Webinar Course Descriptions
Learn union basics without leaving home


The CFT offers a full schedule of topnotch online trainings. Our webinars are provided through Zoom videoconferencing and last about 90 minutes. You may find course descriptions below. 

AFT Member Benefits

Member benefits can be a useful tool to engage members. Get informed about the benefits available to members through AFT that add value to being a union member. Learn about some of the new benefits available this year, including discount programs and identity theft protection, and get answers to your questions about the variety of programs offered by AFT.

All Politics is Local: Lobbying Legislators and other Elected Officials at Home

To many of our members, Sacramento seems far away and we only engage with our elected representatives around elections. But there is great value to building relationships with local representatives through our union worksites, and many opportunities to engage them at home throughout the year. Join our legislative staff to learn how to build your political engagement locally. We’ll cover the best ways to develop and maintain local relationships, including successful member lobbying visits with your representatives. Strengthening these local relationships can play an important role in your local initiatives and statewide CFT campaigns.

Building Worksite Structures that Work in Higher Ed

Powerful unions require strong leadership structures that are broad and deep enough to engage our entire membership at the worksite. A union with distributed leadership can keep members informed, better handle worksite problems, and provide a foundation for major campaigns. How do we build such a structure, and how do we identify and recruit new leaders? Learn from our organizers and other local leaders how to build strong site leadership on your campuses, and what resources CFT can offer to help.

COPE 101 – Do’s and Don’ts for Political Engagement

Learn best practices to set up and run a local COPE (Committee on Political Education) program, with our recommended best practices to fund candidate campaigns and voter initiatives. You’ll come away with important tips to avoid common pitfalls and make sure your local’s political program keeps everything legal.

Compliance with Union Legal and Constitutional Requirements

Learn how to keep your union operations legal, and consistent with important requirements of the AFT and CFT Constitutions. There are layers of requirements concerning representation, negotiations, officer elections, and convention representation that derive from both the law and our parent unions. Ensure your local practices are consistent with these requirements to avoid potential problems that could divert precious time, energy, and money away from your local priorities.

Digital Communications: Action Network, Hustle, and E-Forms

Member engagement and communication are central to a strong union, and have gradually shifted increasingly to digital forms. AFT and CFT support many tools and platforms for digital communication and engagement that enhance our work, and are available to all AFT locals. Learn how our locals are using Action Network, Hustle, and electronic membership forms to engage their members and improve their communication programs. Find out which tools best fit your needs, and how to get additional support to implement them in your own local union.

Legal Update: Duty of Fair Representation and Maintenance of Membership

Get an important update on best practices to uphold the Duty of Fair Representation (DFR) and maintain your membership. Refresh your understanding of the DFR legal requirement to provide equal representation to both members and non-members of your local union. What are current legal challenges to these requirements, and what practices are recommended to steer clear of them? Learn about any new legal challenges to these practices that might suggest changes to your local union’s current practices. Understand the latest challenges to union requirements to “opt out” of membership, and learn the best practices recommended to handle such requests. In addition to providing the latest news on these legal developments, we’ll provide time for discussion and some Q&A with our chief counsel.

Legal Update: Parental Leaves for Education Workers

Members frequently ask how to prepare for childbirth or adoption, and which laws and programs provide benefits. Are school employees entitled to the leave and pay provisions of FMLA and CFRA? How do members know if they’re eligible for disability benefits, and under which plans? What are my rights to child-bonding leave? What benefits are common in union contracts, and how do members coordinate all of these benefits with the employer? Join one of our attorneys to find out how it all works and provide the answers your members need.

Local Union Plans That Get Results

Planning involves more than making a list and checking off boxes. A good plan establishes vision and direction, democratizes our knowledge, focuses resources, and keeps us on track to our goals. Our best work emerges from proactive planning instead of reactive responses. Improve your understanding and skill in creating solid plans for your local, from individual meetings to extended campaigns.

Making the Most of Site Meetings

The increasingly busy lives of our members often make it difficult for them to attend union membership meetings. But there are lots of ways to bring the union meetings directly to our members’ worksite! From informal union coffee breaks to formal standing worksite meetings, meeting members where they work can be a valuable way to build visibility and increase member participation. Learn how our locals have successfully brought the union to their members, and how to plan your own meetings to be successful.

Member-to-Member Outreach Drives

Member-to-member outreach drives have become a necessity for many of our local unions today. Successful outreach programs increase membership, build visibility, and identify new leaders, and activate member participation. They are a critical component of a local union program in worksites lacking a robust new employee orientation program, and when turnover is high. Learn what’s required to run a successful outreach drive, and hear from local leaders who have used them to build stronger local unions.

Signature Gathering for Schools & Communities First

In this one-hour training, we will make sure everyone has a common understanding about the Schools and Communities First initiative we are now trying to qualify for the November 2020 ballot. We will answer questions about the initiative, discuss recommended messaging for our audiences, and review the rules and instructions for gathering signatures. One mistake can disqualify an entire petition! Make sure that you (and your colleagues) know all the rules and instructions so we can make every signature count. This training is strongly encouraged for everyone who gathers signatures, and for those who will be recruiting volunteers to assist.

Understanding and Negotiating Health Benefit Plans

Negotiating health benefits consumes tremendous time and energy, and much of the ‘negotiations’ happens away from the bargaining table between districts, brokers and providers. Learn the different ways that medical benefit plans are structured and priced so you can play a more active role in shaping the benefit packages in your own district. You may become better informed than your employers about the best options to minimize costs while maximizing benefits.

Understanding California’s State Budget

Everyone knows that our schools and colleges are underfunded and lack the resources students need. But how well do we understand the way schools are funded in the first place? Join our CFT Research Director to learn how education is funded through California’s budget process, and the role CFT and our members play to advocate for better funding for our schools and communities.

Winning New Members from the Start: New Hire Orientations

Our experience since the Janus decision highlights the importance of a well-executed new hire orientation program. Good relationships forged at the beginning of employment between the union and new employees are stronger and tend to persist over time. The most successful union orientations are those that utilize a team, a well-prepared presentation, good materials, and advance preparation. The good news is that every local union is capable of such a program! Utilizing our collective experience and stories from successful local unions, we’ll provide everything you need to be successful signing up new employees from their first day on the job.