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 Classified School Employees Week

Your local union values your work all year long

By Paula A. Phillips, President, Council of Classified Employees

Every May, districts from San Diego to Susanville take time to recognize the contributions of their staffs. Classified School Employees Week is the third week of the month and pays tribute to staff members who play key roles in creating environments that promote student achievement, safety and health.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson described classified employees as “hard-working and devoted school employees who exemplify what commitment to school and student really is,” and as workers “who make the extra effort to support their students, schools and communities.” Torlakson is right. Annual recognitions are wonderful.

Article AFT

Small AFT locals get big attention from new task force

By the Numbers | AFT local unions
3,370
 Number of locals chartered by the AFT
3,019: Locals with fewer than 600 members (90 percent)
1,819: Locals with fewer than 100 members (54 percent)

One in four of AFT’s 1.56 million members belong to a small local, and 90 percent of AFT local unions are considered small, defined as having fewer than 600 members.

While belonging to a small local can foster a sense of teamwork, small locals often come up short of the resources, training and volunteers to effectively represent members, according to a new AFT task force.

Article Pesticide Use
Mike O‘Connor, the lead custodian at Anzar High School in San Juan Bautista, monitors the campus for pest problems. O'Connor is a member of the Aromas-San Juan Federation of Classified Employees.

Legislation would bring reporting of pesticide use
Staff to receive training, schools to develop pest management plans

Legislators are debating measures to ensure that pesticides at California schools don’t become a bigger concern than the pests they are meant to exterminate.

Under Senate Bill 1405, schools that use pesticides must designate someone to maintain a complete record of all pesticide use at the site, and submit it to the Department of Pesticide Regulation at the end of each calendar year. Current law requires only professional exterminators to report their use.

Article Unemployment Insurance

Staff seek fair unemployment compensation
Bill to bring equity stalled in Legislature

Linnette Robinson has worked with special needs students at Berkeley High School for four years, after two years in the district’s elementary and junior high schools.

Yet every winter and summer, Robinson and tens of thousands of other classified employees across California scrape by during involuntary “vacations” the best they can. Because while other workers receive unemployment benefits during seasonal breaks, school staff do not.

California Teacher Unemployment Insurance Lobby Day

Staff seek equal access to unemployment benefits
Employees struggle to make ends meet when the paycheck stops during school breaks

Linnette Robinson has worked with special needs students at Berkeley High School for four years. Every winter and summer, Robinson, who has worked stints at other elementary and middle schools, tightens her belt and scrapes by during school breaks the best she can. “Most of us won’t see a paycheck from mid-June to the end of September,” she said.

California Teacher Early Childhood Education

Early educators fight reckless closure of community Head Start
Congresswoman Maxine Waters questions motives of L.A. County Office of Education

Watts was still smoldering from the riots in 1965 when Kedren Head Start began serving local families. Today, about 350 Kedren employees care for more than 2,100 children at 32 sites from South Los Angeles and Koreatown to the Eastside.

“All of us work in low-income, dangerous areas,” said Margaret Garcia, a family service advocate at one of Kedren’s multiple Watts facilities. An undercurrent of violence runs through the neighborhoods.

California Teacher Classified Conference Rank & Files

Annual conference salutes four classified heroes
From Pasadena to San Francisco, staff make a difference every day

Nothing better illustrates the theme of this fall’s Classified Conference, “Celebrating Our Role in Quality Education,” than the staff who go above and beyond the call of duty. 
The honorees were nominated by their unions and selected as Members of the Year because they are positive role models for workers and students, contribute to the success of the local, and are committed advocates of high-quality education.

Article Member Benefits

New booklet! Know Your Rights: A guide to workplace laws for classified employees and paraprofessionals

This new 40-page booklet provides a comprehensive analysis of the California Education Code as it relates to classified employees. It includes topics such as hours of employment, vacation and leaves, refusal to perform unsafe work, layoff and reemployment, collective bargaining rights and much more.The booklet also covers the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and contains the Weingarten Rights.

Article

2014 brings new professional opportunities

By Paula A. Phillips, President, CFT Council of Classified Employees

As 2013 winds to a close and we look back on the year, there are many reasons for classified employees to be thankful. After years of cuts, more resources are flowing into schools and colleges, thanks to our efforts to pass Prop. 30. K-12 education will see a more equitable funding formula and a new law requires more consideration of classified staff in district professional development plans.

Article Student Nutrition Local Action

Berkeley cooking and gardening program seeks funding

Community support saved an innovative cooking and gardening program that faced closure last spring, but only leftovers remain after the Berkeley Unified School District cut two-thirds of the budget. 

