California Teacher

Overview Jane Hundertmark

California Teacher

California Teacher is the CFT’s flagship magazine that is emailed to all union members. The award-winning magazine contains union news and positions of import to all members, and covers major issues in each educational division of the CFT: PreK-12, Classified, Community College, University, and Retired. California Teacher has won numerous awards from labor communications groups for its excellence in storytelling. Browse by date below or by index here.

California Teacher is published four times during the academic year. Please send letters, submissions, or other inquiries to Jane Hundertmark, Publications Director and Editor.

Article CFT 100 By Elaine Johnson Jane Hundertmark

Commemorating 40 years of collective bargaining

The difference one law makes for teachers and classified employees

Editor’s note: California Teacher published this article in 2015, 40 years after K-14 teachers and classified staff won collective bargaining rights in California.

On May 20, 1976, I cast the first vote for teachers’ collective bargaining in the state of California. TV cameras recorded the event at Redwood High School in Larkspur, and in those pre-DVR times, the family watched it that evening on the 6 o’clock news.

Article CFT 100 By Mary Bergan

Memoir of a Union Lobbyist: 50 Years Looking Back

Editor’s note: This memoir was originally published as “30 Years Looking Back” in August 1999 by the Institute of Industrial Relations in CPER, A Periodical of Employee Relations in the Public Sector. 

I begin with Robert Reich’s admonition that a memoir is not a history. It chronicles events as the writer remembers them. This is a memoir.

Article CFT 100 By Raoul Teilhet Jane Hundertmark

What To Do Between Strikes
An essay by Raoul Teilhet

Editor’s note: This essay was presented to CFT Convention on March 9, 2002. Because of Raoul Teilhet’s Parkinson’s disease, it was read by then-Vice President Greg Camacho-Light, a drama teacher from the Gilroy Federation of Teachers and Paraprofessionals. Gov. Gray Davis attended convention that day and officially named it Raoul Teilhet Day. 
 

Article CFT 100 By Dennis Kelly

The birth of a statewide Federation

On May 16, 1918, J.P. Utter wrote to the president of the AFT to remind him that a year earlier Utter had asked about chartering a local. In that year, the Vallejo teachers had organized 57 of 58 teachers and principals, had elected two officers, created a salary committee that delivered a raise, demanded and won 12 monthly paychecks, and had created a temporary organization. Utter enclosed $10 for the charter fee. 

Article Up Front By Joshua Pechthalt, CFT President Jane Hundertmark

Creating a movement for charter reform and education funding
Up Front

WATCH THE VIDEO: State of the Union 2019

As the school year begins to wind down, our work ramps up. CFT is joining other education unions to push hard to enact bills calling for more charter school transparency and accountability, bringing the decision-making on charter authorization exclusively to the district level, and more ambitiously, enacting a moratorium on all new charters. As Los Angeles state Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, the author of the moratorium bill explains, it’s time we put a “pause” on new charters.The effort to bring reform to charters importantly parallels the AFT Fund Our Future campaign that is investing in education.

Article CFT Convention CFT Elections Jane Hundertmark

Jeff Freitas elected CFT President, Luukia Smith elected Secretary Treasurer
Delegates elect new officers to lead the Federation

WATCH THE VIDEO: Freitas, Smith accept the leadership of CFT

Delegates to the 100th Anniversary Convention elected the first classified member to hold a top leadership position in the CFT, Council of Classified Employees President Luukia Smith, as Secretary Treasurer. The man who has held that position, Jeff Freitas, was elected CFT’s new president.

Article CFT Convention Jane Hundertmark

Membership Growth Awards recognize organizing

With the June 2018 Supreme Court 5-4 decision on Janus v. AFSCME ending “fair share” revenues, many locals were prepared to lose members, and organized to stop that.

“Some people will find it attractive to save a few hundred bucks, so we have to develop a new culture of unionism and union activism,” Community College Council President Jim Mahler told the delegates, encouraging them to greet new workers on campus. “We say, ‘Hi, here’s where the copy machine is, here’s the bathroom, and here’s the union card.’ We’ve got to be membership driven.”

Article CFT Convention Proposition 13 Jane Hundertmark

Convention speakers inspire through historic perspective
Reverse the damage of Prop 13 and build union strength

WATCH THE VIDEO: Jackie Goldberg

WATCH THE VIDEO: Bill Fletcher, Jr.

Former teacher and Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg welcomed Convention delegates to Los Angeles on March 22 and recounted an important history in the CFT’s 100th Anniversary year. She talked about the need to reverse the damage of Proposition 13.

Article CFT Convention Jane Hundertmark

Legislator of the Year Patrick O’Donnell brings the classroom to Sacramento

Former teacher and Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, who has lobbied for more school funding, and served as chair of the Assembly Education Committee, received the Legislator of the Year Award.

“He’s one of the people in Sacramento we can call on,” said CFT President Joshua Pechthalt about O’Donnell, elected in 2014, whose district includes Long Beach, Signal Hill, San Pedro and Catalina Island. “We’re not always in agreement, but he’s a steadfast ally of ours.”

