Analysis of Community College Bills in Colorado (2014 vs. 2015)
Last year,proposed legislationby then-Representative Randy Fischer (HB14-1154) addressed the two-tier system of faculty employment in the community college system,foregroundingsalary equity as its main objective.Thatlegislationfailed in committee.Thisyear’s bill, SB15-094 “Concerning Employment of Community College Faculty,” seeks many of the same affordances as the first billwhile positioning them differently. It is sponsored byState Senators John Kefalas and Joseph Salazar.
Last year’s billcalled attentiontothe gross disparities in pay between “full-time” and “part-time”facultyin the community college system, calling for a single salary schedule for all faculty.The bill challenged the economics of a system in which thereare very, veryfew well compensated and enfranchised full-timers and a veritable army of poorly compensated, disenfranchisedpart-timers. In seeking to level the playingfield by leveling the costs associated with faculty, the bill also called out the disparities of other features of faculty lifeand would have madeit economically disadvantageous to maintain a cadre of part-time faculty who have no opportunity for participation in governance, curriculum development, professional opportunity, career path, benefits,due process, and security of employment.
The new billseeks many of the same outcomes but approaches them in a different way. It beginsbyestablishingseniorityas a key component of course assignment, stipulatingthatcourse assignments will firstbemade to faculty who were full-timers prior to the enactment of the legislation with changes to that process possible onlyafter an initial three-year period.(This pointaddresses theconcerns of currentfull-time faculty.) After making this accommodation, the new legislationprioritizes thebroad”treatment” of faculty rather thanprincipally their compensation. Treatment is defined as responsibilities, benefits, and freedoms.Responsibilityis defined asparticipation incurriculum development, governance, and advising; benefits are definedasaccess tohealth and retirement benefits, multiyear contracts,and career paths; and freedomsare defined asassurance of academic freedom and intellectual inquiryas accompanied by due process . Compensation is addressed only near the end of the new bill whereinitcalls for thedevelopment of a fiscally sustainable multiyear plan by June 2016 anddemandscompensation offaculty who weredesignated as adjunct prior to the enactment of this legislation.
There is a precedent foran iterative “legislative approach” to improving NTTF status and working conditions in Colorado.The 2012legislation, whichremoved the legal obstacle to multiyear contracts for teaching facultywithinthe broader contextof at-will employment inColorado, passedinits second year after significant revision. While the 2012legislation focused primarilyonnon tenure-track faculty in4-year public colleges and universities in Colorado, the new legislation focuses on contingent faculty in the community college system. Both took a few years and several revisions to become law.