Classified Articles

Overview

Classified Articles

News for classified employees and paraprofessionals working in public schools and community colleges, and support staff in private schools. 

Article Coronavirus

Custodians on the front lines of COVID-19 pandemic
Keeping campuses clean, supporting food service workers

On Friday, March 13, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered Californians to help slow the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus by keeping a “social distance” of six feet from each other.

School districts that were still operating suspended classes and college campuses emptied, but Newsom’s order continued full funding for public education and “essential” workers were told to report for work Monday.

Article Coronavirus

Food service workers whip up millions of Grab & Go meals
Classified employees essential to feeding kids during pandemic

The coronavirus crisis has forced school districts of all sizes to come to grips with the food insecurity their students face.

“In my entire life, I have never seen a medical crisis taken as seriously as this one,” said Carl Williams, head of the Lawndale Classified Employees Federation. “We’re now implementing options we have never discussed before, like shutting down classrooms and teaching online.”

Article Coronavirus

Health clerk looks back on early signs of pandemic
Veteran clerk teaches and practices good habits

For months, health clerk Cathy Pierce said, she and other school district staff heard about the coronavirus “like everyone else — bits of news and gossip.”

Pierce began to receive more credible information about COVID-19 and changes coming at all levels of government and education the week before Lawndale’s Mitchell Elementary shut in March. She has since come up the coronavirus learning curve, and now sees her work in a different light.

More members join Classified Employee Summer Assistance Program
AFT locals work successfully with districts to implement program

Tens of thousands of classified staff in K-12 school districts across California have signed up for the third year of an innovative state program to support some of the lowest paid employees on campus.

The Classified School Employee Summer Assistance Program (CSESAP) allows eligible staff to withhold up to 10 percent of their monthly salary during the school year, and receive that money — matched by the state up to a dollar for a dollar — in one or two payments the following summer.

Nearly 300 classified employees have become teachers, 2000 in pipeline
Update: Classified Employee Teacher Credentialing Program

An innovative state program has helped transform nearly 300 classified employees into credentialed teachers, with about 2,000 more staff in the pipeline, according to a report from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

The Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Program pays local school districts $4,000 annually for each participant. Most of the funding covers tuition, books and other education costs. Staff have five years to complete the program.

Article

CFT advances bill for classified staff to close part-time loophole
Legislature's emergency recess delays action

State legislators left Sacramento March 20 after passing emergency legislation to help K-12 schools, individuals, small businesses and non-profits weather the coronavirus pandemic. Significant for classified employees, the legislation — Senate Bill 117 — includes $100 million dollars to purchase personal protective equipment, to pay for supplies and labor related to cleaning schools sites, or both.

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.

Article Labor Solidarity

State Supreme Court victory brings back pay with interest to Antelope Valley College staff
Local wins fives years of back pay with interest for overtime imposed by anti-union administration

It took more than five years and reached all the way to the California Supreme Court, but the Antelope Valley College Federation of Classified Employees has knocked a toxic administration on its heels.

“Justice moves slowly, but the fight to protect collective bargaining rights is always worth it,” said AFT Local 4683 President Pamela Ford.

Classified employees look ahead to 2020 political challenges
Top of the list: Qualify Schools and Communities First initiative

Members from classified locals across the state recently met in Glendale to swap organizing tips, celebrate victories, and strengthen political skills.

Participants engaged enthusiastically from Friday, October 18, when Council of Classified Employees President Carl Williams welcomed leaders to his first President’s Collaboration, to that Sunday morning, when Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond rallied the troops for coming electoral fights.

Article Charter schools Maternity Leave Free College

Legislative session ends on strong note for classified
Six-month probation won for K-12 staff in non-merit districts, landmark charter reform

In October, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bumper crop of new laws that will benefit classified staff across the state.

“We did well this year,” said CCE President Carl Williams, “but it also shows how much more we can accomplish if we lobby harder and smarter.”

Article CalPERS

CalPERS bails out of private prisons
Drops $12 million investment in GEO Group and CoreCivic

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, CalPERS, recently rattled the cages of the for-profit prison industry by divesting nearly $10 million of stock in the country’s two biggest private jailers.

The August sell-off came on the heels of the California State Teachers Retirement System, CalSTRS, dropping its $12 million investment in GEO Group and CoreCivic (formerly known as the Corrections Corporation of America).

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?”

Omnibus legislation creates Summer Assistance fund for classified staff

Classified employees should take special note of Assembly Bill 1808, an omnibus education trailer bill. Along with dozens of other provisions, AB 1808 increased the state budget for staff training and other classified programs by $100 million.

Article Privatization

Spotlight on transportation services
Jobs returned when contracting out fails, drivers get more training

A recent video that went viral on social media showed a bus driver being attacked by angry parents in St. Louis. Bernard Benson knows how parents can lose their tempers. He has been driving school buses in the San Joaquin Valley for six years.

“A detour makes a driver late and parents get mad because of the delay. It happens all the time. It goes with the territory,” he said, adding, “Most of the time we’re looked at like the good guys because we get kids to and from school.”

Article CFT Convention CFT Elections

Classified members share spotlight with teachers at Centennial Convention

Delegates had a lot to celebrate as they convened for the CFT’s 100th Anniversary celebration in March.

The state’s largest local union, United Teachers Los Angeles, had held a wildly successful strike less than two months earlier. And the union’s block of classified employee members were set to begin the CFT’s second century with their highest union profile yet.

Article Pesticide Use Environment

Lawsuit draws attention to hazardous chemicals on campus

When Susan Trask was 40, she went back to school and earned a degree in ornamental horticulture at Long Beach City College. Trask has since worked as a groundskeeper at the college district, and this year she was elected president of AFT Local 6108, the Long Beach Council of Classified Employees.

Article Labor Solidarity

We need you… to become a Unionist

Editor’s note: What follows is a condensed version of an inspired presentation from the CFT’s annual Classified Conference.

My name is Carl Williams and I am southern vice president of the CFT Council of Classified Employees, a CFT vice president, proud president of the Lawndale Federation of Classified Employees, a father, a husband… and a Unionist. Now don’t get me wrong, I have not always been a Unionist… the transition from union member is not instantaneous.