Reject the California Community College Chancellor’s Numbers on AB 1856

Presently before the California Senate Appropriations committee is AB 1856, a bill which would, if passed, enable part-time faculty to negotiate with their districts to teach up to 85% of a full-time equivalent load.  Presently, the per district teaching cap is 67%. In that part-time faculty are already paid a fraction of what their full-time colleagues make for the same teaching load, many have to teach in two or more districts, often traveling over hundreds of miles each week, the merits of the bill are clear. It would . . .

  • Reduce part-time faculty travel time to various assignments

  • Additionally allow these faculty to better connect with their respective institutions and students

  • Reduce California’s carbon footprint

Sadly, this bill is presently being challenged in appropriations by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office using the following rationale:

  • This bill could result in $200 million to $403.5 million in ongoing Proposition 98 General Fund costs each year for community college districts to offer health insurance benefits to part-time faculty, depending on the exact number of faculty who qualify. This estimate assumes that the bill would trigger Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements due to the additional unit load and potential increase in office hours and other workload requirements. This estimate also assumes an annual employer contribution of $11,000 for 18,384 to 36,768 part-time faculty employed by community college districts throughout the state.

  • This bill could also result in one-time Proposition 98 General Fund costs of between $360,000 and $720,000 for community college districts to update or create collective bargaining agreements with part-time faculty. This estimate assumes a cost of about $5,000 to $10,000 for each of the state’s 72 districts.

The assertions made by the Chancellor’s office are not simply wrong, but specious.

First, it is unlikely that there are in fact 36,768 adjuncts in the CCC.  Many adjuncts are double or even triple-reported in that districts report part-time hires individually rather than collectively, and the CCCCO is fully aware of this.

Second, the current number of part-time faculty at any given district who teach at 67% of an FTE (Full-time Equivalent Load) are in the minority, and with shrinking enrollment, the number of sections and adjunct faculty are decreasing. The number of faculty who would be able to teach at an 85% load, even if AB1856 is enacted, would not even come close to reaching the 18,384 number suggested by the CCCCO, and again, the CCCCO knows this.

Third, many part-time faculty even, when offered coverage by their respective districts, choose not to take it because they 1) are covered by another employer or through their spouses, 2) are retirees who receive coverage through Medicare, 3) seek coverage through Covered California because even when they qualify for benefits, they find Covered California a cheaper option to cover their dependents. Former CCC Chancellor, Eloy Oakley, who was in fact the Chancellor of the Long Beach City College System, certainly was aware of this, and it stands to reason that the present interim Chancellor, Daisy Gonzalez, is as well.

Fourth, passage of AB1856 would not guarantee any part-time faculty member in any district the right to teach an 85%, unless it were locally negotiated.  Some districts may in fact choose to forgo raising the cap. This is directly in the bill language.

Fifth, the notion that it would create any added negotiation costs is also false in that districts, with but rare exception by way of a mutual agreement by faculty and admin, already annually negotiate on health and welfare.  These districts are already engaged in bargaining–where’s the added cost?

Sixth, and most significantly, AB 1856 purposefully refers to an 80-85% FTE per district teaching cap in order to fall below the 86% FTE teaching threshold which would trigger the ACA regulations requiring the districts to provide insurance benefits.

Beyond this, it is also worth mentioning, as the CA Senate Appropriations Committee itself noted, the CA budget is calling for 200 million dollars in ongoing funding for PT healthcare, which would approximately match the cost of 18,384 new adjuncts suddenly being covered to the tune of $11,000/part-time faculty member. Ironically, in hearings on the PT healthcare proposal, the CA legislative budget office questioned whether this much money was in fact needed to cover PT faculty health benefits.

The disingenuous arguments made by the CCCCO regarding AB 1856’s impact on the leads one to wonder if the larger agenda of the CCCCO is simply to keep part time faculty working under precarious conditions because it makes it harder for them to negotiate for better pay and working conditions, which quite frankly, is a slap in the face to the notion of equity the CCCCO purports to promote.

It’s not simply that many of these faculty struggle with basic equity issues themselves due to the low pay and poor working conditions, but their children are also California Community College students. Are they not deserving of equity too?

National Resolution Calling for DOE Study of Adjunct/Contingent Pay and Benefit Inequity

Thanks to all those who have contributed to the development of this resolution submitted to the AFT National Convention. It represents a significant moment in the fight to end adjunctification. Spread the word.

National Resolution Calling for DOE Study of Adjunct/Contingent Pay and Benefit Inequity

Submitted by CFT Part-Time Faculty Committee

Whereas, adjunct/contingent faculty comprise 73% of all higher education (ed) faculty (AAUP), which is the majority of US Higher Education (Ed) faculty, and a critical and essential force for learning; and,

Whereas, adjunct/contingent faculty possess the same teaching credentials and teach alongside tenure-track faculty without the benefits tenure-track faculty are given, including: job security, paid livable wages, access to employer healthcare, and a robust retirement plan; and,

Whereas, 41% of adjunct/contingent faculty reported they struggle with job security (1), not knowing whether they have a teaching position only days before the start of a new given term; and,

Whereas, 25% of these faculty rely on some form of public assistance and 40% struggle to meet monthly household needs (2) and,

Whereas, over two-thirds of adjunct/contingent faculty make less than $50,000 per year, and one-third making less than $25,000 per year, which is below the poverty level for a family of four; and,

Whereas, less than one-half of adjunct/contingent faculty have access to employer provided healthcare during a time of a global-nationwide pandemic; and,

Whereas, most adjunct/contingent faculty are over the age of 50 and 37% do not know how they will manage during retirement (3); and, 

Whereas, such widespread academic inequity must be called out; and measures taken to address it, and finally,

Whereas, once called out, the appropriate measures to address this inequity, to the true fullest extent possible must be engaged,

Be it resolved that CFT forward this resolution calling on AFT to directly request of the US Department of Education to fully investigate, by use of a national study, the plight of adjunct/contingent faculty and the severe inequities of pay and overall benefits they endure as the majority workforce as US Higher Ed faculty and publish the results of said study.

(1) 2019 AFT report “An Army of Temps”

(2) Ibid

(3) Ibid

Get Active: HELU Winter Summit 2022

Good Adjuncts,

This is Geoff Johnson, AFT-ACC President, Adjunct Rep for AFT 1931 (San Diego-Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District), and SCEA (Southwestern College Education Association), encouraging you to check out the HELU Winter Summit, from Feb 23rd-27th.

HELU is a cross union cross labor sector coalition of Higher Ed faculty, including adjunct/contingent faculty, classified staff and paraprofessionals, and graduate student workers fighting to reclaim Higher Ed from disinvestment, and adjunct/contingent, staff, and graduate student worker exploitation.

AFT-ACC and AFT 1931 is are official endorsees of HELU’s Vision Platform

The goal of the HELU Summit, in a bit of a follow up to its Summer 2021 Summit, is to bring greater awareness of HELU, and of the issues and goals around its efforts, and to begin making plans towards the realization of the goals listed in the vision platform.

HELU Winter Summit Agenda

The summit will also feature a slate of noted progressive and labor activists such as Noami Klein and Jane McAlevey.

Winter Summit Featured Speakers

It would be great to see as many Adjunct/Contingent folks at the summit as possible in that this is a great opportunity for adjunct/contingent activists to become connected to a larger national Higher Ed labor scene and build greater solidarity.

I know right now that a lot of us are busy, but registration is free, and you don’t have to hit all the sessions, though HELU will accept donations

Here’s a registration link:

HELU Winter Summit Registration

See you there.

In solidarity,

Geoff Johnson

AFT-ACC President

Here’s How California’s Part-time College Instructors Are Being Mistreated by the State

Geoff Johnson, AFT-ACC president, published this editorial in the San Diego Union Tribune. The system of staffing college faculty, which relies on the exploitation of a majority of faculty who are employed, as Geoff notes, part-time and semester to semester, is broken. If it is not repaired by ending the process of adjunctification, by hiring adjunct faculty full-time, on long-term contracts, and for equal pay, higher education, especially at community colleges, will continue to be reduced to making good workers, not good citizens. People, get your heads out of the sand, wake up and resist! Faculty working conditions are student learning conditions. What kind of education do we want to provide for our citizens? Why can’t California, and the nation, do the right thing?

Geoff’s editorial is a must read.

