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It took a long time, but the non-tenured faculty at California’s community colleges finally have a “win” to attain some levels of job security. For over 10 years UPTE-CWA, along with the California Part Time Faculty Association (CPFA), the Faculty Association for California Community Colleges (FACCC), the California Community College Independents (CCCI) and others have introduced legislation to gain job security for non-tenured faculty. Each and every year it was introduced, our efforts screeched to a halt at the Appropriations Committee level and were unable to move further through the legislative process. The reason that the Appropriations Committee killed the bill each year had to do with the huge and mightily unrealistic price tag assigned by the Department of Finance. The Department of Finance stated that it would cost over $7 million each year to give non-tenured faculty members job security rights, which was a figure disputed by many. Additionally, Governor Jerry Brown is notorious for his “local control” philosophy, meaning that he believes each individual Community College District should have the right to decide how they want to deal with their non-tenured faculty without state intervention.

This year, UPTE-CWA was in strong support of Assembly Bill 1690, authored by Assembly member Jose Medina and sponsored by the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and California Teachers Association (CTA), which would have given non-tenured faculty members job security rights after six consecutive semesters (3 academic years) of meritorious service in a District. In support of AB 1690, we partnered with others to provide letters of support, give verbal statements of support at hearings, conduct lobby visits to key legislators in the capitol building and inside the legislative districts, and circulated a petition to gain enough momentum to finally push this piece of legislation over the edge and make it to the Governor’s desk.

At the Assembly Appropriations committee level, Chairwoman Lorena Gonzalez received over 50 messages from supporters signing our petition, and the bill made it to the Senate side. At the Senate Appropriations committee level, Chairman Ricardo Lara received over 400 messages of support to ask him to allow AB 1690 to pass through his committee and on to the Senate floor for a vote. Feeling this was a key moment, our activists from Butte community college – most notably non-tenured faculty instructor John Martin - sprang into action and secured a meeting with Senator Lara himself on August 9th, 2016. Present at the meeting were President Courtney Cooper and Vice President of Legislative Affairs Gerson Liahut-Sanchez from the Student Senate for California Community Colleges in lock-step with us expressing strong support. Additionally, representatives from the California Labor Federation, CFT and CTA also attended.       

On August 11th AB 1690 was referred to the Senate Floor on a strict party-line vote with 5 Democrats voting “Aye” and 2 Republicans opposing. Senate Pro Tempore De Leon received 600 messages of support through our petition drive before the day that the Senate floor voted to move AB 1690 onward to the Governor’s desk. A large portion of those 600 messages came from our Union brothers and sisters at CWA District 9, who sent our petition far and wide into their ranks to get telecom workers and other represented titles to show solidarity. However, all was not clear for victory. The Higher Education liaison at the Governor’s office reached out to Mr. Medina, CFT and CTA to share that the Governor had major concerns with the bill and was thinking about vetoing it. A compromise would need to be reached, and reached quickly, as the last day of the legislative session was August 31st. In conjunction with the Governor’s office, Jose Medina’s office and the bill’s sponsors re-wrote a bill that addressed the Governor’s concerns, and SB 1379 was amended to allow non-tenured faculty to bargain in good faith about the subjects contemplated in AB 1690.

We are supremely pleases that SB 1379 has been enacted and congratulate of our community college members and their allies on a victory hard fought and hard won. Great job!

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