February 21, 2023
Dear Peralta Community,
The Peralta Community College District has been engaged in negotiations since May 2022 with our faculty union, the Peralta Federation of Teachers (PFT). We want to provide the community with an update on these negotiations and provide some key context on a few important issues.
Paid Health Care for Part-Time Faculty
In recent weeks, one issue has risen to the forefront of negotiations – providing paid health care insurance coverage to part-time faculty with notification received on October 31, 2022. The District has made a proposal to PFT reflecting our interest and commitment to providing paid health insurance for part-time faculty and to seek reimbursement from the State for the cost of coverage. The District’s proposal is part of a comprehensive proposal covering a range of other important issues. These include areas related to assignments and class loads, areas that are vital to improving the student experience.
It’s important to understand the complexities associated with the part-time healthcare issue. While PFT characterizes this as “free money” from a state program, the reality is that state funding is not guaranteed to meet the needs of all the community colleges that are eligible to apply. If the District were to agree to pay for part-time faculty health insurance, and then does not receive full state reimbursement due to lack of funds this year or in future years, the District would be required to cover significant costs that have not been budgeted. In addition, the colleges will incur substantial costs to administer the benefit. The details of this transition are yet to be discussed, simply saying to accept the “free money” with no contingency plan would be short-sighted.
Historical Commitment to Faculty
The District has a long-standing commitment to our unions and to providing them with excellent benefits. That includes health and other benefits for our faculty that rival those of much larger (and much wealthier) institutions, including UC Berkeley and Stanford University.
In September 2022, PCCD negotiated a change from self-administered health benefits to using the statewide Self-Insured Schools of California (SISC). This provided us with substantial cost reductions for health benefits that we shared with faculty (including adjuncts) and staff in the form of a 10% across-the-board salary increase; Furthermore, in 2021, PCCD became one of a very few districts in California to offer Part-Time Faculty Parity Pay. This means we pay our adjunct faculty as much for instruction as we do our full-time faculty. As most classes statewide are taught by adjunct faculty, this decision in support of our faculty also means the Peralta Colleges are incurring a significant added cost of instruction over other community colleges in California.
The District is ready and willing to negotiate with PFT on the part-time faculty healthcare issue as part of negotiations on the full set of proposals we have put on the table, and that not have changed since the initial vetting in May 2022.
We hope that our PFT partners will come to the table ready to have these negotiations in good faith so that we can reach a new agreement by the end of April.
Jannett N Jackson, PhD