AFT suing district for back pay

Part-time district employees who have been working without a contract at San Diego Community College District may receive retroactive pay and be entitled to permanent status thanks to a lawsuit by American Federation of Teachers (AFT) against the district.

Wording in the California Education Code section 88003 is what sparked the lawsuit that has been tied up in court since 2009.

The code states, “part-time playground positions, apprentices and professional experts employed on a temporary basis for a specific project, regardless of length of employment, shall not be a part of the classified service.”

Classified service is the category that defines all employees with permanent contracts.  The AFT suit claims the district has used this section of the code to underpay tutors and others with specialized technical skills that are specialized technical skills that are considered professional experts but whose jobs are not really temporary.

Jim Mahler, AFT’s guild president, claims some employees in the professional expert category have been considered by the district to be temporary employees, but have been consistently rehired year after year, in some cases as long as two decades.

Mahler stated that 50 to 100 part-time district employees that have been working without permanent contracts could be affected by the court’s final decision, which is expected within six months.  Mahler also stated that the amount of money the district might have to pay out is speculative until the judge presiding over the case makes a ruling.

District Vice Chancellor of Human Resources Will Surbrook said he could not comment on the case.