Fond Farewell

Union Executive Director Retires After 16 Years

By Barbara Hanfling, AFT 6157 Executive Director

Andres Quintero, Barbara Hanfling and Paul Fong at the 2017 May Day March in San Jose.
Andres Quintero, Barbara Hanfling and Paul Fong at the 2017 May Day March in San Jose.

I write this from my heart and soul with some tears in my eyes. It has taken me more than two weeks to begin the process of summing up my 16 years here, looking back over the memories, all the accomplishments and all the assistance and caring I have been receiving from many of the Executive Board members, Council of Division Reps and the membership at large, not to mention our office managers. This will be my last newsletter that I will be writing for, editing and putting out.

In 2001, I was interviewed by Mark Newton, David Yancey and Carmen Castellano (our office manager at the time right before she accepted the lottery winnings). It was a new position; it meant that nothing had ever been written in a manual, job announcement or job description. It was an honor for me, when I was finally offered the job in December. Walking into a brand new job, even with 20 years of Union experience was daunting: Geri Evans was the chancellor and Mike Hill the chief financial officer.

Barbara in the middle of the March in March, 2007. Photo by Mark Newton.
Barbara in the middle of the March in March, 2007. Photo by Mark Newton.

Geri didn’t meet much with the Union or faculty; and Mike showed up at our first meeting, empty-handed without a pen or paper; which I subsequently gave him after saying: “if we are going to work together there needs to be mutual respect and conversation.” That was the last time he showed up unprepared. We had never met with the Board of Trustees. Now we meet with some of them monthly and some on a semester basis.

Stories

There are more stories than I can tell: A chancellor who did not respect faculty; a Human Resources director who yelled at David and me for giving her too much work; a CFO who tried to smoke screen us through much of the budget and male presidents who never looked at me the woman, but only at Mark and David our two Union presidents.

We had a grievance/administrative hearing that cost both the Union and District almost $3/4 million; the Union was adversarial and angry based on many years of contract violations and internal strife; adjuncts had one hour salary column with no credit for education; adjuncts were paid less than 45% of our full-timers and our Rehire Preference (SRP) for adjuncts was not based on seniority; full-timers were told that sabbaticals were based on eight years of service. Really? And more issues than we all can imagine.

But the Executive Board immediately set to work as the new AFT 6157 Local. In my first couple of years of work, the following faculty were on the Executive Board: Mark Newton, David Yancey, Wilbur Mellema, Rose Anna Higashi, Frank Espinoza, Bob Wing, Bill Jacobs, Sarita Tamayo, Jeff Kirkbride and Patrick Butler. It was a great, energetic, unified group of diverse faculty members who had committed themselves to growing and building the Union. And they did it with a flare.

I cannot name all the Board members and Council of Division Rep members since the original group, who also contributed their hearts and souls, but I can let you know that we all worked extremely hard to build strong unity between the full-time and adjunct faculty members, so we could fight off division; create a great contract for our adjunct and full-time faculty members and craft the position of the Executive Director so the person could be the institutional memory of the Union and eventually of the District.

A Few Things We Have Accomplished:

It was under the leadership of the Executive Board that put forward the following priorities with guidance from the Executive Director:

  • Increase and enhance everything possible for adjunct faculty members – SRP by seniority; at 33% and 40%; the right to take off time and not to lose SRP; partial medical benefits; pay for SLO reports, curriculum development, etc.; 10-pay periods; adjunct office space at each campus; 100% parity goal; almost full pay for participation in PD Days; right to take classes for free;
  • For full-time faculty members; we bargained fully paid sabbaticals; rights of our retirees to many free services of the District; right to take classes for free; 11-month calendar for nurses and counselors; class size for every course;
  • Create the best salary schedule we could for our adjunct and full-time faculty members. Over the years we have put the adjunct onto the full-time salary schedule at a pro-rata amount, giving them up to a 22% raise. The Union has created new steps and increased pro rata for our adjunct and full-timers on overload; for full-time faculty members since affiliation, we have bargained over 44% pay increases with some bonuses; and for adjunct faculty members we have bargained 63% (not counting the up to 22% mentioned above).
  • Bargain, bargain, bargain: The Golden Handshake twice, 2004 and 2017; and never taking another grievance to arbitration since 2003 and not filing a grievance for almost 10 years-settling them early on; making our medical benefits the highest priority – being probably one or two districts in the state where there are NO payments for premiums for our health and welfare benefits; protection of non-credit, full-time temporary and categorical non-tenured faculty members; putting progressive discipline and a safety article in the contract;
  • Engage in the community and with students: Work with Somos Mayfair; campaigns with our student leadership; participation in politics and community work almost on a monthly basis.

Friends, this is only the tip of the iceberg. What is most important is that all of this is about all of you.

We are all the Union, whether you have been an officer, a Council of Division reps member, shown up at a Board of Trustee meeting, been part of the listening campaign or membership campaign, done phone banking with me, spent time at CFT/AFT conventions, dropped by my office to talk or get/give some advice, wrote something nice when news went out I was going to retire, made constructive criticisms, etc. And what I will miss the most is all of you. You shaped me, you gave me strength when I felt tired and low; you gave me passion to continue to fight with and for you: you gave me good arguments for moving forward and helped me learn when to say “yes” or “no”. You all have been so much of my life for the last 16 years.

Thank you,