Improving on 3-year contracts

The first 3-year contracts were awarded last spring, and the Federation held 8 meetings — 2 on each campus — to gather thoughts and responses on the process from members who either applied or decided not to apply. Representatives from human resources attended at least one meeting on each campus, to listen to what was presented.

Thank you to all who attended, and the many more who emailed in their ideas for inclusion. The following document summarizes what we heard. It was presented in Fall 2016 to administrators in charge of the roll-out of the second set of contracts.

Three-Year Contract (TYC) / Multi-Year Contract (MYC) Feedback Sessions

May-June 2016

Themes (in rough order of how often similar comments were made)

  • Inconsistency in the application process across the district — especially for the same disciplines — feels very unfair and increases distrust.
  • With or without a standardized application process, we heard people say they would like a common hiring rubric, to be shared in advance, to make the process transparent. Many instructors have learned that providing grading rubrics to students decreases anxiety and increases quality, and believe a hiring rubric would work the same way.
  • The positions should be announced earlier, with a longer period to apply
  • Some departments are willing to hire from other campuses, and others are not; this makes uneven opportunities and could push good teachers out
  • Department chairs and deans should be sure to provide affirmations to valued teachers who DON’T get the 3-year contracts and take this as an opportunity to express appreciation

 

Additional comments:

  • There should be more clarity about the parameters of the contract for both faculty and administrators. Here is a quote: “One interview question was about what other things I would contribute to the dept. if I received a contract, and I was somewhat taken aback as I understand that the contract does not mandate that MYC faculty put in additional time on unpaid projects and meetings except for the addition of the two office hours.” Another instructor was told there were new mandatory meetings, which would be uncompensated, but the hours were covered by the new mandated office hours.
  • Instructors reported being told by deans and department chairs that aspects of the contracts were up to the union, and to ask union representatives — only to be told by union leaders that these same aspects were up to administration.

 

 

Responses to first question: How do you think the 3-year contracts will change your connection to PCC?

  • Now I feel like even more of an outsider to the institution
  • I have started to look elsewhere — dept chair told people that after the three-year contracts are awarded, there will likely not be enough classes left for anyone who didn’t get one.
  • Stressing about the application process compromised “my mojo in the classroom.”
  • I have mixed feelings about applying for job they are currently and have been doing — why aren’t the folder full of good evaluations from students AND dept chairs/deans worth anything?
  • These contracts create even more of a “caste system” just at a time when PCC should be fostering more collaboration among faculty
  • Connection to peers and work friends is now strained or has negative change — I hated competing against colleagues I know and value
  • I am a recipient of 3-Year Contract and I am generally pleased with the contract; no negative change in connection at this point.
  • “Tragic results” for a small department
  • Many questions if 3-year contracts can be rescinded (response: no, not until 2019 contract negotiated)
  • “I don’t know who to trust”, or what I can, cannot, or should not say.
  • I received a 3-year contract, and it is the first term working at PCC I won’t have stomach trouble as I check enrollment to see if my classes will fill.
  • This has not changed connection to PCC even though did not receive 3-year contracts, due to feeling that their dept. have good experienced 3-year contract recipients and they are all professional
  • What happened to “students first?”
  • Some instructors talked about or decided “let’s not apply at all” in an effort not to do harm to others in dept.
  • We wish it was clearer to membership what went on in negotiations — that the original proposal from the Executive Council had seniority as a qualifying condition for eligibility
  • I am job hunting now, since it is not clear I can finish career here (after 17 years)
  • My relationship with my chair is disintegrating, and relationships with peers are now rocky
  • It is hard to keep going with students when you don’t get respect or praise from supervisors
  • If I had a contract, I would speak more freely, be more vocal in complaints
  • I like my job, but I don’t like the conditions under which I teach.
  • How can we get administration to see the value of giving 3-year contracts to long time PT?
  • It feels different at different campuses and departments; I feel appreciated at SYL, but not at SE (although I like the students at SE a lot)
  • It is sad that there is a loss of connection among faculty (teaching since 1982), and a sharp drop in morale
  • Chairs are not advocating for teachers

 

 

Answers to second question: Is there something you think Administrators should know as they think about how to continue the implementation of these contracts?

  • Need transparency — if people don’t know what makes an applicant attractive, there is no way to prepare for the application process
  • If I was in charge, I would mandate that chairs or division deans schedule meetings with people who applied and didn’t get a 3-year contract, to talk about how PCC can better support them as professionals.
  • Why don’t we apply the same thing to teachers that we all KNOW works to keep students motivated? We know what works… and it isn’t rejection, with no explanation of how to improve.
  • No seniority? Only 1 year teaching at PCC?
  • Each campus, departments had different process, need to have equitable processes
  • Short turn around, details announced via email March 11th, due April 1st (during finals, grading, spring “break”?, prep and start of next term); could be why lots of good teachers didn’t even apply
  • The complicated process is supposed to be so “best teachers are in the classroom” — but without understanding the decision making process, it feels like a kind of favoritism.
  • Took too long to learn of decision
  • Would rather authentic class observations, rather than fake class demos
  • Dismayed that faculty from other campuses were hired
  • “Domino effect” as a result of those hired from other campuses; individuals not getting any classes at their campus now, some essentially “laid off”
  • Say what you want and “stick with the criteria”
  • ***Question in process regarding: “Are you?: Under 40, Over 40, Decline to Answer”*** Important note: Can that question be asked?  Department and campus known.
  • When there is new administration, dean, etc, how does that impact the process, decisions, etc?
  • Transparency: “How many people applied” per dept, campus?
    • Did they all meet the criteria? If so, then how are 3-year contracts decided?  Any consideration to seniority?

 

Process variations:

  • Based only on cover letter and resume/CV
  • Included student or course evaluations
  • No in-person interview, only phone interview + no teaching demo

 

Didn’t apply because:

  • Need the summer off for other work commitments
  • Close to retirement
  • Didn’t want to compete with others
  • Shouldn’t have to do apply for the job they already do

 

Assignment Rights:

  • Dept couldn’t find completed paperwork for assignment rights.

 

Benefits:

  • As 3-year contract recipient, happy to finally have consistent health-care to cover self and family (rather than pay open market health insurance at $5000/yr
    • Would like to have college authorize opportunities that come through the Affordable Care Act for public service and education, such as discount on student loans for self and dependents

 

Quotes:

  • “I should feel good about getting one (3-year contract), but I don’t. I now will likely work 14 hour days (a split shift).
  • 3-year contract recipient felt like “I had to do a dog and pony show” even though committee knows what this specific faculty member does and does it well.
  • “Fallout of this process is tremendous…has led to unintended outcomes.”
  • Sends the message that “some are more valued than others.”
  • “We need to feel hopeful”, but there are not enough 3-year contracts for everyone.
  • Felt like it was about “who can write the best cover letter.”
  • “I am totally committed to teaching. This is what I do.”
  • “Now I need to change hours to allow our new 3-year contract recipient to teach elsewhere at a different college as well.”
  • 3-year contract recipient who is also self-employed: “Administrator asked, ‘How will you handle your multiple jobs?’ Recipient of 3-year contract stated, ‘I’ve been doing it all this time.’”
  • “Is this really addressing the needs and concerns of PT faculty and membership?”
  • “I don’t want to take a class that someone else is good at (or has specialty) in.”

 

(We also asked a question about struggling with demoralization, but will not be sharing those responses with administration.)