Former CFT Field Representative
Larry Bordan, this year’s recipient of the Ben Rust Award, follows in the footsteps of other CFT staff members to win the award, honoring the behind-the-scenes work staff does to build and celebrate the union. The AFT’s model of local leaders’ running their local unions relies almost entirely on the capability and commitment of those usually unsung union heroes, the field representatives.
Larry Bordan built his career as a field rep in the CFT on the foundation of teaching and activism exemplified by Ben Rust, a “true believer” in the power of the union movement.
A native of Chicago, Illinois, Larry moved with his family to Louisville, Kentucky in 1931 at the age of six. He started matriculated at the University of Louisville in 1942, then moved to California and enlisted in the Navy. He served on a small carrier and hospital ship during WWII and was awarded four battle stars.
Back home from overseas in 1946, he enrolled at UCLA as a pre-med student, but one year later he knew he really wanted to teach so changed his major and transferred to CSU Los Angeles. While at Cal State LA, he played an active role in helping to move the school to its present location, edited the newspaper, served a president of his class and the Blue Key Honor society, as well as head cheerleader. He was graduated in 1949 and received his General Secondary credential in 1950. Returning to UCLA in 1969, he completed his master’s degree.
Larry’s teaching career began in 1950 and ended in 1972 when he joined the CFT staff. During those 22 years he substitute taught in Los Angeles while managing a drug store and selling Studebakers; taught Social Studies, Math, English and PE full-time at Bancroft Junior High; taught World History and U.S. Government at Culver City High; and coached the golf and B football teams while directing student teachers. In 1964 UCLA hired Larry to serve as Deputy Chief of Party and Social Science Specialist in a USAID project in Port Hartcourt, Nigeria. This gave Larry the opportunity to visit secondary schools throughout Africa and Europe.
Larry contributed to the growth of the AFT in California by organizing the Culver City Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1343, in 1967. He served as its president until 1972, as its negotiator, and one term as a CFT Vice President, 1970-72.
From 1972 to his retirement in 1993, Larry focused on organizing. He worked in some 70 collective bargaining campaigns. He helped form the CFT staff union, FRU (Field Representatives Union), and negotiated every contract except one before he retired. In the early 90s Larry became a trained mediator and continued to work around the state after his retirement from the CFT.
In 1994 he and his wife Maureen moved to Carmel, where Larry volunteers for the Boys and Girls Club, serves on the Board of Directors of the Carmel Foundation, takes Spanish lessons and plays golf when he can find the time.