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Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a designed to make more community college part-time professors eligible for health care

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For the second consecutive year, Gov. Gavin Newsom has rejected a bill that would have made more community college part-time professors eligible for health insurance by upping the number of classes they can teach in a semester, citing cost.

Assembly Bill 1856, sponsored by Assemblymember Jose Medina, D-Riverside, would have allowed adjuncts to teach as much as 85% of a full-time teaching load, or roughly four classes a term, a level that would qualify them for health care coverage.

In his 2022-23 budget, Newsom included a $200 million increase to a fund from which the state’s 73 local community college districts can obtain reimbursement for adjunct health care costs. But even with that money now available, Newsom wrote in his veto message that Medina’s bill is “premature as it is unknown how many community college part-time faculty will benefit from the $200 million now available to districts, which will have a direct impact on the fiscal estimate of this proposed policy change.”

Even with the new money in the budget, Newsom’s veto message estimated the cost of making more part-timers eligible for coverage is somewhere between “$26 million to an excess of $150 million.”

Medina, through a spokesperson, declined a request for an interview on the veto or to comment on it in writing.

The Faculty Association of the California Community Colleges, an advocacy group for both full- and part-time professors, is disappointed by the veto, its executive director, Evan Hawkins, said Monday in a phone interview.

“We disagree with the governor on his cost estimates and encourage him to support additional investments for our part-time faculty so they can have the tools to implement the many policies he’s signed into law in recent years,” Hawkins added.

The part-timers make up the bulk of community college teaching positions across the state, with many working in multiple colleges or districts in order to carve out a living and to keep consistent health coverage if is offered to them at all.

As part of an investigation of adjunct working conditions published in February, EdSource reported that health coverage across the statewide community-college system is widely inconsistent, with 33 districts offering adjuncts no coverage at all.

John Martin, president of the California Part-Time Faculty Association, another advocacy group, was critical of Newsom in the veto’s wake.

Newsom’s rejection shows “that he, along with many others in Sacramento, are out of touch and, frankly, just don’t get how low impact this bill actually is,” Martin wrote in an email. “It contains absolutely no triggers for any mandatory additional costs to the state; raising the workload cap for part-time faculty is a no-cost item.”

The California Federation of Teachers pushed hard for the bill as part of an initiative on adjunct health care. The legislation “would have made a tremendous difference to the lives of countless part-time faculty across the state, especially ‘freeway flyers’ who have to work in multiple districts to piece together a full-time workload,” its president, Jeff Freitas said Monday, while adding the union remained grateful for the $200 million Newsom put in the budget.

Each local faculty union will have to negotiate contract terms on medical insurance before any new coverage kicks in. Most local unions have yet to open contract talks, the union’s spokesman, Matthew Hardy, said Monday. “The vast majority are going to the table this fall with a few in the spring,” he said.

Hawkins said the California Community College Chancellor’s Office is expected to soon issue formal guidance on how the increased reimbursements will work, a move that is expected to spur talks around the state.

Until then, adjuncts wait. They remain the system’s backbone, Hawkins said, and “are stretched thin and underappreciated for the critical work they do to support our students. We must prioritize equitable working conditions for the part-time faculty who represent the majority of educators in our system.”

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  1. Monica Lopez 2 months ago2 months ago

    Nationwide 3/4 of college classes are taught by adjuncts, as connected to colleges as an Uber driver. Belonging, guidance, and care that inspire commitment to hard programs and difficult learning is not there. The person responsible for bringing meaning to each class is a cut-out—hired and fired every 18 weeks. Students see and feel the difference. They are losing faith. This isn’t enough—85% support doesn’t inspire 110% commitment.

  2. Jeff Osley 2 months ago2 months ago

    Even those backing this bill say it would not make healthcare available to adjuncts. This is about colleges working adjuncts closer to fulltime, without hiring them fulltime. More of the same thing that’s going on Florida and Ohio. New ways to institutionalize teaching as a gig instead of a profession.

  3. AG Lewis 2 months ago2 months ago

    AB 1725 (passed 1987) requires Community Colleges have 75% of their classes taught by full time faculty. Most colleges have closer to 30% full time faculty teaching classes due to increasing dependence on adjuncts. With more retirement and hiring freezes this number is declining. Why are we trying to pass new laws instead of enforcing the ones already in place?

  4. Nick D 2 months ago2 months ago

    Faculty are not currently limited. Colleges are limited. If Colleges ask for full time work, current law requires them to pay full time rates and benefits. AB 1856 would have removed that protection, allowing colleges to work adjuncts (effectively) full time. The purpose of this bill was not to support educators. This bill was intended to end tenure.

  5. Sofi Khachmanyan 2 months ago2 months ago

    Part-time faculty should be allowed to work more hours.

  6. Joseph 2 months ago2 months ago

    As an adjunct, this is very disappointing. I can’t believe he refused to up the percentage. He clearly has been misinformed about this bill. The purpose is to be able to teach 3 classes. We must make a living too!

  7. John Govsky 2 months ago2 months ago

    This headline reflects a slight oversimplification of what this bill is really about. While allowing contingent faculty to teach more hours at one district would probably result in more folks qualifying for health benefits, that is not the primary reason for the bill. Current law limits a contingent faculty member to 67% of a full-time teaching load in any single district, causing a large number of faculty to teach in multiple districts in order to … Read More

    This headline reflects a slight oversimplification of what this bill is really about. While allowing contingent faculty to teach more hours at one district would probably result in more folks qualifying for health benefits, that is not the primary reason for the bill.

    Current law limits a contingent faculty member to 67% of a full-time teaching load in any single district, causing a large number of faculty to teach in multiple districts in order to cobble together a living. It makes no sense to force teachers to be “freeway flyers” and teach at two, three, or four colleges just to survive on these low-wage jobs.

