Union urges no on Foothill-De Anza parcel tax

'Late-inning smear,' district says

The local community college district's service workers union is urging voters to reject Measure E, the parcel tax that proponents say would raise much needed money for Foothill and De Anza colleges.

"The district has a history of overspending," said Leo Contreras, president of Chapter 96 of the California School Employees Association, which represents service, maintenance and skilled trade workers in the Foothill-De Anza Community College District.

Measure E would charge property owners in the community college district up to $69 annually per parcel and raise about $42 million total over the course of six years, when it sunsets.

Contreras accused the district of being wasteful and said the Foothill-De Anza administration has treated the members of his union unfairly, continually violating the CSEA's collective bargaining agreement.

"This is a late-inning smear from a union boss with an axe to grind. There really is not a whole lot more to say about it," said Becky Bartindale, the district spokeswoman.

Chris Pedersen, a representative for the Santa Clara County chapter of the CSEA said relations between Contreras' chapter and the administration at Foothill-De Anza are currently at an all-time low. He also noted that Contreras' chapter is in the midst of grievance proceedings with the district.

The union, which comprises 93 employees across the Foothill and De Anza campuses, took a vote earlier this month on whether to support Measure E, Contreras said. The union was unanimously against the parcel tax.

"We see the waste that has happened with the bond measures," Contreras said, referring to the previous Measure E, passed in 1999, and Measure C, passed in 2006.

In both instances, Contreras said, the money the district gained was poorly allocated. "We have no doubt that there will be waste in the future."

Linda Thor, chancellor of the district, said she felt that Contreras may be opposing the measure simply to apply pressure to the board of trustees, a charge he does not entirely deny.

Contreras said he wanted to get the board of trustees' attention and move the board to action.

Contreras said that in the past, bond-funded construction projects were mismanaged, expensive outside contractors were brought in when district employees could have done just as good a job and that old furniture -- including desks, chairs and shelves -- was discarded, instead of being recycled or sold. "Since there is money to be spent on new furniture, the old furniture is just being trashed," he said.

The CSEA president also complained that while the district has grown, adding more students and facilities, service workers have not increased accordingly to meet the demand.

He acknowledged that district administration has also faced a larger workload, but said, "They get stipends to do the additional work while the rest of the workers do not."

Bruce Swenson, president of the district's board of trustees and Chancellor Thor, both said that Contreras' claim about stipends was inaccurate, noting that district employees are paid extra only if they go beyond their classification, which at times happens when positions are vacant and someone steps in to fill a role while continuing to do the job they for which they were originally hired.

"I don't think our administrators are treated any differently," Swenson said. "Our administrators are also working extra hard to accommodate the surge in students just as our classified employees are, and our faculty."

Contreras said that while the language of the measure indicates that the money would be spent on accommodating the needs of students, he believes it will free up money in the schools' general fund that will be used to increase the salaries and benefits of faculty and administration. "It's a shell game," Contreras said.

"I would disagree strongly with him on that," Swenson said. "Our goal with the Measure E funds is to serve the extra students."

Bartindale said that if enough new classes are created, more teachers would be hired. "There's just no way around that."

However, she said, current faculty and administration would not get raises as a result of Measure E dollars.

Of the five collective bargaining groups within the Foothill-De Anza district, the CSEA is the only one to oppose Measure E.

FHDA union urges no on Measure E

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


3 people like this
Posted by jupiterk
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 28, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I agree with the union to vote against this measure but the reasons are different. I was completely shocked to find the salaries of the administrators and the instructors. There should never be any parcel tax or any other tax without cutting these overly paid personnel. Its outrageous that these adminstrators have been stealing so much from us the tax payers. Enough is enough. fire everyone of these administrators, investigate them and put them behind bars. When did cheating and stealing become so open and legal? i am sick of these crooks.

3 people like this
Posted by vinnie
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 28, 2010 at 3:00 pm

That's brilliant. They'll be the first employees laid off if Measure E is rejected (except, of course, union boss Leo Contreras).

3 people like this
Posted by Alfred W
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 28, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Please vote "No" on the Foothill-De Anza parcel tax
Administrators have made no attempt to manage the college more effectively and to cut waste. There is lot that can be done financially before going back to the tax payers and ask for more money.
Any additional fund will be wasted and will not contribute to better educational services for the students

3 people like this
Posted by Steve C
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 28, 2010 at 4:06 pm

A 'NO' vote is a condemnation of bureaucratic waste. Perhaps 'The Voice' could publicize the salaries of everyone in the Foothill-DeAnza college district, so the voters might make a better informed decision.

3 people like this
Posted by Concerned educator
a resident of Jackson Park
on Oct 28, 2010 at 4:41 pm

I doubt that instructor salaries are too high at the community colleges. My father, who has a master's degree in math, applied to teach a class at De Anza several years ago, and they were going to pay him something like $4000 to teach the class (looking on the DeAnza website, it looks like that number might now be more like $5700 for someone with a master's). How can we expect community colleges to have good instructors if we them so little they can't afford to live in the Bay Area?

3 people like this
Posted by Steve C
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 28, 2010 at 6:34 pm

So, let's have some real numbers. How much does an instructor make PER HOUR? What sort of benefits enter the equation? How much does an administrator make? Maybe 'The Voice' will publish a list for us. The dollars could be shocking, but the length might be worse.

3 people like this
Posted by Katie
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 29, 2010 at 11:39 am

A Chron story yesterday said the profs making the heftiest salaries are teaching extra courses, taking on other tasks, and saving the district from making more expensive new hires (because of additional benefits for additional faculty, I guess).

3 people like this
Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 29, 2010 at 12:50 pm


Since when has a union expended any airtime to push an agenda that didn't protect the interest of its members?

I have a hard time believing any special interest's "altruistic" concern for the well-being of a public budget, when deep down, its in their DNA to covet as much of it as possible.

3 people like this
Posted by jupiterk
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 29, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Hello folks, Nobody wants a noble professional like a teacher,instructor,professor or a lecturer get paid less or exploited. But salaries of this kind, where an english instructor making 180K is insane and thievery. All these money is tax payer's money. They have a salary structure that far exceeds the average salary of a successful companies like Google and Apple. They need to cut their sky high salaries before they can beg us for more. Shameless crooks are running our cities,schools and colleges.

3 people like this
Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 2, 2010 at 9:52 am

Links, please.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Legends Pizza Co. replaces Palo Alto Pizza Co.
By Elena Kadvany | 5 comments | 2,060 views

Premarital and Couples: 10 Tips for the Holidays
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 2,005 views

What is a "ton" of carbon dioxide anyway?
By Sherry Listgarten | 9 comments | 1,908 views


Support local families in need

Your contribution to the Holiday Fund will go directly to nonprofits supporting local families and children in need. Last year, Voice readers and the Wakerly, Packard and Hewlett foundations contributed a total of $72,000.