AFA

 

Hourly Assignments:
An Article 16 Primer for Faculty and Departments

 

Scheduling Season, Hourly Assignments, and Article 16
Departments go through the process of developing recommendations for hourly assignments three times a year—for fall, spring, and summer terms. It's a complicated process, and, because we're talking about people's livelihoods, it's important to get it right. To help faculty and departments with this process, every semester AFA publishes information on Article 16, which is the section of the Contract that defines hourly assignments. This Update piece is meant to function as a crib sheet, or SparkNotes: that is, as a helpful reference tool to augment Article 16. AFA recommends that every faculty member who performs an hourly assignment and everyone involved in the process of developing hourly assignment recommendations become familiar with the actual language of Article 16. (Click here to read Article 16.) Also, as one of the provisions of Article 16 is that departments must create their own hourly assignment procedures, we recommend that faculty take the time to carefully review those procedures, which are available here.

If you're an hourly faculty member with questions about your contractual rights, or a department chair or program coordinator with questions about how to make hourly assignments consistent with Article 16, don't hesitate to contact AFA at afa@santarosa.edu or 527-4731.

This piece is divided into two sections: one, a timeline that describes the basic steps of the process of making hourly assignments; and two, a FAQs section that attempts to explain, as clearly as possible, the basic parameters of Article 16 that are essential to understanding how assignments are made and what each hourly faculty member is entitled to.

The timeline

From the time the departments receive Proof 1 of the schedule to the time the schedule is published on the Web, there are a number of tasks related to making hourly assignments for the upcoming term. These tasks typically occur in this order:

• Departments send a query to faculty members to find out whether they're interested in an hourly assignment during the upcoming term. This query is sent via the District's email system, so it's crucial that all faculty members who are interested in an hourly assignment check their SRJC email accounts so that they don't miss this communication from their department.

• Faculty members respond to the query by the deadline.

• Departments, in consultation with their supervising administrators, recommend hourly assignments for the upcoming term. In these constrained budgetary times, it is worth repeating that the District has authority over the schedule of classes, and it is the District, not the departments, that will determine the number of courses and types of services that each department may offer.

• To assist chairs or other designated faculty with the task of developing hourly assignment recommendations, departments may ask faculty members who are interested in an assignment during the upcoming term to provide parameters for that assignment (stating which days of the week they are available, for example) or a wish list. However, there is no guarantee of particular class assignments or assignments on particular days/times. Again, it is important that faculty members watch for such communications from their departments and return forms by the stated deadline.

• Departments determine staffing recommendations. Some departments use a sign-up method for determining these recommendations, and other departments have a designated person (for example, the chair) who makes staffing recommendations. The "load" value of these recommendations—that is, how much work each faculty member gets—is determined by section 16.04 of the Contract. Since this part of the process is one of the most sensitive aspects of staffing and one that many faculty members have questions about, we've included more information below, in a question-and-answer format.

• Departments submit the assignment recommendations to the supervising administrators for review and approval.

• The District publishes the schedule of classes; the assignment recommendations are considered "reviewed and approved" when they are published electronically as part of the schedule of classes.

• Chairs formally notify department faculty when the electronic publication of the schedule occurs, and the online publication of the schedule is considered the official notification of the offer of the assignment.

Frequently Asked Questions—and Answers

1. My department used to send a letter to my house to ask me whether I wanted an assignment each semester. Why is it now sending this query to my email account?
Your department is required to ask you whether you are interested in an hourly assignment for each term that you are entitled to an assignment, and the Contract specifies that this query be sent to your SRJC email account. This is because email is now the District's official method of communication. You are required to respond to this email query if you want an assignment. Failure to check your email and respond to such queries by stated deadlines may prevent you from receiving an assignment for the term in question.

2. What is "assignment priority"?
After you have been employed as an adjunct faculty member for five semesters and have had two satisfactory evaluations, you earn what is called "assignment priority." Starting in your sixth semester, you will have certain reassignment rights and begin to establish like-load rights that you don't have during the probationary period.

