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An Unofficial FA Dictionary Part I

By Luke Lara, FA Ombudsperson

I am one year into my role as FA Ombudsperson. I meet regularly with the Faculty Assembly Council (FAC) and with the Faculty Assembly Executive Board. For all intents and purposes, I am an insider. I’m going to keep it 100; I really can be as lost as some of you when it comes to what’s what in the Faculty Assembly world. A faculty colleague on the council confessed to me that this “FA Speak” is their fourth language! That comment inspired me to write this brief introduction to FA terminology. It is a mini-glossary that can help translate as simply as possible what the heck we are talking about.

Let’s start with the basics.


Who are we?

  • California Community College Independents (CCCI) - As an independent union, the FA is part of the CCCI, “an association of independent bargaining agents for California community college faculty.” We are one of 13 member community colleges.

  • Faculty Assembly (FA) - By law, we are recognized as the exclusive representative for full-time faculty employees in employment relations with the district.

  • Faculty Assembly Executive Board (FA Executive Board or Exec) - The FA leadership are all elected according to the FA Constitution and Bylaws by the membership of the FA. The elected members serve a two-year term and include the President, Vice-President, two Executive members, Immediate Past President (if applicable - one year), and Ombudsperson. Get to know who we are.

  • Faculty Assembly Council (FAC or Council) - The council is composed of the FA Executive Board and a diverse group of roughly 15-18 full-time faculty appointed to a two-year term by the FA President in consultation with the Executive Board and shared with the Academic Senate President. Council work does count as a faculty’s governance work.

  • Faculty Assembly Member (Member) - “Any full-time faculty employees who pay at the recommended rate or make any regular dues contributions that the faculty employee deems to be fair and equitable” (Bylaws, Article I), is considered to to be an FA member. Members are given certain privileges, such as voting on the Contract or in elections.

  • Ombudsperson (Ombuds) - I should know this one…the Ombudsperson is an incredible resource for all full-time faculty. The ombudsperson provides representation to faculty that are subject to an investigation or disciplinary actions; facilitates and assists in resolving difficult situations and grievances impacting working conditions; and educates faculty on their contractual rights.

  • Membership Dues - Membership dues are voluntary, but necessary if you want to be an FA member and receive all privileges provided with membership. The recommended rate of membership dues is 0.4% of monthly gross income. For most faculty, this will range between $40 and $75 per month. Your membership dues help us secure the best legal counsel, do the best research, and be the most prepared when going into negotiations and representing our faculty, among other things.

What do we do?

  • Scope of Labor Relations - The scope of representation is limited to matters relating to wages, hours of employment, and other terms and conditions of employment.

  • Collective Bargaining - The act of negotiating between the FA and the MiraCosta College District related to the scope of labor relations: wages (i.e., salaries) and terms and conditions of employment (i.e., working conditions).

  • Collective Bargaining Agreement or Contract (CBA) - This is the primary document that codifies the negotiated agreements between the FA and the district around salaries and working conditions (i.e., our contract). A CBA is also negotiated every certain number of years, typically three.

  • Contract Reopeners - When the CBA is approved by the membership of the FA and the district, all subjects in the agreement remain unchanged for the length of the contract. The only exception to this rule is when unexpected working conditions situations arise and when all parties agree upon reopeners.

  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) - Sometimes the district and the FA must enter negotiations around something that is not currently in the CBA. An MOU is limited in scope and is typically bound by a shorter time period than the CBA.

  • Side Letter or Side Agreement to the Contract - This is an agreement that is not part of the current CBA, but which can supplement, amend, or modify the CBA. It is most often used to make clarifications to the CBA to which all parties agree.

  • Working Conditions - This is defined by law as health and welfare benefits; leave; transfer and reassignment policies; safety conditions of employment; class size; procedures to be used for the evaluation of employees; organizational security; procedures for processing grievances; the layoff of probationary certified school district employees; and, alternative compensation or benefits for employees adversely affected by pension limitations.

There are so many other terms, but I’ll keep it basic for now. If you like this and want to see more, let me know and I’ll write part II.


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