Classified Articles



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


Classified Shining: A profile on Patti Serafin
A new column that seeks to highlight a Classified Professional every edition

Classified Shining highlights a Classified Professional in and outside of work. Do you know a Classified Professional that you would like to nominate to be profiled in our next Classified Insider newsletter? Email CFT Communications Specialist Nason McCarthy: with a bit about the member in mind and we will reach out.

Before she helped students in the financial aid office at Palomar College, Patti Serafin traveled around the country, announcing golf tournaments on live TV.


​The Classified Day of Action motivates and mobilizes

On May 21 hundreds of CFT members gathered outside of the Sacramento Capitol to celebrate and honor the work of classified professionals. The crowd was filled with excitement, pride, and a sense of readiness. All of which fell right into place with the theme of the event: No Class Without Classified: Filling the Gaps to Educate California Students.

T-shirts, buttons, and posters were handed out and gleefully sported which created a colorful bold gathering that drew the curiosity and attention of passersby. 


CCE President Carl Williams: “I encourage you to fight and Flex your Power!”

Carl Williams, President of the Council of Classified Employees and AFT Vice President, started out his address to attendees to the annual Council of Classified Employees conference by telling them he wasn’t going to preach to the choir. He wasn’t going to talk about how classified workers are the last hired and first fired. Or how they’re not treated as professionals. Or how they aren’t paid a living wage often leading to long commutes because they can’t afford to live where they serve. Or how public education relies on classified workers for its existence.


Sunday Funday: Final day of CCE 2023 filled with excitement

The Classified Council of Employees President Carl Williams and Southern Vice President Tina Solórzano Fletcher work hard for the union, but they both also like to have fun. So, Sunday morning before attendees left the 2023 Classified Council of Employees Conference at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, Williams hosted a game show, Kahoot!, along with presiding over an auction and a raffle (the proceeds went to a fund for classified employees to attend events like the conference).


Kicking off CCE Conference 2023
Remarks on how to take political action, fighting for funding, and more

After greeting attendees at the local presidents’ collaboration on Friday afternoon at the 2023 Council of Classified Employees, the CCE President Carl Williams told them they would hear about a report on classified finances, the first one of its kind which would make what was happening with salaries more transparent. 

A report hasn’t existed before because, unlike data for other school employees, which is fairly similar, that’s not true with classified jobs, making it more difficult to compare peer institutions.

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Classified Insider Special Edition: CCE Conference 2023
The theme, "Flexing our Power, Protecting our Progress," was felt throughout the weekend

The annual Classified Council of Employees Conference took place at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco October 27-October 29. The theme of the conference was Flexing Our Power – Protecting Our Progress. Some of the local wins over the past year that were discussed by members included a six-figure settlement for employee overtime, paraeducators getting a living wage, and bilingual employees’ checks reflecting their expertise. 


Classified members take their fight to the Capitol

Teanna Tillery, the United Educators of San Francisco Vice President for Paraeduators, has been involved with the union in different capacities for about twenty years. She joined, she says because of the disparity in the way classified members were treated in negotiations.

“I worked in my community for years, and it’s just in my nature that if I see something I don’t understand I like to go to the source and try to understand it,” she said. “I just wanted to be part of the group who could address problems.”


New Look for Orange County Classified Professionals
“Employees” is now “Professionals” – in line with the CFT approach

Get out your smart phones and change your listing for AFT Local 4794. Members of the Coast Federation of Classified Employees voted unanimously at their spring meeting for a new name and look. “Employees” is now “Professionals” – in line with the CFT approach – and a Local 4794 task force created a new logo.


CFT-Sponsored Bills Move Through Legislature

Key legislation passed through the California Assembly in June, advancing to the State Senate for consideration later this summer. 

AB 938 increases base funding under the Local Control Funding Formula by 50% to support a 50% raise in TK-12 salaries. The Assembly passed the CFT-sponsored bill by a unanimous 77-0 vote.

AB 1699 prohibits school districts from retaliating against classified staff for refusing or accepting a vacancy. The bill gives employees at least 10 days to apply for a position before the job opens to the public.


This Is How AFT Paraprofessionals and School-Related Personnel Do It

Hundreds of AFT PSRPs gathered in Baltimore this spring for the 45th annual conference. The theme – “This Is How We Do It” – was fitting. Paras and school-related personnel kept lessons flowing and children fed throughout the Covid pandemic.

