Skyline College is Under Violation of the “50% Law”


Ama Bayar | TSV Photographer

Katherine Harer, Vice President is seen at Union Solidarity hour on Feb. 5 building 6.

For over a year, the union has been fighting for workload equity, cost of health benefits, part-time pay parity, and their current working conditions.

In a Union Solidarity hour Wednesday Feb. 5., the members discussed the contract negotiations, and the language that the district has proposed around the binding arbitration is very limited. The faculty has already been working on an expired contract for over a year now.

Whereas some people argue that the union’s main concern is about pay cheques, Rika Yonemura-Fabian, Skyline College Chapter co-chair, believes it’s more than that.

“Pay is one of the items we are negotiating for, but definitely the biggest problem is workload,” Yonemura-Fabian said. “Faculty are asked to do an excessive amount of work outside of teaching, which deprives them of time to spend for teaching and in class, with students.”

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT1493) believes the fight is more about the working conditions of the faculty, since they are directly linked with the student learning outcomes. Skyline College’s faculty consists of 70% of adjunct faculty.

“So, most of the professors that you have in your classes are probably part-time,” said Timothy Rottenburg, an adjunct faculty member himself. “The working conditions on campus greatly affect how prepared the teachers are when they come into class that day. If teachers have been asked to take on a lot of additional workload and complete a bunch of additional paperwork for their teaching assignment, and every adjunct faculty member usually works at different community colleges as well, too.

And when each community college asks them to do extra amounts of work on top of their teaching assignment, it just makes it less realistic for faculty members to provide quality instruction for students.”

Skyline College is under violation of the “50% Law.” Since 1961, California state law has required each community college district to allocate no less than 50% of its general fund expenditures to “salaries of classroom instructors”, under a formula based upon the current expense of education.

This requirement, commonly referred to as the “50% Law”, is the subject of Assembly Bill (AB) 806, as proposed by assembly member Scott Wilk in early 2013. The current standing of the school’s allocation is at 42.4%, according to AFT1493. They urged the district to support their part-time pay parity proposal, which would establish parity at 85% — whereas the numbers AFT1493 received from the district were increasing part-time from 60% to 85%, at a cost of approximately $10.6 million, which would increase the district’s compliance by approximately 6.8% — which, still, is less than 50% even after the increase. In the 2018/19 academic year SMCCD was at 42.24%.

Members of AFT1493 hope immediate resolutions are cast to end exploitation experienced by professors instructing around the San Mateo Community College District (SMCCD).

The union members believe that happy teachers provide happiness to students, thus promoting a happy environment; an unhappy environment, however, affects the school’s atmosphere entirely.