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FAQ - Union Information

About Federal Mediation

What role does the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) have in these labor negotiations?

Under federal law, the Labor-Management Act of 1947, FMCS provides mediation services in contract negotiation disputes between employers and their unionized employees. The FMCS appointed Commissioner Joel Schaffer to these negotiations in January 2015.

What is the specific function of Commissioner Schaffer?

Commissioner Schaffer is a member of the federal government and is very knowledgeable in collective bargaining. He is purely neutral and has no financial or other interest in helping one side, but is legally bound to assist both negotiating teams to reach a full collective bargaining agreement without the interruption of strikes or similar tactics.

The Commissioner neither decides what should be the terms of the agreement nor does this person decide what should be the proposals that either side will make. The Commissioner facilitates deadlock breaking, is skilled at overcoming communication hurdles, and makes suggestions based on his expertise with unions and collective bargaining.

Why did the college negotiation team ask that Commissioner Schaffer participate in the negotiations at this particular time?

In January 2015, the college negotiation team requested Local 1021’s cooperation toward negotiating a full agreement by May 2015. Local 1021 did not provide its full contract proposals until August 2015. On November 3, Local 1021 cancelled negotiation sessions in November and December that both sides had set by mutual agreement.

The college negotiation team believes the authority and skills of the federal government mediator are now necessary to get the negotiators back to the table to work on reaching a full collective bargaining agreement.

About the Negotiations Process

How do collective bargaining negotiations work?

Under federal law, negotiations must take place in face-to-face meetings, through in-person discussion of written contract proposals. Collective bargaining agreements are written by the negotiators with careful attention to language. This language is the legally binding blueprint for future operations.

Who are the people serving on the Local 1021 and CCA negotiation teams?

Local 1021’s negotiating team has seven persons: two from the union staff: Celeste Peterson and Jessica Lawless; and five unranked faculty members: Hugh Behm-Steinberg, Alisa Golden, Robert Hugel, Carol Manahan, and David Skolnick.

CCA’s negotiating team has five persons: Dean of Fine Arts Tammy Rae Carland; Director of Payroll and Benefits Amy Flaherty; Associate Provost Dr. Thomas O. Haakenson; Dean of Design Leslie Carol Roberts; and legal counsel for the college, Mike Vartain.

What is the authority of the negotiating team?

The CCA bargaining team engages in negotiations with SEIU Local 1021 to review the scope and potential impact of all contract proposals, and offers the college’s perspective on higher educational business operations as they pertain to the bargaining process. Final decisions about the bargaining agreement are contingent on approval by the CCA Board of Trustees with input from the president, senior management, and faculty governing bodies.

How long will negotiations take?

This is hard to predict, but there are reasons to think that this process will take as many as six or more additional months. This is not what the college wanted. When negotiations started in December 2014, the college negotiating team asked for a goal of finalizing the contract by May 2015.

The union was unable to meet that goal and submitted its main contract proposals to CCA in August of 2015. We note that other Bay Area colleges that started negotiations with SEIU Local 1021 before CCA still have not reached agreement on a contract.

Why might negotiations take as many as six or more months?

The union’s initial full contract proposal is 49 pages and includes 27 articles with detailed language. The union proposals ask the college to install many new and different operations, thereby greatly increasing the college’s operating costs. The expected time to negotiate is necessarily extended given the breadth of the union’s initial proposal.

SEIU maintains that CCA is stalling the negotiations. Can you comment?

While both sides submitted a handful of proposals during spring 2015, Local 1021 did not present its full slate of proposals until mid-August. Since that time, the CCA bargaining team has been working diligently to fully understand what Local 1021 is seeking through regular negotiation meetings.

The college has no interest in and sees no gain in prolonging the bargaining process. The contract can only be hammered out by the two teams working together in the negotiating room.

Does the union represent students?

The college trusts that all members of the CCA community have the best interests of the students and their education at heart. However, legally the union represents only the unranked faculty. By law, the union must not take on the obligation to “look out for” the interests of other elements of the community, such as undergraduate or graduate students, staff members, or ranked faculty. Efforts to lobby students or other community members into “taking sides” distracts from the delicacy of the negotiating process in the bargaining room.

About the Adjunct Faculty Union

What is SEIU?

SEIU is an initialism for Service Employees International Union. One of the largest unions in the country, SEIU represents approximately 2.1 million individuals in a variety of occupations, primarily including those employed in service industries such as nursing home workers, home-care workers, bus drivers, security officers, maintenance workers, and state and local government workers.

The SEIU affiliate for the Bay Area is Local 1021. Visit the SEIU website for more information.

Is SEIU the only union that represents adjunct faculty?

No. There are education-only labor organizations that collectively bargain to represent faculty in higher education, such as the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

At nearby University of San Francisco, the USF Faculty Association represents the adjunct faculty. This labor organization is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers AFL-CIO.

General Info About Unions

What does it mean to be represented by a union?

When a union represents a group of employees (a “bargaining unit”), the union has the sole and exclusive right to negotiate with the employer on the terms and conditions of employment for employees within that unit, including wages, benefits, and other working conditions.

Once a bargaining unit is exclusively represented by a union, the employee and employer are restricted from dealing directly with each other on these terms and conditions.

What are the requirements of union membership?

Union representation typically requires the payment of an initiation fee and monthly dues, or an equivalent service fee to the union, as a condition of employment.

If an employee belongs to a bargaining unit that is represented by a union, the employee does not usually have the ability to opt out of the requirement to pay dues.

What other colleges are represented by SEIU Local 1021?

The adjunct instructors at Mills College and San Francisco Art Institute have also voted to be represented by Local 1021.

What is the legal meaning of collective bargaining?

At CCA it would mean that the college would be legally required to negotiate for your terms of employment only with Local 1021, but not with you individually.