CFT United

Overview

CFT United

CFT United, previously named 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 members, and covers major issues in each educational division of the CFT: PreK-12, Classified, Community College, University, and Retired. The magazine has won numerous awards from labor communications groups for its excellence in storytelling.

The first issue of California Teacher was published in 1948, and members received it in print for 70 years before it became a web-based digital publication. In the fall of 2019, the magazine was renamed CFT United to better reflect the union’s diverse membership. Under its new name, the magazine continues to bring members the same high-quality content and news of the CFT. Browse by date below or by index here.

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

Article Charter schools

Grassroots effort leads to historic charter school reform

Updated October 3, 2019

On Thursday, October 3, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1505, a historic charter school reform bill that is essential to ensuring charter schools are accountable to local communities and all California students. The new law follows months of incredible organizing and weeks of intense negotiations, during which CFT leaders, members, and staff have stood with fellow educators, school workers, parents, and students to push for reform.

Article

New state program matches funds classified employees set aside
What you need to know about Classified School Employee Summer Assistance

Bernard Benson is enrolled in the new Classified School Employee Summer Assistance Program. His deductions began in August and will continue through June. The state will match his savings up to a dollar for dollar in July.

“It would be ludicrous for me not to participate,” explained Benson. “Where else can I set aside $200 a month for 11 months and make a 100 percent return on my investment?”

Article Up Front

Union work is social justice work

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

When I was elected CFT President in March, I said in my speech to Convention delegates: “I believe that when we fight for education, we also fight for social justice, racial justice, gender equality, LGBTQ rights, and climate justice.”

To be a social justice union, we must not only consider the complex lives of our members and the challenges they face, but look beyond the doors of the schoolhouse to consider the ways our campus communities intersect with our larger communities. When we fight for labor, we must fight for our communities, too.

Article Online College

CFT takes bold next step in opposition to statewide online community college
Union to sue CalBright for violations of Education Code

Duplicating existing programs. Diverting taxpayer resources. Recruiting students from other districts. Not meeting critical deadlines. Lack of input from faculty stakeholders. Lack of transparency.

These are some of the reasons  leaders from the CFT’s Community College Council strongly oppose the state’s new all online community college, now doing business as “Calbright,” which they say was created to fill a need that doesn’t exist.

Article Labor art

How unionizing the Lusty Lady has influenced faculty members
Novelist and poet works to organize faculty in creative departments

When Aya de León started as a lecturer in African American Studies at UC Berkeley and director of its Poetry for the People program, she was excited to join AFT Local 1474. She’s been working since she was a teenager, de León says, but this is the first job where she has a union to represent her.

When she was younger, the idea of being in a local seemed very adult to her, and now being a member of one makes her feel she has arrived, she says. That’s just one reason she’s excited to be a union member.

Article Lecturers

UC lecturers take bold stand with university in negotiations
Momentum has built activism and organizing success

Eighty UC-AFT members and their allies showed up at the first bargaining session at UC Davis as lecturers began their contract negotiations last spring. The impressive number of rank-and-file members in the room to support the team helped them win open bargaining, says UC-AFT President Mia McIver.

Article

How American education has changed since “Leave it to Beaver”
Tracking diversity and achievement in our schools since 1960

By John Perez, President, Council of Retired Members

In 1960 America was a very different place. Father Knows Best was ending a seven-year run, but we were still watching Leave It to Beaver. Women earned only 63 percent as much as men for the same job. Teachers were considered “tall children,” better seen than heard.

California Teacher CFT 100

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.

By Elaine Johnson

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.

California Teacher CFT 100

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. 

By Mary Bergan

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.

California Teacher CFT 100

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. 

California Teacher CFT 100

The birth of a statewide Federation
A piece of our history is revealed for the first time

By Dennis Kelly

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. 

California Teacher Up Front By Joshua Pechthalt, CFT President

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.

California Teacher CFT Convention CFT Elections

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.

California Teacher CFT Convention

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.”

California Teacher CFT Convention Proposition 13

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.

California Teacher CFT Convention Proposition 30

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.

California Teacher CFT Convention

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.

California Teacher CFT Convention

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.

California Teacher CFT Convention CFT 100

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.

California Teacher Strike Local Action

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.

California Teacher Strike Local Action

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.”

California Teacher Strike Local Action

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.