supplies, etc. to management and general expenses. We are a not-for-profit corporation. While there is no standard percentage requirement for operating vs program expenses, the commonly accepted rule of thumb is 25 percent or less.
- For the year ending June 30, 2021 ACE spent 18 percent of revenue collected on management and general expenses.
- For the year ending June 30, 2020 ACE spent 22 percent of revenue collected on management and general expenses.
A copy of the audit is here.
Now through Oct. 15, 2021
- During the Open Enrollment period, employees may enroll-in, change or cancel Health, Dental, Vision, FSA Health Care Account, FSA Dependent Care Account, FSA Transit, FSA Parking, or Voluntary Benefit Plans such as Supplemental Life Insurance, Buy-Up Long-Term Disability (LTD), MetLife Critical Illness, Group Accident and MetLaw Legal Plan.
- If you choose not to make any changes, your current benefit options will roll over, except for Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA).
- Negotiated changes to the 2022 benefits can be found here.
For complete information, visit the District’s Open Enrollment for Plan Year 2022 web page.
Professional Growth Award (PGA) applications are due to the PGA committee by the 10th of the month. Now that we have returned to campus and employees have access to their offices, all applications must be submitted with supporting documentation to be considered for review.
If you have questions about your application, please review it with a PGA committee member before you submit it.
Changes to our Professional Growth Award (PGA) program in order to do two things:
- Help those with old PGA awards have more hours count towards pensionable income after CalPERS adjusted what they would accept; and
- Update the PGA application and guidelines to move many items currently allocated under section five to section one.
In June of 2019, with a large retiree exodus and a new account administrator at CalPERS, some of the activities allowed under PGA were called into question regarding their eligibility as pensionable income. In fact, CalPERS made the determination that only hours earned in section one (college, adult education or trade school courses) met the definition for special compensation as defined by the California Code of Regulations, section 571:
Under topic #2, Educational Pay, where PGA is categorized:
“Educational Incentive is defined as compensation to employees for completing educational courses, certificates, and degrees which enhance their ability to do their job. A program or system must be in place to evaluate and approve acceptable courses. The cost of education that is required for the employee’s current job classification is not included in this item of special compensation”.
Your awards are still worth $90 each but for pensionable reporting purposes, CalPERS will prorate the percentage of an award to those hours attributed to section one.
To have more hours count as pensionable, we have agreed to the following changes to the PGA application and guidelines:
- Section one will be retitled as Certificate, Course, or Degree.
- Section 1a will cover accredited courses and continuing education units (CEU). We have removed the minimum hours required to use this section.
- Section 1b is new and will cover many job-related certificated skills training previously listed under section five.
- There is no maximum for either of these activities and you are allowed to carry these hours forward to future awards.
- Section five will be retitled as Job-Related Conference, Seminar, or Lecture. Participation in job-related special activities, such as seminars, conferences, conventions, institutes, and lectures offered by colleges, adult schools, professional associations, and community organizations.
For previously earned awards only:
We had already negotiated additional funding ($20,000 per year for two years) for affected employees to take courses at no cost to them to replace hours on already earned PGAs which are not pensionable. In addition, to help have more hours count we negotiated the following:
- Suspended the limit of 200 hours while on Staff Development Leave. You may submit hours for courses taken during past staff development leaves that were not counted due to the 200 hours limit. Official transcripts are required.
- Allow courses omitted from any previous PGA application. Submit hours for any course not submitted in previous professional growth award applications. Reminder, you must have been a district employee at the time the course was taken. Official transcripts are required.
- Allow courses not counted due to receiving educational reimbursement from the District. You may submit hours for classes taken that were not counted due to receiving educational reimbursement from the district. Official transcripts are required.
- Job-Related certificated training. You may submit hours for previously completed job-related activities/training where certification was provided. This refers to items previously reported in section five “Job Related Special Activities” in prior awards. Please provide copies of previous PGA applications with section five applicable items highlighted. The committee will review all items to make sure they are job-related/job skill-building sessions.
- New Job-Related Certificated training. You may submit hours for new job-related activities/training where certification was provided. The committee will review all items to make sure they are job-related/job skill-building sessions. Certificates/transcripts are required.
- Apply any carryover hours from section one. If you have carryover hours in section one, you may apply them to any previous award where replacement hours are needed.
For these previously earned awards, the review and application process is effective immediately and will continue through June 30, 2022. Current employees must submit the completed application, hours audit, and applicable documentation by the deadline in order to request a review of hours for the PGA substitution process. Applications submitted after June 30, 2022, will be deemed late and will not be processed.
To review your previous award(s) information:
- Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your CWID.
- This request is for a copy of your completed application(s) and the tally sheet(s) used by the PGA committee. No backup material will be provided. This should help you determine how many hours you have under section one and applicable hours under section five to estimate how many of your completed PGA’s are eligible as pensionable income per CalPERS. 200 hours of credit equals one award. For example, if you’ve completed eight awards but only have 1,000 hours in section one, CalPERS will credit five awards as pensionable (5 x 200 = 1,000 hours).
- Turn around time to receive the request for information is approximately three weeks. To not overburden an already short-staffed human resources department. Your patience is appreciated.
For new PGA awards:
The application and guidelines have been updated to reflect the following changes:
- Job-Related certificated training. These hours will now be listed under section 1b.
- All rules under PGA guidelines apply to new awards. The suspension of rules for previously earned PGAs does not apply to new awards.
- PGA is publicly funded. As public pensions and CalPERS continue to be scrutinized by the public it is imperative that the activities we submit as special compensation follow the rules set by CalPERS. The burden of verifying the eligibility is on the District before the income will be reported as pensionable. We do not want to provide cause for a CalPERS audit by reporting income as pensionable which does not meet their definition for educational pay.
- The authority to accept or deny an activity, along with which section of the PGA application it is attributed, is at the discretion of the PGA Review Panel. These are your colleagues who are donating their time to administer this program and who have consistently demonstrated they will do all they can to have hours count towards an award. You may not always like their answer. Be kind.
- PGA Review Panel: Kris Lestini, Mary Medrano, Kit Perales, Denise Perez, Shawna Santiago