Adjunct Faculty Q & A

During the Spring 2014 PDA day on February 13, AFA hosted an information session to answer some of the most pressing questions from hourly instructors. A few of the usual questions popped up, but not surprisingly, during the session, many new questions arose. Some questions we were able to address in the moment, but others required more research to answer. In this Q & A, we hope to provide more information in response to these specific questions and concerns raised by adjunct faculty. Adjunct faculty can also find a variety of information and resources on the Of Interest to Adjuncts page on the AFA website.

Q 1: What are the dues for AFA membership and who pays? How can I tell if I am a member of AFA?
A: All faculty at SRJC (contract and adjunct) have a 0.74% payroll deduction from their gross wages, labelled as either SRJC ALL FACULTY (dues for AFA members) or AFA SERVICE FEE (fair share service fees for non-AFA members).  However, all faculty have the option to become members of AFA, which offers many benefits. As your collective bargaining agent, AFA serves you in the following ways:

In addition, as a participating AFA member you are entitled to the following:

To find out if you are a member of AFA, take a look at your paystub (see instructions for finding paystubs below). If you are a member, the dues deduction is described as SRJC ALL FACULTY, whereas the deduction will be called AFA SERVICE FEE if you are not currently a member of AFA.

Q 2: What does AFA do to advocate for faculty at the state level?
A: AFA is affiliated with two state-wide organizations that represent California faculty, the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges (FACCC) and the California Community College Independents (CCCI).

FACCC is an advocacy group that represents full- and part-time community college faculty. They interact directly with legislators to affect decisions made in Sacramento and sponsor legislation in support of California Community College (CCC) faculty and students. CCCI is an association of independent faculty unions representing over 12,000 community college faculty teaching over a half-million students.

Q 3: What does FACCC do for me as an adjunct faculty member?  CCCI?
The Faculty Association for California Community Colleges (FACCC) represents SRJC adjunct faculty in Sacramento.  FACCC is a professional membership association providing a focused voice in government soley for CCC faculty.  SRJC faculty partnered with FACCC in March 2012 to become a FACCC Contract Member Community College, strengthening FACCC's influence in Sacramento and raising advocacy awareness for our own SRJC faculty.  Representing 10,000 community college faculty, FACCC is a powerful voice for our interests in Sacramento and has a strong record of fighting for our part-time faculty. However, recognizing that more must be done to fight for CCC faculty at the State level, AFA partners with California Community College Independents (CCCI), a consortium of independent bargaining units in the CCC system. CCCI has hired a lobbyist who also works with the legislature to advocate for community college faculty.  AFA also needs the help of you, the local faculty, to join in advocacy efforts.  More information on AFA advocacy can be found on AFA's Advocacy webpage

Q 4: In many SRJC departments, evaluations are not happening in a timely fashion due to limited numbers of full-time faculty. Why are adjuncts not allowed to serve on evaluation teams?
A: While it is true that having adjunct faculty serve on evaluation teams could help ease the burden placed on contract faculty, AFA's position is that under the current evaluations procedure, issues related to conflict of interest preclude adjunct faculty from membership on evaluation teams. In addition, the inability of contract faculty to complete such tasks in a timely manner forces the District to confront the shortage of full-time faculty.

Q 5: How do we know what process is used to make hourly assignments?
A: Hourly Assignments are any assignments that remain available after all contract faculty assignments have been determined for the fall or spring semester. Hourly assignments also include both overload assignments for contract faculty and adjunct faculty assignments. All summer session assignments are hourly assignments. See the Article 16 Primer.

Each department has its own hourly assignment procedures. These procedures must conform to Article 16 of the AFA Contract and are posted on the AFA website (scroll half-way down the page to find the list of departments).

Q 6: Many adjunct instructors lost like load during the recent cutbacks. How can those instructors get load back?
A: Although the District and individual departments are not contractually required to return lost load to adjunct faculty who lost load in the cutbacks, AFA has asked departments to consider previous loads as SRJC begins to offer more classes, and to attempt to restore like load to faculty who were impacted by the recent cuts. The offer of hourly employment is extremely important, not just because it concerns your livelihood, but because it is also a matter of respect. Particularly, AFA believes that when the District restores load that adjunct faculty lost during the budget cuts, it acknowledges adjunct faculty as an integral part of the college.

