Capitol Alert

AM Alert: California part-time faculty push for better pay, security

Dr. Sarah Strand, a part-time lecturer with a full-time day job, teaches a course about statistics in psychology at Sacramento State on Jan. 28, 2014.
Dr. Sarah Strand, a part-time lecturer with a full-time day job, teaches a course about statistics in psychology at Sacramento State on Jan. 28, 2014. The Sacramento Bee file

The proportion of part-time faculty teaching at California’s public colleges and universities is creeping up as the institutions look to cut costs. Long a feature of the community college system, adjuncts now account for more than half of instructors at California State University, too.

But those instructors are increasingly dissatisfied with what they argue are poor conditions: low pay and no benefits that force them to work multiple jobs, as well as a lack of office space, institutional support and job security as they are hired on a semester-by-semester basis. Following a proposal last fall from an adjunct professor at San José State University, they have planned a National Adjunct Walkout Day to bring their concerns to the public and lawmakers.

Among events across the state, the California Part-Time Faculty Association, representing about 40,000 community college instructors, will be at the Capitol for a protest and lobby day calling for improved working conditions, starting at 11 a.m. on the north steps.

Lecturers and graduate student instructors at University of California campuses in Berkeley, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz and San Diego are also holding rallies, teach-ins and marches throughout the day.

VIDEO: With Antonio Villaraigosa deciding not to run, Kamala Harris seems almost certain to be California's next senator, Dan Walters says.

GOOD TIMES: The California Legislature’s popularity hit an eight-year high in the latest Field Poll, and nearly half of voters think the state is moving in the right direction. Christopher Cadelago has more in his story today, including voters’ spending priorities for higher revenue this year and an audio interview with poll director Mark DiCamillo.

HOT SHOTS: Few issues considered by the Legislature in recent years have generated as much passion as the debate around vaccines. As anti-vaxxers launch a campaign against a bill that would eliminate their ability to opt out of required shots, supporters of the proposal are delivering more than 21,000 petition signatures to the office of state Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, one of the bill’s authors, noon in Room 2054 of the Capitol. Allen and Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, will be there to meet with advocates, including Carl Krawitt, the Marin County father of a young leukemia survivor, who became a national face for the effort when he pushed for required vaccinations at his son’s school.

PRIVATE LIVES: Following the first hearing yesterday of a new Assembly committee on privacy and consumer protection, Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, and Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, will introduce a package of legislation regulating body cameras worn by law enforcement, drones, encryption standards for personal data stored in the cloud and more, 11 a.m. on the south steps of the Capitol.

FULL HOUSE: Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins is finally tackling her personal policy priority. She’ll introduce a package of affordable housing bills, along with state Treasurer John Chiang, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Democratic Assembly members Ed Chau of Arcadia and David Chiu of San Francisco, 1 p.m. at the Chinatown Metro Apartments in Los Angeles.

COMMITTED: The Senate Environmental Quality Committee will hear from the leaders of California’s environmental protection, natural resources, health and human services, and food and agriculture agencies how climate change is impacting the state’s environment and public health, 10 a.m. in Room 3191 of the Capitol. The Senate and Assembly committees on governmental organization will hold a joint oversight hearing on California’s earthquake early warning system, 1:30 p.m. in Room 4202. After being tapped last year to direct the state Employment Development Department, Patrick Henning Jr. will appear before the Senate Rules Committee for confirmation, 1:30 p.m. in Room 113. The Senate Governance and Finance Committee and the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee will meet to examine how California might harness stormwater to reduce water costs and increase supply amid the ongoing drought, 2 p.m. in Room 3191.

TRAINING DAY: Voters aren’t feeling too bullish on the state’s proposed high-speed rail system, but Gov. Jerry Brown is pushing ahead with what has become one of his signature projects. A mock rail car will be parked on the west lawn of the Capitol for the next two days, with free tours offered by the Association for California High Speed Trains from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

CHANGING LANES: President Barack Obama has been making a major push for colleges to combat the problem of sexual assaults on campus, and California took a significant first step last fall with the passage of a law redefining consent at the university level. UC Berkeley, which has faced some criticism for how it handles sexual violence, will keep the conversation going with the two-day National Conference on Campus Sexual Assault and Violence at the DoubleTree Hotel in Berkeley. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, will speak today at 9:05 a.m. and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, will lead a session about state law at 2:15 p.m. State Auditor Elaine Howle will discuss her critical report on state university training and prevention efforts Thursday at 10:30 a.m., while UC President Janet Napolitano will close the conference, 7 p.m. at Wheeler Auditorium, in a conversation with Anita Hill, whom she represented during 1991 testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, in which Hill said she had been sexually harassed by Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

READ MORE: CSU using more part-time faculty than full-time professors

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.