Article CFT Convention Jane Hundertmark

CFT President Joshua Pechthalt honored with Ben Rust Award

AFT Local 2121 member and former CFT Communications Director Fred Glass presented retiring CFT President Joshua Pechthalt with the CFT’s highest honor, the Ben Rust Award. Glass called Pechthalt, who was AFT vice president of United Teachers Los Angeles before being elected CFT president in 2011, an organizer, a trade unionist, and a fighter for social justice like Rust.

Article CFT Convention Jane Hundertmark

In unflinching terms, Nancy MacLean spells out the right-wing attack on America

Rebuilding union power is key – AFT West Virginia and UTLA are doing just that

WATCH THE VIDEO: Nancy MacLean

WATCH THE VIDEO: Aryana Fields performs “Strike Song”

When future historians look back on this period, Donald Trump and his presidency will be seen as a sideshow while a slow attempted takeover of our core branches of government is underway.

Article CFT Convention Jane Hundertmark

Delegates pass wide-ranging resolutions at Convention
Topics range from rebranding and retirees to the Green New Deal

On its 100th Anniversary, the CFT voted to rebrand itself. In accordance with Resolution 1, which convention delegates passed unanimously, it will now be CFT: A Union of Educators and Classified Professionals. The change formally recognizes that the union proudly represents a broad spectrum of education workers.

Luukia Smith, elected Secretary Treasurer of the CFT by delegates, and the first classified employee to serve in this position, was first to rise in support of the change.

Article CFT Convention Jane Hundertmark

Convention delegates celebrate the CFT’s 100th Anniversary
Gala, special guests, videos and exhibits showcase an extraordinary history

Hundreds of delegates to the CFT Convention celebrated the 100th Anniversary of their union at a hotel of nearly the same age, the historic Millennium Biltmore in downtown Los Angeles.

During general sessions, delegates watched a series of videos chronicling the CFT’s history of activism. Outside the ballroom doors, they could view a wide range of exhibits in the CFT Hall of History.

Article Strike Local Action Jane Hundertmark

Teachers never walk alone when they have union brothers and sisters
Six Days That Shook Los Angeles – Part 6, Conclusion

UTLA’s fight to save public education resonated far and wide. Messages of solidarity and selfies of fist-pumping teachers poured in from Kentucky to Canada. Union locals across Los Angeles set up support networks for more than 200 LAUSD schools. For Writers Guild members, joining teachers on picket lines was an opportunity to pay back their mentors.

Article Strike Local Action admin

The power of parents: A new generation shows its commitment to local schools
Six Days That Shook Los Angeles - Part 5

United Teachers Los Angeles has fought for nearly 50 years to give parents a greater voice in how their children’s schools are run. In recent years, UTLA stepped up its outreach by hiring community organizers, building coalitions, and working with supporters in changing neighborhoods.

Those efforts bore fruit in January, when thousands of parents joined teachers on picket lines across the 700-square-mile school district to fight for “the schools our students deserve.”

Article Strike Local Action Jane Hundertmark

The UTLA strike was personal for Josh Pechthalt
Six Days That Shook Los Angeles - Part 4

Manual Arts High School has a proud 109-year history. Alumni include painter Jackson Pollock, actor Paul Winfield, and tennis champion Richard “Pancho” Gonzalez. Former teacher Josh Pechthalt was shaped by – and has helped to reshape – the South L.A. fixture.

CFT President Josh Pechthalt was a student at Fairfax High in 1970, when United Teachers Los Angeles struck for nearly a month. He later taught social studies at Manual Arts High School for more than 20 years, and was on the front lines in 1989, when UTLA struck a second time. 

Article Strike Local Action Matthew Hardy

UTLA retirees link “Class of 2019” to 1989 and 1970 walkouts
Six Days That Shook Los Angeles - Part 3

During the strike, hundreds of retired L.A. teachers returned to their former schools to continue the fight for public education. One veteran of the two previous strikes said back then UTLA was up against an intransigent district, but didn’t have to face billionaires and unrestrained charter school growth.

UTLA-Retired is now mobilizing all its 4,300 members for the special election in March to fill a key seat on the LAUSD school board and tilt the balance away from a pro-charter majority.

Article Strike Local Action Jane Hundertmark

Charter schools cost L.A. Unified nearly $600 million per year, board votes for moratorium
Six Days That Shook Los Angeles - Part 2

Eight days after the six-day strike had ramped up public pressure, the Los Angeles Unified school board passed a groundbreaking resolution calling for a moratorium on new charters in the district until Sacramento completes a study of how their unchecked expansion has affected traditional schools. The district also made a significant investment in local community schools.

Article Up Front

A Blue Wave – but what next?

By Joshua Pechthalt, CFT President

By all measures, this was a very successful midterm election. Democrats picked up 40 seats in the U.S. House, which they will now control, and more than 300 legislative seats nationwide. In California, we ran the table on statewide officers and elected a supermajority in both houses of our state Legislature. Most importantly for us, Tony Thurmond was elected superintendent of public instruction. 

Article Strike

Strike? Stand with L.A. teachers to win the schools students deserve

STORY UPDATE: After the factfinding report was released on December 18, UTLA announced it will go on strike January 10.

A Red-for-Ed wave rolled through downtown Los Angeles on December 15 as tens of thousands of members and supporters of United Teachers Los Angeles protested large class sizes, low pay, over-testing, a shortage of school nurses and other support staff, and the unregulated growth of charter schools.