Alphabet Soup: Making Sense of the FA, CCCI, and FACCC
For faculty looking to know more about the organizations fighting to maintain or improve upon your working conditions, there are three that are particularly important for MiraCosta faculty to know:
the Faculty Assembly,
California Community College Independents,
and Faculty Association of California Community Colleges.
All three are involved with protecting faculty salaries, benefits, and rights, and all three play some role in defending faculty who are facing disciplinary action and who may wish to file grievances of their own. Each is also a separate organization with its own membership policies and organizational structure.
Naturally, the FA is the organization that I would most like all faculty to contribute to (and at this point it appears we have around 70% of faculty contributing in some fashion). As you suggest, the FA does serve faculty at MCC in much the same way that a large, umbrella union like CFT or CTA would. The main difference is that we tend to stay out of statewide political campaigning and lobbying. The legal definition of the FA is that of an "employee organization," though it has become common to refer to organizations like the FA as "independents" or "independent unions." The main difference between us and, say, the union at Palomar or SDCC, is that all of your contributions to the FA go directly to the FA (at Palomar, all dues go to CFT, and then some of that money is provided back to the local leadership at Palomar). Because we "do it ourselves," we can afford to have voluntary dues* and we can ask for dues that are only a fraction of the cost of unions like those at Palomar and SDCC. For comparison purposes, it may help to know that of the 72 community college districts in California, 13 are independents like us, and only one other college has voluntary dues.
The FA most directly impacts MCC faculty. We conduct all negotiations, defend faculty who are facing potential disciplinary actions, advocate for faculty when the district takes actions that are not consistent with our contract, etc. We do have a lawyer on retainer to ensure that the contracts we sign and the advice we offer to faculty is legally sound. The FA also supports local candidates for the Board of Trustees. No one is more important to our working conditions than our Trustees, and our good relationship with them is part of why our working conditions are so highly ranked. As such, the FA works diligently to ensure good lines of communication with the Trustees, fostering mutual respect, trust, and support between both groups. On rare occasions we also support local referendums, as we did in the recent passage of the MCC Bond campaign (prop MM).
The FA is led by a 5 person Exec and a larger Council of faculty who advise Exec through twice-monthly meetings.
*Note that it is virtually certain that the Supreme Court of the United States will overturn the legal precedent that has allowed unions to require dues from their members. That is, so-called "agency fees" will be eliminated. Predictions are that this will occur in either January or July of 2018. Because we've built an organization based on voluntary, low-cost contributions, we will not be impacted by this change (which is likely to deeply hurt all but the independents).
California Community College Independents (CCCI)
CCCI is a separate, loose organization to which all (or nearly all) of the various independent unions belong. The FA leadership decided to join this organization so that we can learn from the experiences of other independents and to gain their assistance as needed. We meet once per semester with the other member independents, learn about the challenges they are facing, and get a chance to discuss working conditions issues with lawyers and statewide community college leaders (in October we met with community college state chancellor, Eloy Oakley). Thus far, we’ve paid annual dues to the CCCI of $1200. Dues will go up this year to $2000. To be clear, this is paid strictly out of FA contributions--no one is asked to make an additional contribution for our membership in CCCI, and we can drop out of CCCI at any time we like. In some ways the CCCI is good substitute for membership in one of the major unions--just without the much, much higher cost, and with the ability to exit the organization at any time (to leave a union requires a fairly elaborate and difficult decertification process.
We also joined CCCI so that we could have some direct involvement with statewide politics through CCCI's lobbyist. As you probably know, our status as a basic aid district has been very helpful in bringing us a terrific budget, but it also makes us quite vulnerable to those who would like politicians to eliminate the basic aid option or force us to give up any revenue in excess of what we would receive if we were not basic aid.
There is just one FT employee of CCCI, and he is a lobbyist. Otherwise, leaders from the various independent unions serve on the CCCI executive board as President, VP, and Treasurer. They receive some compensation for reassigned time, but that's about it.
You can learn more about CCCI here: http://cccindependents.org
Faculty Association of California Community Colleges (FACCC)
Quite simply, FACCC is a lobbying organization that advocates at the state and federal level for California Community College faculty. Ordinarily, its dues have no connection to the dues you are asked to contribute to the FA. However, we have a bit of an unusual circumstance this year: because I am serving serving as the Area D Governor for FACCC, they have agreed to help us out by providing this year's new faculty class with a free, one-year membership. After this year that deal ends and if you would like to remain a member of FACCC, you'll need to contribute to both FACCC (in addition to your FA contribution). So in short, the FA and FACCC are not linked together in anyway other than through my involvement in the leadership of both groups.
As for what FACCC does, it is is dedicated entirely to promoting faculty interests at the state and federal level. It has a professional staff of 6 full time employees, including Executive Director Jonathan Lightman (who is a very well respected lobbyist with excellent connections to state and federal leaders in education), and has helped out MCC faculty on several occasions in the past. FACCC also has a Board of Governors from around the state who meet 2-3 times per semester to address FACCC business.
FACCC's membership is comprised of approximately 11,000 community college faculty members (some retired, some part time) who pay dues of $21 per pay period (for employed, FT faculty). It is by far the largest organization of its kind in the US and is very effective at what it does. Many laws that have proved beneficial to CC faculty have originated with FACCC (though recently CCCI has also had some big victories in this regard). FACCC's leadership is planning to visit MCC in November, so you may want to join that meeting.
You can learn more about FACCC here: http://www.faccc.org