Tuesday, February 11, 2014

HB 1154: Equal Pay for Equal Work

An anonymous supporter wrote this piece, and then made this video in support of our bill.

 Thank you, whoever you are, wherever you are!! Watch this video. Share it.

EP4EW Adjunct Anthem

Opposition to HB 1154: Abbreviated version

WANTED:  28,874 WORKING PROFESSIONALS -- (M.A. or Ph.D. REQUIRED) to teach one of the 28,874 courses taught exclusively by part-time professors in one of our 13 community colleges. Preference given to those committed 40 hours or more in other jobs, already earning a living wage, independently insured, with adequate retirement benefits from another employer and with flexible work schedules. Applicants must commit fully and meaningfully (although part-time) to student learning and our mission goals for student success for 15 weeks and then, to forget about it all completely. Responsibilities include lesson planning, curriculum-writing, lecturing, grading, and corresponding/ meeting with students. Applicants must provide own phones and computers, pay for gas to our remote campuses and for parking in our college parking lots. We prefer highly regarded, busy working professionals who will teach in our colleges one semester only, as we need to maintain our flexibility. Professionals who need to travel for their other jobs will have their paychecks docked if they miss a class while out of town, or if they miss class due to illness, as we do not provide paid leave for any reason, even illness. Average salary: $6.50/hour to start. After three years of service, a possible tiered-pay increase to $7/hour is not out of the question, but is likely impossible to attain, due to our flexibility needs. A week or a few days’ notice of a teaching assignment is typical in our college system. Applicants must be ready to report to their assigned classrooms at the start of the semester, teach for 15 weeks, and then, at the end of the semester, leave teaching forever, forget they ever heard of our colleges or read this advertisement.      

Denver Post Editorial Board weighs in on HB 1154 Hearing

"Flawed plan to boost salaries of Colorado community college faculty"

Summary of the first hearing of HB 1154, State Affairs Committee, Colorado State Legislature

By Don Eron

Thanks to all of you who have extended your congratulations, and to the rest of you who are pulling for us in Colorado. As most of you know by now, the "Community College Pay and Benefits Act of 2014," HB14-1154, passed through the House State Affairs Committee early yesterday evening by a party line vote of 7-4.

The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) has a powerful lobby. With this triumph we cleared a significant hurdle, although the challenge ahead is considerable.

Yesterday's meeting lasted almost four hours. Five speakers—community college presidents and staff representing the CCCS--spoke in opposition to the bill. Their presentation lasted over an hour. For the flavor of the CCCS testimony, read Peter Schmidt's article in the Chronicle:


I am sure that these speakers would disagree, but much of the CCCS testimony bespoke contempt for the adjuncts that teach the majority of the courses in Colorado's community colleges. While the proceedings were courteous, claims of the CCCS administrators were occasionally met with laughter from the adjuncts and others in attendance. It is notable that, at the end of the hearing when the representatives offered commentary prior to voting, two representatives expressed their view that at least some of the CCCS testimony was dishonest.

Between 20 and 30 speakers testified in support of the bill, most of them adjuncts or former adjuncts in the state community college system. At the beginning of the hearing, the committee chairwoman announced that because there were so many speakers, she planned to limit testimony. To give you a sense of the impact of the adjunct testimony, by the end of the almost four hour session she sent her legislative assistant into the audience with the sign-up sheet, to ensure that every adjunct present would have the opportunity to tell their story to the state legislature.

HB14-1154 is a grass roots initiative, spearheaded by contingent faculty. Suzanne Hudson wrote the legislation, has guided it through numerous revisions and written innumerable supportive documents. She has travelled the state to meet with community college faculty, state legislators and other stakeholders. In the last three weeks alone, as the hearing has approached, she has gone to the web site of every community college in Colorado, written down email addresses, and sent emails to as many of the 4,000 Colorado community college faculty as she could find, urging them to contact their legislators in support of the bill. Many have written back to her with notes that are heartbreaking. And Caprice Lawless, who is one of the most resourceful activists I have met in academic labor, and who is an adjunct at Front Range Community College and president of the remarkable FRCC AAUP chapter, has contributed at least as much.

