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Parity of Partiality in California? Only Time Will Tell

by Pamela Dillon

IN ITS 1998 report, “Marching Toward Equity,” the American Federation of Teachers documented that part-time college faculty accounted for 42.6 percent of the total number of college faculty in America. Furthermore, 72 percent of part-timers were paid less than $3,000 per course, and a typical part-timer teaching four courses per semester received an annual salary of $20,000.

That same report indicated that in California 31,000 community
college adjunct faculty represented two-thirds of all faculty in the state, taught 40 percent of classes, but only earned 42 percent of what their full-time counterparts did.

Thanks to that report, and grass-roots pressure from part-time
advocates and the California Federation of Teachers, Governor
Gray Davis recently sought to minimize the pay disparity between
full- and part-time faculty in California. He set aside $57
million for adjunct teacher salary increases in the 2001-2002
state budget. Each of the 72 community college districts received
a portion of those funds, and district union officials are now negotiating the allocation of that money.

During negotiations in certain districts, union and district
officials have been exploring ways to allocate the funds to
full-time faculty, as well. Part-time faculty activist Margaret
Quan, who teaches in the Contra Costa district, attended a
BayFac (colleges in the Bay area) meeting last October 29.

“The main topic for discussion was not whether or not,
but how full-time faculty can benefit by this augmentation.
Parts of the discussion I found distressing…the union in [one of these] districts has decided that they would take
the COLA [cost of living adjustment] entirely for full-time
faculty, while giving the part-time faculty in their district
a raise from the augmentation money. This is illegal,” said Quan.

Not only is the move illegal, but clearly against the original
intent of the $57 million set aside by Governor Davis.

The wording of the augmentation bill states, “These
funds are to be used to assist districts in making part-time
faculty salaries more comparable to full-time salaries for
similar work, as determined by each district’s local collective
bargaining unit. These funds shall not supplant the amount
of resources each district uses to compensate part-time faculty….”

According to Quan, COLA should be applied evenly across the
board to both full-timers and part-timers as in the past. The rules do not change simply because more money is at stake.

“The law is the law and a union cannot pick and choose which law, or parts thereof, they want to follow. Using COLA to give faculty a raise, and using the augmentation money to give part-time faculty a raise will not move the part-timers one step closer to parity,” said Quan.

Another area of controversy concerns the hourly salary schedules.
Full-timers now want to claim all their overload work (or overtime) as part-time. By this definition, they would also benefit by an higher hourly wage.

The political waters are further muddied by the fact that in some districts, only one hourly salary schedule exists for tenured overload and part-time faculty.

“The basic idea of the bill is ‘equal pay for equal work.’ Full-time faculty members, teaching overtime, are eligible for the money if they are paid on the same salary schedule as part-time faculty. Districts that have overtime on the same salary schedule as part-time may very well be negotiating for the money used in that manner,” said Martin Hittelman, president of the CFT community college council, and a board member of the AFT higher education program and policy council.

Whatever each district decides, board members or bargaining
units will have to answer to State Chancellor Tom Nussbaum,
who led the original Part-time Equity Task Force. A memo outlining requirements that each district must follow was e-mailed to California community colleges’ various administrative units
last September 25. At the end of the fiscal year, each district will be required to report the exact use of its allotment on an expenditure report.

The individual districts will be monitored, and for good reason. According to Quan, full-time faculty members have majority control in almost all CCC unions. And she’s not the only part-time representative skeptical about the distribution of funds.

“Past experiences are that most of this money will disappear after a few of our adjuncts participate in the parity program. It is my belief that most of the funds will go to full-time faculty, teaching overload. Whatever remains will be used at the discretion of administration,” said Wilbur P. Cotton, a fine arts part-time faculty member in the Compton Community College district.

He is also an adjunct faculty representative in the Academic
Senate and CCCFE Local 3486, and a part-time representative
on the CFT community college council. Compton is a smaller
district among the 72 community colleges, and received only
$313,296 of augmentation funds.

To be fair, part-time faculty members in a few of California’s
larger districts are in a much better bargaining position.
According to Carl Friedlander, president of the Los Angeles
district, they have an active Part-time Issues Committee,
which includes representatives from all of that district’s
nine colleges. They unanimously supported the distribution
plan, which will be used to increase the pay rate for faculty
working on a part-time basis (75 percent of whom work exclusively
part-time). The Los Angeles district also pays part-timers
for office hours.

In the third largest district, Los Rios, the union’s constitution
provides for one part-time representative at each of its four
locations.

“We have only one set of pay schedules for adjunct and
overload [work]. The Los Rios share of the $57 million will
be used to bring these schedules up to our negotiated definition
of parity. Given that we are already second in the state in
terms of our part-time pay rates, the first installment of
this money appears to be sufficient for Los Rios adjunct faculty
to receive equal pay for equal work,” said Los Rios district
president Dennis Smith.

CFT part-time faculty coordinator Lin Fraser further explains
that the districts have encouraged overloads to be paid at
part-time rates because doing so saves money. The lower wages
were meant to discourage full-timers from taking on more overload classes. She also suspects that freezing full-time overload
rates (while advancing part-time rates) would appear discriminatory and create dissension across the state.

Many factors are at work here: past policies, size of district,
and conflicts of interest among faculty groups. Only time
will tell whether or not part-time faculty members across
the state will receive fair treatment.

“Faculty unions are turning themselves inside out to see that tenured faculty also receive some of this parity money. Most districts’ faculty unions are ‘owned and operated’ by full-time faculty and they are being very, very creative in distributing this augmentation money meant ‘solely’ for part-time faculty. I only hope they are as creative in the classroom,” said Quan.

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