Campus Equity Week 2021: Statement from the American Federation of Teachers Adjunct/Contingent Caucus

Hello, My name is Geoff Johnson, President of the American Federation of Teachers Adjunct Contingent Caucus Today, October 25th marks the first day of Campus Equity Week 2021, and I carry this message:

First, to all adjunct and contingent faculty, a shout out of appreciation for your hard work as teachers, parents, and caregivers in what has been a time of unprecedented struggle. It is in this time that we, who represent the majority of higher ed faculty in this country, have, out of base necessity, rallied to meet adversity and provide the needed buttress of our labor to support the larger system of US higher education. We not only undertook the creation of online remote and distance education platforms on short notice, but did so often with limited, or conversely, extensive but unpaid training. And in contrast to many of our tenure-track faculty, we had to do separate and repeated trainings for each of our institutions, some of us teaching class loads in excess of what our tenure-track faculty endured. It was not without a sacrifice and cost that is still being given and paid.

And now to both these faculty and a larger audience, as COVID rates are tentatively appearing to subside, many Americans speak of a return to normalcy, and this extends to our colleges and universities.

But as adjunct/contingent faculty truly know, the real impacts of COVID on their ability to work, live, and function are, in many ways, yet to be fully realized. For them, a contagion of precarity, one which became pandemic before even the outbreak of COVID, continues and worsens. 

US higher ed is experiencing system wide declines in enrollments, meaning a loss of work for adjunct/contingent faculty, and with it, a loss of access to what little if any healthcare benefits they may have had. These same faculty, in many states, get to experience the double blow of not only being unemployed, but because of poor language regarding “reasonable assurance,” are also denied unemployment benefits. For public institutions whose funding is tied to enrollment, the inevitable crash in funding will lead to further class cuts, not only costing adjunct/contingent faculty work, but disenfranchising students, particularly BIPOC and lower income students, whose institutions of learning are most impacted. This is further reinforced by a US Congress’s failure to fund free or even affordable public higher education.  Equally troubling is the significant reduction in additional aid to Historic Black Colleges and Universities. 

Yet sadly, even with this needed funding, adjunct/contingent precarity would remain in place, in that the larger inequity in US higher ed, and US Culture would remain.

In an equitable system of higher education, all instructors, on the basis of experience and education, would be paid equally or proportionate to the work they do, simply in that students themselves do not distinguish between a professor as an adjunct, contingent, or tenure-track faculty member, let alone understand the distinction. They would also have access to the same or proportionate healthcare and retirement benefits, and would be allowed and encouraged to participate in curricular development, shared governance, and other institutional matters. Further, they would after a proscribed time with satisfactory evaluations, enjoy an equal degree of job security to the fullest extent enrollment would allow it, and if in the event of loss of work, be afforded unemployment benefits.

Instead US higher ed, to save costs, pays adjunct/contingent faculty a fraction of what tenure-track make for the same work, sets workload limits within institutions and districts largely to avoid paying healthcare and retirement benefits, or simply denies these benefits altogether. They are more often than not further barred or discouraged from participating in curricular development, shared governance, and other institutional matters, and when there is exception to this, usually not compensated. Finally, as adjunct/contingent faculty work is defined as “temporary” in nature, many states will deny unemployment benefits. Ironically, many of these “temporary” faculty have been hired and fired on a term-by-term basis for decades, paying into a system from which they will never collect.

The fractional treatment of these faculty, who in contrast to tenure-track faculty are, in larger proportion women or ethnic minorities, points to an even deeper systemic inequity born out of America’s darkest impulses. As such, it not only harms the lives of these faculty and their families, but their students, the US higher ed system, and America as a whole.

Much of this inequity is permitted to exist by the willful ignorance, or insincere rhetoric, of politicians and policymakers who acknowledge but then defer from the problem, and by a media uninterested in discussing the mass scale of the problem, and connecting the problem to its causes, let alone entertaining solutions.

In spite of the recent Congress’s shortcoming regarding High Ed funding, it has the means, and with little relative cost, to at least end the ignorance and neglect. 

