Friday, October 30, 2015

Ice Cream Anti-Socials and Unstrategic Plans

           We know now that the CCCS paid its lobbyists $132K, and persuaded the North Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Aurora Chamber of Commerce to pay their lobbyists to defeat our equal-pay-for-equal-work legislation in 2014 (HB 14-1154) and 2015 (SB 15-094). In this way, the CCCS threw its faculty majority of nearly 5,000 hardworking, devoted teachers under the bus, after having told us our only recourse for a pay raise was to work with the state legislature.

                CCCS administration dressed some windows with its Adjunct Task Force. The hastily assembled group, comprised of administrators and a few adjuncts that administrators handpicked to "represent" adjuncts, met in secret, published no agendas and no minutes. Last year, at the end of several months of its secret meetings, it published a list of recommendations, foremost among them a 28% pay raise for adjuncts and a few other measures calling for inclusion and consideration. 

          The CCCS governing board un-recommended the pay raise on the spurious claim that the system is broke (with a quarter billion dollars in reserves) but made much hay at the Capitol about the inclusion and the consideration. What we learned from CCCS administration, their pet legislators and their lobbyists is that adjuncts are supposed to feed their children and pay rent with inclusion and consideration; either that or go out and get some other jobs to make ends meet. Yet even inclusion and consideration are non-starters for CCCS administration.

          The expensively produced Adjunct Task Force Recommendations remain meaningless eight months after their adoption. Case in point, nearly 1,000 adjuncts were effectively dissuaded from participating in the so-called "strategic planning" sessions at FRCC, as adjuncts were not paid to attend the hours-long confabs. Now, the FRCC is hosting an Ice Cream Social to "all employees" to celebrate their Strategic Plan. Adjuncts who might go to it will not be paid to attend the celebration, either, although all other employees who will be there will be eating ice cream at the taxpayer's expense, partly celebrating how they found a way to keep half the employees from providing input to their so-called strategic plan in the first place. Thus, FRCC has made its celebration an Ice Cream Anti-Social, and their Plan, Unstrategic.

Friday, October 2, 2015

How much did the CCCS administration pay its lobbyists to help defeat our legislative efforts this year and last year (Senate Bill 15-094 and House Bill 14-1154)?  What was the CCCS rationale for giving its 1,246 full-time faculty a 20.3% pay increase at the same time it fought to keep paying its 4,667 adjunct faculty poverty-level wages? Why are adjuncts having their course loads cut and being told that enrollment is down, when it is up by more than 18,000 students? Why are adjuncts being told the CCCS is experiencing "budget shortfalls" when the CCCS has more than a quarter billion dollars in reserve and puts aside $20 million each year it does not spend? Read what new research reveals about the CCCS here:
The 2015 CCCS Adjunct Index

Some background on its creation:
Think Outside the Box and Publish an Index

Friday, September 11, 2015

Adjunct Survival Workshop slated for FRCC Westminster campus

Colorado’s Community College System (CCCS) continues to pay 75% of its faculty (the so-called “adjuncts”) poverty-level wages. To help these hard-working teachers make ends meet, the Front Range Community College chapter of the American Association of University Professors is hosting the first-ever Adjunct Survival Workshop. The event will take place on Friday, Sept. 18, 2015, 2:30 – 5:30 p.m., Room C0403, on the FRCC Westminster campus, 3645 W. 112th Ave. The event is open to all CCCS faculty. State and county officials will be on hand to explain to adjunct faculty how to access food stamps, subsidized housing, Medicaid, inexpensive dental care, utility bill discounts, and other taxpayer-supported programs. Officials from the state’s Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA) will demonstrate for adjunct faculty how to calculate what they will receive in retirement from their years of service in the CCCS.

Because PERA benefits are linked to salary levels during years of service to the state of Colorado, it has been estimated that the many CCCS adjunct faculty who have taught full-time teaching course loads for years will receive between $300 and $400 per month in retirement. At that income level, many CCCS adjunct faculty who have served Colorado’s economically disadvantaged youth will themselves become economically disadvantaged adults qualifying for taxpayer-supported programs for decades throughout retirement. Most alarming is how many devoted teachers working in Colorado’s wealthy Community College System already qualify for such assistance even while working for the most financially secure system of higher education in the state.

The top-heavy, well-paid CCCS administration (2,009+) outnumbers its full-time faculty (1,246), while the largest group of community college workers is the part-time or “adjunct” faculty (3,924), according to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the national clearinghouse of higher-education reporting. Furthermore, the Feb. 2015  CCCS Financial Statements and Compliance Audit reveals the CCCS net position at the end of June, 2014, was $617,915,276 million. This represents an increase of more than $30 million in three years, as the 2012 Basic Financial Statements and Compliance Audit reported CCCS net position at the end of June, 2011 was $586,996,147 million.

