Friday, May 19, 2006

class action lawsuit got health insurance for PTers in WA state--did it help equal pay bill?

The judge in the health insurance case slammed the legal fiction that we are "temporary" employees even after working in a district for decades:

law firm of Bendich, Stobaugh and Strong, P.C.

The settlement ends a five-year class action lawsuit filed by Eva Mader of Bellevue and Teresa Knudsen of Spokane. They worked more than half-time for 21 and 10 years, respectively. In June 2003, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in favor of the instructors and reversed decisions by the Health Care Authority, the Superior Court, and the Court of Appeals that denied the part-time instructors health care benefits in the summer, even though full-time instructors, who also do not work in the summer, have benefits all year.

The Health Care Authority had said that Mader, who worked for 21 years, was not eligible because she was a “temporary” quarter-to-quarter employee. The Supreme Court ruled that the Authority “must examine the actual work circumstances of a state employee, rather than the contracts or titles under which he or she is employed, to determine whether an employee is eligible for state-paid health benefits.” The Court said, “Twenty-one years is not a temporary position.”

This is the kind of thing that should put the fear of God in legislators. They need to know that if they don't end this separate and unequal system, we will seek other remedies. Frankly, I don't see much downside to this, in light of the victories WA got on retirement benefits too, and it probably gives their legislature an incentive to treat the pending equal pay bill seriously since they know a judge may correct their morally and constitutionally defective work if they don't.

Retirement lawsuit in WA state:

Campus Equity Week update from WA state:

Politicians seem to respond to only one of three things:

  1. donations

  2. a large number of angry people

  3. court orders

The first two have gotten mixed results at best here in California. Maybe the relevant committees in the legislature need to know we are considering this, so they could pre-empt it with legislation, and look like the good guys.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Angelides letter supports
equal pay for part timers

The key sentence says:

I support salary equity for part time faculty to ensure that the state of California can continue to attract and retain talented and dedicated community college instructors.

Phil Angelides 4/20/06

Click letter to see full-sized.

Board votes against even PRINCIPLE
of equal pay for part timers

The mechanism for achieving parity set up in AB 420 seems to assume that trustees and administrators have the welfare of the faculty at heart, and merely differ with us about how to look after it.

They do not.

Those of us who have worked for districts where they don't even make the pretense of providing part timers with health care know this. They literally do not care if we drop dead.

And now, the board of trustees of one district has voted against even the PRINCIPLE of equal pay for part timers.

This evidence should be presented to legislators to show that if equal pay is not REQUIRED BY LAW, districts will drag their feet, and even when it is achieved in some places, try to roll it back when they get in a budget jam or just want to pad their reserves even further.

A law like this already exists for K-12, and has been proposed in Washington state. We need an equal pay law here too.

These guys don't seem to have a webpage yet, so I'm passing it along for them.

The gist is in the first paragraph.

From Adjunct Faculty United of North Orange:

On Tuesday, May 9, the North Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees voted “no” on the principle of parity for part-time faculty. Adjunct Faculty United, the union that represents all part-time faculty in the district, had asked the board to take a public stand in favor of the principle of “equal pay for equal work” for all faculty.

In the North Orange County Community College District, comprised of Fullerton College, Cypress College, and the School of Continuing Education, part-time faculty (who make up two-thirds of all faculty), get about 50% of what full-time faculty make when they teach the same classes. This is different from what part-time teachers make in the K-12 system, where a teacher with the same credentials and same experience is paid at the same rate as an equally qualified full-time teacher.

Four trustees, Leonard Lahtinen, Michael Matsuda, and the two student trustees (whose votes are only advisory), voted Tuesday in favor of pay parity. Five trustees, Donna Miller, Jeff Brown, Molly McClanahan, Manny Ontiveros, and Barbara Dunsheath, voted against the resolution. Four of the five trustees who opposed the equal pay principle are up for re-election later this year.

NOCCCD Chancellor Jerry Hunter encouraged the trustees to vote “no”, saying that a positive vote would set a bad precedent, that the board should put this issue into the hands of the district negotiating team.

Denny Konshak, chief negotiator for the part-time faculty, objects, saying that it is both proper and right for the trustees to take a public stand in favor of the principle of pay parity, and then leave the details to be worked out at the negotiating table. President of Adjunct Faculty United, Sam Russo, agrees: “In the five years we’ve had our union, the district’s negotiators have staunchly refused to subscribe to any reasonable definition of pay parity for its part-time instructors. It’s time these trustees, who are publicly elected and accountable, take a firm stand on this basic principle in the American workplace and send a real message to their employees and their negotiating team.”

Several trustees stated that they were concerned that their “no” vote might send the wrong message to their part-time faculty, but still opposed the motion that would have made equal pay a goal in NOCCCD. At least one trustee seemed surprised that his district paid $30 an hour less than a neighboring community college district. Reasons for opposing the goal of pay parity with full-timers included: we don’t know what “equal” means, and the college district might be sued some time in the future if they don’t live up to this principle.

Founding president of Adjunct Faculty United, Linda Cushing, also spoke at the board meeting in favor of the principle of “equal pay for equal work” She addresses the trustees’ fear that they will be sued if they do not reach that goal. Cushing said, “At the beginning of the board meeting, everybody, including the trustees, recited the Pledge of Allegiance, saying they subscribed to the principle of ‘liberty and justice for all’. Tell me the board is equally worried about a mythical lawsuit by someone charging them with violating liberty and justice.”

A number of other community college districts, such as San Francisco City College, Cabrillo College, and San Jose-Evergreen CCD, have put themselves on record supporting the principle of equal pay for part-time faculty when the funds become available.


For more information, contact:

Sam Russo
Office: 714-526-5759
Home: 714 –961-8058
Cell: 714-290-1685

Denny Konshak
Home: 714-962-4766

My addition:

To share your thoughts with the NOCCCD trustees: