California is set to guarantee collective bargaining rights for adjunct faculty at community colleges with a law that supporters say is the first of its kind in the nation.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed Assembly Bill 1690 and Senate Bill 1379, mandating that state’s community college districts come to the negotiating table with part-time instructors to discuss reemployment and termination rules.
Faculty advocates nationwide have increasingly raised concerns about the working conditions of adjuncts, at-will instructors generally paid by the course and hired anew at the beginning of each term, who they say must string together classes at different schools to earn a meager living. More than two-thirds of California community college faculty are part-time, and they teach about half of all courses.
AB 1690, by Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside, originally would have guaranteed a workload for adjuncts who reach a certain level of seniority. But after the community colleges objected to proscriptive provisions that they said would have put them at a disadvantage in bargaining, the Legislature amended the measure with SB 1379, by Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, which merely requires that the negotiations occur.
“AB 1690 has shortcomings, but SB 1379 remedies those defects,” Brown wrote in his signing statement.
Only 32 of the state’s 72 community college districts currently offer some sort of reemployment right, such as guaranteed classes for senior instructors, according to Medina’s office.
“There are over two million students in California Community Colleges, and part-time faculty play a critical role in their success,” Medina said in a statement. “By improving employment practices for part-time faculty, this legislation will benefit both these dedicated educators and their students.:”