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. 

Members holding signs for part-time equityEqual pay for equal work

A “red letter year” for CFT legislation in support of contingent faculty
Healthcare insurance, teaching load, rehire rights, and parity

COVID and the subsequent student enrollment drop during the last two semesters have placed great burdens on contingent faculty, from scrambling to teach remotely to negotiating personal and family challenges to facing reduced assignments and a loss of healthcare benefits.

Janine LugoUESF's Sean Nunsley-Wills and CFT Vice President Anthony ArinwineGilroy Federation officers with CFT President Jeff FreitasCindy EscarenoJanine Lugo

The new normal for special education instructional aides
‘‘SpEd IAs’’ face student pandemic trauma, larger classes, and low pay

California schools have returned to in-person learning, but acute staff shortages are hobbling the return. The hardest positions to fill are often special education instructional aides.

For “SpEd IAs,” as they are known from early childhood programs to post-secondary classrooms, there is no “social distance” with their students. Assignments may require feeding children, changing diapers, and handling medical equipment. Emotional outbursts can also be physically punishing to paraeducators.

Article staff shortage coronavirus AFT
CCE President Carl Williams

AFT task force tackles national staff shortages in education
CFT seeks to set minimum salaries and hourly pay

COVID didn’t create the national staffing crisis we face, but the pandemic has stretched classified and certificated members so thin that some schools have been forced to shut their doors.

AFT has stepped up to the challenge and created an Education Staffing Crisis Task Force co-chaired by Carl Williams, head of the CFT Council of Classified Employees and an AFT Vice President, and Michael Mulgrew, leader of AFT’s largest local union, New York City’s United Federation of Teachers.

equity scales

CFT equity bill ensures staff paid during personnel investigations
Union urges expansion of Summer Assistance Program to community colleges

“Fighting an unfair firing can be a lengthy process,” said Tina Solórzano Fletcher of San Diego’s AFT Guild, Local 1931, which represents faculty and staff at local community colleges. “Our certificated members who appeal a termination continue to receive compensation. Our classified employees should also.”

Article staff shortage
Palomar classified leaders with CCE leaderslarge group of Berkeley classified employees with CCE leadersCCE President Carl Williams talks to Palomar membersPalomar members at table with swag

Classified leaders hit the road to meet locals
Listening tour leads to greater understanding, solidarity

After more than a year of Delta and Omicron surges and other COVID-19 pandemic obstacles, officers of the CFT Council of Classified Employees embarked on a statewide listening tour of AFT local unions representing classified employees.

“There will never be a perfect time, so we just hit the road,” said CCE President Carl Williams. “Our members have heard what we have to say. Now they want to be heard.”

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.

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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.