Paula Phillips is president of the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees. After earning a degree in human resource management and working in the private sector, she came to Berkeley Unified as an administrative assistant to the Personnel Commission. She saw the district grading internal job candidates harder than external applicants and didn’t think it was fair.
The district repeatedly passed up Phillips for classified director and ordered her to train a series of outside hires. “I decided that if I couldn’t effect a change as classified director, I could certainly effect a change as leader of the union.”
Carl Williams started working for the Lawndale Elementary School District on noon duty and was soon hired as a special education instructional assistant. Six years later, he switched to custodian and was promoted to senior custodian last year.
Williams, a CFT vice president and active in the Lawndale Federation of Classified Employees for nearly 20 years, was elected president in 2009.
“Working in an organization made up mainly of teachers can help improve your working conditions as a classified employee. It matters to a lot of groundskeepers, custodians and, as we call them in my district, blue shirts, that someone on the executive council reflects their views.”
Janet Eberhardt earned a degree in personnel management, but refocused her career on education, completing a credential program and receiving a master’s in counseling.
Eberhardt, a community relations specialist for San Francisco Unified since 1985, says, “First and foremost, I am a child and family advocate, pledged to effect positive changes in the lives of the families and children that cross my path as an educator.”
For 15 years, she has been a voice for paraprofessionals on the bargaining team for United Educators of San Francisco.
Tina Solórzano Fletcher is organizing and membership coordinator for the AFT Guild in San Diego. She joined the local’s executive board in 1998, after district staff voted AFT their bargaining agent.
The Guild represents faculty and staff in the city’s community colleges, and faculty in the Grossmont-Cuyamaca district.
Solórzano is now working on a degree in Native American studies. “I’ve always been interested in social justice and my dad was in the carpenters’ union, so there was a lot of union talk in our household.”
Reach out to officers of the CFT classified division
President Paula Phillips
Southern Vice President Carl Williams
Northern Vice President Janet Eberhardt
Secretary Tina Solórzano Fletcher
Phillips and Williams are also members of the CFT Executive Council.