Author: Keith Ford, President
State Center Federation of Teachers
As a parent of teenage girls and a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, I am possibly over-familiar with The Hunger Games. There’s a line which gets repeated a few times in Catching Fire which is particularly relevant to two pieces of recent news. “Remember who the real enemy is.”
The first piece of news came from The Fresno Bee a few weeks back that linked to a database which revealed how much Central Valley school employees are paid. This information is new to The Bee but it has been around for years on the website TransparentCalifornia.org. The Bee article though has created unrest and, frankly, outrage among our fellow adjuncts. The troubling part of this is not the gross wage disparities, neither should it be the publication of the data. The troubling part is that the outrage has been directed primarily at our full-time colleagues.
Let’s be clear. Our full-time faculty make a lot of money. They have good benefits and retirement. And? None of that is worthy of outrage. The fact is our full-time faculty deserve to be paid as well as they are, if not better. The thing is, so do we adjuncts. Remember who the real enemy is. The real enemy is a forty-year campaign of corporatization which has nearly inverted the old ratio of part-time to full-time. The real enemy is a toothless Board of Governors which does not enforce any real progress on the FON. The real enemy is deficit-level funding of education, no matter the state of our economy.
More than 60% of the adjuncts in our District want eventually to obtain full-time employment in higher education. All of us would appreciate the protections and dignity afforded our tenure track employees. We cannot afford to make enemies of people whose departments we wish to join. We cannot make enemies of our most powerful advocates.
The other piece of news is even more revelatory: on August 2nd, the District sent us an email which is worth quoting in its entirety:
“You are a temporary employee pursuant to Education Code Section 87482.5 for the Fall 2019 session. Your salary will be paid from this salary range: $39.45 to $67.96 per contact hour.
As permitted by Education Code Section 87665, the District may terminate this employment in its sole discretion at any time. Your assignment, if any, will be consistent with the terms of the part-time faculty collective bargaining agreement.”
Factually, this is not inaccurate: this is reality for us and we know it. Tonally, well, I don’t think I need to analyze this. I’ll just leave it to Maya Angelou, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” The full-timers are not the real enemy; they are not the real fight. Join us in the real fight. Join us in effecting actual change. Join us at scftunion.org.
In the 70s, community colleges were comprised of 75% full-timers and 25% part-timers. Today, SCCCD employs 635 full-time faculty and over 1200 part-timers.