“Even the chickens in the garden were given away because no one was left to tend them,” said Daria Wrubel of the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees. Wrubel taught gardening to 450 students at Thousand Oaks Elementary before she and more than half the classified staff were cut.

Article Affordable Care Act Part-Time Employment

Affordable Care Act helps uninsured part-time workers

Lisa Agcaoili paces nervously as she waits to speak with a Covered California counselor in a West Los Angeles College cafeteria. Thousands of people have come to a Health and Enrollment Fair for solid information about their options under the Affordable Care Act.

Agcaoili hasn’t had insurance in the more than 20 years she has worked for the Lawndale Elementary School District. The part-time instructional assistant works fewer than 30 hours a week and isn’t eligible for district health plans. She is over 50 and suffers migraines daily.

Article Local Action

Palomar staff forge alliance with faculty, see major gains, doubling of membership

The Palomar College Council of Classified Employees and campus administrators in San Marcos settled a contract and memorandum of understanding that moved the staff forward by three major steps. 1) The 385 unit members received a $2,000 lump sum salary increase and 0.72 percent, plus a 3 percent raise that faculty also received. 2) This first contract replaced a 25-year-old employee handbook. 3) The local won binding arbitration for grievances.

Article Local Action

More local action from around the state

»Menifee Council of Classified Employees negotiated five bereavement leave days for members, matching the number district teachers have. 

»Tuolumne County Council of Classified Employees won a 3.15 percent increase in compensation for classified employees in the county office.

»United Educators of San Francisco published a booklet, Paraprofessionals and their Union, detailing the history of district paras and their union. 

Article Gun Control

Preventing violence on campus and preparing for disaster

Nothing inspires fear like the thought of a gunman on a rampage. There have been 115 “active shooter” incidents reported across the United States since July 2012 causing the tragic loss of 85 lives and hundreds of injuries.

Several of the deadliest incidents have been on campus. In June, a heavily armed gunman killed three people in the neighborhood surrounding Santa Monica College, then claimed three more victims on campus, including a custodian and his daughter.

Article Community Outreach Local Action

Unions partner with community allies, old and new

Classified are well outin front of the AFL-CIO’s new resolve to ramp up its partnering with community allies. Members are linking arms in efforts that especially resonate during the holidays.

Every child deserves Shoes that Fit
The College Staff Guild in Los Angeles is working with Shoes That Fit to help kids start their day on the right foot. The non-profit is dedicated to providing new shoes to needy children so they can attend school in comfort and with dignity.

Article Classified Conference

Classified Conference showcases history of effective representation

The annual conference hosted by the CFT Council of Classified Employees featured exciting plenary speakers, elected officials, a big fun Mardi Gras-themed party, and workshops for nearly every interest. The event was held October 18-20 at Hilton Orange County in Costa Mesa.

Participants celebrated 31 years of classified representation through unionism, honoring council leaders, past and present, and highlighting the key role that classified employees perform every day in California’s schools and colleges.

Article

New Know Your Rights booklet available!

The Council of Classified Employees has produced a valuable new booklet. Know Your Rights: A guide to workplace laws for classified employees and paraprofessionals in California is a comprehensive analysis of the California Education Code as it relates to support staff in California public schools and colleges.

The booklet includes topics such as:

Article Local Action

ISSU-CFT and Pasadena City College reach tentative agreement
Instructional support staff employees ratify unanimously

On Thursday, June 20, the members of the Instructional Support Services Unit-CFT (ISSU-CFT) met to review and vote on a tentative agreement recommended by union President Julio Huerta and the executive board.

ISSU-CFT includes most of the nearly 225 professional and office staff at Pasadena City College. The independent ISSU unit voted to affiliate with the AFT last year as AFT Local 6525.

Article

Our work contributes to quality of education

By Paula A. Phillips, President, Council of Classified Employees

Every CFT member can play a role in the CFT’s campaign for quality public education, which will identify problems that are holding back our schools and colleges and set goals to move California forward.

A quality public education starts with adequate funding to maintain staffing levels and professional development. That’s a tall order in times of budget cuts, but with the passage of Prop. 30, fair funding will be within reach if Sacramento shows some political courage.

Article Rank & Files

Congrats to Classified Employee of the Year Rena Pheng

The California Community Colleges Board of Governors recently named Long Beach City College custodian Rena Pheng a Classified Employee of the Year. The honor caught Pheng by surprise.

“I’m not crazy about interviews and all this attention,” she said. “I never imagined receiving this award, especially since I do what I do because I love Long Beach City College, our students and staff — not for recognition.”