PSRP co-chairs and AFT Vice-Presidents Shelvy Young Abrams and Carl Williams opened the first general session. Abrams chaired the Paras Chapter of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers, and Williams leads the Lawndale Federation of Classified Employees.


High Desert Contract Gains
Antelope Valley College classified hope agreement points to better relations with administration. Staff still waiting for new superintendent to honor 2019 State Supreme Court ruling.

Negotiations at Antelope Valley College went late into the night on June 22, when AVC Superintendent Jennifer Zellet and AFT Local 4683 President Pamela Ford put the last touches on a contract for 240 members of the Antelope Valley College Federation of Classified Employees.

Salaries were the main issue at the table. Staff will receive an retroactive raise and increases.

The district will increase contributions to employee benefits, retroactive to October 2022.


Palomar College Staff Come Together for Classified Appreciation Week

Hundreds of classified professionals at this North San Diego County community college were invited to enjoy some well-deserved appreciation and “Cheer on the Dream Team!”in May.

Staff Appreciation Week was an opportunity for members of the Council of Classified Employees/AFT Local 4522 to come together, learn and connect with colleagues. CCE members also collected canned food and other donations to fill the college’s Basic Needs Center for students, employees and the community at large.


Relief for Hard-hit Staff at El Camino College

Not a single member of AFT Local 6142 was furloughed during the Covid pandemic, but the economic crisis hit El Camino College staff hard, and many received notices of 10% increases in rent as soon as eviction moratoriums ended.

“Five union members have told me they live in their cars, and another member was picking cans out of the campus trash cans to buy medicine for his children,” said Local 6142 President Roy Dietz. “That’s humbling, to tell someone about the state you’re in.”

Relief is on the way. 


CFT 2023 Convention: United for Justice, United for Education

More and more workers – especially young people –  realize how important unions are, and a surging CFT has set its sights on a 50% raise for workers over the next five years. These were some of the hot-button topics at the first in-person convention since CFT’s centennial celebration in 2019.

This year’s meeting in San Francisco convened under the banner, “United for Justice. United for Education.”


San Francisco Paras Walk the Line
The Board of Education and UESF unanimously approved a one-time retention bonus of $1,550 in May for about 1,600 paras

United Educators of San Francisco and the San Francisco Unified School District have met more than 10 times since bargaining began in March, but negotiators haven’t reached an agreement. UESF members are demanding pay raises, more flexible sick day policies, and smaller class sizes.

“The starting salary for a paraeducator in San Francisco is a pitiful $18.70 per hour,” UESF President Cassondra Curiel wrote in a newspaper column as contract talks were starting. “These are trained professionals who are only making $14,500 annually.”


Lawndale Federation brings home medical coverage for part-timers
The District scheduled part-timers so they were always a few minutes short of the ACA requirement to provide health benefits.

Watch this powerful video of members talking about their hard fought win for medical benefits.

For 30 years, the Lawndale Elementary School District denied their part-time classified employees health benefits. The District scheduled part-timers so they were always a few minutes short of the ACA requirement to provide health benefits.

Article Classified Conference
CCE officers present Aspiration to Action AwardJeff FreitasMike Gipson

Classified professionals move from “Aspiration to Action”
Conference gives front-line activists the tools to organize and lead during troubled times

First came the pandemic protocols. About 100 participants from 15 AFT locals across California had to test negative for COVID before entering the Council of Classified Employees conference area.

Then came the fireworks. “We need to march in the Capitol for the next Classified Appreciation Week. If they don’t want to recognize the work we do, we need to toot our own horn,” CCE President Carl Williams roared in his welcoming speech. Williams drilled down on “Aspiration to Action,” the conference theme.

Article Classified Conference gun control
Members doing safety training with fake orange gunsKeith Wrightson, trainer from AFT Health Issues Departmentthe AVERT graduates group shot with their certificates

AVERTing disaster: Every second counts
Surviving an “active shooter” on campus takes quick decisions and actions

The names of the schools are etched in our minds: Columbine High, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High, Uvalde Elementary. Gunmen with grudges have struck at all grade levels and in every corner of the country.

Most shootings take place at businesses, but news stories more often focus on schools. Deadly shootings are, in fact, tearing up U.S. schools at a record pace. According to Education Week, as of October 24 there have been 40 school shootings this year, with a toll of 34 dead and 88 injured.