During the entire process of bargaining for a new three-year contract (“the heart and soul of our union,” as some call it), AFT 1521 faculty have been informed and engaged, with hundreds observing the sessions on Zoom. We spoke to one of our chief negotiators, Guild Secretary Mindy Chen, about the negotiating process.
Q: What have some of the challenges been?
A: We’re dealing with some uncertainties, especially due to the situation with COVID. We’ve made some progress, but perhaps not as fast as some had hoped for. It’s frustrating that we’ve had to delay some sessions due to the pandemic.
Q: How are these negotiations different from others you’ve been involved in?
A: It’s exciting to see the new engagement of so many of our members, thanks to their ability to observe via Zoom. They’re able to see firsthand how we’re finding meaningful ways to make a difference and create a healthy and safe work environment.
Q: Besides observing sessions, how have Guild faculty been involved in the process?
A: We’ve invited our faculty experts -- counselors, coaches, nursing instructors, and those from various disciplines – to advise us and explain their needs to management. The issues we’re fighting for in this contract – working conditions such as class size and assignments – are ways to improve students’ learning conditions. A social justice aspect is guiding our efforts. Research has shown, that particularly for immigrants and minorities, students are better served by having more meaningful interactions with their instructors in smaller classes.
Q: How soon do you see negotiations wrapping up?
A: We want to get it done, but not without achieving our core issues. Both sides would like to wrap up soon, but we won’t if it means compromising our students.
Upcoming negotiating sessions are scheduled for Friday, July 24 and Friday, July 31 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Check your email for updates.