Letter to the Editor: A response to “As ECC prepares to hire a new president, they must prioritize the needs of students and faculty”

To the Editor:

As President of El Camino College, I recognize and respect the Editorial Board’s right to express its opinions on matters of importance to the campus community. However, the standards of responsible journalism require that such opinions be based on a complete review of the facts and an objective analysis of their significance.

A September 23 editorial by The Union finds significant fault with the new three-year contract agreed upon by El Camino College and its faculty. This contract, ratified by the ECC Federation of Teachers on September 22 and the ECC Board of Trustees on October 19, was reached after a lengthy and challenging negotiation process. The Union’s Editorial Board has concluded that this contract reflects unfair treatment of faculty and limits student access to faculty and, by extension, to education. Unfortunately, these conclusions are based on false assertions that must be corrected.

The Editorial Board asserts that part-time faculty are not paid for office hours. This is false, because the new agreement provides two paid office hours per semester for each part-time faculty. The Editorial Board asserts that lab lecture parity is ignored. This is false, because the new agreement provides a process for reviewing labs and faculty recommendations relating to extensive labs that should be paid at a rate equal to the lecture rate. There is a detailed timeline for such recommendations through a committee comprised of faculty and administration. The costs relating to recommendations from this committee are then to be negotiated in light of current budget conditions.

The Editorial Board asserts that the faculty are not supported in online education. This is false, because through a negotiated Memorandum of Understanding between the District and the Federation, all faculty members were provided a stipend for conversion of classes to online delivery, a second stipend for completion of distance education training, and a $1,000 stipend for needed equipment related to teaching from home.

The Editorial Board asserts that the new agreement will increase class size. This is false, because the College Planning and Budget Committee, comprised of representatives from faculty, students, management, classified staff, and police services, included potentially increasing class size by two students in a list of recommendations to me. However, a change in class size requires negotiation with the bargaining unit representing faculty. Such negotiations have not taken place, and therefore, there have been no changes in class size.

The Editorial Board asserts that faculty are under-represented, underpaid, and underappreciated. This is false, because the faculty are fully represented by their bargaining unit, and the new contract provides significant increases to the District’s contribution to medical benefits for full-time faculty and a significant change in the funding for medical benefit stipends to part-time faculty. The contract also provides compensation to part-time faculty for professional development along with other changes to meet faculty needs.

As for the notion that our faculty are underappreciated, I remind the Editorial Board of sentiments I expressed in my message to the campus on April 10, a month after our transition to remote instruction because of COVID-19. In that message, I affirmed the faculty’s response to the pandemic and expressed my gratitude to them. Those words are still true. They’ve always been true. The appreciation and respect I feel for our faculty is as strong today as it has ever been.

The Union newspaper experience is a unique opportunity for students to hone their journalism skills in a real setting. I hope the Editorial Board understands the power of the printed word. With this power comes the responsibility to follow the highest standards of journalism when stating positions and opinions. I urge The Union’s Editorial Board to read the new collective bargaining agreement that will be posted on El Camino’s Human Resources website pending final review and approval by the Federation’s Chief Negotiator. Perhaps thorough research and a solid understanding of the facts will help shape The Union’s next editorial.

Dena P. Maloney, Ed.D.


El Camino College