CFT United

Overview

CFT United

CFT United, previously named California Teacher, is the union’s flagship magazine that is emailed to all union members. The award-winning digital magazine contains union news important to members, and covers major issues in each division of the CFT: PreK-12, Classified, Community College, University, and Retired. Browse stories by date here or by index.

CFT United is published regularly during the academic year. We welcome unsolicited articles, letters, and story ideas. Please send letters, submissions, or other inquiries to Publications Director Jane Hundertmark.

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Article Up Front staff shortage

We are united for education and justice
Back-to-School tour and opinion poll provide strong foundation for strategic planning

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

Another school year has started. As an educator, August and September have traditionally been the time when I set New Year’s resolutions for the coming academic year. It starts me off on a positive note to identify my goals, my priorities, and the areas in which I want to learn and grow.

I think about our work at CFT in much the same way, and just like when I was teaching, beginning a new school year as an organization is not just the work of one person. Setting goals for the CFT is not just the work of leaders or the Executive Council. Rather it demands real-time feedback from our membership so that we, as a statewide union, can respond to the issues members identify as top priorities. To do that important work, we have undertaken a number of projects to listen to members and respond to what we have heard.

Article staff shortage coronavirus AFT
Yajaira J. CuapioYajaira J. CuapioDeborah RobledoCharles LoneroRay Gaer

In our voices: The state of our schools, workers, and students
Educators report staff shortages, mental health issues are ubiquitous

Yajaira J. Cuapio has been a social worker in the San Francisco Unified School District for eight years. With the pandemic, she says the last couple of years have been challenging.

“Students have been isolated for so long that it’s having an impact on their social skills. They’re arguing and fighting, and it leads to unsafe interactions,” she said. “Then academically there have been disruptions. For one thing, a positive COVID case would cause students to have to quarantine for 10 days, and if they’re out that long, truancy is established.”

Article staff shortage affordability crisis
Alex Daria, special education instructional assistantAlex Daria, special education instructional assistantRobbie RockMonica CaseyShirley Cruz

How does a district build a village for teachers and staff?
Innovative, affordable, and comfortable housing in Daly City welcomes new and veteran employees

The Jefferson Union High School District knew it had a problem holding onto staff. The district was losing about 25% of its certificated and classified employees yearly, and a survey showed that many were leaving the Daly City school district because of the high cost of housing.

Article coronavirus SCFF PT campaign
San Diego student Joshua McCannJim MahlerJames McKeever

Faculty push for the face-to-face classes that students want
In-person college classes improve learning, build campus community, and lifelong connections

Joshua McCann much prefers going to campus for his San Diego Community College District classes. Now in his second year and intending to transfer to a UC and major in political science, McCann says connections on Zoom or in your Canvas inbox can’t compare to being with a person in real life.

McCann goes to campus for three out of his four classes. The other night after his philosophy class, he stayed for office hours with the teacher, and ended up having a two-hour conversation about the class with some of the other students.

Article lecturers librarians
UC-AFT President Mia McIver

Retrospective: Organizing to win in tumultuous times
Reflecting on five years of union gains for UC librarians and lecturers

By Mia McIver, President, University Council-AFT

When I was elected president of University Council-AFT in 2017, I never could have predicted that the next five years would be as tumultuous as they turned out to be. I also could never have foreseen how our union of University of California lecturers and librarians would organize, build power, win contracts, and accomplish gains that far exceeded my hopes and expectations.

Article WEP/GPO Social Security
rally to end WEP/GPO in Washington D.C.retirees rally to end WEP/GPOretirees fighting to end WEP/GPORepeal WEP/GPO

Take action now to avoid income shock at retirement
End the Social Security penalties WEP and GPO

Districts are supposed to tell new hires about the impact “WEP and GPO” will have on their Social Security—but often they don’t, says Dennis Cox, president of the CFT Council of Retired Members. That means teachers who are counting on a certain amount of income for their retirement get a shock when they find out they won’t be getting it. This happened to Cox.

“I found out I wasn’t going to get my full Social Security benefits and Medicare would be taken out of that,” he said. “I got clobbered, and there’s many people in a worse situation than I am.”

Article Elections 2022
Katie PorterCongressional candidate Christy Smith with CFT members.California Senator Alex PadillaYes on Prop 1Governor Newsom signs Christy Smith's landmark charter reform bill.

California voters crucial to holding U.S. Senate and House
Your vote as a CFT member matters more this November than ever!

You’ve no doubt heard pundits debating the fate of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. Like most midterm elections, this November will be crucial in determining the tone and tenor of national politics, as well as the ability of our elected representatives to get things done on behalf of educators and working people.

