Classified Articles

Overview

Classified

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

Article coronavirus Staff shortage
Sarah Auwarter, president of the Newport-Mesa FederationSkylar Petersen, president of the Lompoc FederationJuan Ramirez with CFT President Jeff Freitas

Overwork, underpayment, burn out and blame, lead to staff shortages
Unions speak to pandemic-driven shortage of teachers, subs, paras, classified

For years, California elementary and secondary schools have had teacher shortages, particularly in areas of special education, math, and science, but it’s grown worse since the pandemic started, with fewer teacher candidates getting credentials, and 26% more teachers retiring in 2020 than the year before.

Article student debt
Jessica Saint-Paul at work Peter Huk is a lecturer of writing at UC Santa Barbara Kristi Jacobson at her classroom door

What does gratitude look like? Find out from three members deep in student debt
How AFT’s legal victory with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program will change lives

In 2018, Jessica Saint-Paul, who has a doctorate in medical science and teaches public health and health occupation courses at Southwest and Trade Tech colleges, attended a benefits conference put on by her local, the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild. They covered Public Service Loan Forgiveness, a federal program that promised if you worked in public service for 10 years and made 120 payments, the remainder of your loan would be forgiven.

Article coronavirus Staff shortage
rural bus driver wearing a face maskRoy Dietz, El Camino Classified EmployeesAnel Gonzalez, Palomar Council of Classified Employees

What does classified work look like 20 months into the pandemic?
Staff shortages, vaccine mandates, strict school bus protocols, but also pay raises and lots of union support

California schools reopened to a new normal. Classified staff are getting their arms around vaccine mandates and making safety protocols part of their daily routines. And nearly every district, from rural elementaries to urban community colleges, are facing serious labor shortages.

Article

More equity for classified — CFT wins layoff notice equal to certificated
Another new law provides reduced probation period for college staff in non-merit districts

Classified employees will see more equity with their teacher colleagues thanks to union-sponsored bills signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in October. One new law provides equal treatment for classified and certificated employees during layoffs, and another aligns the probation period for community college staff in non-merit and merit districts.

Article AFT Classified Conference
New York paraprofessionals join together, circa 1970sAFT Archivist Dan GolodnerLorretta Johnson with AFT President Al Shanker. Lorretta Johnson

A brief AFT history of paras, classified employees, and social justice
VIDEOS: How paraprofessionals and support staff became an integral part of AFT

In the early summer of 1919, when the American Federation of Teachers found out that the Boston Men Teachers’ Union were intent on ensuring that the Boston Women Teachers’ Union would never achieve equal pay to them, the AFT sent a stern letter telling the men that is not what unionism is about and to stop their actions. The men left the union and even though the AFT knew losing members was dire in 1920, it was the right thing to do.

Article Classified Conference
two panelists in Organizing for SuccessCarl Williams, CCE PresidentCCE President Carl WilliamsCCE Southern Vice President Tina Solórzano FletcherCFT President Jeff FreitasCCC President Jim Mahler Philip J. Gordillo, executive director of the California School Personnel Commissioners AssociationDan Golodner, AFT archivist and historian | Photo by Tina Solórzano FletcherCovid safe lunch servingJanet Eberhardt, CCE Northern Vice PresidentworkshopDanielle Short, AFT Guildworkshop attendeespanel discussion on organizing member signs up for rafflehelping with gift basketsCompton classified membersCFT President Jeff Freitaspanelistsplanning committee members

History, solidarity, reunion mark annual Classified Conference 
PHOTO GALLERY

The annual Classified Conference was held October 15-17 with nearly 125 people making the trek to Las Vegas for CFT’s first in-person conference and a pre-pandemic style but COVID-safe program with plenary sessions, workshops, and social events.

Classified staff and paraprofessionals were happy to see each other again after nearly 19 months of pandemic isolation, and a virtual conference last year. They joined together under the theme “Classified Professionals — The Heart of Education.”

Article coronavirus
Classified employee members of the Lawndale Federation around a union bannerGilroy members with CFT President Jeff FreitasCFT President  with members at East Los Angeles College

Classified members feel the love during Back-to-School Tour
CFT leaders provide encouragement, support for safe working conditions

CFT’s top officers embarked on a statewide Back-to-School Tour in mid-August as many classified employees and teachers headed back to campus in-person for the first time since the pandemic forced distance learning for California schools and colleges. The road trip included stops from North Bay Counties to San Diego County, in both urban and rural districts.

Article coronavirus

Pandemic underscores essential nature of classified work
Custodians, health aides hold strong; unions help members get vaccinated

Throughout the COVID pandemic, CFT members from early childhood centers to community colleges have shown how essential classified employees are. During the past 15 months, techs helped power an overnight transition to online learning, custodians learned how to hit back at the coronavirus, and health aides are now on the front lines of reopening schools.

Article members elected

Paraeducator serves as mayor of Ukiah, bus driver sits on Pacifica City Council
Classified employees make their mark on local politics

Every day, dozens of CFT members finish their shift, pivot, and begin a second job as an elected official. They bring passion, creativity and a commitment to public service. When Juan Orozco isn’t working with teens in the Mendocino County Office of Education, the Local 4345 member is serving as mayor of the county hub. Pacifica voters have elected and re-elected school bus driver Mike O’Neill to public office for almost a quarter-century.

Article labor solidarity

San Diego County college staffs tackle food insecurity in their communities
Food bank distributions feed thousands of families
PHOTO GALLERY

March 20 was the last day of on-campus classes for about 18,000 San Diego City College students. The college has maintained a food pantry for needy students, faculty and staff, but AFT Local 1931 stepped up the emergency response in September with monthly giveaways.

“It’s joyful to see everyone — students, staff and faculty — come together to help. My happiness was seeing everyone smile,” said Neary Sim, a Guild member and instructional office specialist in the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Article Classified Conference coronavirus

Virtual Classified Conference educates, unites, entertains
How the pandemic has changed our unions
PHOTO GALLERY

CFT capped an unforgettable year with its first virtual Council of Classified Employees conference. The November 14 online meeting focused exclusively on life with the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were also warm moments of old friends seeing each other, the occasional technical glitch, and a madcap show of goofy eyeglasses.

Four new laws classified employees need to know about
From contracting COVID at work to personnel commission changes

Workers’ Comp classifies on-the-job COVID cases as occupational injuries

Senate Bill 1159 (Hill, D-San Mateo) directs the state Workers’ Compensation system to presume that an employee’s COVID-related illness is an occupational injury and therefore the worker eligible for Workers’ Comp benefits if specific criteria are met.

Article AFT

Q&A Carl Williams: First classified AFT vice president from California
“We are essential and this work cannot be done without us”

On September 1, Carl Williams was elected to join 39 other AFT Vice Presidents from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Williams joins two other vice presidents from California, a group that has included former CFT Presidents Mary Bergan and Joshua Pechthalt over the years, and now current President Jeff Freitas.

Article Environment Wildfires

Unions step up to help wildfire evacuees
Wildfires threaten member homes and lives

Fires in California, many started by lightning, have burned a little more than a million acres, and scores of people have lost homes and thousands more have been forced to evacuate, including CFT members. The fires, some of the largest in the state’s history are burning in areas including Lake, Napa, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties.