Union Update – Sep 20, 2018
Over the last week several of our part-time and probationary colleagues have expressed their worry over openly expressing support for our union. They have told me that they are afraid to speak out publicly on behalf of themselves and our students. From our experience in the classroom, we all know that even if only a couple of people ask about something, a lot more have the same question.
I want to answer that question here: Public-sector employees (that’s us) have the right to form, join, and participate in collective action (that’s wearing a shirt or button and gathering together) for the purposes of representation on wages, hours, and other conditions of employment. It’s also illegal for there to be any retaliation for these types of actions. As denizens of the United States, our right to free speech is protected by the First Amendment (my favorite) and as faculty at Cerritos College we are protected by our contract’s Academic Freedom article.
I think these kinds of concerns are being expressed throughout the state because our state Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, recently issued an advisory affirming labor rights and obligations in public workplaces, which I have attached here.
The last thing I want is for this email to have a chilling effect. To my knowledge no one on our campus has ever been retaliated against for their union membership or for advocating for themselves and their students. Over 85% of the full-time faculty on our campus are union members. 100% of the full-time faculty in several departments such as counseling, library, and speech are union members. There’s a long tradition of probationary faculty speaking at Board meetings on behalf of the union and we’ve still gotten tenure. (See: me, Santos Rojas, … probably more but they are slipping my mind right now.) There are four union executive board members and one grievance officer and negotiations team member who are part-time faculty – and all have been assigned classes for a number of semesters.
It is your right and — I’d argue — your duty to speak truth to power. If you’re unhappy you can express it. If your students are being ill-served you should advocate their behalf.
And if you think you’re being retaliated against for exercising these rights, let us know and CCFF will open up a can of Whup – #$@ on your behalf. (Well, that’s what they called it where I grew up. I’m sure you get what I mean.)
In Unity (and strife),