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 CFT Elections

Meet leaders of the CFT Council of Classified Employees

Paula Phillips is president of the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees. After earning a degree in human resource management and working in the private sector, she came to Berkeley Unified as an administrative assistant to the Personnel Commission. She saw the district grading internal job candidates harder than external applicants and didn’t think it was fair.

Article Professional Development

Unions find innovative solutions for staff development

Career development has been a convenient target of budget cuts, but locals unions have found creative approaches for investing in staff.

A sabbatical program the AFT Guild negotiated with the San Diego Community College District allows nine classified employees a year to take 16 weeks paid leave to study at an accredited college.

Nathan Talo used his leave to take a giant step toward his psychology degree. Talo began working at Mesa College as a part-time account clerk 15 years ago, and is now a senior account clerk.

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.”

Article Local Action

Berkeley local unions fight for fair contract, cooking and gardening program

The faculty and classified AFT local unions in the Berkeley Unified School District rallied on May 8 before a district board meeting. With state funding to the district on the rise, educators say the district can provide more for its employees, especially since it is holding $7.9 million in its ending fund balance.

The workers are also trying to save the successful cooking and gardening program threatened by cuts to the federal program, Network for Healthy Californians. 

Article Classified School Employees Week

Celebrate the role of classified staff during Classified School Employee Week!
May 19-25 is our week!

Classified staff keep California schools and colleges working. From making sure the buses are on time and running safely to helping college students obtain financial aid so they can stay in college, the work of classified members makes a difference every day.

Classified work in dozens of job roles ranging from clerical, maintenance and operations, food service, and computer services to classroom aides. Each classified worker helps the workplace run a little better and contributes to the quality of education for our students.

California Teacher

Federal cuts threaten cooking and gardening classes
Berkeley community rallies to save famous kids’ grow-it-yourself program

Facing a massive loss of federal funds, Berkeley Unified officials may yank an innovative gardening and cooking program up by the roots. The slash and burn tactics are drawing widespread community fire.

For about 15 years, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has taught low-income families about nutrition through school programs like the Network for a Healthy California. Congress, however, has revised its funding formula and California, which used to receive nearly a third of all USDA money, will lose about 40 percent of its grant. The funding for direct-to-kids programs like the NHC will be shifted to local health agencies to run publicity campaigns.

California Teacher

Locals take bold steps to build power in tough times
Faculty-classified alliance, improved communications empower members

Two Southern California classified locals have recently seen how unity pays off.
“Our members understand that the more of us who go in, the stronger voice we have,” says Debbi Claypool, president of the Palomar Council of Classified Employees.

The northern San Diego County local represents about 400 classified employees at Palomar College, including maintenance, clerical, police, payroll and janitorial, according to Claypool, a business services technician.

Article

Negotiating the new Diastat law
Puts employees in position of performing medical procedures

The passage of SB 161 last year allows administration of a prescription dose of valium by a non-medical K-12 school employee volunteer to students with seizure disorders. CFT opposed this legislation because we believed it placed school employees in the position of performing tasks better performed by medical professionals. Nonetheless, it is now law.

Article Labor Solidarity

When workers stand together, we can win!

By Velma J. Butler, President, CFT Council of Classified Employees

I spent the day after Thanksgiving with family and friends at Walmart. We weren’t in front of the largest — and richest — retailer in the world for Black Friday sales. We were there to support employees standing up for what every worker wants: dignity and respect on the job.

Walmart’s formula for “success” is no secret. They offer cheap prices by paying suppliers around the world like dirt, paying their 1.4 million employees like dirt, and driving smaller competitors out of business. If other “big box” stores try to play by the same rules, it touches off a race to the bottom that spreads the pain.

Article Local Action

Gilroy paras win email time, domestic partner coverage

The Gilroy Federation of Teachers and Paraprofessionals is breaking new ground in negotiations covering about 120 paraprofessionals in the Gilroy Unified School District. President Arcelia O’Connor said previous contracts had not addressed emails and granted only limited rights for domestic partners.

“But now we have time to check district communications online,” O’Connor said, “and we have added domestic partners to members of the immediate family for items like family illness and bereavement.”

Classified Conference highlights staff as partners in student success
Attendees hear how co-workers educate, mentor kids

For Esmeralda Grubbs, success starts when a Local 1475 member takes a preschool boy or girl by the hand and begins to build a foundation for lifelong learning.

Grubbs works with the Early Childhood Federation, a Los Angeles County local representing preschool workers, from faculty and teaching assistants to custodians and kitchen staff. Challenges can be daunting, especially in low-income communities. In October, a drive-by shooting threatened a Head Start program in a Watts housing project.

Article PEPRA CalPERS

New law! Significant pension changes for CalPERS members start January 1

Classified employees with questions about the new Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 may find answers on the Frequently Asked Questions page of the CalPERS website. Here are some answers to common questions.

The new law requires that new employees of public schools and community colleges contribute at least 50 percent of the total normal cost or the same contribution rate as “similarly situated” employees, whichever is higher.

Article Proposition 30

Classified rise to the challenge of passing Prop. 30
Threat of more furlough days spurs community outreach and response

Classified employees had a lot to lose if voters rejected Prop. 30 on November 6. Staff swung into action across California, racking up victories in state and local campaigns that will go a long way toward saving public education.

Gilroy paraprofessionals in AFT Local 1921, for example, resisted pressure to take 10 furlough days until the need was clear, even though district teachers represented by CTA and classified employees represented by CSEA had agreed beforehand to give up the days.

Article Labor Solidarity

What labor lost and won in Wisconsin

By Velma J. Butler, President, CFT Council of Classified Employees

There is no denying or candy-coating it: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was not recalled in the June 5 special election. Progressive voters led by public sector employees fell short of that goal, beaten in large part by a 7-1 flood of anti-union money.

Article Local Action

CFT budget analysis saves classified jobs in Aromas

At the bargaining table June 8, administrators of the Aromas-San Juan Unified School District proposed layoffs, demotions, and reduced hours for a third of the 68 members of the Federation of Classified Employees. Most of the member negotiators would feel the cuts personally.

Two visitors saved the day: A sympathetic member of the school board joined the district team, and the CFT budget analyst joined the classified team.

Article

CFT fights for death benefit equity

To help cover the average funeral cost of $7,775, CalSTRS pays survivors $6,163 when a retired teacher dies.

But when a retired classified employee member of CalPERS dies, beneficiaries are paid only $2,000. To close that gap, CFT sponsored AB 2606, carried by Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, D-Norwalk, calling for an increase in the classified death benefit to $6,000 over four years.