San Francisco Community College District Federation of Teachers, Local 2121


Chartered 1970

San Francisco’s Local 2121 was founded in 1970 after the Adult Division and City College of San Francisco separated from the San Francisco Unified School District (K-14) and joined together to become the San Francisco Community College District. The Adult Division offers non-credit courses at Centers located throughout the city, while City College offers transfer credit courses at its single campus. The District’s uniqueness led to a uniqueness in the Union, in which part-time and noncredit faculty play a much larger role than in other community college unions.

Al Tapson, a vice-president of the national AFT and a history instructor at City College, was appointed to serve as 2121’s first president. The new local created an Executive Board balanced with Centers and College faculty including part-timers. Dean Goodman, the Union’s first elected president, aided by such activists as Ray Berard, Dick Kidd, Bob Dawson and Scott Amour, managed to lower the teaching load of non-credit faculty and put them on the same salary schedule as credit faculty.

In 1974, the larger CTA local refused to discuss our offer of merger, so the Union addressed the unorganized part time faculty with a detailed proposal thereby winning their support and membership. In 1976, when PERB included both full-timers and part-timers in the collective bargaining unit, the Local’s organizing efforts paid off in the most lopsided representational victory for the CFT over the CTA in California by a vote of 779 to 195. AFT Staff Rep Lloyd Zimmerman tirelessly helped President Jim Boyd, Laurie Fried Lee, Rodger Scott, Steve Levinson and Rosalie Wolf get out the vote. Although retired, A1 Tapson lent his stature to gain critical support from his colleagues. The local was invigorated by enthusiastic volunteers: Tom Walsh wrote flyers; Sue Light, Sam Avila, Richard Esterman, Jim King, Jim Doherty, Otto Wendehost, Keith McAllister and Frank Cerrato ran membership drives; Sigi Isham organized social events; Martha Dickinson and Ray Westergard voiced part-timer issues; Willie Thompson, Nick Chang, Leo Sykes and Rita Wang drafted an affirmative action position; Ted Taylor and Don Liles organized opposition to Prop. 13 and the Brigg’s initiative.

President Laurie Fried Lee led the first bargaining team which was ethnically integrated and balanced between College and Centers’ reps including Kim Lee, Alicia Wang, Rosie Littleton, Torn Velasquez, Terry Alberigi, Larry Lawson and Edith Wellin. After protracted negotiations, mediation, fact-finding and a sanctioned strike threat, our first contract was ratified on December 4, 1979 by vote of all bargaining unit members. Even non-members were allowed to vote as they are to this day. We won binding arbitration, dental coverage for eligible part-timers, a past practice clause, a fixed number of sabbaticals and a 12 ½ % pay raise.

In 1980, the local began the A1 Tapson COPE, honoring the local’s first president soon after his death. COPE has endorsed many candidates and issues, but it wasn’t until 1988 that, in conjunction with other faculty, staff groups, the San Francisco Labor Council, and with the able work of Guy De Primo, Edith Wellin, Lori Brooks, Dave Wall and Randi Slaughter, COPE succeeded in unseating an incumbent and electing a challenger to the Governing Board.

By 1985, the Union clearly needed a full-time staff representative and hired Chris Hanzo, who has served ably and with dedication. Shortly after, the office and financial records were computerized by Frank Holden and Jim DeNoon, successors to Marge Stern and Leon Luey, meticulous treasurers of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In March 1987, the local won its election for agency fee. President Anita Martinez, current President Mike Hulbert, and Ex-President Steve Levinson mobilized the membership and great excitement surrounded the strategy and planning. The local was assisted by the wisdom, experience and good humor of AFT Staffperson Mary Valentine. But the victory was due to the special efforts and personal contacts by devoted members such as Sue Light, Ron Bixler, Marianne Durand, Renato Larin, Robert Plotkowski, Julia Scholand, Annie Young, Rita Jones, Mary Thurber, James Ward and Alan Brooks.

As the Union had grown from about 200 members in 1976 to over 800 by 1987, there was a need to insure representation of the “silent majority.” A plan for restructuring the local was developed by Anita Martinez, Rosalie Wolf, Patti Averbuck, Alex Alexander and Pierre Thiry. In April 1988, the membership approved the creation of a District-wide Representative Assembly, with 20 reps each from City College and the Centers, elected by separate precincts, plus the 16 Executive Board members, elected at large. Between the semiannual membership meetings, this Assembly makes Union policy. Secretary Craig Machado has borne the burden of recording the business of the additional meetings cheerfully.

Over the years, the Union has been very active in establishing and defending faculty rights through the grievance procedure, arbitration, PERB and lawsuits. District-wide tenure was established when the Union won fulltime positions for Rodger Scott, Julia Broccardo and Rita Wang, all part-timers who had exceeded the 60% law by teaching in both divisions. District-wide tenure was reaffirmed in the eleven year legal struggle and final Court of Appeals victory for disabled welding instructor, Peter Gianopoulus, who was awarded over $250,000 for pain and suffering, back pay and interest.

Through the efforts of Rodger Scott and Bob Bezemek, the Local’s attorney, the Union recently won a precedent-setting Appellate Court decision favoring our position on unemployment rights for part-timers during intersession and summer break. In 1988, through the work of Steve Levinson, Mike Hulbert and David Wakefield, twenty English Department part timers who had taught more than 60% of a load because of a composition differential won tenured, full-time jobs.

In the early 80s, a new generation of part-timer activists such as Joe Berry, Cita Cook, Debra Asher and Barbara Shaw revived the Part-Timers’ Committee and produced impressive informational flyers. In 1986, inspired by Dave Wakefield, the committee renamed itself the Full-Time Jobs Committee, and succeeded in convincing the Governing board to create ten new full-time positions. Toni Mester, Ellen Wall, Lori Brooks and Chris Shaeffer are among those currently leading the struggle for more rights and full-time jobs.

Members have always been involved in social and political issues: the Nuclear Freeze (Billy Boyd); solidarity with the teachers’ union in El Salvador, including the annual fund raising COSANDES run (Tomi Cunningham, Hilda Ayala, Jim McKinney and Renato Larin); the Anti-Apartheid Boycott of South Africa (Willie Thompson, Charlie Elections Committee was ably chaired for over ten years by Lou Lindsey. Union Action, the local’s newspaper, was edited by a series of energetic members: Dick Kidd, John Hare, Bill Grier, Mike Hulbert, Doris Cortez, Joan Rankin and Tom Doyle. Alan Brooks has provided much humor as chief cartoonist.

In nineteen years, a number of dedicated instructors have contributed their talents and efforts to establish a vibrant professional organization, Local 2121.

(Joe Berry, Mike Hulbert, Laurie Fried Lee, and Rodger Scott, contributors)