Q 7: If I feel I have a potentially grievous issue, how should I contact AFA?
A: Each article in AFA's contract with the District has a specific focus; reading the appropriate article will help you to understand whether you have specific grounds for a contractual grievance.  If you think your contractual rights have been violated by the District, you should contact either the AFA office or the current Conciliation/Grievance Officer, Karen Frindell Teuscher.  You can find Karen's contact information on the AFA website.

Q 8: How can I review my paychecks to make sure they are correct?
A: The AFA website offers an abundance of information about your pay and how to locate and review your paychecks.

To access your paystub online, go to the HR section of the SRJC website, then, from the choices in the left column, select "Leave Balances/Pay Stubs." You will be prompted to log in using your Outlook username and password. Then a screen will appear listing your leave balances, and near the bottom of the page, you will find a dropdown menu you can use to select the particular pay stub you wish to view. The AFA website archive also includes a breakdown of a 2008 paystub showing the various line items, many of which are still relevant.

Q 9: What is AFA's position on adjuncts performing extra unpaid work (SLOs, Accreditation, Curriculum, etc.)?
A: AFA's position is guided by the principle that no one works for free. If you are being asked to perform duties that fall outside of the specifics of Article 17 of the Contract, you should contact AFA. AFA acknowledges that many contract and adjunct faculty regularly do more than is contractually required, which has led to exhaustion and frustration. The District must acknowledge that SRJC must hire more contract faculty to ease the workload. AFA has published this position several times over the last few years, as the financial crisis has been used by the District as an excuse to ask us all to do more for SRJC without additional pay:
AFA Update November 11, 2011: "Not in Article 17? Just say NO!"
AFA Update, May 7, 2009: "Just Do Your Job—No More, No Less!" [PDF]

In 2009, two faculty Dialogue pieces were published on this general topic:
AFA Dialogue, April 29, 2009: "Anchors Away...Or Give Them Pay" and "Faculty Work Outcomes: Building on a Legacy of Exhaustion" [PDF]

Q 10: When will AFA start to work on restoring adjunct pay that was cut due to the loss of categorical funding? Could it be restored from somewhere else (other than categorical funding)?
A: According to Article 26 of the Contract, the District is committed to restoring lost pay: "The District considers any faculty salary freeze or pay reduction to be a temporary, short-term concession to help the District manage a severe financial constraint; furthermore, if the pass-through of categorical adjunct pay, currently known as the 'Enhancement,' is funded fully or in part by the State, the mechanism outlined in paragraph 26.08.E will apply" (26.02.F), which means that the categorical money is automatically applied to the hourly salary schedules. Contract paragraph 26.08.E explains the current mechanisms for modifying salary schedules. The District's position—and the provision that faculty agreed to when we ratified this contract language in March 2002—is that the original "raises" due to the new categorical funds would stay in effect only as long as those categorical funds were available. When the State reduced the categoricals by approximately two-thirds at the beginning of the current recession, the corresponding enhancement to the hourly salaries was cut by the same amount; likewise, whatever the State restores to the categoricals will "pass through" to hourly salaries. That is, from the District's point of view, the lost pay will never be "restored" but the "enhancement" on the hourly salary schedules will be increased as the State increases the categoricals. Also, at the State level, where the decisions regarding categorical funds are made, many other groups are fighting for a slice of the educational funding pie. As pointed out in answer to Question 3 above, the Faculty Association for California Community Colleges (FACCC) and California Commuity College Independents (CCCI) are strong advocates for CCC part-time faculty in Sacramento and tirelessly work to educate legislators about the need for funding for the state's part-time community college faculty.

AFA also encourages you to participate in our statewide advocacy efforts.  Greater numbers of faculty actively participating in advocacy will put pressure on lawmakers to restore lost funding.  Contact your state legislators to urge for a restoration of categorical funding. More information about categorical funding and legislator contact information is available on AFA's Advocacy webpage.

Q 11: Why do only adjuncts pay for medical benefits (with 2% taken out of paychecks), even if they do not participate in the medical plans offered by SRJC?
A: For background on the Adjunct Medical Benefits Program (AMBP), see the Fall 2009 Adjunct Medical Benefits Program Initiative Results.

