President's Message: Faculty Unity is Within Reach
Cooperation among the statewide organizations that represent faculty is at an all-time high. The results of this unified faculty voice in Sacramento have been stunning. With several challenges on the horizon, it is more important now than ever to keep this spirit of collaboration alive.
Five faculty groups have representatives on the Consultation Council, the eighteen member body that gives advice to the Chancellor and the Board of Governors on matters of policy and procedure. They are the Community College Association of CTA, the Community College Council of CFT, the California Community College Independents, the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges and the Academic Senate. Each union is represented by its president: Debra Landre of CCA/CTA, Tom Tyner of CCC/CFT, and Deborah Sweitzer of CCCI. Sam Weiss represents FACCC as its president, and Lee Haggerty and I represent the Senate on the Consultation Council. Together we make up COFO, the Council of Faculty Organizations, an informal affiliation that meets each month just before the Consultation Council.
Each of these leaders has contributed their expertise and energy both personally and organizationally to the best interests of faculty in the broadest sense. A few examples should suffice. The efforts of the Academic Senate to oppose performance based funding are well known. But less well known is that the hard-fought concessions during the last stages of the legislative process were through a strong alliance forged by Debra Landre of CCA/CTA. Without her influence in the Legislature, we could be looking at a college-by-college pay-for-performance system right now. Many of you are aware of the burgeoning effort to hire more full-time faculty. But few know of the tireless and relentless efforts of Tom Tyner of CCC/CFT to use Partnership for Excellence funds for full-time hires and produce a budget proposal for 1999-2000 that would pledge another $40 million to full-time hiring. Debra has used her resources to bring legal expertise to bear on the Education Code revision in which we are all involved. Tom has produced documentation on intellectual property rights contract language which has helped us all advocate for faculty ownership of works we create. Deborah Sweitzer has shepherded our efforts to meet the needs of part-time faculty, particularly through support of the COFO part-time workshops. Last year when the Chancellor attempted to put into legislation his own "Strategic Response for 2005" rather than promoting the Consultation Council plan "2005 Report," it was FACCC that led the way on stifling that bill. Sam Weiss has continued that strong FACCC leadership through her expertise on workforce preparation and economic development which are the subject of several bills this year. On all of these issues, the faculty groups were unified as a joint leadership team.
In my many years in leadership-as a FACCC member and, at various times, a member of locals of CCCI, CCA/CTA and CCC/CFT-I have never seen unity this high. Yes, many of us remember stressful times. CTA and FACCC have had their tumbles; so have the Senate and FACCC. And the competition of the unions for local representation has occasionally had a ripple effect at the state level. But those days are past. CTA/NEA and CFT/AFT continue to talk about unification. The Academic Senate has recently signed memoranda of understanding with both CCA and CCC to go along with our years-old memorandum of understanding with FACCC. The officers of the five organizations will hold a unity meeting this coming September.
But our task is far from over. The alliance forged among Debra, Tom, Deborah, Sam and myself must continue even as our organizations hold elections to decide the future board members and leaders of our organizations. It is essential that those leaders have the same commitment to collaboration as has been demonstrated in the last two years. There are, of course, those who are very proud of their own organization. I am very proud of the Academic Senate and what we have done. But we cannot champion our own organization over the common best interests of all faculty. The risks are too great. There are those outside of the faculty ranks who are, at this very moment, advocating for the demise of shared governance, for statewide collective bargaining, and for the abolishment of tenure. It will take all faculty working together to stem the tide.
So as you consider whom to select to represent you as the leadership of these groups, ask the tough questions of the hopefuls: "Do you support faculty unity? Will you collaborate with other faculty organizations for the common good?" We will stand or fall together!
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