Announced during a virtual press conference on April 4, two Long Beach City College (LBCC) educators filed a class-action lawsuit charging LBCC with violating minimum wage laws with the way it pays part-time faculty, in a case that is likely to shine a light on the lack of pay parity for part-time instructors at California’s community colleges. The plaintiffs, Seija Rohkea and Karen Roberts, described the many additional duties their teaching assignments require beyond the classroom time for which they are actually paid.
Some community colleges unlawfully treat part-time adjunct instructors as exempt from minimum wage laws. Part-time faculty do not earn enough money to be exempt from California’s minimum wage requirements. These colleges pay part-time instructors an hourly rate only for each hour teaching in the classroom in front of students, despite requiring these instructors to work many hours performing teaching-related work outside of the classroom.
“My hope is this lawsuit will not just rectify the situation for my colleagues at Long Beach City College, but that it will raise awareness of a systemic problem that impacts thousands of part-time community college instructors throughout the state,” said Rohkea, an art history instructor at both Long Beach City College and Cypress College.
“It’s long past time for adjunct faculty to be treated fairly and compensated for all the work that goes into teaching a community college class.”
– Seija Rohkea, Art History Instructor
“Adjunct instructors at community colleges have the same qualifications as their full-time colleagues and need to be paid accordingly. They should not be expected to perform the same required work for free,” said Roberts, who has taught art history at LBCC for more than 20 years.
“This lawsuit will force the college to comply with the law and hold them accountable to creating an equitable working environment.”
– Karen Roberts, Art History Instructor
The lawsuit has the potential to benefit more than 650 current part-time faculty at LBCC as well as former faculty. The practice of paying part-time faculty only for hours spent in the classroom is widespread throughout California’s community colleges, despite the colleges evaluating the job performance of these instructors based on work outside the classroom for which they are not compensated, including grading, planning lectures and meeting with students.
“California’s community college system is the largest higher education system in the world. More than half of classes in the system are taught by part-time instructors being paid far less on an hourly basis than their full-time counterparts,” said CCA President Eric Kaljumägi.
“The current system forces many part-time instructors to work multiple jobs just to eke out a living. The exploitation is unfair, and when compensation drops below the minimum wage, it is illegal.”
– Eric Kaljumägi, CCA President
Since last year, CCA leadership and members have been meeting with legislators to ask that part-time faculty be
compensated for the work they are required to do in and out of the classroom.
AB 1752 by Assembly Member Miguel Santiago, which CTA is co-sponsoring, will do just that. While many campuses still report that part-time faculty make up nearly 60% of the workforce, the Chancellor’s Office reports that part-time faculty make up 40% of the workforce statewide. Such a heavy reliance on part-time faculty across the system clearly indicates that CCC administrators are exploiting part-time faculty on their campuses as a cost-saving measure.
“Part-time faculty deserve equal pay for equal work, period. There should be no shortcuts by any employer, and employers should know they will be held accountable if they undermine our profession. This fight is about being treated with dignity and respect,” said CCA Vice President Randa Wahbe.
“The time has come for California to make equal pay a reality for educators in the largest postsecondary education system in the world. During this climate of unprecedented economic uncertainty, nothing could be more important than ensuring that all workers receive equal pay for equal work,” said Kashara Moore, who is an adjunct professor and counselor at LBCC and was a principal witness at an Assembly Higher Education Committee hearing on April 5.
This is disheartening and a stab at our profession. This is why we need all CCA members to contact your Assembly member and urge their support for AB 1752.
Please write your letter now by scanning the QR code below or clicking here.
OTHER BILLS CCA IS RECOMMENDING “SUPPORT” ON:
AB 1232, McCarthy: Community Colleges: Nonresident Tuition Fees: English as a Second Language
This will add an exception to the required nonresident tuition payment for certain nonresident students enrolled in English as a second language.
AB 1505, Rodriguez: Community Colleges: Full-time Faculty Obligation
This requires the CCC Board of Governors to adopt regulations that require the fall 2023 full-time faculty obligation for each community college district to be set to the actual full-time faculty number reported for fall 2022 and adjusted annually pursuant to regulations.