Though California is often described as a “safe blue state,” it has an important role to play in protecting progressive incumbents and working to flip House seats.

Article coronavirus labor solidarity

Anatomy of a victory: Teachers stand up, insist upon being valued
How the ABC Federation’s work-to-rule campaign succeeded

Ruben Mancillas, chief negotiator for ABC Federation of Teachers, was pleased about getting a 5% raise for teachers in their latest contract, which he says is the single largest increase since the recession. But it’s not only the raise that pleased him.

Local 2317 was headed towards a strike for the first time in three decades, after uncharacteristically tough negotiations with a new school board in place. Instead of a strike, ABC did a work-to-rule campaign, asking teachers to only do what was specified in their contract.

Article Elections 2022 WEP/GPO Social Security
retirees rally to end WEP/GPOretirees fighting to end WEP/GPOBonnie Ciedel

Retirees gearing up for national midterm elections
Voices of experience hope to educate younger Americans, reverse Social Security penalties

Political season is in full swing and, with days to go until California’s June 7 primary, CFT retirees are already looking ahead to the November 8 General Election.

“I can’t tell you how many people have told me they are mad as hell and ‘ready to do something’ because of the leaked Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights,” said Mike Nye at-large representative on the CFT Council of Retired Members.

Article Up Front community schools

Doing the work we love in the most difficult of circumstances
California is breaking down the walls other states are building

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

As educators and classified professionals, we often mark beginnings and ends with school years rather than calendar years. Each May, students leave for the summer or graduate and venture off to another stage in their lives. As these chapters open and close, it’s hard not to think about similar times in our own lives, when we moved on from a particularly beloved school or classroom, and from the school staff that made our experience so exceptional.

Article Elections 2022 endorsements SPI
Tony Thurmond with CFT officersTony ThurmondMalia Cohen

Your vote on June 7 is important: Reelect Tony Thurmond
Primary Election kicks off statewide races and new face of California Legislature

It may seem like the dust from the last campaign has barely settled, but it’s already time for California’s Primary Election on June 7. The CFT has made a number of key endorsements and is working with labor and community partners to elect champions for public education and working people.  

Article lecturers
Trevor Griffey in a planning groupCFT President Jeff Freitas with Trevor GriffeyIris Ruiz

Two higher education activists join UC-AFT leadership
First woman of color and first labor historian

In a history-making move, the University Council-AFT is taking steps to expand representation in its leadership. Two new vice presidents have been elected, both of whom are contingent faculty from campuses that have not previously been represented — UC Merced and UC Irvine. Iris Ruiz, from Merced, is the first woman of color to serve on the UC-AFT Executive Board. Trevor Griffey is the first labor historian; he also has a pre-continuing and intermittent appointment.

Article coronavirus Classified Conference
conference group shot

Trades workers, custodians ready for increasingly dangerous workplaces
PHOTO GALLERY
CFT conference tackles tough issues of coronavirus, toxic chemicals, climate change, active shooters

Dozens of classified members from locals up and down California recently met at Compton College for the first Custodial and Skilled Trades Conference hosted by the CFT Council of Classified Employees.

“We have talked about this for years, and put it off for two years because of COVID, but here we are,” said a buoyant CCE President Carl Williams.

Article State Council resolutions
California Attorney General Rob BontaCFT President Jeff Freitas talked about the union's priorities.CFT Senior Vice President Lacy BarnesSteve McDougall, Salinas Valley Federation of TeachersTobin KellerKelly MayhewIngrid GunnellBea HerreraKelsey Iino

State Council inspired by Attorney General Rob Bonta, passes six resolutions
Recruiting more education workers, healthcare for part-time faculty, climate justice top agenda

California Attorney General Rob Bonta kicked off the State Council meeting on Saturday morning. After an introduction by CFT President Jeff Freitas who talked about Bonta’s commitment to going after people who use their power to harm others, demanding corporate accountability, and fighting for public education, Bonta came on stage.

He talked about how the encouragement and support of staff, coaches and teachers had made it possible for him to go to college and then to law school.

Article racial justice Leadership Conference
Bill PritchettOne on one discussions during workshopOne on one discussions during workshopOne on one discussions during workshop

Dismantling male supremacy and white supremacy
Workshop takes a deep dive into building healthy workplace cultures

Bill Pritchett, a specialist in racial justice, communications, and leadership development, and who guided CFT’s Racial Equity Task Force, began his workshop on “Dismantling the Intersections of Male Supremacy Culture and White Supremacy Culture in Our Workplaces” (whew, tall order) by talking about how impressed he is with CFT’s commitment to racial justice.

