Assistants at Long Beach Community College sued for unpaid work hours

Photo: Long Beach City College

Long Beach Community College is being sued by district part-time teachers.

Two adjunct professors from Long Beach Community College District filed a class-action lawsuit Monday, alleging that the district forced them to work unpaid outside the classroom illegally, such as grading, class preparation and meeting with students.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that the district violated California’s minimum wage law and Claim the return of lost wages and pay for the work ahead. If a judge allows the case to proceed as a class action, more than 600 part-time instructors from the district may be involved.

The results could have statewide repercussions, lawyers say.

Is the accompaniment They are compensated based on their classroom work hours, although the district knows that these faculty members necessarily spend enough extra time working outside the classroom to teach their scheduled classes, ”the lawsuit states. “While this out-of-class work is essential for effectively teaching their classes, and the district knows and actually expects part-time faculty members to perform this extra work, part-time instructional faculty members are not paid for their out-of-classroom hours.”

District officials declined to comment, citing the nature of the pending case. Staff at State Community College Chancellor Alloy Oakley did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He is a former president of Long Beach District.

The lawsuit seeks to address long-standing concerns about the nature of part-time academic work in the state’s 72 local community college districts and could have statewide implications, lawyers and attorneys said. Before the epidemic broke out in their ranks, collaborators taught about half of the classes in the community college system. In 35 districts, they show data from at least 70% of all faculties, community colleges. Only two districts have more full-time professors than them.

Aileen Goldsmith, a San Francisco lawyer representing the plaintiffs at a news conference hosted by the California Teachers Association on Monday, said the lawsuit “could be a sea change” for part-timers. It supports plaintiffs, Sage Rohkeya and Karen Roberts, associates at Long Beach City College.

“Adjunct instructors in community colleges have the same qualifications as their full-time colleagues and need to be paid accordingly. They should not be expected to do the same essential work for free, ”said Roberts, who has taught in the district for more than 20 years.

Rohkea said the district pays assistants for just 38 minutes of office time per week, which is not enough to meet student needs. Extra work is done “Free because we are dedicated to our students.”

Although they form the backbone of the community college system, affiliates often fight financially and say they are basically gig workers with little job security. Originally limited to teaching more than three classes a semester in a given district, many work to combine something like a full-time job in multiple districts.

In 41 districts where EdSource was able to analyze payroll data published under the State Public Records Act by 2020, adjusters earned an average of less than 20,000.

An EdSource investigation Shows additions across the state published in February Complaint About working unpaid hours like the complaint of Long Beach Suite.

“It simply came to our notice then. You’re working as a trainer, ”Heidi Ahders, president of the part-time faculty union in the Mendocino-Lake Community College district, told Adsource for the series. “You think you need to help your student because you are a teacher, whether you get paid or not.” Not paying support for office hours is a “slap in the face”.

The head of a statewide adjunct group has praised the case.

“It’s time to dump her,” said John Martin, president of the California Part-time Faculty Association, an advocacy group that is not part of the lawsuit. “It was the most exciting day of my life as a part-time (faculty) worker. They will no longer be able to ignore us and our problems. “

The law, set for a hearing in Sacramento on Tuesday, could also help part-time faculty.

Sponsored by Assembly Member Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, Assembly Bill 1752 will pay part-timers at the same hourly rate to create pay equity between full and part-time faculties. Santiago called it a “full-time faculty for comparative responsibility.” On Tuesday afternoon, it went before the Higher Education Committee of the Legislative Assembly.

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Assistants at Long Beach Community College have sued over unpaid working hours

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