The District has no interest in paying for adjunct faculty medical benefits, but has agreed to participate in the AMBP as a way to offer some form of medical benefit to our adjunct faculty. When the plan began, State categorical funding existed to partially reimburse the District for its share of the costs (about 50% of the cost of the program). The article noted above explains what has happened in the intervening years: "The District has maintained adherence to the original negotiated agreement about the program (i.e., there would be no cost to the District other than administrative overhead costs). The Board of Trustees has refused to fund any portion of the AMBP premiums on an ongoing basis, and there has been no shift in this position over the last several years. In order to maintain the program in the face of steadily decreasing state reimbursement levels and dramatically increasing medical benefit costs, AFA has negotiated with the District each year to redirect funds from other sources (including the Adjunct Faculty District Activities Fund, the Sabbatical Leave Program, and COLA). These alternatives are now exhausted." The District portion of the AMBP is now entirely funded by the 2% across-the-board fee that all faculty with hourly assignments pay, whether or not they are participants in the AMBP. The future of the program is, of course, uncertain, due to the changes in health care coverage brought about via the Affordable Care Act. It remains to be seen how these changes will affect medical benefits for all faculty.

Q 12: How do instructors move up the Hourly Salary Schedule—do they automatically move up a step every 2 years they teach, or is movement based on load?
A: Hourly Salary Schedule step movement occurs by completing a certain number of semesters (depending on the step placement) at or above a certain full-time equivalent (FTE) percentage (again, depending on the step placement). Article 27 of the Contract covers salary schedule placement and movement, and section 27.03.B.2 states:

After initial placement on Step 1, step advancement from Step 1 to Step 2 is based solely on completing semester instructional loads of greater [than] 6.7 percent. After initial placement on Step 2 (effective Spring 2008), Step 3 (effective Spring 2010), or Step 4 (effective Spring 2012), step advancement is based solely on completing semester instructional loads of greater than 13 percent FTE, or on submission of documentation for additional step credit at each effective date identified in paragraph 27.03.A.2 and 3. Otherwise, each step beyond Step 2 requires completion of four (4) qualifying semesters. Step placement takes place at the start of each semester.

Again, the AFA website offers an explanation (Hourly Salary Schedule Advancement).

Q 13: Regarding evaluations for online classes, is the issue of bias/fairness being tracked by AFA?
A: AFA is aware that some faculty have specific concerns regarding bias and fairness in evaluations for online courses; many of us have seen instances of students abusing faculty in the "virtual" environment, writing things in emails that they would never say to us in person. The possibility that this incivility is creeping into evaluation of online faculty is a reasonable concern. However, because the contract ensures confidentiality in faculty evaluations, it is not possible to track and compare evaluation outcomes for online versus face-to-face classes. As our practices of teaching and evaluating online courses evolve, AFA will continue to seek ways to protect our faculty from verified biases present in online instruction. Of course, if you ever have a concern or question about your own evaluation, do not hesitate to contact the AFA Conciliation/Grievance Officer for a confidential consultation.

Q 14: How are evaluations for online classes different when it comes to student contact observation?
A: For the most part, evaluations of online instructional assignments should adhere to the same contractual standards and procedures as face-to-face evaluations. However, there are some obvious procedural differences pertinent to conducting student contact observations in an online course. For example:

  1. In a typical face-to-face class, the student contact observation is conducted during a single class session. Since there is no opportunity for a classroom visit in an online course, the question is often raised, "How much of an online course is subject to review in developing an Observation Report?" The answer is found in Article 14B (14B.11.B.1) of the contract: "Online observations will be limited to approximately one (1) week of online learning or one (1) module of teaching." Course design may vary considerably between instructors and courses. So, prior to conducting the observation, all parties to the evaluation process should establish a shared understanding in applying these criteria.
  2. The evaluation process is intended to be a collaborative and collegial exchange focused on the enhancement of professional performance. In face-to-face observations, "[e]ach team member who has committed to do an observation will contact the evaluee to schedule a mutually agreeable date and time to observe student contact-related duties during Weeks 6 through 11 of the evaluation semester (recommended timeline)." (14B.11.A.1) Likewise, for online observations, the particular "week" or "module" selected for observation should also be arranged by mutual agreement between the observer and the evaluee.
  3. As with face-to-face courses, it is imperative for everyone involved in online evaluations to maintain consistent and clear criteria throughout the process. To this end, both evaluees and members of the evaluation team may benefit from reviewing the Guidelines for Evaluating Online Instruction: Though use of this document is entirely optional, it was developed and approved by DTREC (the District Tenure Review and Evaluation Committee) in order to provide guidance to both evaluees and their evaluation teams in developing shared standards.

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