Sandra GuzmanBelinda BlumImmigration attorney Leis Rodriguez

Members support and mentor undocumented students
Dedicated educators help students succeed and thrive

For Belinda Lum, sociology professor at Sacramento City College and chief negotiator for the Los Rios College Federation of Teachers, it was because she’s the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of people who came over from China with fake papers. For Leis Rodriguez, it was wanting to use her law school degree for her passion and becoming an immigration attorney.

Article racial justice Leadership Conference
Lena AckermanBethany Gizzi

How implicit bias can lead to injustice
Members explore implicit bias and its effects

Implicit bias can lead to injustice in many areas of our lives, including housing, education, employment, the courts, and healthcare. We all have implicit biases — or preferences and attitudes that subconsciously can affect how we interact with others, said Bethany Gizzi, and Lena Ackerman, trainers in the “Understanding Implicit Bias and Stereotypes” workshop at the CFT Leadership Conference held March 17-18.

Article Leadership Conference racial justice SPI AFT
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond nd with membersState Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony ThurmondndCFT Secretary Treasurer Luukia SmithAFT President Randi Weingarten zoomed in from the strike lines in Minneapolis.JEDI Organizer Cynthia Eaton

Leadership Conference focuses on racial and social justice
Thurmond, Weingarten address delegates

About 200 CFT members from around the state converged at San Francisco’s Hyatt Regency for a Leadership Conference — the first time they’d been able to join together for such an event since the state shut down for COVID on March 13, 2020.

Seeming excited to see one another in person, attendees went to workshops, many dealing with racial and social justice issues, and heard from speakers including JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) Organizer Cynthia Eaton, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, and AFT President Randi Weingarten.

Article Up Front racial justice LGBTQ+

Stand up to defend free thought, honest history, and gender identity
Right-wing targets schools and colleges across the nation

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

When I decided to become a teacher, I was focused on helping students and meeting them where they are. I became a mathematics teacher — slopes, quadratic equations, fractions, square roots and all. But I entered into the profession because I was interested in who my students are as people, not just in class. I wanted to understand their hopes and dreams and help them become the people they wanted to be.

Article special education staff shortage
Heather Molloy in her classroom with globe behind herMarcela Chagoya in classroom

Pandemic magnifies long-standing challenges in special education
CFT Special Ed Summit motivates members to take bold action

This is Heather Molloy’s first year on CFT’s Special Education Services Committee. She says she feels grateful to be part of it and thinks in a short period of time, the committee has accomplished a lot.

Molloy, a high school teacher and member of Oxnard Federation of Teachers and School Employees, is referring to the EC/TK-12 Council’s Special Education Summit in February where members wrote a resolution to change the state’s Education Code, which she thinks desperately needs updating.

Article staff shortage
Palomar classified leaders with CCE leaderslarge group of Berkeley classified employees with CCE leadersCCE President Carl Williams talks to Palomar membersPalomar members at table with swag

Classified leaders hit the road to meet locals
Listening tour leads to greater understanding, solidarity

After more than a year of Delta and Omicron surges and other COVID-19 pandemic obstacles, officers of the CFT Council of Classified Employees embarked on a statewide listening tour of AFT local unions representing classified employees.

“There will never be a perfect time, so we just hit the road,” said CCE President Carl Williams. “Our members have heard what we have to say. Now they want to be heard.”

Honour Harry with a folder of paintings done by seniorsMike BradburyHonour Harry walking to workHistory teacher Juli Jones

What does losing healthcare look like for part-time faculty in our community colleges? Part 1
Pandemic, declining enrollment has led to loss of health benefits

Honour Harry works two jobs — as a freelance illustrator and doing children’s education at a local church — in addition to her job teaching art for the North Orange Community College District. Harry doesn’t teach on campus. Instead, she goes into nursing homes, often working with people who are in memory care and who are immunocompromised.

Article retiree chapters
Retirees comb the local filesRetiree Chapter President Ann KillebrewLocal President Malaika Finkelstein at a white boardretirees walking on San Francisco Bay

Elders Speak! project preserves union history for future generations
AFT Local 2121 marks 50th anniversary with oral history

By Bill Shields

Janitors organize live onstage, in multiple languages. A domestic worker ponders the meaning of life as she mimes ironing clothes. Dancing hotel workers tell how they won a good contract. These stories emerged from an oral history project called Work Tales produced by the Labor and Community Studies Department at City College of San Francisco. I spent 25 years teaching in this department.