UPDATE: Board to Consider Granting Chancellor Extraordinary Powers (2020/03/13)

Dear SDCCD AFT Guild Members,

First off, I want to thank the many AFT members who braved the rain and turned out in support at yesterday’s Board meeting.  I truly appreciate their support–it really does make a difference in times like these.

I am pleased to announce that Chancellor Carroll and myself were able to meet yesterday afternoon to craft some compromise language to be added to the resolution to protect our rights as employees in the event emergency measures are needed.  The Board then subsequently voted 5-0 to approve the resolution with this new language included during its Special Board Meeting last night.  Of note is this paragraph that we added to the resolution:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that such authorization shall not abrogate the terms and conditions of any collectively bargained agreement, nor shall such actions violate state collective bargaining statutes. The District is committed to working closely with all collective bargaining agents as it deals with the complicated and varied employment questions that will arise in the coming weeks and how a transition to a distance education/work-from-home environment will impact its students, faculty and staff.

You can find the entire resolution which was approved by the Board by clicking here.

I want to extend my gratitude to Chancellor Carroll and the Board for their willingness to work out a compromise while we are all onboard this rapidly moving freight train.  I am also pleased to report that we have redoubled our commitment to working together in a collaborative manner as we navigate the unpredictable twists and turns of this viral threat.

I also wanted to clarify my remarks from my earlier message.  I did not mean to diminish the severity of the threat we are facing due to COVID-19, I just did not want that to be justification for people to abuse their power.  We all still need to be safe and take adequate precautions to stop the spread of this virus.

Since I started composing this message this morning we have learned that SD Unified will be closing its schools on Monday.  While the wisdom of that decision is open to debate, they have made it, and now we need to deal with the consequences of it.

If you have children in school there that will now be at home without childcare, you can utilize your Family Necessity or Personal Necessity leave, with the appropriate approvals, to stay home with your children.  (Reference Articles and of our Classified Contract and Articles 11.2.3 and 11.2.9 of our Faculty Contract.)  I fully realize these are only stop-gap measures, but my guess is that’s all we will need right now as I expect us to be moving to full closure sooner, rather than later.  That is just my best guess based on how I see things evolving, I am not saying that a decision has been made to close any campus or worksite.

If your work location is closed you will still be paid your regularly scheduled hours as if you were at work.  This applies to all employees: Adjunct Faculty, Classified Professionals, NANC Employees, Tenured/Tenure Track Faculty.

I also want to reiterate what the administration previously sent out regarding the migration of on-campus classes to some type of remote format:

  • Work with your Dean and Chair to assess the needs for your classes.
  • Each of our course sections has a Canvas shell available. Additionally, faculty can use other means to communicate course assignments via email, or videotaping lectures and posting them, or Zoom meetings. There are many campus resources available to help faculty who may not be familiar with these technologies.

I am very impressed by the amount of collegiality and cooperation I have seen among all of our employees to help one another.  If we can continue to help one another, and maintain a positive spirit throughout, we will be able to successfully manage our way through this.

Hang in there everyone, and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any additional questions.

In Unity,
Jim Mahler, President
AFT Guild, Local 1931



From: Jim Mahler

Subject: Board to Consider Granting Chancellor Extraordinary Powers – Special Board Meeting – TODAY

Date: March 12, 2020 at 9:56:14 AM PDT

To: Undisclosed recipients:;

Resent-From: <dlforaftmaintenanceandops@sdccd.edu>


Dear SDCCD AFT Guild Members,

We are very alarmed with the direction the District is heading regarding the current coronavirus scare.  At tonight’s Board meeting they will be considering granting the Chancellor extraordinary powers (powers we do not believe they can legally justify) not only over campus closures, but over your fundamental working conditions and terms of employment.

We have tried hard to be the voice of reason throughout this panicdemic, but extreme actions like the District is considering taking is forcing us to respond appropriately.

I am writing you to ask you to turn out in support at the Board meeting tonight at 5:00pm at the District office to ask the Board not to grant the Chancellor these extraordinary powers.  Below you can see my message to the Chancellor and Board.

As I stated below, in these times we need to be sending messages of calm and reassurance to our campus community, not exacerbating the hysteria and fear over this issue.  This does not mean that we need to take this lightly, or not implement common sense precautions, but we don’t need to go overboard either.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any additional information or have any other questions or concerns.

In Unity,
Jim Mahler, President
AFT Guild, Local 1931

From: Jim Mahler

Subject: Re: Special Board Meeting – March 12

Date: March 12, 2020 at 9:09:49 AM PDT

To: Constance Carroll, Maria Senour, Bernie Rhinerson, Mary Graham, Craig Milgrim, Sean Elo

Cc: Will Surbrook, Bonnie Ann Dowd


Dear Chancellor Carroll and Board Members,

I am writing to you to express the Guild’s strong opposition to this special Board meeting and the “emergency” measures being proposed in the attached resolution.