 “The CCCS is taking in $20 million more per year than it spends,” explained Howard Bunsis, chair of the AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress, during his presentation at the July Mini-Institute sponsored by metro-area AAUP chapters of the CCCS. “That should be going to you, the teachers, instead of going into their reserves,” he said. “The mission of your college system is instruction. That money isn’t going to instruction, so that’s wrong,” he explained. “When they tell you they can’t afford to pay you even double what they are paying you now, they are lying,” he added. “Why does the CCCS need to have even more than $100 million in reserves?” he said. Bunsis is one of the nation’s foremost experts in analyzing higher education finance. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, his J.D. at Fordham Law School, and teaches accounting at Eastern Michigan University.

Although the mission of the system is to use those funds to provide instruction, as Bunsis pointed out in his July 2015 report, "The Legal and Financial Landscape for Community College Faculty in Colorado",  just 14% of CCCS revenue goes to the instructors teaching 60-85% of all courses its 13 colleges offer.

Bunsis explained that CCCS administrators employ fear tactics in spurious statements to adjunct faculty about budget shortfalls and declining enrollments, but data refute the statements. For example, very few CCCS adjunct faculty, many of whom work two or three jobs to make ends meet, understand that the CCCS  takes in $20 million more  than it spends annually, and has accumulated more than a quarter billion dollars in reserves . The tired phrase adjuncts hear, that “enrollment is down,” provokes the question: Down from what? Student enrollment has risen dramatically from to 144,783 in 2011  to 163,000 in 2015, according to CCCS statistics, even while, semester-to-semester, there have been small fluctuations. The system continues to bring in so much money, for example, that it recently gave its  full-time teachers a 20% pay increase (approximately $1,000/per course), plus a cost-of-living pay increase, while giving its part-time faculty a pay increase gesture (approximately $240/per course), and no cost-of-living increase. The part-time faculty, who rarely are allowed to move into the decreasing number of full-time positions, continue to earn poverty-level wages, even with the tiny pay increase. Meanwhile, the CCCS building boom continues apace; the system has added scores of new programs and pays thousands to lobbyists to fight equal-pay legislation that adjunct faculty bring forward. The wage inequality is so severe that in the Denver metro area, for example, the few hundred full-time faculty are earning, on average, $6,800 including benefits to teach a course while their adjunct counterparts teaching that same course are earning, on average, $2,500 with no benefits. The CCCS Board on Feb. 11, 2015, determined that, in spite of its fantastic financial picture and its ability to put $20 million each year into reserves, it cares so little about the financial difficulties facing adjunct faculty that it un-recommended its own Adjunct Task Force Recommendation to give to its impoverished adjunct faculty the 28% pay increase the Task Force determined was needed. To add insult to injury, to skirt Affordable Care Act compliance, many of the 13 CCCS colleges are cutting adjunct-faculty course loads to force the adjuncts out of the teaching profession altogether. This is leaving many of Colorado’s most economically disadvantaged students without the stellar teaching that has long been the hallmark of Colorado’s community colleges.
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Friday, January 16, 2015

What are your ideas for National Adjunct Walkout Day, Wed., Feb.25?

     As you are likely already aware, the first-ever National Adjunct Walkout Day will take place on Wed., Feb. 25. (NAWD).
   Thousands of adjunct labor activists across the country have been mobilizing for the event since it was proposed last fall. It is not sponsored by any particular group, but the avalanche of discussion about it on social media underscores the appeal of the event.
     Labor laws differ from state to state, of course. Here in Colorado,  because of the extremely precarious employment of 75% of the CCCS' working faculty (adjuncts), actually walking out could cost instructors our jobs. Therefore, we caution our colleagues to consider other ways to bring visibility to the problem.
     We are witnessing the destruction of the profession of teaching in community colleges, even while the value of our teaching has the nation's attention with President Obama's recent call for two years of free community college coursework. 
      What the public does not know is that K12 teachers are protected by powerful unions, while contingents teaching in research universities have a tenure-track system that offers some protections and better wages. Colorado's community college teachers -- those teaching Colorado's most disadvantaged students -- have neither unions nor the tenure track system. We have no job protections whatsoever and earn poverty-level wages. CCCS lobbyists and college presidents claim they "are only paying he going rate" for community college teachers, while never revealing that this "going rate" is a price-fixing scheme developed by their own lobbying groups such as the AACC and CUPA-HR. In the CCCS, for example, adjuncts teaching transfer-level courses earn a quarter of what their counterparts teaching the same courses earn at the four-year schools. 
      What CCCS students do not realize is that only a fraction of their tuition and CCCS revenues are used for instruction. Most is going to handsome salaries for administrators and the building of offices for more administratrators, fitness centers, parking lots, and coffee bars.
      We may not be able to walk out due to Colorado law prohibiting that type of demonstration by our category of worker. However, what are your ideas for speaking out and making the issue known? Share them on the National Adjunct Walkout Day Facebook page:

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Senate Bill calls for an end to adjunctification in the Colorado Community College System

Jan., 2015:
        Wonderful news! 

         Senator John Kefalas is sponsoring a bill in the 2015 Session of the Colorado General Assembly that calls for an end to adjunctifiation in the Colorado Community College System! Details of the bill will be discussed at the Snowflake Summit Jan. 14. All members of the Colorado Conference of the AAUP are invited to attend this members-only event.