3. What is "length of service" and how is it calculated?

Your length of service expresses the length of time you have been performing paid service in a department, and it is determined by your most recent hire date in that department. For most faculty members, this is the date they first performed a paid assignment in their departments, but a lengthy break in service can result in changes to your hire date and placement on the length-of-service list (see question number 10, below). If you have assignments in more than one department, you may have a separate hire date for each department.

Your most recent hire date also determines your position on the length-of-service list. The length-of-service list is organized based on your departmental date of hire—that is, faculty who have had assignments in the department for years and years without a break of more than two semesters are at the top of the list, and those who have recently finished their probationary period are at or near the bottom of the list.

4. Why do some departments use sign-ups to determine assignments, while in other departments the chair determines who gets each class?

Section 16.03 of the Contract gives each department the flexibility to decide which method of making hourly assignments works best. This provision respects departments' needs to assign classes in a way that best serves students and programs, as well as their history and unique culture. However, these methods cannot supersede the Contract or undermine faculty's contractual rights. Your department is required to have a written set of procedures defining its method of making hourly assignments, which have to be approved by the office of Academic Affairs and reviewed by AFA for compliance with the Contract. It is important that all faculty members who perform hourly assignments inform themselves about and comply with their department procedures. (Click here for your department's hourly assignment procedures.) Failure to comply with department procedures—for example, failure to show up to sign-ups—can result in a loss of load for the upcoming term. It is also critical that departments follow these procedures. If you have questions or believe that your department is not complying with the provisions of its hourly assignment procedures, contact the AFA office at afa@santarosa.edu or 527-4731.

5. How does my department determine which hourly faculty members get which classes or assignments?

There are two answers to this question. One, the Contract defines specific rules that apply in all instances of recommending hourly assignments during fall and spring semesters. Two, as noted above, the Contract also allows departments to develop certain customized procedures for recommending assignments, as long as these department procedures conform to the basic rules of the Contract. A department's procedures for making hourly assignment recommendations for summer session may differ from its procedures for fall and spring semesters; however, unless a department specifies different procedures for summer in writing, it must follow the same procedures for recommending summer assignments that it uses for fall and spring.

A cornerstone principle of Article 16 of the Contract is that, during fall and spring semesters, offers of assignments to faculty with assignment priority must be made with respect to length of service. Also, in order of their departmental date of hire, everyone with assignment priority must get an initial offer of their like load up to 40%. If there is still more load available after that, then faculty members with assignment priority whose like load is above 40% must receive, in order of their departmental date of hire, an offer of load to meet that like load in excess of 40%. Unless a department specifies different procedures for summer in writing, the principles of assignment priority and length-of-service also apply to summer assignments.

Load remaining after a department has satisfied the like-load requirements of all its faculty members with assignment priority constitutes "new and increased" assignments. In determining staffing recommendations for such new and increased assignments, the department may recommend the faculty member it deems "most suitable." (See question number 11, below.)

6. What's "load"?

"Load" is the unit that the District uses to measure how much each hour of any given assignment type is worth, and it is expressed as a percentage. Each type of assignment has a designated load factor. When you add up the load value of all your assignments in a single term, you have your total load for the term. Article 32 of the Contract includes a load factor chart that you can use to calculate the load for each of your assignments. (To see the load factor chart, click here.)

7. What is "like load"?
With some qualifications, the amount of load to which you are entitled each semester is determined by the amount of load you had the previous like semester. (The term "like semester" here means that "fall is like fall" and "spring is like spring.") This load that carries over from one like semester to the next is called "like load." So your assignment for an upcoming fall semester is based on your load for the previous fall semester, and likewise for the spring semester. Unless a department specifies different procedures for summer in writing, the principle of like load also applies to summer assignments.

There are some exceptions to this. For example, if part of your load for the previous like semester was a class that was available on a temporary basis (see question number 8, below), that part of the load won't be used to determine your load for the upcoming term.

8. Do all assignments count toward my like load?

No, not all assignments count toward like load. The reason for this is that the contractual provisions regarding like load are essentially a commitment on the part of the District to offer you work, but there may be times when the District can offer you an assignment for one semester or term but can't commit to offering you the equivalent load in the future. For example, if a regular faculty member gets reassigned time to work on a short-term project on campus, she may give up a class which is subsequently assigned to an hourly colleague. But the District still has a contractual obligation to offer future load to the faculty member who got the reassigned time, and when the funding for the reassigned time disappears, the load in question goes back to the original faculty member. In other words, the District can't, on the basis of that one class or assignment, make promises of future work to two different faculty members. So some load is identified as temporary and does not count toward like load.