First off, we are in opposition to this meeting and these actions because it will only feed into the hysteria and overreaction that is already taking place among the general public and our District employees, students, and campus community over this situation.  Please keep in mind that to date there is not a single confirmed case of the coronavirus in San Diego County.  In addition, there have only been three deaths in the entire State of California, and all three have been individuals with underlying heath issues.  There are no cases of healthy people being adversely affected by this virus.  Contrast that with the seasonal flu which in the past nine weeks has affected 18,000 individuals and resulted in 80 deaths in San Diego County alone.  Thus the seasonal flu remains a much greater health risk than does the coronavirus, but we all seem to be getting along fine co-exsiting with that annual health concern.

From a legal perspective, we have no issue with the cover page of the resolution (page 2 of the attached document) which simply grants powers to the Chancellor which she is indeed entitled to exercise with Board approval under section 20654 of the California Public Contract Code.

However, the resolution (pages 3-4 of the attachment) is overly broad and asks that the Board grant the Chancellor powers that the Board does not have the authority to grant.  The resolution defines an emergency as “a sudden, unexpected occurrence, involving a clear and imminent danger, demanding immediate action to prevent or mitigate loss of, or damage to, life, health, property, or essential public services;” but none of those criteria have been met based on the circumstances we currently find ourselves in.

The resolution goes on to state:  “Authorizes the Chancellor and/or her designee to take any and all actions necessary to ensure the continuation of public education, and the health and safety of the students and staff at the District Sites, including, but not limited to: the relocation of students and staff, provision of alternative educational program and operational options including, without limitation, temporarily transitioning courses, instruction and other operations to an online and/or telecommuting environment and mode of operation…” but it provides no statutory basis for this broad authorization of power.  There is also ample PERB precedent that makes it clear in situations such as this that the District and/or Chancellor may not abrogate collective bargaining agreements, or make unilateral decisions regarding topics that are within the scope of negotiations.  (For one example, see San Francisco Community College District (1979) PERB Dec. No. 105)

Lastly, throughout this entire “crisis” no one has bothered to reach out to us to jointly craft a message to our employees, or to discuss any of these measures which the District is contemplating taking.  We find this very curious as it’s pretty well known that we represent the vast majority of District employees, and since many of these actions under consideration fall within the scope of negotiations, it would seem obvious that we should be jointly discussing how best to move forward but there has not been a single effort made to initiate these discussions.

I light of the above, we respectfully ask that you postpone this special Board meeting until such time that a true emergency exists, and if we reach that point, that you limit the powers granted to the Chancellor to those allowed under statute in order to avoid an unnecessary legal challenge from the Guild.

If you wish to discuss this matter further, or meet to discuss how we can better collaborate moving forward, we are available to do that.  If you are seeking changes within the scope of negotiations, we are also ready and willing to immediately meet and negotiate with you over those changes or the impacts and effects of any actions you may be considering taking.

At this point in time, we need to be sending a message of calm and re-assurance to our employees and the campus community, not one of crisis and hysteria.

Jim Mahler, President
AFT Guild, Local 1931


From: Constance Carroll

Subject: Special Board Meeting – March 12

Date: March 11, 2020 at 3:04:40 PM PDT


Dear District Governance Council Members:

Today, we have made a judgment related to the COVID-19 emergency, which requires additional attention by our Board of Trustees.  I wanted you to be aware of this since the District Governance Council (DGC) always reviews the Board Agenda and receives information about items that may have been proposed after the DGC meeting.  This is one of those situations.

In view of the increasing spread and severity of the COVID-19 coronavirus, we will need to continue to take swift and strong measures to provide for the health and wellbeing of our students and staff, to help prevent the spread of the disease in any way we can, and to ensure the continuity of instructional and business functions.  We will need to address everything from closures to functions to the deployment of staff, to entering into special contracts with health and other agencies and a myriad actions that may be required by this emergency. To that end, we have proposed and Board President Maria Nieto Senour has authorized a Special Board Meeting to declare this as an emergency situation and to authorize the Chancellor and her designee(s) to take necessary steps.  Α Special Meeting requires 24-hour public notice, so our plan is to have this accomplished this afternoon.

The Special Meeting will take place tomorrow, March 12, at 5:30 p.m., immediately following the regularly-scheduled Board Meeting. The first meeting will be adjourned and the second meeting will then have its Call to Order on or after 5:30 p.m.   The notice, Board Agenda item, and Board Resolution are attached.

Dr. Constance M. Carroll
San Diego Community College District
3375 Camino del Rio South
San Diego, CA 92108
Tel.  (619) 388-6957
Fax  (619) 388-6541

Email ccarroll@sdccd.edu