AB 1606, Ramos: Public Postsecondary Education: Veterans
This expands the Donahoe Higher Education Act fee waiver, which dependents of a veteran of the United States military who has a service-connected disability, has been killed in service, or has died of a service-connected disability may apply for. It also revises the spousal benefit threshold, so that the spouse of a veteran with a disability rating of 70 percent or greater is the new definition of “dependent of a veteran.”
AB 1671, Patterson: California Ban on Scholarship Displacement for Foster Youth Act of 2022
This prohibits public and private institutions of higher education, which either receive or benefit from state-funded financial assistance or enroll students receiving state-funded student financial assistance, from reducing an institution-based financial aid award below the financial need of a student who is or was a foster youth.
AB 1712, Medina: Public Postsecondary Education: Campus Climate & Sexual Misconduct Survey
This requires the CCC chancellor, the chancellor of CSU, and the president of UC to develop a campus climate and sexual misconduct survey and administer the survey to students once every three years beginning on or before March 1, 2024, and then report the results.
CCA IS ALSO RECOMMENDING “WATCH” ON THESE BILLS:
SB 851, Portantino: Cal Grant Equity & College Access Act to Improve Higher Education Affordability
This changes the way the maximum tuition award amount for Cal Grant A and B awards is set and makes other changes to the Cal Grant Program.
AB 1705, Irwin: Seymour-Campbell Student Success Act of 2012: Matriculation: Assessment
This requires using high school transcript data as the main method for determining placement in transfer-level English and mathematics coursework; limits the use of multiple measures by colleges when placing and enrolling students; and requires that a community college district or community college not recommend or require students to enroll in pretransfer level English or mathematics, except under specified circumstances.
AB 1856, Medina: Community Colleges: Part-time Employees
This adds a new requirement for community colleges receiving funding allocated for the Student Equity and Achievement Program and requires them to negotiate in good faith with the exclusive representatives of part-time and temporary faculty on the terms of reemployment preference for assignments.
AB 2122: Choi: Public Postsecondary Education: Mental Health Hotlines
This authorizes each campus of CCC, CSU and UC to establish a campus mental health hotline for students to access remotely. It also requires each CCC, CSU and UC campus without a campus mental health hotline to have printed the telephone number of their city’s or county’s mental health hotline on both sides of student identification cards.
AB 2359, Gipson: Compton Community College District: Personnel Commission
This repeals the Compton Community College District (CCD) Board’s authority to assume the powers of the Compton CCD Personnel Commission and restores the powers to the commission.
AB 2482, Calderon: Public Postsecondary Education: Student Health: Pilot Program
This establishes a pilot program that would require CCC and CSU to provide at least one vending machine dispensing wellness products at five campuses.
AB 2617, Holden: Pupil Instruction: Dual Enrollment Programs
This authorizes the California Department of Education to administer a competitive grant program offering financial incentives for school districts and community college districts to participate in College and Career Access Pathways partnerships.
AB 2624, Kalra: Public Postsecondary Education: Course Materials
This requires each CCC and CSU campus, and requests each UC campus, to display the estimated costs of all required course materials for each course, and all fees directly related to those materials, for no less than 75% of the total number of courses on the online schedule.
AB 2627, Bauer-Kahan: Electronically Collected Personal Information
This authorizes a state or local agency, at the request of the governing board of a community college district, to enter into a MOU allowing them to share electronically collected personal info about users for purposes of facilitating outreach and enrollment in the CCC system.
AB 2738, Reyes: Public Postsecondary Education: Community Colleges: Matriculation: Assessment
This requires the governing board of each community college district to report the schedule of required courses and number of academic years, months, semesters or terms necessary to obtain each of their offered associate of arts degree and certificate programs; requires each course necessary to complete the above programs be offered to students; and authorizes the governing board to hold a public hearing and make public any findings when compliance with the requirement is not realistic.