This past weekend over 600 delegates and guests gathered at the historic Millennium Biltmore hotel in downtown Los Angeles to take part in the 2019 CFT Convention. Throughout the weekend we celebrated CFT’s 100 year anniversary, recognizing the incredible activism, dedication, and success of generations of educators and classified professionals who worked tirelessly over a century for our students, our schools, and our professions.

The highlight of the celebration was the 100 year anniversary gala event on Saturday night, where Rebecca Rust, the daughter of legendary CFT president Ben Rust and a world renowned classical musician, gave an incredible performance with her husband Friedrich Edelmann. Retiring CFT President Josh Pechthalt was recognized at the gala with CFT’s highest honor, the Ben Rust Award, for his bold and successful leadership of the union.

Jeff Freitas and Luukia Smith elected as CFT’s next leaders

At the Convention, delegates elected new CFT officers, division council leaders, and vice presidents. CFT Secretary Treasurer Jeff Freitas was elected as CFT’s new President, and Council of Classified Employees President Luukia Smith was elected CFT’s new Secretary Treasurer.

“Our top priority must be investing in California’s public education — drawing on the strength of our world-class economy to rescue our state from its current embarrassing place among the lowest in per-pupil spending in all of the United States,” says Freitas “We will continue to fight boldly for increased education funding — not only because California should lead the nation in per-pupil funding, but because it is the right thing to do for the children of this state and the society they will shape.”

Making history, Luukia Smith becomes the first classified member of CFT to assume a top leadership position in the organization. Together, she and Jeff are also the first LGBTQ leaders elected to each of the top two positions in the union.

“I am honored to earn the support and trust of my fellow members and am proud to become the first classified professional elected to a top leadership position in the CFT,” says Smith. “Classified professionals are the backbone of our schools and colleges, and I will work hard to ensure that all CFT members receive the respect, pay, and voice at work they deserve.”

CFT delegates also elected the following leaders as presidents of the union’s division councils:

  • Council of Classified Employees – Carl Williams
  • EC/TK-12 Council – Rico Tamayo
  • Community College Council – Jim Mahler
  • Council of Retired Members – John Perez

All elected officers and leaders will assume their new positions on May 24, 2019.

Resolutions passed guiding CFT policy

The CFT Convention is the highest policy making body in the union. This year, delegates passed sixteen resolutions to guide the union in the coming year.

The first resolution passed by Convention delegates states that we will henceforth be known as CFT: A Union of Educators and Classified Professionals. The change formally recognizes that the union is equally proud to represent a broad spectrum of educational workers.

Delegates also passed resolutions on charter school accountability, limiting standardized tests, opposing privatization, supporting part-time faculty, increasing school funding, and supporting the Green New Deal, among others.

“Thanks to all of the delegates, leaders, guests, and staff who worked so hard to make sure the 2019 CFT Convention was a success,” says CFT President Josh Pechthalt. “The energy and enthusiasm on display this weekend underscores the pride and dedication that our members continue to bring to the union and to protecting our schools, colleges, and universities.”

Look for full Convention coverage in the next issue of California Teacher, including a detailed overview of the policy positions approved at the Convention. In the meantime, please check out some great photos from the event, here and here.