Volume 45 Number 3
An official proposal is expected in 2011
Merger talks between the Community College Association and the Community College Council have progressed to the point where an official proposal may come before members by 2011.
“We’ve certainly had some full, robust, and candid discussions that I believe will lead to a stronger and ultimately, more powerful voice for community college faculty,” said CCA President Ron Norton Reel, who initiated talks with the CCC more than a two and half years ago. “The greatest benefit is that the merger will increase our presence in both state unions.”
What’s in a name?
CCA, an affiliate of the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association, represents about about 21,000 of the community college faculty in California, while the Community College Council, the affiliate of the California Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers, represents about 29,000 faculty. The remaining 13,000 is represented by independent unions. Historically, the two unions had been rivals, and had even fought to represent individual colleges. Although several K-12 chapter have merged in California, including chapters in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the merger of the community college unions would be a first in the state and would become a possible model for higher education.
“There’s a lot of history between the two unions, and it hasn’t always been pleasant. But when I talk to people inside and outside of our unions, including legislators, labor union people, and the general public, they say it makes sense,” Carl Friedlander, president of the Community College Council, said during a meeting of CCC and CCA presidents in February.
CCA and CCC officers, along with representatives of full- and part-time faculty, the California Teachers Association, the National Education Association, the California Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers have been actively engaged in the talks. They have been discussing what the governance structure will look like as well as budgetary issues.Integral part of both
“Our goal is to be an integral part of both unions,” Friedlander said. “The community college system and our students will be stronger because of our ability to rely on the strengths of both unions,” Friedlander continued.
CCA Vice President Lynette Nyaggah observed that the two organizations have already been able to maximize “positive communication” in Sacramento. Both sides worked hard to secure over $60 million worth of backfill money that had been taken away from community colleges last year. “In the past, we spent time fighting each other on legislation instead of working together,” she said.
Several CCA leaders who have been involved in the discussions also spoke positively about the proposed merger during a discussion session at the spring CCA Conference. CCA Treasurer Jim Weir said he was assured there would be financial rewards to both organizations as a result of the merger and CCA Secretary David Milroy, who has been a fierce advocate for part-time faculty, said he was also confident that part timers would be well represented by the new, merged union. DeWayne Scheaffer, CCA board director and president of the Long Beach City College Faculty Association, said he was also convinced that local chapters would continue to operate effectively and autonomously, as they have always done.
Participants in the session praised their representatives for keeping them updated and informed. While some conference-goers thought the merger would give the organizations more clout, some others expressed doubt over whether their voices would be lost in a bigger organization. These individuals continue to look for assurance that their voice would be heard. Chapter presidents who attended a meeting on the merger earlier this year had some of the same questions, but were also positive about the process and the possibilities.More resources
Leaders promoting the merger assured their members that the everyday function of their own local chapter would remain the same, but that they would be able to call on the resources of both organizations when needed. Some of those resources include access to more regional and political organizers, research and finance specialists, in-house attorneys, and more opportunities for training and involvement.
CCA President Reel assured those attending the Council session on the merger that more talks will take place and input solicited before a final proposal emerges. Ultimately, a recommendation will emerge from the CCA Board on which the CCA members will vote. If it passes, it will be taken to the CTA Board for approval, and then to the NEA Board. A similar process will take place among the CCC/CFT/AFT organizations, according to their procedures.
More information, including “The Top Twelve Most Frequently Asked Questions…” and a chart on the Proposed Governance of the merged organization is available through the CCA Office. By the beginning of the Fall 2010 semester, documents will be available at a designated merger website.