The US Government, empowered by congressional action, can and should conduct a full study of Adjunct/Contingent pay and work inequity in US higher ed either through the Departments of Labor or Education, and publish those results. Following that, the Congress needs to then make the true effort to truly create a necessary and equitable US higher ed system as suggested above–one which, as a place of equity, can also be a place of promise, and a place for a better America.

Unemployment Testimonials Needed for AFTAdjunct/Contingent Caucus

From Geoff Johnson, President, AFT Adjunct/Contingent Caucus

Hi All:

I send his note with some urgency regarding AFTACC’s request for testimonials regarding adjunct/contingent and the need for unemployment insurance. The AFTACC needs more and we need them soon.

 According to recent data processed by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center show that nationwide, enrollment was down by 600,000 this past Spring compared to a year ago, with a national decline in community college enrollment of 9.5%.  This loss of enrollment has necessarily resulted in the loss of work and income for thousands adjunct/contingent faculty nationwide.

While colleges and universities are reopening, many students, either wary of return, or more often facing the tremendous financial and personal challenges created by the COVID Epidemic, are either foregoing or delaying enrollment.

Further, many Public Higher Ed systems, who receive funding based on enrollment, have already seen stretched budgets slashed.

This, in short, means the high levels of adjunct/contingent unemployment will not go away in the Fall, or the immediate future.

Many of these unemployed adjunct/contingents have struggled to hang on by the grace of unemployment insurance provided through their states. This is because these states have recognized that adjunct/contingent faculty, hired on a term-by-term basis, contingent upon enrollment, do not have “reasonable assurance” of being rehired.

However, many states interpret “reasonable assurance” differently, leaving adjunct/contingent faculty with no access to desperately needed unemployment insurance.

The solution to this issue is the US Department of Labor to change its language regarding “reasonable assurance,” thus making it possible for all unemployed adjunct/contingent faculty to receive needed unemployment relief.

This would also aid current adjunct/contingent in those states that grant them benefits, in that often the difference between state and Federal guidelines complicates the process, resulting in a denial of benefits.

THE AFTACC is seeking adjunct/contingent testimonials it will in turn pass on to other major union and advocacy groups, such as the American Federation of Teachers which will meet with the Department of Labor to lobby for this needed change. We are asking adjunct/contingent faculty, whether in states which current give unemployment benefits or not, to send us any of the following:

1)     How unemployment has impacted you and how unemployment benefits, if you do not receive them, would impact your life

2)     How unemployment has impacted your life, and how unemployment benefits, if you receive them, helps you.

3)     How applying for unemployment benefits has been a personal and emotional struggle.

4)     If you’re a local union leader or adjunct/activist shares the effects of unemployment on your adjunct/faculty.

We (AFTACC) will only pass on  the names of adjuncts or their locals by request. I myself am currently unemployed and thankfully receiving benefits.  I know the pain and the shame.  Our request is meant only to advocate, empower, and uplift.

Please email your testimonials to mixiniminao@gmailcom.

In solidarity,

Geoff Johnson

AFTACC President

PS: Please share widely

Letter of Support for CA AB 375

Here is a letter to Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez in support of AB 375, an assembly bill before the California legislature. The bill would increase the percentage of hours for which an adjunct can be employed in one district to 80 to 85% which, of curse, would improve education at community colleges almost instantly. Please print this letter, alter it as appropriate, put your name on it, and send it by US mail to Assemblywoman LauraGonzalez.

Adjunct Faculty Needed for Study on Food Insecurity

Recently, I was contacted about a research study Dr. Emily Heying, College of Saint Benedict/St. John’s University, is conducting on food insecurity on college campuses, especially among adjuncts and students. For decades, a key part of the dismantling of higher education, which has been escalating lately, has been the transformation of faculty from vast majority tenure-track status to vast majority “precariat’ status. Massive debt burden, food and housing insecurity, health insecurity, along with diminishing career expectations, all have been common experiences among adjuncts.

And although I am restrained in my expectations, with a First Lady who knows what a community college looks like from the inside, and other tantalizing possibilities, we might be on the cusp of changes that could have profound impact on the lives of 75% of college faculty. This is a good moment for a new study on the lives of adjuncts.

Please consider participating in this study by taking the brief survey. I did.

