At the annual conference held October 9-11 in San Jose, there was a smorgasbord of learning opportunities for attendees. Classified staff and paraprofessionals took advantage of the offerings, which were both informational and social.

Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, representing the East Bay’s 15th Assembly District described his hardscrabble upbringing and his path to becoming a state legislator. He also told how being a member of the West Contra Costa School Board helped him understand the essential work of classified employees.

In one legal seminar, attorneys addressed mandatory reporter laws, administration of drugs, and recent decisions of the courts and the Public Employment Relations Board. Another provided the history of workers’ compensation, defined what constitutes an industrial injury and explained claims processes.

Workshops galore, with the always popular Workplace Bullying, and Addressing Disruptive Student Behaviors, as well as numerous others.

Red & White Social… a chance to dress up and just have some fun after all that learning.

Three topnotch staff named Members of the Year

Staff nominated by their local unions were named Members of the Year at the annual Classified Conference. The award recipients have at least two things in common: They are active in their unions, and in their communities.

Mary Le Duc, a secretary at Mid-City Center in San Diego, is a solid advocate for classified staff in the San Diego and Grossmont-Cuyamaca community colleges. She is secretary of the AFT Guild, Local 1931, and an officer of the Classified Senate in San Diego continuing education.

“Mary is outspoken, smart, hard-working and compassionate,” says local President Jim Mahler. “She is always willing to participate in state and local union issues, and serves on many committees representing classified staff.”

Le Duc also volunteers in the LGBTQ community.

Charles James, Jr. has been an early childhood professional at San Francisco’s Jefferson Elementary since 1980. James represents paraprofessionals on the executive board of United Educators of San Francisco and serves on both his school’s and the district-wide Union Building Committees.

According to Local 61, “The children and families, as well as the teachers, trust and rely upon Charles. They say he is Mr. Reliable. Charles loves the career he has chosen, and the children and families love him back.”

Jeanie Brown, a finance account technician, is the financial go-to person for students, parents, and staff at Santa Cruz High School, as well as her union, the Santa Cruz Council of Classified Employees, AFT Local 6084.

Local President Robert Chacanaca said, that as chief negotiator for the union, “Jeanie has shown the district such a high level of skill that the district’s chief negotiator often has to consult with its legal team.” During last year’s tumultuous negotiations, the management side went through three chief business officers — yet Brown never let down her resolve and stayed the course.

Members share pride: I am proud to be classified because…

  • “As a life science lab technician, I set up the science labs that excite students about science and the world around them. My work is some of the first exposure they will have to the scientific community.”
  • “I know my work matters when I see the light in a child’s eye, because they finally ‘got it.’”
  • “I care about providing a clean and sanitary college for our students, teachers, classified, and management, and the public.”
  • “I get to work every day and help people on my campus. I get to see students start and finish their goals because of the help I give.”
  • “I process the paperwork to get special education students into the programs they need to be in to learn at their fullest potential.”
  • “As a cook for Berkeley Unified, 
I am providing meals and nutrition to our students that is essential in their well-being.”
  • “I keep the grounds beautiful! I also go the extra mile to encourage students to keep up their good work! I am blessed!”