Tuesday, February 11, 2014

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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