California Educator

April/May 2024

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I N L A T E D E C E M B E R , United Faculty of North Orange County Community College District (UF) won an Unfair Labor Practice case against the North Orange County Community College District (NOCCCD). UF proved that the district violated the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA) by retaliating against UF 's lead negotiator and by interfering with EERA-protected rights. The lead negotiator, a tenured professor, endured more than two years of retaliation due to frivolous claims made by the district. A viral video from April 2021 set the wheels of this case in motion: Another professor, who is Muslim, of Middle Eastern descent and who identifies as LGBTQ+, assigned students to take a position on an issue and defend that position when questioned by the professor. One student chose the topic of policing and chose the pro-policing stance, which left the professor to take the opposite view. In the clip, the student asserts that police officers are heroes; the professor responds by saying, among other things, that modern policing has its roots in groups who tracked down runaway enslaved persons in the South. The professor, along with other faculty of Middle Eastern descent, female faculty, LGBTQ+ faculty, and UF leaders were harassed and threat- ened after the video went viral on local and national news and social media platforms. "UF 's lead negotiator and I received disgusting voicemails and emails from all over the country," says Christie Diep, president of the 550-member UF. " The district did basically nothing. It was so utterly disappointing for faculty, and it had a chilling effect in the classroom." Diep says, "People saw the importance of having their union protect them because the administration is not going to." The UF lead negotiator attended several subsequent faculty senate and other meetings where district administrators were present. The UF lead negotiator, other faculty and stu- dents called out the district for not responding appropriately to protect academic freedom, employee dignity and workplace safety, espe- cially for faculty of color and LGBTQ+ faculty. Faculty and students called on administrators to act. They described the administration culture using words such as "white privilege," "white fragility " and "toxic masculinity." The UF lead negotiator also addressed the contentious issue of NOCCCD's predominately male administrators determining when the predominately female faculty should return to in-person teaching in the midst of the Covid pandemic. During a bargaining session between UF and the district in October 2021, where in-person instruction was discussed again, a male administrator who had been present at the other meetings alleged the lead negotiator 's comments were discriminatory. The next month, this administrator filed Legal Victory Holds Administrators Accountable North Orange County chapter wins case against district's retaliation, interference with protected rights 44 Advocacy Christie Diep

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