April 20 was a historic day for us. We attended the Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security to speak in support of our sponsored death benefit equity bill, and we were there when the bill passed out of committee for the first time.

Raising the death benefit to parity with faculty has fallen short in nearly a dozen previous attempts. The increase contained in AB 1878 would provide survivors of classified staff more money for the funerals of their deceased loves ones by increasing the death benefit for classified employee members of CalPERS.

We initially sought an increase from $2,000 to $5,000, but the Council of Classified Employees voted in May to accept a lower threshold combined with automatic increases for inflation. AB 1878 would allow the CalPERS Board to increase the benefit by adjusting for inflation to better keep pace with the rising cost of funerals.

We also lobbied for two other priority bills on April 20: AB 2393 would provide 12 weeks of paid parental leave, and AB 2197 would allow classified employees to receive unemployment insurance when schools are out of session during summer.

— By Tina Solórzano Fletcher, Secretary, Council of Classified Employees

CFT champions bills to benefit classified employees

Create teacher credentialing program: AB 2122 would offer grants to districts and county offices of education to assist classified employees who want to complete four-year degrees and obtain teaching credentials. Program participants could receive up to $4,000 annually to pay for tuition and books.
McCarty, D-Sacramento
> Passed the Assembly on June 1 with strong bipartisan support in an 80-0 vote.

Increase survivor benefit: AB 1878 would increase the death benefit for classified employee members of CalPERS and allow the benefit to grow over time by tying it to inflation.
Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles
> Passed the Assembly on June 2 in a 57-19 vote.

Expand family leave: AB 2393 would provide new mothers and fathers up to 12 weeks of paid leave. When a staff member on parental leave has exhausted all available sick leave, he or she would receive “differential pay,” which is calculated by reducing salary by the amount paid to his or her substitute.
Campos, D-San Jose
> Passed the Assembly on June 2 in a 53-22 vote.

Provide unemployment insurance during breaks: AB 2197 would remove the prohibition that prevents classified staff from receiving unemployment benefits during the summer months when schools are out of session. 
Garcia, D-Downey
> Passed the Assembly on June 2 in a 51-27 vote.

> Read the full CFT Legislative Report