By Sarah Carpenter with additional reporting by Victor Tence
Part-time community college instructors are asking the California Department of Finance for $100 million of the state budget. Of this amount, $75 million would be to further the conversion of part-time faculty to full-time, and $25 million would be to bolster part-time pay equity.
Part-time temporary instructors make up the majority of the faculty at California community colleges. Brad Balukjian, the Peralta Federation of Teachers part-time faculty representative, says they have the same credentials as full-time instructors, teach the same courses and are paid much less.
“You have to be a little more dedicated than maybe is fair,” Gary Hasbrouck, a part-time geography instructor at College of Alameda said, adding that he doesn’t get paid for the field trips he arranges for his class.
State law was written in 1988 to address the exploitation of part-time faculty in community colleges. The law recognized that it was less expensive to fill part-time positions than the full-time positions and stated that “the maintenance of a fully staffed, full-time faculty is an essential element of a coherent program.”
Assembly Bill 1725 set a standard that 75 percent of the hours of credit instruction at community colleges be taught by full-time instructors.
“The law is not enforced; the law is more of a goal,” said Tim Killikelly, president of the American Federation of Teachers 2121 Union. This goal has yet to be reached in California, although City College of San Francisco is one of the closest to meeting this standard each year.
Part-time temporary instructors currently make up the majority of the faculty at California community colleges, according to the California Federation of Teachers. In the Peralta Community College District, it’s 67 percent of faculty, and at City College of San Francisco, it’s about 60 percent.
Balukjian drafted a grid displaying the wage gaps between part-time and full-time instructors in the Peralta District. His idea of equity is part-timers and full-timers of the same experience level being paid the same wage for the instructional hours they perform.
The state law deems part-time instruction “appropriate and necessary,” especially in vocational schools where instructors may already have a job in the field and are teaching on the side.
Zev Kvitky, California Federation of Teachers field representative, said that the heavy reliance on part-time instruction is part of the “casualization of teaching.” He worries that teaching is now part of the gig economy, wherein people stitch together multiple jobs to be the equivalent of a full-time job.
For Balukjian, this is all too true. He teaches in multiple districts throughout the Bay Area, making him essentially a full-time teacher. But since he doesn’t teach full-time in a single district, he doesn’t get all the benefits. The health insurance he qualifies for in the Peralta District is three times as expensive as the Obamacare he qualifies for.
“It hurts students to have this problem,” Balukjian said. “Now two thirds of our faculty are demoralized and stressed out and having a hard time making a living which makes it harder for them to teach.”
The letters to the California Finance Department Director Michael Cohen are being circulated by the California Federation of Teachers. Balukjian has been asking faculty and students to sign copies of the letter and hopes to have an electronic version available soon. He plans to deliver the letters Dec. 15.
Governor Jerry Brown will present his 2018-2019 budget proposal on Jan. 10. Getting the budget to reflect the requested allotment toward part-time faculty wage equity “will be an uphill battle,” Bryan Ha, California Federation of Teachers legislative advocate, said.
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