    Advocates for lifting this cap on teaching loads can list many reasons for doing so, in addition to making it easier to qualify for benefits: spending more time teaching and less time in traffic; being more invested in a single campus rather than spreading energy too thinly; and, importantly, being more available to students rather than having to run off to teach elsewhere.

    There is really no reason for any cap. Many tenured faculty routinely teach much more than a standard full-time load. The current 67% cap on contingent faculty is just plain stupid.

  8. Sue Broxholm 2 months ago2 months ago

    Having a cap on workload when work is available is unfair, unjust, and un-American. The American narrative is that we are the land of opportunity, so having a cap would be counter to that. Anyway, in America, we always find a way to afford anything else under the sun if we find it to be important enough and the will is there. The cold hard truth is that our governor has indicated that he just hasn't found … Read More

    Having a cap on workload when work is available is unfair, unjust, and un-American. The American narrative is that we are the land of opportunity, so having a cap would be counter to that.

    Anyway, in America, we always find a way to afford anything else under the sun if we find it to be important enough and the will is there.

    The cold hard truth is that our governor has indicated that he just hasn’t found equity for part-time faculty that compelling a cause for him to support.

  9. John 2 months ago2 months ago

    I am so disappointed in Gov. Newsom bill action to reject assembly bill 1856 giving adjunct educators health care benefits. Again, these educators are working hard to make a living to support their families and work. I guess Newsom is willing to leave educators behind. How can we make CA great again?
    Maybe we should leave Newsom behind.

  10. Scott Douglas 2 months ago2 months ago

    "The California Federation of Teachers pushed hard for the bill as part of an initiative on adjunct health care." If that's true, the CFT has big time missed the mark. An 85% workload for adjunct instructors does not put them over the 30 hours per week threashold that would cause the ACA to kick in! A full-time teaching workload is not 40 hrs per week! These are not time card punching laborers. Based on IRS … Read More

    “The California Federation of Teachers pushed hard for the bill as part of an initiative on adjunct health care.” If that’s true, the CFT has big time missed the mark. An 85% workload for adjunct instructors does not put them over the 30 hours per week threashold that would cause the ACA to kick in! A full-time teaching workload is not 40 hrs per week! These are not time card punching laborers. Based on IRS rules, an 85% workload for an andjunct instructor translates into about 28.7 hours per week. Healthcare is a moot issue here! Bringing up healthcare and the ACH is iether an acto of ignorance or subterfuge.

  11. Cynthia Mahabir 2 months ago2 months ago

    Mr. Peele's previous articles on the longstanding, unjustifiable inequality and total absence of fairness in the working conditions of the majority contingent community college faculty in California were informative and well-grounded. However, he has apparently missed the critical issue in these working conditions, which is faculty equity in every respect of faculty employment, not merely health insurance. While health insurance is important, this framing by Mr. Peele, following Gavin Newsom's, is reductionistic at best, and … Read More

    Mr. Peele’s previous articles on the longstanding, unjustifiable inequality and total absence of fairness in the working conditions of the majority contingent community college faculty in California were informative and well-grounded. However, he has apparently missed the critical issue in these working conditions, which is faculty equity in every respect of faculty employment, not merely health insurance. While health insurance is important, this framing by Mr. Peele, following Gavin Newsom’s, is reductionistic at best, and misleading at worst. Also, I am left wondering about the source and computation of the health cost millions Newsom mentions as fact and media reporters follow, apparently without verification. It will be very helpful if Mr. Peele would keep his community college investigative focus on contingent faculty equity in its full sense.

  12. Jack Longmate 2 months ago2 months ago

    There is a major misconception perpetrated by this piece that has been present in the Governor's vetoes of both this year's AB 1856 and last year's AB 375. Peele writes: "Assembly Bill 1856, sponsored by Assemblymember Jose Medina, D-Riverside, would have allowed adjuncts to teach as much as 85% of a full-time teaching load, or roughly four classes a term, a level that would qualify them for health care coverage." Teaching at 85% would not necessarily … Read More

    There is a major misconception perpetrated by this piece that has been present in the Governor’s vetoes of both this year’s AB 1856 and last year’s AB 375.

    Peele writes: “Assembly Bill 1856, sponsored by Assemblymember Jose Medina, D-Riverside, would have allowed adjuncts to teach as much as 85% of a full-time teaching load, or roughly four classes a term, a level that would qualify them for health care coverage.”

    Teaching at 85% would not necessarily qualify part-time instructors for health care coverage. Here’s why: The threshold for Affordable Care Act (ACA) eligibility is 30 hours per week assuming a 40-hour work week. Assuming teaching 15 credit hours as a 100-percent full-time weekly teaching load, 85 percent of that full-time teaching load would be 12.75 hours weekly (15 x 85% = 12.75). The 12.75 classroom hours, with the IRS multiplier of 2.25 (to convert classroom hours to hours per week) results in 28.7 hours, which is less than the 30-hour per week ACA threshold. If this calculation is faulty, I and others who have articulated it for some time, would hope that those it it might be corrected, not ignored.

    Also, it is patently absurd to suppose that all 38,000 California part-time instructors would somehow qualify for health insurance with the passage of AB 1856 and encumber the state with up to $440 million as the Chancellor’s office asserted last year as a scare tactic. To a cynic, the Governor’s $200 million might seem like hush money, as if to say, “Hey, here’s $200 million, so stop your bellyaching about not being able to work more than 67 percent in a given college district.”

    Both AB 1856 and last year’s AB 375 are about workload, not health insurance.

  13. Carlos L. Fernandez 2 months ago2 months ago

    What would the $200 million be use for?