A comment made by Don Sparks, president for the American Federation of Teachers Chapter 1521A towards Economics professor Pam Brown raised more than a few eyebrows at the Proposition 32 debate on Thursday, Oct. 11.
Video footage of Brown and Sparks’ exchange during the debate appears between 31:46 and 32:43 in the Multimedia section of www.theroundupnews.com.
“People have philosophies, and they can stick to them,” Sparks said. “But if you’re a hypocrite about your philosophy, that’s a different story.”
The cheers and applause within the Great Hall echoed the crowd’s support for Sparks’ comment.
Both parties separately agreed to speak to The Roundup about the subject on Monday, Oct. 15.
Although many members of the audience noticed the comment, Brown did not.
“I don’t remember him saying that I’m a hypocrite,” she claimed.
Brown is a non-union professor at Pierce College, a unionized campus.
Sparks did not deny making the controversial comment at the debate.
“I probably did say something like that,” he confirmed.
Proposition 32 requires that unions get permission from members before they use paid dues for political activism.
“Because I am at Pierce, the union negotiates for me,” Brown explained.
She also explained why she thought Sparks called her a hypocrite.
“Pierce, a unionized campus, the union negotiates for me, so I’m a hypocrite because I’m not unionized,” she stated. “That’s his argument.”
Brown attests she got fired from her position at East Los Angeles College for not being part of the union there, and was advised to join the union when starting at Pierce College– at least for the “probation period.”
Sparks recalls she was a member of the union for the first three and a half years.
“I remember Pam when she just started here,” Sparks said. “She was an active union member.”
Sparks explained that it was not a personal jab at Brown. Instead, he believes the situation is hypocritical.
“I believe it’s hypocritical for someone to join the union to ‘secure a position’ and then leave,” he said, after he was explained Brown’s motive for initially joining the union before leaving after the probation period.
Sparks claimed that it is not legal to fire someone over their union status.
“She did not get fired for being non-union because that’s against the law,” Sparks said. “Her contract probably just didn’t get extended. That’s not because of her union status.”
“We all want changes in a system,” Brown concluded. “Sometimes you have to work from inside.”
To keep up with politics at Pierce, check The Roundup.