Faculty members at Pasadena City College told Pasadena Now that the efforts to change unions is about better contracts and representation.
Last month, a decertification petition was filed with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) by the California Federation of Teachers’ (CFT) for the established faculty unit at Pasadena Area Community College District.
The move could mean the end for the college’s current faculty union, the long-running Pasadena City College Faculty Association.
If the faculty votes to dissolve the association, they could join the CFT, the same union that members of the ArtCenter of College Design voted to join in June.
The California Federation of Teachers is a statewide union that represents education workers.
“Our faculty have been talking about wanting to affiliate with a more broad and connected union that can be more representative and transparent,” said Jeff Hupp, who works as part of the counseling faculty.
According to Hupp, faculty at other colleges represented by the CFT are very happy with their contracts.
“They’ve been able to win excellent contracts at other community colleges. And also the faculty that we know and talk to at other community colleges who are represented by CFT report that they’re very happy with their enforcement of the contract and their representation or grievances. We’re just looking to form a stronger group of faculty.”
Hupp said that faculty members would like to improve working conditions and be better positioned to be advocates for students.
“I definitely see lots of other contracts that are better than ours at other [campuses] represented by CFT,” Hupp said.
According to Adjunct Professor David Chavez, the CFT provides an opportunity for equal representation.
“In my participation in the Pasadena Faculty Association meetings I haven’t felt very represented,” said Adjunct Professor David Chavez.“I’m what’s called the freeway flyer. The current structure of our faculty association, one of the things we don’t have is equal representation on the executive board.”
“I’m hoping that this opportunity will allow us to be able to really reformat the leadership structure and the union structure of our union on campus to have a representative board that includes noninstructional faculty members, that has librarians and counselors, and also us as adjuncts, really be represented to make those democratic decisions.”
But the Faculty Association counters with claims of a track record of faculty support and points to its own record.
According to the association, the group has in the last nine years successfully negotiated a pay increase of approximately 25% for full-time faculty.
In that same time period, the association said, it also successfully negotiated a pay increase of just over 29% for part-time faculty.
According to an email distributed by the faculty association, fees will not stay local, and will triple as they got to lobbyists in Washington DC.
“You will be part of an organization made up of 1.7 million members,” the association said in an email. “Don’t settle for being a very small fish in a very big pond.”
Some members of the faculty were reportedly unhappy with PCCFA handling of the recent showdown with PCC administration over COVID-19 distance learning. In that scrum, faculty faced losing pay if they did not return to in-person learning, leaving many members unhappy.
“Well, there’s been a lot of discontent faculty and misrepresentation,” said Wendy Lucko, full-time automotive instructor. “So we’re just looking to have a transparent union with negotiating abilities and power, professional, pretty much a professional union. The faculty Association’s pretty much an independent union and there’s discrepancies with the contract and the way things are negotiated.
According to Lucko, the faculty association lacks transparency.
“There isn’t a negative when you need negotiating power, power and numbers. The ability to seek other schools and other contracts and to be unified. So there isn’t a downfall,” she said.
Lucko said the faculty is just looking for a good contract with no gray areas.
“You know, the fact that many faculty come on campus and they don’t even know that we have a union says something. Until there’s an issue that’s very severe, it doesn’t become apparent. So no one’s checking in with their members. So we need to move forward in a positive aspect. There’s a lot of negativity on campus right now, and we need to find a way to resolve all these problems.”