Your collective bargaining rights could be at stake
By Alan Frey, CCA staff consultant
I know it’s hard to believe, but I started working with the California Teachers Association 35 years ago right after the Rodda Act was passed and I can attest to the difference collective bargaining has made for faculty in this state.
My previous experience in the state of Connecticut where collective bargaining had been in place for years had given me a unique perspective. Hailing from a state that had long negotiated contracts it was fascinating for me to witness the birth and subsequent maturation of the bargaining process from the ground up and how the impact of negotiating has improved the welfare of college faculty.
Gains could be undermined
The truth is, faculty in California owe everything to collective bargaining, and all of our gains could be undermined if Prop. 32 is not defeated in November. It’s a one-two punch.
Proposition 32, on its face seems simple. However, it’s the potential consequences that will impact community college faculty for the rest of their careers.
The issue is deceptive. Although it alleges to cut out campaign and candidate funding for unions and corporations, the reality is that the unions are the major target. The initiative is backed by corporate interests that have sheltered themselves from the impact of the proposal through a series of loopholes that permit massive and unregulated funding for campaigns and candidates.
This initiative must be defeated to ensure that unions which represent the middle class have a fighting chance against wealthy corporate interests. At the very least, we want to try to keep the playing field somewhat level.
Message is simple
Again the message is simple we must defeat Proposition 32.
But with all of that said, the truth is in what has not been revealed. There is an old adage that goes something like this.” There are things you know. There are things you don’t know and still there are things you don’t know, you don’t know.” Proposition 32 falls directly in the last category and I will attempt to explain why.
Collective bargaining for community college faculty has been in existence for over 35 years. When passed in 1975 and signed by then, and now, Governor Jerry Brown, college faculty were given the right to negotiate the wages, hours and working conditions under which they are employed. The results have been beneficial to both the faculty and their employers as it has created an atmosphere where the working conditions apply equally to all and the interpretation of the relationship has been solidified.
But the forces against collective bargaining have been lurking in the underbrush for years. Conservative anti-public employee organizations and their leaders now believe it is prime time to repeal the hard-won rights of employees and allow management to impose its will unfettered. Nationwide this trend has surfaced in many states but it has become clear that California is the main target.
So let’s think about the future consequences if Proposition 32 passes and unions lose their ability to play in the political arena. Think of the old saying that “once the camel gets its nose in the tent……” and you will have a clear picture of the perils that confront us.
In the college arena we know that management has long sought to reverse the 50 percent law which dictates that half of college expenditures must be spent on instructors’ salaries, which in translation means that learning is the major portion of a community colleges mission. Also remember that management wants to kill the 75/25 law that calls for districts to employ more full-time faculty. These two issues are political measures that would surely be ripe for repeal if the faculty voice is silenced in Sacramento.
Additionally and more ominously, is the threat to collective bargaining. Conservatives hate the fact that employees have rights. There is a firm mindset in administration that in labor relations terms is called “Boulwarism.” Named for former General Electric Vice President Lemuel Boulwar, “Boulwarism” is a tactic which, simply stated, says that management knows what’s best for their employees. This concept was the gospel among large corporations who have long fought against unions and the right that employees should have a say in the employment relationship.
Boulwarism is alive
Even now the concept of “Boulwarism” is alive and well in the community colleges. For the first time in our history districts are ignoring the collective bargaining process and employing the deadly game of “unilateral implementation” of the last, best and final offers they make. Long considered a suicidal path for management, the atmosphere in California and nationwide has promulgated such a strong anti-public employee mindset that the imposition of a contract is now contemplated without fear of employee backlash.
In peril are issues for faculty that will upend the relationships that have been built over the past 30 plus years as districts will seek to impose an 18 unit workload, have employees pay out-of-pocket for all fringe benefits, freeze step and column movement at will, mangle our salary schedules, return to nepotism and favoritism of certain pet employees and a host of other dangers too scary to contemplate.|
Not only are the working conditions of faculty the learning conditions of students, but faculty would also be prevented from advocating for their students as well.
In short your future is at stake and so is the ability to advocate for your students. Vote NO on Prop. 32.
Need to find out about the November election and how ballot initiatives will affect you? Looking for ways to get involved in the campaign? Interested in using social media to reach out to voters? For the latest news, resources, videos, activities and actions you can take, check out CTA’s Campaign website at www.cta.org/campaign2012