L.A. College Instructors Win Health Care in Historic Labor Agreement

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
Part-time faculty and union representatives celebrated a new contract at L-A Trade Tech College on Friday. Photo Credit: Chase Golding

Almost half of all community college courses are taught by part-time instructors, and a new labor agreement means adjunct faculty at community colleges in Los Angeles will get affordable health care.

The deal, announced Friday, will give part-time faculty the same contribution – about $1,300 a month – as full-timers get.

Corrie Osuna is a single mom with an autistic son. She is an adjunct instructor of fashion design at LA Trade Tech and said she hasn’t had a health plan for 15 years.

A few trips to the Emergency Room have left her $200,000 in debt.

“This is life-changing,” said Osuna. “I can finally have a chance to get health insurance so I can get strong enough now to work and pay down some of my debt but also just to be able to live and thrive and be there for my students to my fullest capacity.”

About 1,500 faculty who work at least one-third time will benefit from this agreement, which the union hopes will be a model for other community college districts.

The most recent California budget set aside $200 million of new, ongoing funding to make this agreement possible.

James McKeever, PhD. – president of the American Federation of Teachers 1521 Faculty Guild – said the agreement is historic because it is the largest health-care settlement for adjunct faculty among all California’s community colleges.

“Before, our part-time faculty were only getting reimbursed for maybe about $500 of their healthcare plans a month,” said McKeever. “And that’s not going to pay for much so many of them were paying anywhere between $400 to over $1,000 for their own health care, which basically took up their whole entire check.”

Student activist Logan Fisher studies political science at Pierce College and Cal State Northridge. He said we need to attract and retain the best teachers.

“If we really want students to get the best education they can get, we have to take care of our educators,” said Fisher. “And no one can give their best at work when they’re preoccupied with medical care.”

The Los Angeles Community College District serves more than 108,000 students, many of whom are students of color from low-income backgrounds.