Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Update: Hotel strike settled!

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Good news since our last posting about the strike at the Hilton San Francisco, where the COABE conference will be held this year.

UNITE HERE and Hilton reach settlements in Chicago, San Francisco, and Hawaii*

After extensive negotiations, Hilton leads industry with contracts that move workers forward as the industry emerges from recession.

After many months of bargaining, UNITE HERE and Hilton Worldwide have reached tentative settlements in three major markets–Chicago, San Francisco, and Honolulu. The agreements signal a major breakthrough in citywide hotel negotiations nationally and a path forward for hotel workers as the hospitality industry emerges from the recession. The tentative agreements, affecting nearly 4,000 workers, have been recommended by the respective negotiating committees in each city and are subject to ratification by the local membership.

COABE Conference to be held at Union Boycotted Hotel

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

This year, the attendees of the COABE Conference in San Francisco might have to cross a picket line to get to their workshops, plenaries, and networking sessions.

That’s because the Hilton San Francisco Union Square is currently under boycott by the UNITE/HERE hotel and restaurant workers union.

Photo courtesy of UNITE HERE Local 2

Despite Hilton’s parent company, Blackstone Group, having recently received many millions of taxpayer dollars in Federal bailout money, Hilton is demanding benefit and pension cuts from its workers, a 40% workload increase, and no raises. Yet Blackstone saw an increase in net income of 23% last quarter. Workers, who are the San Francisco counterparts of our ABE and ESOL students, are currently working without a contract. By any measure, this is not fair or just. (more…)

GED Math and the Accuplacer: How Much Can We Reasonably Take On?

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

by Cathy Coleman

Have you heard about the Accuplacer and the GED? Recent research indicates there is a rather large gap between GED math and what’s tested on the Accuplacer (the test used by colleges to place students in college level or developmental level math). Students can pass the GED and still get stuck in developmental courses, taking and failing them over and over, using up precious financial aid, getting increasingly discouraged, and eventually giving up on their college dreams. This presents a problem for many of our college bound students, and our field is wisely beginning to talk about the issue.

So. how is this related to working conditions in ABE? For me, the recent buzz about this issue illustrates important issues about us as a field – about the questions we ask… and the questions we don’t. (more…)

Working and Learning Conditions in ABE

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

A graphic representation.*

Who says working conditions and program performance are two separate things?

Working and Learning Conditions in ABE (Click to see the full-sized image)

Thanks to Marylis Carillo, Ann Cleaves, Hilda Johnston, Janet Kaplan-Bucciarelli, Silja Kallenbach, Ami Magisos, and Addie Rose Mayer for collaborating on this piece.

*Reprinted with permission from The Change Agent, Issue 25, Taking Action to Stay in School, September 2007

Why Unions Still Matter in Adult Education

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

First in a series of profiles about the unionized ABE programs in Massachusetts

An interview with Jim Kaplan of the Somerville Center for Adult Learning Experiences (SCALE)

by Steven DeMaio

Jim Kaplan

Jim Kaplan has been teaching in adult education since 1977. He became involved in union activities as soon as he started working at SCALE and has served as a leader of the SCALE union since 1979. In this interview, he reflects on his many years of experience and offers his perspective on the continuing importance of unions in the adult education field in Massachusetts.

Why is it still important for adult education teachers to organize, given that they are so widely dispersed across institutions with little central leadership?

Jim K: It’s precisely the same as for any other workers. When we‘re organized, we have better chances of protecting our working conditions and, within a narrower range, of protecting and improving our income and benefits. Any worker with his or her head glued on well ought to be concerned about collective strength.

Do you think that groups of adult education teachers are best organized within schools or across schools?

Jim K: To be effective in organizing, we have to be dealing with people we see face-to-face. That means we need building blocks within individual schools. (more…)

Organizing a Union: Some Steps

Monday, November 15th, 2010

STEP ONE: Know Your Rights

1) The right to join a union is a human right. “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States to…encourag[e] the practice and procedure of collective bargaining and [to] protect… the exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self-organization and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection.” [from Declaration of Human Rights]

What teachers do in their prep time

Monday, November 8th, 2010

How many hours of prep do you get for each hour of class you teach? Is that enough? Have your prep time responsibilities changed during the time you’ve been teaching? Post a comment below!

Final results from last week’s survey. The survey is now closed (as of 11/22) but you can read the original post here.

What are you expected to do in your prep time?

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Unless you make $34.77* per hour, your program should be paying you for prep time. But what does that really mean?

Take this survey and tell us:

*(taken from our FAQs):

The rates support a teaching to prep time ratio of 2:1. This results in a “contact hour rate” of $34.77 for teachers, based on a direct service rate of $18.54/classroom hour plus 25% fringe benefits, plus prep time: $23.17 X 1.5 = $34.77/hour. Paid prep time is not required when the hourly rate meets or exceeds the contact hour rate.

Working Conditions at Network

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Look for these workshops at Network next week and join the conversation and the struggle for better working conditions in ABE!

Wednesday workshops (Nov. 3)

  • The Boss Can’t Do That, Can He? 1:00 p.m. (Worker rights information for teaching your students)
  • Organizing for Better Working Conditions- New this year!! 3:00 p.m.
    What rights do you have to organize for better working conditions? What are some strategies to improve pay and working conditions? How do you organize a union? What are some steps you could take to build for a union organizing drive? Led by UMass Labor Extension staff.

Thursday workshops (Nov. 4)

  • Improving Working Conditions – Strategies from the Field – 8:30 a.m. How do those programs famous for their above-average working conditions do it? Come hear the panel of directors from El Centro del Cardenal, the Worker Education Program at U.Mass Dartmouth, and the Worker Education Program in Boston. ACLS representatives will be present- ask them your burning questions!
  • Know Your Rights as an ABE Worker – 10:15 a.m.  Your basic worker rights. This workshop is led by the dynamic staff of the UMass Labor Extension programs.

Register for Network! See you there November 3rd and 4th!

Working Conditions Award: Who’s made a difference in working conditions this year?

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Who would YOU nominate for the MCAE Working Conditions Award?

Think about your program. Has the staff worked together to improve working conditions this year? Have your program administrators taken working conditions into account in class design or policies? Has anyone made your working life at your program easier this year?

If you answered yes, nominate your program for the MCAE Working Conditions Award!**

Here’s how:

  • Teachers, counselors, and support staff can make nominations
  • A second teacher, counselor, or support staff must sign on to the nomination
  • The form is right here and it’s short!

The deadline for nominating programs for the MCAE Working Conditions Award is October 6th. You can send the form by email to

**Maybe your program’s not so great, but what program would you nominate if you could? Leave a comment and tell us!