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California College & Union Drop the Ball on Health Insurance Fund for Part-Timers

Part-time faculty members at Palomar College say they’re terrified of losing health insurance since the college has depleted the money it set aside for that benefit this year.

The dispute reflects the tense labor negotiations under way at the college, and touches on the role and rights of part-time instructors.

The college allots $138,000 for health benefits for its part-time faculty but spent nearly all of that during the fall semester, said John Tortarolo, Palomar’s vice president for human resources.

“We went to the faculty and said, ‘There’s a problem,'” Tortarolo said. “‘We’re willing to cover the shortfall in the short term, but you need to meet us partway.'”

Teresa Laughlin, the lead negotiator for the Palomar Faculty Federation, said the union was willing to negotiate changes to the benefits but received little notice of the shortfall.

“Our problem is not that we don’t want to negotiate, but we don’t have time,” she said.

In emails and blog posts, professors expressed outrage about the matter.

Some instructors said they feared that loss of health insurance would leave them with serious, untreated health problems, while others decried the disparity between full-time and part-time benefits. One suggested staging a benefit concert to

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