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 magazine contains union news and positions 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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The CFT campaign to Fund our Future

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

In 2011, the CFT worked with community partners to lead the charge for a Millionaires Tax that eventually turned into Prop 30 and was then extended by Prop 55. Those funds helped stop the bleeding in K-14 education following the recession and drastic funding cuts of the mid-2000s.

Now, however, there are pressures throughout our school districts and community colleges that are preventing CFT members from getting the pay, benefits, program funding, and staffing levels our schools, colleges, and communities desperately need.

Article Lecturers

Thousands of UC lecturers mobilize for job rights, fair salaries
Academic and blue collar workforce fight back against university’s substandard pay

When Josh Brahinsky isn’t teaching “Academic Literacy and Ethos” and “Brain, Mind, and Consciousness” classes to new students at UC Santa Cruz, the lecturer is researching bio-cultural anthropology at Stanford University, teaching at San Jose State, or leading online classes at Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania.

“UC only pays me $19,900 yearly,” Brahinsky said. “That’s not enough to live on, so I have to make up the difference somewhere else.”

Article Online College

Has Calbright lost its legislative support?
Senators take online college to task in February 13 hearing

It may have taken over two years, but the Calbright online community college has apparently lost any support it might have enjoyed in the state Legislature when the CFT first warned about the potential for failure. In December 2017, Jim Mahler, president of the CFT Community College Council, sent a seminal letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, Calbright’s main promoter, pointing out key flaws in its proposed structure.

Article Special Education

Special education in crisis
CFT SPECIAL REPORT

Marcela Chagoya, a special education teacher in Los Angeles and chair of the CFT Special Education Committee, has been teaching at the same middle school for 21 years. And she’s never seen special education in such a bad state.

“First and foremost, it’s the elimination of programs,” she said. “Districts seem to think it’s one size fits all or fits most when it comes to special ed.”

Article

Nominate your classified colleagues for national and state recognition
AFT helps in creation of new national RISE award

“Recognizing the work we do has been a long time coming,” said Carl Williams, president of the CFT Council of Classified Employees.

The “unsung heroes” of education have continued to enjoy new levels of respect since California first proclaimed Classified School Employee Week in 1969. This year’s weeklong celebration will be from May 17 to 23, but staff and paraeducators may also be recognized through a series of national, state and local awards.

Retirees are leaving their mark on 2020 elections
Seniors work on local and statewide measures

For more than four decades, California corporations have evaded their fair share of commercial property taxes, leaving our schools with some of the most overcrowded classrooms and worst ratios of students to counselors, librarians, and nurses in the nation.

Schools and Communities First will close those property tax loopholes in 1978’s Proposition 13 — without affecting homeowners or renters — and channel more than $12 billion per year to local schools, community colleges and other vital services.

Article Elections 2020

CFT members participate in Presidential Public Education Forum
Educators travel across the country to meet candidates in person

As we knew it would be, the lead-up to the 2020 Presidential Election is both an exciting and overwhelming time for voters. We are bombarded with articles, polls, social media, and headlines about the candidates.

Amid all the hype, it isn’t often that CFT members get the opportunity to see the presidential candidates in person and hear their perspectives on the issues we think about every day.

Article Elections 2020 Proposition 13

Vote YES on Prop. 13, the California school safety bond
$15 billion for new facilities and modernization

Proposition 13, the School Safety Bond, will appear on the March 2020 California ballot. The initiative, which bears no relation to Prop. 13 from 1978, is the largest school facilities bond in state history, promoting adequate and equitable school facilities that will provide healthy, safe, and educationally appropriate school infrastructure for our children.

Our bold step forward to fully fund public education
Schools and Communities First

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

When CFT received the first batch of petitions to put Schools and Communities First initiative on the ballot in late October, I immediately ripped a box open and took out a form. I eagerly signed the fresh new document to add my name in support of this historic initiative.

Article Part-time faculty Lecturers Librarians

Finding “common ground” in higher education
Campus Equity Week conference brings together contingent faculty from all higher ed systems

Members, officers, and activists from higher education unions throughout California came together for a full day during Campus Equity Week to chart a strategy for defending public higher education. They denounced especially the way education institutions, under corporate pressure, increasingly rely on contingent instructors while treating them as outsiders.

Article Local Action CFT 100

State’s oldest AFT local shares 100th Birthday with CFT
United Educators of San Francisco, 1919-2019

Editor’s note:  With uniquely linked histories, the CFT and AFT Local 61 both celebrate their 100th Anniversaries in 2019. What follows is a capsule history of the oldest local union in the California Federation of Teachers. From the search for true union representation in 1919 to the quest for affordable housing for union members 100 years later, the history of AFT Local 61 — the United Educators of San Francisco — is one of proud support for educators, their unions and students.

Article Lecturers

Telling, Not Being the Joke
A personal essay by Andrew Tonkovich

Q: Tell me, how long have you been working here?

A: Ever since they threatened to fire me.

That old cornball joke still makes me laugh, 50 years after I read it in a kids magazine. I understood it then as honest if everyday acknowledgement by the presumably once-lazy worker of his or her required acquiescence to power, and of isolation. But its splendid trick syntax and on-the-nose calling out of the coercive relationship of management to labor suggested more, even to a 10-year-old: cognizance of at least the potential inherent power of the worker — all workers? — to apprehend, to subvert, to jest, however fatalistically, cynically or — my own favorite — insubordinately.

Article Union communications

New CFT website wins top national awards
CFT wins 16 labor media awards

This was another excellent year for the CFT in the labor media contest sponsored by the International Labor Communications Association, with the union winning 16 awards, including top honors for the new website.

With the union’s switch to digital communications, the CFT’s focus switched to developing a modern and robust mobile-friendly website with digital storytelling capability and strong member outreach capacity. 

Article

Know the new laws for 2020
Legislative Update

The governor signed eight CFT-sponsored bills from the 2019 legislative session into law, as well as numerous others important to educators and support staff in California schools and colleges. Below is a summary of significant bills that will become law in 2020. You will also find significant bills vetoed by the governor along with his veto message. The CFT positions are indicated. The next legislative session begins when the Legislature reconvenes on January 6, 2020.

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.

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 Civil Rights

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.