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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California Teacher Endorsements

Q&A: Get to know Tony Thurmond
Meet the CFT-endorsed candidate for state superintendent of public instruction

In a race important to all educators, the CFT has endorsed Assemblymember Tony Thurmond for state Superintendent of Public Instruction. CFT President Josh Pechthalt said Thurmond, a former social worker, has demonstrated “time and again he is a champion of public education. His policy positions solidly align him with the needs of students, parents and educators.”

California Teacher asked Thurmond about his positions on education issues ranging from early childhood to higher education.

California Teacher Wildfires Environment

Largest-ever California wildfire tears lives apart
Colleagues, students and the union lend support to members in need

Although Laura Carrasco and her husband were at home in Oxnard on Monday, December 4, they didn’t smell the smoke because of the 60-mile-an-hour winds. Around 10:30 pm, they looked outside, saw flames, and a few minutes later, firefighters went up the street with bullhorns, telling people to evacuate. 

It was the beginning of the Thomas fire, the largest recorded fire in California history, which burned 273,400 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, destroying about 1,000 structures. 

California Teacher Labor Movement

Documentary movie features United Farm Workers organizer
Five lessons from Dolores Huerta

Dolores Huerta, an organizing legend who co-founded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez, was a Girl Scout growing up in Stockton. She took seriously the idea that people should help one another and try to make things better. Something that particularly angered her was police officers stopping her and her Latino friends — but not the white people they knew — on their way home from a basketball or football game.

California Teacher Labor Movement Labor art

New book illustrates the humanity of people who travel with the crops

Writer, photographer and veteran UFW union organizer David Bacon frequently refers to “people who travel with the crops,” agricultural workers who move from place to place to cultivate and harvest California’s fields. They are the subject of his newest work of photojournalism, In the Fields of the North/En los campos del norte. Bacon is a frequent contributor to California Teacher. Below are excerpts from an interview with Capitol & Main. » Read the whole article here.

California Teacher Endorsements

CFT endorses Gavin Newsom for governor
Members heavily favor lieutenant governor in straw poll, opinion poll

2018 is shaping up to be a critical election for our nation and our state. With Gov. Jerry Brown being termed out, one of the most important elections for CFT members will be the race for governor.

After soliciting member feedback for almost two months, the CFT Executive Council on December 2 endorsed Gavin Newsom for the state’s top office.

California Teacher Privatization Vouchers

School Choice: A Tale of Two Countries
Norway and Sweden take divergent paths

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT Secretary Treasurer

In October I accompanied AFT President Randi Weingarten and several fellow AFT union leaders on a fact-finding trip to Sweden and Norway. The purpose of the trip was to examine firsthand the approaches taken by the countries to inform our own approach to public education.

At first glance, Sweden and Norway seem nearly identical. Both countries have low levels of income inequality. They fund their schools well and it shows. They both have high rates of union membership and participation. And they both have a relatively high rate of electoral participation.

California Teacher Environment Wildfires
Jen and William Ortlinghaus stand before the wreckage of their home in the wake of the devastating North Bay fires. Both are members of the Petaluma Federation of Teachers.

Wildfires take member homes
Union provides immediate aid and comfort

After the North Bay fires destroyed more than 5,000 homes and killed dozens of people, William Ortlinghaus, who teaches physical education at Kenilworth Junior High and his wife Jen, a teacher at Valley Vista Elementary, were happy to go back to work after school had been cancelled for a week.

“It was the only normal thing we had left,” Jen said, “And my fourth graders were curious to see if we were still alive and our dogs were OK.”

California Teacher Up Front

Sexual misconduct revelations demand changes in the workplace and society

By Joshua Pechthalt, CFT President

The daily revelations of sexual misconduct by men in authority seem like a turning point in the struggle for gender equality. While this appears to be a sea change, we must remember that Donald Trump’s claim he could grab women inappropriately without their consent failed to derail his run for the White House. That, however, may have been the opening salvo.

California Teacher Rank & Files

In Memoriam: Gary Ravani

Gary Ravani, 72, a fierce advocate of public education, died on November 17 after being hospitalized for acute pancreatitis. Ravani served as president of the EC/TK-12 Council from 2009 to 2015 and as a CFT Vice President for two decades.

California Teacher Rank & Files

Rank & Files
Nov-Dec 2017

KIRSTEN FARRELL, a health science and medical technology teacher at Venice Senior High School, and member of United Teachers Los Angeles, AFT Local 1021, was named as one of five California Teachers of the Year for 2018 by the state Department of Education.

California Teacher Local Action

Local Wire
Nov-Dec 2017

LOCAL 1603

#MembershipBlitz In November the Peralta Federation of Teachers, launched a six-day membership drive as part of a year-long strategy to recruit and engage members.

To prepare, the union audited membership files to make sure it had a signed membership form for every member. It then coordinated instructor schedules, recruited volunteers, finalized logistics, and assembled new member packets with helpful union information and a new union sticker. 

California Teacher Medicare

Medicare-for-All could free billions for our classrooms

Most American schools and colleges pay for employee healthcare out of their budgets. Education activists are enthusiastic that a Medicare-for-All approach for faculty and staff would free up billions of dollars for classrooms.

Los Angeles schools, for example, could cut their current $1 billion healthcare bill in half, according to John Perez, a retired president of United Teachers Los Angeles.

California Teacher Lecturers Librarians

Building a member-driven union at the university
An effective site rep structure reaches lecturers, librarians where they work

At UC Berkeley, 16 lecturer site representatives are fanning out across the sprawling campus. In Davis, the union is fielding at least 15. In both places, the effort to meet the challenge of a new era in public sector labor relations is part of an even larger move to change the culture of the union. 

California Teacher Environment Proposition 39

Campus electricians shine in clean energy awards
Proposition 39 investments reap environmental and fiscal benefits

We don’t spend much time changing bulbs anymore,” said Palomar College electrician Rick Beach. “There aren’t many left on campus to change.”

And fewer by the day. Beach and maintenance and operations staff members of the Palomar Council of Classified Employees, AFT Local 4522, recently led the installation of LED lighting across Palomar’s San Marcos and Escondido campuses.

California Teacher Rank & Files

Rank & Files, Sep-Oct 2017

Michael R. Wing, science teacher at Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo, and a member of the Tamalpais Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1985, has written a book Passion Projects for Smart People (Quill Driver Books), coming out in November. The book is a guide for teachers about how to live like a professor without having access to a professor’s resources, with chapters on projects, affiliations and collaborations, applying for things, travel with purpose, teaching, citizen science programs, and publishing. Learn more and order the book here.

California Teacher New Employee Orientation AB 119

Unions get full and timely access to new employees
New law leads to union negotiating rules for employee orientation

In April 2016, Julia Troche applied to be a lecturer in Egyptology at UCLA. “It was my alma mater as an undergrad, so this was a special position for me, a chance to give back to the institution that gave me so much,” she says. She’d received an email from the department chair of Near Eastern Language and Culture asking her to apply. “She told me there was no guarantee of continuing employment, but it would put me in a good place while I looked for a tenure-track appointment.”