October 02, 2022

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President’s Message - Safety is Our #1 Priority
Posted On: Apr 22, 2021

Keeping our faculty and students safe is our #1 priority. Our mantra has been, and continues to be “Testing, Tracing, Mitigation.” We continue to work with the District to negotiate conditions for a safe return in the fall.

The Guild continues to be responsive to changing conditions in the remote environment.

  • The Board of Trustees has approved a one-time stipend of $1000 to compensate faculty for remote workplace expenses. You need to have taught in one of the following semesters: Spring 2020, Summer 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, or Spring 2021. You do not have to complete any paperwork to receive the stipend.
  • Another MOU clarified that faculty teaching large distance learning classes during any of the academic terms may receive a stipend for that semester if it was requested during the planning stages of scheduling. Faculty may request no more than one large class DL stipend in any academic term and no more than two stipends in any calendar year. We clarified that the semester could be fall, winter, spring, or summer. We brought contract language into alignment with Board policy and the large class agreement must be made in the planning stages of schedule development. But now it includes winter or summer.
  • A third MOU clarified language in Article 16.G: Bumping begins three weeks before classes start and cannot extend beyond the first two weeks after classes start or the first 10% of the term length for a class scheduled for a period that is shorter than an academic semester.

Perhaps the most urgent matter the Guild considered this month was the “re-engagement” plan: We were settling into life in a remote environment. We began the important business of developing a proposal to hand over to management to begin a thoughtful, careful discussion about returning to campus. The negotiations team for this task was the Guild Executive Committee (chapter presidents, officers, and chief grievance officer).

We were literally in discussion with management about how to use the color-coded tier system for re-engagement (yellow/orange -- 50%) when our cell phone notifications lit up with news that Governor Newsom was ending the color-coded tier system effective June 15 so that “the California economy could come roaring back.” Now, it might come roaring back. And that would be a good thing. But two months in the world of a pandemic is a long time. We can’t be so naïve as to think that we can throw a dart on a calendar and declare the pandemic over. It seems to me that if we are still mandated to wear masks in public, and (for you “pet parents”) if we still can’t go into the veterinarian’s office but must wait in our cars, if we haven’t reached an 80% vaccination rate, and if thousands of people are still contracting COVID-19 or a variant every day, then we are not out of the pandemic.

The proposal we gave to management is framed around safety, cleanliness, and respect. The Guild is sticking to our reopening mantra: Testing, Tracing, Mitigation (e.g., social distancing, masks, face shields, goggles, 24-hour Clorox cleaning, hot water/soap/paper towels, hand sanitizers, plexiglass, etc.), vaccinations, ventilation, and work-from-home assignments on-demand. In addition, there are a myriad of re-engagement impacts that the Guild is monitoring, including respect for what we’ve accomplished. Be assured that Guild members will not return to in-person instruction/student services until it is safe to do so.

As of April 15, everyone 16 years of age and older should be able to access a vaccination. There are over 400 vaccination distribution sites in LA County, most requiring appointments. Make a plan and be ready when it’s your turn!

We are also monitoring the significant enrollment decline in the 2020-21 academic year. Fewer students mean fewer assignments for faculty. Faculty have faced numerous challenges – many adjunct faculty have lost assignments and some instructors have wage earners in the house who have lost their jobs. Faculty with children at home have experienced problems with WiFi and learning loss. And then there are the students who disappear before the end of the semester. We must push our campus and district administrators to develop and implement an aggressive program for advertising, marketing, branding, and outreach. It’s not hyperbole to suggest that our jobs depend on it.

And, of course, your voice matters. Last week the Faculty Guild reached out to each faculty member via their school email address to directly assess your concerns about reengagement, in-person instruction, and student services. Thank you to the almost 1,600 faculty members who participated in the survey. We should have the results of the survey soon.

As we continue chart a course into unknown territory, let’s continue to help each other stay safe, stay engaged, and reach out to Guild leaders – especially your chapter presidents – with questions and concerns.

In Unity,

Joanne Waddell

AFT 1521 President

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