Saturday, April 12, 2014

Some legislators determine half of CCCS workforce (4,000+ faculty) are not real workers doing real work

by Caprice Lawless

         House Bill 14-1154 was defeated in the House Appropriations Committee Thursday by a 9-4 vote. Nine of the committee members chose to disregard scores of personal letters describing lives on poverty-level wages, mounting debt, working while ill, etc., that had been sent to them by part-time and full-time professors from across the many colleges within the Colorado Community College System. Instead, the nine members were influenced mightily, they reported, by six full-time, highly paid lobbyists who work at the behest of the administration and/or six-figure-earning college presidents from whom, they reported, they were given the truth about the situation. 
          Many of the dissenters on the committee, when they weren't cracking jokes to one another or chatting even while Rep. Fischer was trying to explain a fine point another committee member had posed to him, enjoyed nearly an hour of grandstanding about how fervently they supported the exploitation of the professoriate at work in the community colleges. Several pointed out that teaching part-time at the community college was not, after all, a real job and that those who teach as adjunct professors should get out and find real jobs elsewhere. Some said that to pay the faculty majority a living wage would destroy the community college system and that people in their district would therefore be unable to get a college education.

          Some of the nine dissenters reported that they once worked as adjuncts, but discovered they needed to pursue, for example, careers in architecture or law, and suggested community college faculty should do the same. Some had attended community colleges in Colorado or had children who had attended them. One pointed out that he taught for a while as an adjunct, found it was too demanding, and so passed the job onto a junior partner in his firm. 

          Some who supported the measure said for the record as they cast their votes, they would be willing to champion a similar bill in the next legislative session.
Lobbyists gathering in the foyer following the hearing were all smiles, while leadership who had worked so hard on behalf of community college faculty and quality teaching fought back tears.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Groundbreakers remain unbroken

Colo. Rep. Randy Fischer
Colorado's community college faculty owe a debt of gratitude to Rep. Randy Fischer (D-53) who valiantly brought forward HB 14-1154: The Colorado Community College Pay and Benefits Equity Act of 2014. He was ably assisted by bill co-sponsor, Sen. John Kefalas (D-14).

Colo. Sen. John Kefalas

Suzanne Hudson and Don Eron, Exec. Committee, Colo. Conf., AAUP

We are also in the debt of award-winning academic labor advocates Suzanne Hudson and Don Eron, of the AAUP Colo. Conf., who worked tirelessly on behalf of this measure. Tremendous help was also provided by Stephen Mumme, AAUP Colo. Conf. Co-president; Ellen Slatkin, President of AFT Colorado; Solomon Malick (AFT) and Carolyn Siegel (9 to 5 Colorado). Kudos are also in order to all members of the FRCC AAUP chapter, who, in just one year, formed a chapter and then stood on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol to help sponsors introduce this historic, groundbreaking measure.

by Don Eron

I'm sorry to report that HB14-1154, Colorado's "equal pay for equal
work" community college legislation, was defeated in the HouseAppropriations Committee this morning, 9-4. Technically, our amendmentthat demonstrated that the community college system had the resourcesto pay for HB14-1154 was defeated. At that point the bill waspostponed indefinitely, as a bit of legislative decorum.
We're proud of the fight that we waged, but, of course, aredisappointed, and feel that we let down the many Colorado adjuncts whopinned their hopes for a living wage to this campaign.

Although there were 17 bills on the Appropriations schedule, thediscussion of HB14-1154 lasted almost an hour. The Democrats who votedagainst the bill--who had received so many letters from working classadjuncts begging them to support the legislation--seemed compelled tojustify themselves. Most quoted the talking points of the communitycollege lobby, as if reciting fact. Amid the standardrationalizations--"there is a problem here but this bill is the wrongsolution that will destroy our community colleges"--my favorite waswhen one indignant legislator yelled at Rep. Randy Fischer, ourlegislative sponsor  (who was brilliant today): "I wasn't influencedby the lobbyists. I talked directly to community college presidents!"
I think we had momentum after passing through the State AffairsCommittee, but the nine weeks between hearings gave the communitycollege system a chance to regroup and reload. In short, big money wontoday.

