I have gotten a lot of questions and emails in the last few months from faculty at Garfield wanting to know what's going on about various issues. One major one that came up at the beginning of the semester had to do with Flex. For those who don't know, many teachers had pay docked this semester due to a discrepancy with their Flex hours. These teachers were contacted via email in September warning them that their pay would be docked. Granted some faculty hadn't turned anything in which is a separate issue, but for most, it was simply as a result of turning in something unsigned or of hours at a particular conference not counting. However, the time was very limited with which to fix the problem and if there were hours that needed to be redone, the date of June 30th had long since passed so there was no way to make-up for those hours. The Guild worked behind-the-scenes to have the deadline extended so that faculty would have more time to try and prove that they had completed their Flex requirement. In the end, however, many faculty were not able to go back and make-up hours that they lacked and therefore, they were docked. It was a hard hit.
It is important to note that Flex is something that you have already been paid for. It is built into your salary as part of your contract. This is the reason why pay is docked if you do not complete it. It is also the reason why you cannot complete Flex during hours that you are already being paid for. Nonetheless, it is only fair that faculty be notified in a timely manner if their Flex obligation has not been met. For this reason, the Guild brought the issue up at the Negotiations table and was able to TA language changes to the contract that will serve to protect faculty from having a situation like this occur again the future. With the new language, your Flex Completion Form, along with supporting documentation, will be due by May 15th to the Office of Staff Development. The Flex committee will have until June 15th to tell you whether or not your Flex has been completed. If you do not hear anything from the Flex committee by that date, you are finished and you will not have your pay docked. However, if you turned your Flex in late (after May 15th), you will no longer have that guarantee. If you receive notice that your Flex is incomplete on or before June 15th, you will have until June 30th to complete the Flex requirement. You will be notified by May 25th if they have not received your paperwork. Note, If your paperwork is misplaced and you cannot prove you turned it in on-time, you will have time to resubmit it but you will no longer have the June 15th guarantee. For this reason, turn in your paperwork before the May 15th deadline, date stamp it, make copies, and then (if sending from Garfield) call or email the Office of Staff Development to be sure that they received it. If you plan on attending a staff development activity between May 15th and June 30th (for example, a conference on June 20th), indicate the activity you plan to attend on the Flex Completion Form by May 15th. After you attend the conference, send verification of attendance to the Office of Staff Development by June 30th. Remember that any staff development activities that you attend after June 30th will not count towards Flex until the following year.
For those who are new, if you attend a staff development activity at GCC, make sure you pick up a Flex form or get your own Flex form signed by the person in charge of the activity and remember to sign-in. If you attend any staff development workshops off campus, make sure you have proof of attendance signed by someone in charge of the event and follow it up with a signature from your division chair that the activity relates to your assigned work area. I have even heard teachers suggest giving Roger Bowerman a call before attending an off-campus activity to be sure it will count. This is necessary because at least half of the hours you complete must be directly related to the subject you teach. If you want to know how many hours of Flex you will need to complete, it is half of the hours you teach each week in a given semester. For Noncredit ESL teachers, we teach 14 hours a week. Therefore, we have to finish 7 hours of Flex per semester. If we work the Fall and Spring semesters, we need to report 14 hours of Flex by the May 15th deadline.
While it was truly awful to watch our fellow faculty members lose pay this semester, one good thing came out of it. We now have some level of protection written into our contract requiring that we be given warning in time to be able to fix any Flex issue we may have, so long as we get our paperwork in on time. The issue of proof of receipt of the Flex Completion Form is still unresolved. Hence the need to date stamp, make copies, and in the case of sending mail from Garfield, call in or email to be sure your form was received. Perhaps we can move towards turning things in digitally someday...but for now, that will have to be postponed for future negotiations.
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