But as I cannot emphasize enough, this is a community effort. For the concept of the legislation, we are indebted to Jack Longmate, Frank Cosco, and Keith Hoeller. And none of this would be possible without Rep. Randy Fischer, to my mind the best legislator in the country on adjunct issues, who embraced the idea of sponsoring progressive legislation in his final session in the Colorado house. For many years, the Colorado Conference of the AAUP has supported Suzanne and me with every idea we've had. Rudy Fichtenbaum, president of the AAUP and a leading higher education budget expert, flew in to testify at yesterday's hearing. AFT Colorado, particularly Ellen Slatkin, has been indispensable. SEIU Colorado, AAUW Colorado, the Colorado Education Association, 9 to 5, and the New Faculty Majority have endorsed this initiative. We will need their help in the weeks to come. But most of all, we are indebted to the many courageous Colorado adjuncts who have given their hearts to this project.

The next step for this bill is the House Appropriations Committee. If it passes through Appropriations, it moves to the house floor, and then to the senate. To get it through the Appropriations committee, we will have to make the case that the legislation is affordable--or at least that the legislature cannot afford to defeat the bill. Cost estimates have ranged from $38 million (Fichtenbaum) to $117 million (the CCCS). We believe that we can devise a strategy to trim the cost to almost nothing--if you consider $10 million or $15 million to be almost nothing.

Since Suzanne, Caprice, and I got the idea for this initiative, and Randy signed on, many people have  told us that just getting this legislation introduced would change the contingent conversation in Colorado, and that getting the bill through a committee could have a lasting impact. We don't disagree. But just to make this clear: We are in it to win it!

Jan. 19, 2014: HB 14-1154 Press Release


Contact: Suzanne Hudson, Secretary-Treasurer
American Association of University Professors
Colorado Conference

DENVER  --  JAN. 19, 2014

Fischer, Kefalas sponsor bill to strengthen Colorado’s community colleges

                Speaking from the steps of the State Capitol and surrounded by professors, Colorado State Representative Randy Fischer (D-53) announced  Friday the introduction of the groundbreaking Community College Pay and Benefits Equity Act of 2014 (HB14-1154). The legislation promises to strengthen the academic environment throughout Colorado’s Community College System (CCCS) by eliminating institutionalized wage and benefit disparities between so-called “regular faculty” and “instructors.”
“Passage of the bill will eliminate the perverse incentive that motivates the CCCS to keep many of their instructors on part-time status and poverty wages,” Fischer said.
                “The current system is exploitative, demoralizing, indefensible and detrimental to the workforce development mission of our community colleges,” said Fischer, noting how the majority of CCCS faculty earn poverty-level wages and are kept as “part-time” faculty for years. The bill, co-sponsored by Colo. Sen. John Kefalas (D-14), formalizes the state’s recognition of all CCCS professors as highly qualified educational professionals who deserve:
·         Equal workplace treatment,
·         Fair compensation,
·         Robust professional development opportunities,
·         Strong voices in the governance of their colleges,
·         Open access to due process,
·         Academic freedom, and
·         Health care and other benefits.

Funding for the measure is already in the CCCS budget, explained Don Eron, who is on the executive committee of the Colorado Conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). He said that the AAUP’s recent analysis of CCCS’s towering financial profile was verified last month by revelations from Colorado’s own Joint Budget Committee (JBC).
                “This bill should not cost the state a single cent in extra expenditures to the CCCS,” said Eron. “As of 2012, the CCCS had $299.5 million in their reserve fund.” AAUP’s financial analysts have learned that instead of paying $50 million earmarked for instructional salaries, the CCCS has instead, for two of the past three years, placed the money in reserves, he explained.
                “These are boom times for the CCCS,” he said. “The JBC rated the financial health of the CCCS in first place, occupying its own stratosphere far above all nine of Colorado’s public colleges and universities. Accounting experts will tell you that there is no acceptable rationale for a public enterprise the size and function of CCCS to store $300 million in their reserves. These hundreds of millions of dollars in reserves come at the price of an impoverished, demoralized and deeply resentful workforce,” he added.
                According to bill co-sponsor Kefalas, “this bill is about fairness and dignity. It invests our community college teachers with the resources that currently exist for this purpose. It is not right when skilled teaching professionals must visit food banks to make ends meet for their families and children,” he said.
                Ellen Slatkin, executive vice-president of the American Federation of Teachers in Colorado and president of the Metropolitan State Faculty Federation, spoke to the statewide, economic benefit passage of the bill will deliver.
                Said Slatkin:  “If we want to see workforce development and economic growth in Colorado, we need quality education in community colleges, and 75 percent of those classes in Colorado are taught by overworked, underpaid, exploited adjuncts [part-time professors],” she said. “Change has to come, and needs to come now,” she concluded.
                A video of the press conference can be viewed at the following link:

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