9. Is my like load stable over time, or can it change?
The answer is yes and no. If you're high on your department's length-of-service list and you don't take any semesters off, you're more likely to get your like load semester after semester without any glitches. But since the amount of load that faculty members are actually offered is determined in part by the availability of classes and other assignments—or because an hourly faculty member may not be able to accept an assignment offer, hourly loads can go up and down over time. Because of recent budget cuts, the District's schedule of classes and services has been pared down, which means that there haven't always been enough assignments available to meet all like loads. If your like load for one fall (or spring) is 40% but the next fall (or spring) the District has only 20% worth of load to offer you, then 20% will become your new like load and will determine what your department can initially offer you the next fall (or spring) semester.

On the other hand, sometimes there are more classes and other types of assignments to offer, and faculty members' loads—and, therefore, their like loads—may increase. This can happen when the District is in a growth mode and trying to increase enrollments, or when contract faculty—or hourly faculty who are above you on the length-of-service list—retire.

10. What happens if I don't get an assignment, or if I take a break?

If you don't have an assignment for one or two consecutive semesters, you remain on the length-of-service list, and you maintain both your position on that list and your right to the offer of an assignment in future semesters. Not having an assignment during any given semester will, however, give you a like load of zero for that semester, which means that your initial offer in a future like semester will be one class (typically a 20% load if available, or the most previous like load, whichever is less).

If you do not have an assignment for more than two consecutive semesters (fall, spring, fall; or spring, fall, spring), you will lose assignment priority and your place on the length-of-service list. This is true regardless of your reason for not having an assignment—that is, it doesn't matter whether you wanted work and didn't get it, or decided to take a few semesters off. (Note that if you work only during the summer, and you perform an assignment every summer, you maintain your assignment priority and your position on the length-of-service list.)

In February 2012, AFA and the District signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) that lengthens the time that an instructor may remain in the adjunct faculty pool without performing paid service—that is, without having an assignment. Formerly, an adjunct faculty member who did not perform paid service in a department for more than two years lost his or her position in the pool and was required to reapply, be rehired, and begin a new probationary period. The February 2012 MOU allows an adjunct faculty member who has not performed paid service in a department to remain in the pool for up to four years from the date of last paid service. If the faculty member receives a new assignment and performs paid service within that four-year window, the date that she or he returns to paid service is the new, most recent, date of hire that determines placement on the length-of-service list. After a period of more than four years without an assignment, the adjunct faculty member must reapply to the department's adjunct faculty pool. To read the MOU, click here.

11. I have assignment priority, and others who are below me on the length-of-service list have more load than I do. How can I increase my load—and, therefore, my like load?

In order for a faculty member to get more load than she has had in past terms, there would need to be assignments left over after all faculty members with assignment priority have received offers of like load. In this situation—that is, when everyone's like load has been met and there are still unstaffed classes and/or other assignments available—the department has discretion in recommending how those remaining hourly assignments will be staffed. For these "new or increased assignments," the Contract allows the department to recommend the faculty member who is "most suitable." This person might be an adjunct faculty member with or without assignment priority, or a contract faculty member. If the assignment is not specifically designated as temporary and it goes to someone with assignment priority, the assignment will count toward like load.

12. Is it true that a provision in the Tentative Agreement that faculty approved in May 2011 restricts the amount of overload that departments can initially offer to contract faculty?

Yes. For a slight cost savings in faculty payroll, AFA and the District agreed that initial offers of hourly assignments to contract faculty working on an hourly basis will be limited to 20%, even if their hourly like load is higher. Once all adjunct faculty members with assignment priority in a department have been offered their initial like loads up to 40% (or as close as possible), any remaining load may be assigned to contract faculty, increasing their overload beyond 20%. This reduction in overload pertains to assignments made for Spring 2012 and Fall 2012.

 

 

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