Adjunct faculty and staff are needed for a research study on food insecurity. The study consists of completing a 10 min. anonymous survey and is open to higher education staff and faculty in the US over 18 years old. You’ll be asked about your own food access, perceptions of campus food security among students, demographics, and nature of employment.   Upon survey completion, you can provide your email in a separate form to enter a drawing for one of two $25 VISA gift cards.   Link: https://forms.gle/JFspgu5Ta4EUoPjs9

Thank you!

Dr. Emily Heying (eheying@csbsju.edu)  and Dr. Zubaida Qamar (qz@sfsu.edu)

*This research study has received exempt status from the Institutional Review Board’s at both SFSU and CSB/SJU.

An Adjunct’s Truth

The following post is one I received from an adjunct, who, as you will read here, is facing the very issues that this year’s Campus Equity Week campaign has been pointing out. She chooses to remain anonymous, and we respect her wishes.

#classcanceled

Campus Equity Week 2020

I am an adjunct counselor at two community colleges. At one of my community colleges where I have been for seven years and have “seniority,” my hours per week have been slashed from 25 to 18 to 14 and now to 7. I usually find out my hours for the semester the Friday before the Monday start date. 


This last cut, given with mere days notice, caused me to have to move to a smaller apartment immediately as I could no longer pay my rent. I also can no longer make my ACA payment of 729.00 per month. At this point, I am housing and food insecure, as well as worried about lack of healthcare. 
I feel that I am one interview away from the respect that I deserve as a faculty member. Going from part – time to full- time would change my world, and yet I know the odds are against it. 


I often wonder why the full-time tenured faculty who are in a privileged and untouchable position, don’t reach out to help us in any way. Do they not remember what it was like to be an adjunct, or is it that they just don’t care?


For me, how adjuncts are treated by our respective institutions is unethical and immoral. They say they are concerned with equality and equity, but I remain unconvinced. 

CFT 2020 Campus Equity Week Campaign

Posted for the AFT-Adjunct Contingent Caucus:

#classcanceled

Dear Adjunct Faculty or Friends of Adjunct/Contingent Faculty,

In honor of Campus Equity Week, and to raise awareness about the social injustice adjunct/contingent faculty face every day, the California Federation of Teachers Part-time Committee is asking everyone to adopt the hashtag #classcanceled. 

Classes get canceled for a variety of reasons like 

  • budget cuts 
  • low enrollment
  • seniority and bumping rights, at the beginning of the semester. 

Sometimes Adjunct faculty have to cancel a class for the day because professors 

  • Get sick
  • Run into car accidents, or 
  • other personal emergencies. 

COVID-19 has made life challenging for all, but especially for adjunct faculty and their teaching and working conditions. Adjunct faculty are the first to 

  • Lose classes
  • Lose their income
  • Spend money out of pocket for teaching supplies and equipment to teach remotely
  • Pay for their own healthcare/health insurance or neglect their health because they cannot afford it
  • Fall into poverty
  • Fall homeless

Higher education in California and across the country has failed our adjunct professors. Classes are getting canceled. Higher education is getting canceled. If faculty cannot get healthcare during a covid-19 worldwide crisis, when can they achieve healthcare? How can one of the richest countries in the world look the other way, while faculty are not covered. How can California not provide their most fundamental workers, faculty, who teach the next generation of students, with one of the most basic, fundamental human rights, access and coverage for healthcare. 

To raise awareness for these issues we ask that members change their Facebook Frame to the Campus Equity Week Frame. To do this go click to edit your profile picture. One of the options will be “Add Frame”. Once you click add frame a search bar will come up. Search for “Campus Equity Week” and the frame with the red circle that says “Equity for Adjunct Faculty” is the one you want to click on. You can set it to only stay for a week, so after CEW the frame will be removed from your photo.

We also ask that members and locals share their adjunct stories to their social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) using the hashtag #classcanceled. If a member wants to share their story but remain anonymous have them send a private message or email to your local and share the story to your feed without using their name or other identifying markers. Retweet and repost your members’ stories on your feed (but always ask permission first if their pages are private) as well as other stories of members not in your local if you come across them on your feed. You can send stories to Geoff Johnson at aftadjunctcontingent@gmail.com to share on the AFT-ACC (AFT Adjunct/Contingent Caucus) website and the blog “Adjunct Crisis.” 

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