Thanks to all of you who extended your best wishes for our success inthis campaign.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 8, 2014
Letter to all CCCS faculty from Suzanne Hudson, Secretary-Treasurer, Colorado Conference of the American Association of University Professors. On Saturday we posted to our site the updated  HB 14-1154 Fact Sheet.

Dear Colleagues,

This message is to update you on the Community College Pay and Benefits Equity Act (HB14-1154). The bill will be heard by the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday, April 10. You can help with the bill’s passage by writing to the committee members listed at the end of this email.

One goal over the past several weeks has been to amend the bill to lower the cost to the general fund. The bill’s sponsors have managed to reduce the fiscal note to require Zero general fund dollars. The CCCS can afford to pay its faculty a living wage if only it will rearrange its priorities.

A second goal has been to simplify the bill to make it fairer and easier to implement. To that end, the bill has been amended to protect the pay, benefits, and status of regular faculty. Some full-timers have pointed out that the seniority system required of the bill jeopardized their own jobs and also made it possible for faculty with seniority to demand classes outside their fields of expertise. Point taken. So the bill now says that preference in class assignments will be “given first to faculty who were hired on a full-time basis prior to the effective date of this section and second to faculty on the basis of seniority which shall be determined based on the number of course hours that a faculty member has taught in the relevant field of study.”

Also, many do not like the idea of a seniority system at all; they prefer a merit system. However, currently, there is no CCCS-wide mandate that instructors be evaluated. Obviously, everyone who teaches should be evaluated, not just the 15% who are regular faculty, but until an evenly administered evaluation system is in place, a merit system can’t really be a fair system. So now the bill says that after three years, the seniority system for assigning teaching responsibilities “may be replaced by a faculty-developed and faculty-approved merit system for assigning teaching responsibilities.”

In order to make the bill affordable, we’ve had to reduce the immediate required pay for faculty in favor of a more gradual increase. The bill now requires that all faculty be paid at least $1,015 per credit hour, which is a significant raise from the current average of $611. However, it’s still not on par with current regular faculty salaries, so the bill requires an 8% salary increase every year over the next five years. Regular faculty, never fear – the bill requires that you continue to be paid at your current rate and does not prohibit your receiving raises as well.

The bill also requires that anyone who teaches at least nine credit hours (or works the equivalent in non-teaching duties) will be eligible to be included on CCCS’s health insurance plan.

Full-timers, you have nothing to lose. Your job is secure, as are your salary and benefits. What will change is that your colleagues will also receive the job security and compensation that befit professionals with graduate degrees who make the community college system possible. Also, Colorado’s community colleges will gain the reputation of excellent places to work and will attract teachers of the highest caliber. And students, who are, after all, the colleges’ first priority, will enjoy the educational benefits of being taught by an experienced, dedicated faculty who can concentrate on their teaching.

This is a win-win situation for Coloradoans. The Colorado Community College System will not have to close campuses, discontinue programs and student services, or deplete its reserves, as administrators have claimed. Some of the most distinguished financial analysts in the country have shown that a reorganization of CCCS’s priorities will free up enough money to pay the faculty a fair wage. What the CCCS will gain is a stabilized, healthy, satisfied workforce and an enhanced reputation among community colleges nationally. Part-time faculty, full-time faculty, parents, students, taxpayers, and the CCCS all stand to gain significantly from HB14-1154.

You can help the bill’s passage by writing to the members of the House Appropriations Committee. There is no need for you to make a financial argument, since our bill’s sponsors and their financial analysts have done that. Instead, tell them what it would mean to you personally if HB14-1154 were passed.

Crisanta Duran, Chair (D):
Jenise May, Vice-Chair (D):
Cheri Gerou (R):
Jonathan Singer (D):
Jerry Sonnenberg (R):
Max Tyler (D):

There is no time to lose. The Appropriations Committee needs to have heard from you by Tuesday, April 8, in order to take your opinions into consideration.  Request the adoption of amendment L.002 to HB14-1154 and then a favorable vote to send the bill to the House floor. Don’t let this opportunity to improve the lives of many thousands of Coloradoans slip away.

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

P.S. Attached is an HB14-1154 fact sheet. Please print, copy, and distribute it to your colleagues today! (Fact Sheet)