Board Watch #1 (2/22/16)

Judging from the remarks from Trustee Avalos at the Board Meeting of February 17, we seem to have a bit of a problem:  a misinformed trustee.  Good thing we’re teachers.  With patience and persistence, we should be able to provide some light where there is now darkness.

Trustee Avalos says that one third or more of the Cerritos College faculty make over $120,000 per year.

This is false.

The maximum base pay for a full-time faculty member is $113,101.  However, to fetch so fine a salary requires more than 30 years of teaching and a doctorate, which, to my knowledge, none of us has.

Perhaps, though, Trustee Avalos had in mind full-time faculty who teach overload, adding the pay for teaching extra classes to the base salary to arrive at her claim for total annual salary.  If so, it is a claim based on a false premise.  Teaching overload is tantamount to taking a second job – like working full time at Google and then moonlighting at Staples.  In context, the remark suggests that faculty earn too much to be asking for more than they’ve been offered.  President Fierro echoed this sentiment in a Talon Marks interview when he said that faculty can make 140%.

If Trustee Avalos was predicating her claim on that false premise, she ignores the fact that faculty can only make more than base pay when they take on an extra job, when they moonlight.  Ignoring or perhaps overlooking this critical point in public creates two problems:  first, the community reads her remarks as “The faculty are amply compensated, and they shouldn’t be complaining about the District’s offer.”  Faculty read the remarks as “If you want more, go get a second job.”  To the community, the comments are disingenuous.  To the faculty they are disrespectful.

Just so there is no confusion, overload is not overtime.  Overtime at Staples – or just about anywhere else – is paid at time-and-a-half:  salary plus 50% more per hour.  At Cerritos College, overload is paid at 46% less per hour.  Teachers who work more make less.

The truly alarming feature of Trustee Avalos’s comments, though, is that they seem oblivious to more than two thirds of those who teach at Cerritos College.  We have 838 faculty on this campus.  575 are part-time faculty.   None of these 575 faculty members makes anything close to $95,000 per year, which she claims is the average.  Indeed, the most a part-timer can make is $25,146 per year – provided that lucky part-time faculty member has a minimum of 5 years teaching experience and a doctorate.  With a bit of research, Trustee Avalos and President Fierro might find that most part-time faculty don’t make enough money to rise much beyond poverty, a far, far cry from $95,000.

This focus on full-time faculty disregards more than two thirds of those who teach here, dismissing those who do a yeoman’s work at Cerritos College – those who possess the same state qualifications as full-time faculty, those who teach the same classes, those who care for the same students, yet those who receive the lowest pay in the region.

Trustee Avalos also suggested that other constituencies on campus may feel disrespected by the CCFF’s call for a greater increase in salary for part-time faculty or for compensation for Department Chairs.  This is unlikely.  Chances are that, if the District agreed to pay department chairs for their heretofore uncompensated work in the summer, it’s hard to imagine that anyone from CSEA saying anything but, “Well, if they do they work, they deserve the pay.”

And there is no constituency on campus whose contract included the language:

in lieu of the salary increases in 2016-2017 and 2017-18, the Union may negotiate the reallocation of these funds to other items in the Assignment Article or Salary Proposal.

In short, the offer to faculty says:  if you want COLA (which was promised in a 2013 MOU) or fair compensation for chairs or a salary schedule for part-time faculty that is better than the worst in the worst in our region, it will be subtracted from the salary increases in 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Long before any member of any other campus constituency arrived at a sense of disrespect, he or she would have a hard, steep climb over that contractual caveat that gives cover to the District claim that faculty are being offered 10% when, in fact, it’s not true.

This is probably enough light for the moment, but should the District persist in hiding the sun, the CCFF is prepared to open more windows and more doors.