Faculty union voices frustrations over stalled negotiations

AFT 149 continue to rally for changes to contracts


Marianne Kaletzky

SMCCCD staff members rally during an October 26 Board of Trustees meeting

Nearly nine months after initially presenting proposals to the San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD), AFT 1493, the union representing the district faculty, continues to press for changes, claiming the District has been ignoring them.

These proposals include one-month paid parental leave, extending health care to part-time instructors, and increasing the ability to work remotely.

Monica Malamud, AFT 1493 president, said that these proposals were first submitted to the District in February and that they have been continuously turned down or stalled at each turn.

“In some cases, the District has responded by citing existing law, but obviously, we do not need to negotiate what’s already in the law,” Malamud said.

Rika Yonemura-Fabian, the Skyline College chapter chair of the union, echoed these frustrations regarding the parental leave proposal.

“It’s just not good for students to see [parental] faculty member working exhausted, not to mention lack of sleep and lack of concentration that comes from exhaustion. But also, it kind of teaches our students that working without pay is normal. It’s normal to be exploited like this without sufficient support from the system,” she said.

On the issue of remote work, professors that teach online courses feel there isn’t a need to require a minimum of on-campus hours if they have their classes online.

Moreover, the union stresses that increasing the ability to work remotely would not affect students as students taking online classes generally prefer to meet during office hours online, particularly as the Covid-19 pandemic continues.

The vast majority of students are still choosing remote counseling appointments. The District needs to meet students where they are right now so that they can access the education we’re offering,” Marianne Kaletzky, AFT 1493 union, told The Skyline View. 

“When faculty spend four hours a day commuting because our salaries don’t allow us to live anywhere near San Mateo County, we can push as much as possible to be present for our students, but we just won’t have as much energy or be able to be available as much of the time. The same is true when part-time faculty, who are the majority of our faculty, are rushing off to teach at another institution so they can get health coverage through that job,” said Kaletzky.

According to the District fact book, roughly 40% of the District’s staff was either part-time or adjunct faculty. Under the current agreement, these staff members that are not full-time receive stipends but are not fully insured.

Malamud said that the District would actually save money if they gave part-time workers health insurance as the District is reimbursed by the state for this, whereas the District uses its funds to pay for the stipends.

Other frustrations mentioned were the high cost of living in the Bay Area as an educator, which echoes the current ongoing University of California graduate student worker strikes, and a significant reason for the current public K – 12 staffing shortages.

When reached for comment, Interim Director of Public Affairs Ana Pulido stated that the district “cannot share the details being discussed at the negotiation table.

“I can share that the District’s leadership values and recognizes the contributions made by our faculty to provide our students with a quality education,” Pulido added.

The union, however, feels that these proposals would directly help improve the equality of education students receive.

“We faculty are here because of you, our students. We want you to be successful. We want to be the best faculty we can be, and to accomplish that, faculty need to have good working conditions. This is what negotiations are about.” Malamud said.