Faculty members at Pasadena City College will receive ballots starting Thursday to choose their preferred union for representation.
The ballots are being issued by the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) after the California Federation of Teachers called for a Decertification Vote against the longstanding PCC Faculty Association.
All faculty members – whether PCC Faculty Association members or not – are being encouraged to vote.
In late July, an email petition circulated among faculty members calling to dissolve the independent Faculty Association so faculty could join the CFT, a state-wide union organization affiliated with the 1.7-million member American Federation of Teachers.
In response, the Faculty Association released a statement defending the FA, saying the has “a long history of advocating on behalf of your working conditions.”
“Your PCC Faculty Association is an independent union which means we do not answer to any state-wide organization or their directives. Instead, we have the ability to focus exclusively on PCC Faculty needs and concerns (Teaching, Non-Teaching, Full Timer, Part Timer),” the statement read.
A sample ballot obtained by Pasadena Now shows that the union vote conducted by PERB will be a secret ballot, which means individual ballots will not be signed by the participating faculty.
Executed ballots must be received by PERB by Thursday, October 27 at 5 p.m., in order to be counted.
All full- and part-time credit and non-credit faculty, counselors, librarians, learning center coordinators, physicians, nurses, and psychiatrists at PCC will be eligible to vote.
Two PCC professors spoke to Pasadena Now on the condition of anonymity about their preferred choices and the mood of the faculty ahead of the vote.
One said the vote seems to have been organized informally during the summer by a group largely drawn from the part-time faculty.
“I am not aware of any public discussion of reasons for a new union,” one professor said. “I am aware of discontent about inadequate health care benefits for adjunct faculty; this may be the major issue for many who want to overthrow the existing order. Some others seem to want to dissolve the union in order to replace the current union officers, despite the fact that most have been re-elected repeatedly.”
The other professor said the Faculty Association has been hosting meetings more frequently after the email petition started circulating, and attendance at these meetings has been significant.
“I just don’t know if that means that the faculty are supporting the FA or they’re just curious,” the professor explained. “I personally haven’t gone to any CFT session, but I’ve decided I will vote for CFT. I think it’s time that we need a change.”
The professor said one of the major complaints about the current union is that it’s been very “insular.”
“There are elections every year but it’s very hard to get elected to one of those spots because they affect other faculties,” the professor added. “They endorse candidates that they want to come in and if they’re not on their endorsement list, they don’t support new people from getting involved in the union. So, I think this would be a good chance to get more people involved in the union.”
The professor also said the Faculty Association has not been very transparent in terms of its financial affairs, and does not usually ask the general membership when the officers decide to spend their money.
On the PCC FA website, Faculty Association president, Mark Whitworth continues to advocate for PCC teachers to support the FA.
“If CFT becomes the sole bargaining unit on campus, we would lose our autonomy and the ability to advocate for our campus-wide and local faculty concerns,” Whitworth wrote.