Thursday, August 26, 2010

California Senate Approves Major Bill on Community College Faculty

The state senate voted in favor of the Assembly Concurrent Resolution 138 by a 23 to 11 margin on Monday August 23rd. This bill calls for community colleges to staff at least 75% of their student credit hours by full-time tenure and tenure-track faculty. Moreover, the bill affirms the principle of non-tenured part-time faculty receiving equal pay for equal work. However, all of these requirements are based on available funding and collective bargaining agreements.

It is important to stress that in the California community college system, one cannot be full-time and not be on the tenure track. Unlike the UC and CSU system, there are no full-time, non-tenure-track positions, and community college faculty who are not eligible for tenure can only work up to a 67% appointment.

The current legislation is part of the AFT FACE campaign that tries to do two seemingly opposing things: increase the number of tenure-track positions and provide equity and job security for non-tenured faculty. While UC-AFT supports this effort for community colleges, we argue that this type of policy does not work for research universities since faculty members in these institutions have distinct job descriptions.

In the context of research universities, it is hard to determine what equal pay for equal work would mean because faculty are doing very different jobs. For example, the University of California contends that the reason it pays tenured professors so much more than non-tenured lecturers is that professors are required to do research, teaching, and service, but most lecturers only teach. While it is untrue to say that lecturers do not do service and research, we do recognize that lecturers are defined by their teaching responsibilities, and this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Since lecturers have teaching as their primary mission, they become central to the undergraduate mission of the university; and yet, a major problem exists because these teachers in charge of instruction are not members of their academic senates. In fact, lecturers are often referred to as “non-senate faculty” in order to stress their exclusion from shared governance. One of the results of this denial of democratic participation is that faculty senates often make curricular decisions without consulting the people who are actually doing the teaching. To correct this problem, UC-AFT hopes that in the future, lecturers will be granted full rights to participate in their faculty senates.

As lecturers have been denied their role in university shared governance, UC-AFT has concentrated on negotiating and enforcing collective bargaining agreements that improve the job security and equity of non-tenured faculty in the UC system. We have also shown how the working conditions of lecturers directly determines the learning conditions of undergraduate and graduate students, and while we have not pushed for pay parity with senate faculty, we have gained parity in benefits and academic freedom rights. Furthermore, unlike the AFT FACE campaign, UC-AFT has not sought to push for more tenure-track lines or total pay equity for part-time faculty. Instead, we have tried to make non-tenure-track positions as secure and equitable as possible.

Last year, more than a hundred lecturers with continuing appointment were given one-year layoff notices and hundreds of other lecturers in their first six years of service faced job losses. We are happy to report that almost all of the continuing appointment lecturers have had their layoff notices rescinded, and many of the other lecturers have been rehired. To get these jobs back, we had to expend a lot of time and resources on grievances, protests, and media campaigns, and it looks like we will have to continue this defense of our jobs and undergraduate education in the coming years. While we do not think we can legislate the UC into supporting non-tenured track faculty, we do intend to continue our efforts for promote equity and job security for all faculty members.


  1. Bob, I very much respect and admire your advocacy, and agree with almost everything you write. However, as a faculty member heavily involved in teaching, I take umbrage when you write "without consulting the people who are actually doing the teaching." Not only does that imply that senate faculty don't teach (much, or as much), it ignores the fact that on many committees dealing with undergrad education (like the Undergraduate Council at UCSB, and in our GE reform task forces), LSOEs have played crucial roles.

    However, you may well be right, at least in certain disciplines. I wonder whether you have data on the relative teaching loads of Senate faculty, LSOEs and lecturers at any given UC. "Student-weighted" would probably be more indicative, although "course weighted" might be interesting for comparison.

    Thanks again for keeping us informed and providing a pro-teaching, pro-student perspective.

  2. In reply to Harold Marcuse, I want to point out the simple fact that UC Senate faculty's teaching responsibilities are a smaller part of their jobs than lecturer's teaching responsibilities. Therefore, full-time Senate faculty actually do less teaching than full-time lecturers. But I don't actually think that was probably Bob's main point. The critical point he's making is that even or especially in disciplines where lecturers do all or most of the teaching (labor-intensive disciplines like writing and language instruction), lecturers have no voice in curricular decision making at all. Senate faculty make the critical decisions about these disciplines, and rarely consult the lecturers who teach the courses, despite the fact that those Senate faculty necessarily have relatively little expertise and experience, if any, in those fields. Similarly, writing program directors and chairs are not lecturers with expertise in writing instruction and administration; they are usually temporary appointments of Senate faculty with little or no knowledge of teaching writing. The real work of administering such programs is usually done by an assistant director--that is, a lecturer, who is paid far less for doing far more than the director. Lecturers are thus entirely disenfranchised and exploited by a very low glass ceiling in the UC system. I think it's time that Senate faculty begin to acknowledge the obvious injustice--and the terrible waste of expertise and talent--intrinsic to this system. Michelle Squitieri, Field Representative for UC-AFT Local 1474 (UCB)

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