During finals week of Winter Quarter 2016, your federation held Q&A sessions at all four PCC campuses to talk about Multi-Year Contracts (MYCs). Below are the questions that came up repeatedly–and some answers. We have posted them here to support PT faculty in considering this new option for job security. But we are also available for more Qs & As. Please contact: PT grievance officer Shirlee Geiger (firstname.lastname@example.org) or PCCFFAP President Frank Goulard (email@example.com) with further questions.
Federation FAQs for MYCs
Q: I have assignment rights, but now I am told they are being suspended for the 2015-19 contract. Why did the Federation agree to suspend assignment rights?
A: Assignment Rights are still in effect across the district, with just a few caveats. Assignment rights can only be ended by a majority of our membership voting to ratify a contract that ends them.
Assignment rights date back to 1990, and have been the only kind of job security part-time faculty have had until this contract. They were a great innovation in 1990, but we are moving toward a time when even the minimal kind of guarantee they offer — to be assigned one class each term — will be undermined. Out of the approximately 1100 part-time faculty teaching in 2015-16, over 500 have earned assignment rights. In some departments most or nearly all part-time instructors have earned assignment rights. In a time of declining enrollment, not all assignment rights holders could get as many classes as they had previously, and honoring just the one class minimum was having the unintended effect of making everyone ineligible for health insurance coverage.
The 3-year MYCs guarantee employment at least at the same level as the minimum to become eligible for health insurance– 1.5 fte annually. (The same as 6 four-credit hour lecture classes in 12 months, fall through summer.) In those departments that get 3-year contracts, assignment rights will still guarantee an assignment of at least one class. But the “priority consideration” for assignments in addition will go to the 3-year contract holders. In departments where no 3-year contracts are created, assignment rights will remain in effect, unchanged.
Q: Can I apply for assignment Rights now?
A: No new assignment rights will be granted during this pilot. And the agreement was that in the next contract (in 2019), we will decide on one or the other form of job security — a return to assignment rights OR maintaining (and perhaps expanding) 3-year contracts. But administration has made clear that only one system of job security for part-time faculty is acceptable to them.
Q: I have really good relations with the other adjuncts who teach in my department. I don’t like the way we will have to compete against each other for the 3-year-contracts. Why jeopardize our good work relationships this way?
A: Good working relations among part-time colleagues is one of the things part-time instructors consistently report as a bright spot of their jobs. There are a couple of considerations that suggest the 3-year contracts disruption should be minimal. First, the 3-year contracts can’t go to anyone outside PCC — they can only go to instructors who have been here at least one year and have had an assessment. They are most likely to go to the most experienced part-time faculty. Looking at the numbers, 684 instructors were offered health insurance in 2015-2106, and the average annual teaching load for those people was 2.24 fte. This means that a guarantee of 1.5 fte to 100 of those instructors should not take classes away from other instructors in those disciplines.
Additionally, the deans of instruction built in another kind of safeguard against wrenching relationships. They decided on the distribution of the first 100 3-year contracts across the district by looking at high-enrollment departments, with a high ratio of part-time to full-time faculty. But they also looked for where they could create a 3-year contract without displacing part-time faculty who do not get one of the new contracts in this round.
Q: I understand that I can apply for 3-year-contracts at multiple campuses. But even though there are several jobs open in my discipline, each campus wants something different. Why can’t there be one uniform application process?
A: During negotiations, Deans of Instruction and Division Deans (who are ultimately responsible for hiring) argued that PCC is a really big district, with different needs in different places. In order to get support, they had to safeguard flexibility in the hiring process. A careful match between instructor skills and class needs is also a way of being able to guarantee employment into the future.
Q: If someone gets a 3-year contract, and it guarantees employment for (at least) the 1.5 FTE level, what happens if one of the assigned classes doesn’t have adequate enrollment? Will the 3-year-contract instructor have to bump another PT instructor?
A: The current plan is to front-load the class assignments into Fall and Winter terms, so that if a class is cancelled there, it can be made up in Spring or Summer terms. Additionally, there is an agreement to count non-instructional work toward health insurance eligibility, as an additional safeguard. As an absolute last resort, if neither of these options work, the 1.5 minimum fte could be made by bumping another part-time instructor. But the understanding is that department chairs and deans will work to avoid this.
Q: I have assignment rights at two campuses. If I accept an MYC at one campus, does that mean I have to give up teaching (and assignment rights) at the other campus?
A: If someone takes a 3-year contract at one campus, they can still teach at another campus, as long as they stay under the maximum PT Faculty workload limit. If enrollment drops at the 3-year contract campus, the obligation is to first meet Full-time workloads, and then second to meet 3-year contract obligations. Next in line for assignments are Part-time instructors with Assignment Rights (to get one class). Last to be considered would be Part-time instructors without Assignment Rights.
Q: You are granted a 3-year contract, and you teach for three years. Then what? Do you have to reapply? Is it like full-time temporary jobs and department chairs who want to share them around?
A: The contracts are designed to be renewed, absent performance issues. The only other reason a 3-year contract would not be renewed is a dramatic shift in enrollment. While these are not the same as tenure/continuous appointment positions, they offer a reason for instructors to stay at PCC, make connections, learn how to navigate the college’s many sub-systems, and continue to learn and grow as professionals. The ultimate beneficiaries of this new kind of administrative respect for and commitment to PCC educators will be our students.