Fittingly We Stand Together was the theme of the CFT March Summit, which took place from March 14–16 at the Sheraton Grand hotel in Sacramento. In a variety of panels, workshops, and conversations throughout the three-day event, the common theme of how we have so much more power as a group than as individuals resonated.

Attendees of the summit debated resolutions, attended workshops on subjects including climate justice and labor, the new Asian American and Pacific Islander interactive studies textbook, building coalitions, and heard from Sacramento City Councilmember Katie Valenzuela about environmental justice in California.

CFT members also got to hear from a panel of lawyers presenting legal issues relevant to the union, attended a screening of Rustin, with the fabulous Academy Award-nominated Colin Domingo as openly gay labor and civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, and memorialize Mary Bergan, who served as CFT president for 16 years.

The summit started on Thursday with a panel on Cultural Proficiency, geared to learning to engage with people and groups of different backgrounds. The panel included Cheryl Kearse, the Vice President of membership of the Council of Classified Employees at Palomar College, local 4522, and Dr. Angela Clark-Louque, who has taught PreK–12 as well as at community colleges and is currently a professor in Educational Leadership and Technology at California State University, San Bernardino. 

Conference goers had a choice of workshops on different topics, including running for office, guidance for new union leaders, and getting the most out of social media.

The next morning, attendees heard from Valenzuela, who works with the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition as a Senior Policy Advocate. Valenzuela told attendees about suffering from asthma growing up surrounded by oil fields in Kern County and talked about connecting labor and environmental justice. 

The workshops were followed by Division Council meetings.

In the evening, several speakers, including CFT President Jeff Freitas and Dennis Kelly, the President of the CFT Council of Retired Members, eulogized Mary Bergan, who passed away at 82 on November 30. Speakers recalled her effectiveness as a lobbyist and how she capped off years of work by the CFT getting then-Governor Jerry Brown to sign the legislation on collective bargaining.

On Saturday morning, delegates and guests attended the State Council where policy for the union is set. They talked about campaigns for the Day of Action for Classified Workers on May 21, the effort to end the two-tiered faculty system, and one to address the staffing crisis. Delegates debated and voted on several resolutions— including establishing an AI task force, pension plan protections so educational workers don’t get taken advantage of amongst others.

Attendees also got to hear from a SAG-AFTRA member, and actor on ER, Ellen Crawford about how the union came together to win a successful contract.

And finally, Cristina La Sala, an artist and teacher at California College of the Arts gave a presentation about their organizing campaign that ended with more than 90 percent of the faculty members choosing to join CFT.