When bargaining concluded in July between the Part-Time Faculty Association and the Allan Hancock College District, an important step was taken toward ending a parity disparity that exists between full and part-time faculty.
Parity disparity refers to the difference in what a full-time instructor is paid vs. what a part-time instructor is paid for the same work. A part-time instructor teaching History 101, for example, may be in a classroom next door to a full-time instructor teaching the same class, who is being paid more than two times as much and receiving health benefits and other job-related perks.
In 2001, the state Legislature, recognizing that this parity gap exists, passed the Budget Act Appropriation, providing funds to California community colleges, to be used exclusively for part-time teacher salaries. While these funds were not nearly enough to bridge the parity gap entirely, and they have been cut over the years, they still amounted to a significant increase in pay for part-time instructors at Hancock and other community colleges in California.
Because these were state funds, subject to renewal by the Legislature — and more than once fell under former Gov. Schwarzenegger’s red budget-cutting pen — the college administration was reluctant to place these funds on the regular salary schedule. Instead, they insisted on creating a shadow schedule that included the parity funds, but as a supplemental to regular salary, just in case the parity funds disappeared, which they threatened to do in the recent tough years.
At the Part-Time Faculty Association, we continued, year after year, to press for these funds to be made part of the salary schedule as a gesture toward bridging the parity divide. With the agreement signed in July and ratified by both sides in August, the administration did exactly that. After more than a decade of negotiation, the salary schedule now reflects the parity funds without any strings attached. The administration and the board of trustees have taken a major step and, more importantly, have shown good faith and the willingness to take a risk on behalf of the college’s part-time instructors. Both the administration and board are to be commended for being willing to do this.
Other highlights of the new collective bargaining agreement include five new columns on the salary schedule for non-credit instructors. Many non-credit instructors at Hancock College have master’s degrees or PhDs, but were paid at the same rate as someone holding a bachelor’s degree. Now, those who have advanced degrees will be paid at a rate that recognizes their extra education. Pay for office hours has been increased by 20 percent. Seniority rights for our part-time counselors have been strengthened. The procedure for evaluating part-time instructors, always excellent, has been made even better.
Even more significant than the changes made is the progress toward understanding and trust, not to mention the move toward parity. While there will always be differences of opinion between the district and a group such as the Part-Time Faculty Association, the level of trust has been made higher and that will enable us to resolve differences with our mutual interests in mind.
Part-time teachers at Hancock, while far from having achieved our goal of full parity, have moved along the road toward it. They can also look forward to better pay and working conditions as they continue to provide the same high quality of education to our students that they have provided in the past.
Mark James Miller is president of the Part-Time Faculty Association of Hancock College. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.