Attorneys evaluating proposed 12-month contracts for faculty

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Chancellor Bruce Leslie asks faculty to please stop referring to the board as the “death star” during a special Faculty Senate Q and A meeting Wednesday in visual arts. The death star, as depicted in Faculty Senate president Dawn Elmore’s shirt, is a fictional weapon with the ability to blow up entire planets used by the Empire against the Republic in the Star Wars movies.  Photo by Neven Jones

Chancellor Bruce Leslie asks faculty to please stop referring to the board as the “death star” during a special Faculty Senate Q and A meeting Wednesday in visual arts. The death star, as depicted in Faculty Senate president Dawn Elmore’s shirt, is a fictional weapon with the ability to blow up entire planets used by the Empire against the Republic in the Star Wars movies. Photo by Neven Jones

Chancellor says district has the right to require faculty to work year round.

By Bleah B. Patterson

bpatterson13@student.alamo.edu

The district has asked staff attorneys to make sure a 12-month contract for faculty is legal, Chancellor Bruce Leslie said Wednesday in a Faculty Senate meeting.

“We’ve passed it on to our lawyers to make sure we were within our rights,” he said. “Until then, we wait.”

He was responding to a question about a memo sent to college presidents, which would require some faculty, such as counselors and nursing faculty, to

Celita DeArmond, reference and distance librarian raises her hand to ask a question during a special Faculty Senate Q and A with Chancellor Bruce Leslie Wednesday in visual arts. DeArmond told Leslie she reviewed a video of 2012 board meeting where the board approved summer work to be voluntary. She said the new policy might be going against districts will.  Photo by Neven Jones

Celita DeArmond, reference and distance librarian raises her hand to ask a question during a special Faculty Senate Q and A with Chancellor Bruce Leslie Wednesday in visual arts. DeArmond told Leslie she reviewed a video of 2012 board meeting where the board approved summer work to be voluntary. She said the new policy might be going against districts will. Photo by Neven Jones

work 12 months, with a reduction in pay for the summer.

The memo released in August read that some faculty may soon be asked to sign a 12-month contract instead of the current nine-month contact, and receive adjunct pay plus 30 percent as compensation for the summer months.

Summer compensation is less than faculty’s nine-month salary, and the memo read that faculty who did not sign the contract would be terminated.

The memo was unsigned, but the presidents, vice chancellors and chancellor asked Human Resources to write and distribute it.

“The memo was written to compile the thoughts we (the vice chancellors and I) were having and just notify faculty immediately,” Leslie said.

Later in the meeting, he said he had not seen the memo before it went out.

Leslie said he sympathized with faculty’s outrage, and, in retrospect, the letter should have been less inflammatory.

“I’m sorry that you had to feel that way,” he said. “Hopefully, now we can clear that up.”

“We have a standing contract with you,” he said to the audience. “As a result, we have the right to call upon you if we think it’s necessary during the summer.”

Two faculty members challenged the 12-month contracts and lower pay.

“I’m sorry; I didn’t realize I belonged to you,” Linda Lowman, early childhood studies professor, said.

Leslie said the summer requirement applies only to departments requesting a year-round faculty presence.

“We have the right to require you to work 12 months; it’s in your contract,” Leslie said. “We just don’t usually enforce that. People usually volunteer. But what I think needs to be clarified is the places we’re looking to have year-round faculty are those requesting them. It would be kind of silly for a department to request year-round service and then say, ‘Oh, don’t pick me. I don’t want to work it.’”

Lisa Black, counselor and social work professor, said, “Well, then if they’re needed, why not pay them full salary? Why cut their salary? Is it because we don’t have the money or something? Because maybe then we could understand.”

While Leslie never directly answered the question, he continued to insist the “board intent,” cited by Faculty Senate President Dawn Elmore, still stands.

Linda Lowman, early childhood studies professor, asks about the intent of an unsigned letter circulated to faculty regarding 12-month contracts for nine-month employees. “I’m sorry I didn’t know I was yours for 12 months,” she said. Chancellor Bruce Leslie said he has not seen a copy of the letter and that it originated from human resources.  Photo by Neven Jones

Linda Lowman, early childhood studies professor, asks about the intent of an unsigned letter circulated to faculty regarding 12-month contracts for nine-month employees. “I’m sorry I didn’t know I was yours for 12 months,” she said. Chancellor Bruce Leslie said he has not seen a copy of the letter and that it originated from human resources. Photo by Neven Jones

Leslie said summer service is still voluntary. “We’re only designating areas that have requested year-round staffing, no one else,” he explained.

Research Librarian Celita DeArmond asked Leslie why librarians are being considered for the summer rate.

She said they requested more staff, not longer contracts.

“I haven’t heard anything about librarians; (President Robert Vela) hasn’t mentioned anything to me about that,” Leslie said.

After the meeting, Gerald Busald, president of the Alamo Colleges Faculty Legal Association, confirmed its lawyer won’t confront district officials unless they enforce the contract on a faculty member.

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