The Faculty Association (FA) accused the Pasadena Area Community College District of forcing an unfair labor practice on faculty members for changing the start and end dates in the academic calendar at its Sept. 12 meeting.
After the cancellation of the winter intersession at the Board of Trustees Aug. 29 meeting last year, many members of the community argued it would have major repercussions in teaching and working conditions for faculty.
As a result of the calendar change to a three-semester system, which went into effect last year, the spring semester started in January instead of mid-February, and faculty members said they were given short notice of a major change in its schedule.
According to FA lawyer Lawrence Rosenswieg, the association had the right to file a Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) grievance for an unfair labor practice because of the calendar change, not because of the cancellation of a winter intersession.
“The issue at PERB was whether the District argued in good faith over the calendar,” Rosensweig said. “And under PERB precedent the district has the right to cancel classes including winter. They don’t have the right to change starting dates of faculty.”
According to Gail Cooper, the district’s General Counsel, the district and the FA were still in litigation, and the district could not comment on PERB.
“The parties are in the process of preparing closing briefs,” Cooper said.
Instructor Kay Yee explained that many other community colleges cancelled their winter intersessions, but they did not change their entire calendar.
“There are a number of other colleges that got rid of their winter but did not change the calendar, and when Prop 30 came through, they were able to implement the winter session,” Yee said.
The San Diego Community College District is among those that kept a winter intersession after the passage of Proposition 30.
Rosensweig explained that the District only had to prove that they changed the calendar in good faith. A defense the District could try to advance during PERB litigation would be that the calendar change was mandatory without a winter intersession in place.
“[The District] has the right to cancel the winter session. We had to change the dates for the spring semester, it was an inevitable result,” he said, explaining the district’s argument. “It’s obvious they changed the dates.”
Instructor Mary-Erin Crook asked what steps the faculty could move forward with if the PERB litigation goes in its favor.
“If they found in our favor could we have class action? Could we strike?” she asked.
Rosensweig explained that the outcomes of PERB being in favor of the FA would be that the District would have to act in good faith.
“You could strike. I’m not saying you should,” he said. “There is no educational justification.”