Labor and Climate Justice Education Committee

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The Labor and Climate Justice Education Committee helps teachers reach students with information about the history and current place of the labor movement in American democracy. In recent years, the committee has begun addressing climate justice issues for members and students.

Committee members are classroom teachers, faculty from community college and university labor studies programs, and classified employees. The committee is available to assist educators in all aspects of teaching young people about the labor movement, and welcomes comments and suggestions about these topics.

PRIORITIES

  • Track and monitor public education policy relating to teaching about labor and provide policy recommendations to CFT governance bodies. 
  • Produce materials and organize workshops about climate justice as related to the labor movement so as to ensure CFT locals have the information to be effective advocates locally.
  • Produce lesson plans on labor and continue to promote these materials so that they can be widely used.
  • Develop workshops for educators and unionists to give them access to CFT labor curricula materials and provide tips on teaching about labor.
  • Track CFT’s proposed state Labor in the Schools pilot program. Monitor and assist with implementation, as needed.
  • Oversee work on two long-term projects – Golden Lands, Working Hands and the Collective Bargaining Education Project.

MEMBERS

Kelly Mayhew, Co-Chair, AFT Guild, San Diego and Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community Colleges
Ben Todd, Co-Chair, Oxnard Federation of Teachers and School Employees
Judd Curran, AFT Guild, San Diego and Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community Colleges
Deirdre Elmansoumi, United Educators of San Francisco
Fred Glass, San Francisco Community College District Federation of Teachers
David Hind, ABC Federation of Teachers
Ann Killebrew, San Francisco Community College District Federation of Teachers
Teresa Laughlin, Palomar Faculty Federation
John Lisovsky, United Educators of San Francisco
Jim Miller, AFT Guild, San Diego and Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community Colleges
Bill Morgan, United Educators of San Francisco
Lynne Sindel, Salinas Valley Federation of Teachers
Linda Tubach, United Teachers Los Angeles
Cynthia Tuell, University Council-AFT, Retiree Chapter
Goetz Wolff, University Council-AFT, Retiree Chapter
Erin Conley, Staff Liaison  

PROJECTS

Labor Curricula

The committee has developed lesson plans on labor for students at all levels of education, from preschool coloring books to college and university readings, to union-based new member orientation programs. These are free to download, and for sale in print. 

Committee member Bill Morgan authored the most recent elementary curriculum, FarmWorker Comix, with artwork by the late legendary comic book artist Spain. Morgan also authored Mission Labor, a bilingual English/Spanish pamphlet for fourth grade social studies. Phyllis Chiu’s smash hit, Yummy Pizza Company, has been revised as the Yummy Strawberry Company.

Climate Justice Toolkit

The committees’s newest project is a series of flyers about the CFT’s climate justice agenda that spells out what members can do to take action. Find our Climate Justice Toolkit here. 

Golden Lands, Working Hands

This award-winning curriculum brings labor history alive for high school and college students. Golden Lands, Working Hands is a 10-part video series that originally aired on California PBS stations. Praised by educators, labor leaders, and students, Golden Lands Working Hands explores California history from the point of view of its working families. Available for purchase on dvd.

Collective Bargaining Education Project 

The Collective Bargaining Education Project was founded in 1997 to promote education about how labor and management resolve workplace conflicts through the methods developed in collective bargaining negotiations. Using a simulation role play method, the award-winning program brings lessons throughout the year to high school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District and elsewhere. 

Committee member Linda Tubach is bringing the Collective Bargaining Education Project to a school district near you, and you can ask her to bring it to yours.

Labor History Month – May

In 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that established Labor History Month with the intent of encouraging schools “to commemorate this month with appropriate educational exercises that make pupils aware of the role the labor movement has played in shaping California and the United States.” The CFT and the California Labor Federation co-sponsored AB 2269 (Swanson, D-Oakland).

The Labor and Climate Justice Education Committee works with friends in the Legislature and the labor movement to carry out the spirit of the law by disseminating information and instructional materials. The committee also curated this collection of exhibits available to educators and activists. 

Safe Jobs for Youth Month – May

May is also “Safe Jobs for Youth” month. Committee members collaborate with the Young Workers Project to help publicize this valuable resource, which includes curriculum for educators. Learn about what you can do in your community to educate and protect working teens, parents and employers on youngworkers.org.

Speaker’s Commission on Labor Education

Founded by Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg in 2001, with support from the CFT Labor and Climate Justice Education Committee, the Commission helped students understand the role of the labor movement in history and contemporary society. Its projects have included legislation, exhibits, and supplementary social studies curricula approved by the California Department of Education. Each year the Commission supports Labor History Month with events and information throughout the state. 

Education and Labor Collaborative

The Education and Labor Collaborative was founded by a group of progressive university teacher preparation professors interested in why there is little labor education in K-12 social studies, and dedicated to remedying that problem. Members of the CFT Labor and Climate Justice Education Committee serve on its advisory board. It has held three conferences and published a book, Organizing the Curriculum, on the topic.

In 2008, several committee members traveled to the United Federation of Teachers offices in New York to join like-minded educators and labor activists in the first conference. In 2009, the conference was held at Antioch University and in the offices of United Teachers Los Angeles, on the theme of “Teaching for a new ‘New Deal.’”

National K-12 Labor Education Conference

The committee proposed a resolution at the CFT Convention in 2008 to call on the AFT to sponsor a national K-12 labor education conference and task force. Thanks to networking at the Education and Labor Collaborative conference in New York, a similar resolution then passed the United Federation of Teachers.

Working together, the CFT and UFT helped the resolution pass at that summer’s AFT Convention. A similar resolution passed the national AFL-CIO Convention in September 2009.  Pledges of support have come from the United Association for Labor Education and the International Labor Communications Association.