COVID didn’t create the national staffing crisis we face, but the pandemic has stretched classified and certificated members so thin that some schools have been forced to shut their doors.
AFT has stepped up to the challenge and created an Education Staffing Crisis Task Force co-chaired by Carl Williams, head of the CFT Council of Classified Employees and an AFT Vice President, and Michael Mulgrew, leader of AFT’s largest local union, New York City’s United Federation of Teachers.
About 200 CFT members from around the state converged at San
Francisco’s Hyatt Regency for a Leadership Conference — the first
time they’d been able to join together for such an event since
the state shut down for COVID on March 13, 2020.
Seeming excited to see one another in person, attendees went to
workshops, many dealing with racial and social justice issues,
and heard from speakers including JEDI (Justice, Equity,
Diversity and Inclusion) Organizer Cynthia Eaton, State
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, and AFT
President Randi Weingarten.
WASHINGTON — A new national adjunct faculty survey from the AFT
underlines the brutal economic reality faced by millions of
contingent and adjunct faculty at the nation’s colleges and
universities — and illustrates how the pandemic further eroded
job security and bolstered the need for public help.
In the early summer of 1919, when the American Federation of
Teachers found out that the Boston Men Teachers’ Union were
intent on ensuring that the Boston Women Teachers’ Union would
never achieve equal pay to them, the AFT sent a stern letter
telling the men that is not what unionism is about and to stop
their actions. The men left the union and even though the AFT
knew losing members was dire in 1920, it was the right thing to
On December 21, Congress passed a long-anticipated additional
round of COVID relief legislation as part of
the Bipartisan-Bicameral Omnibus COVID Relief
Deal. The legislative package — the result of
last-minute frantic negotiations — provides more much-needed
relief to individuals, education, hospitals and businesses
in response to the economic distress caused by the coronavirus
While the COVID-19 pandemic meant that this summer’s AFT
Convention had to go virtual, and in turn, resulted in format
changes which made schedules tighter, and the work of those
attending harder in many respects, one of the great achievements
for CFT was the passage of a resolution calling for the right of
contingent faculty to participate in shared governance.
By Geoff Johnson, AFT Guild, San Diego and Grossmont-Cuyamaca
Higher education in America is sick. Its classrooms and campuses
have been largely shuttered, save but for students taking lab
courses, or practicums, ironically in hospitals. Students and
instructors are now confined to the domains of their computers
and laptop screens in the educational netherworlds of Zoom or
Cranium. With the exception of online instruction developed prior
to the crisis, what is being delivered, more so than taught, is a
curriculum of coping under the duress of the coronavirus
On September 1, Carl Williams was elected to join 39 other AFT
Vice Presidents from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Williams
joins two other vice presidents from California, a group that has
included former CFT Presidents Mary Bergan and Joshua Pechthalt
over the years, and now current President Jeff Freitas.
COVID-19 is triggering state and local budget crises across the
nation. State and local governments are incurring huge new costs
as they seek to contain and treat the coronavirus and respond to
the virus-induced spike in joblessness and related human needs.
At the same time, they are projecting sharply lower tax revenues
due to the widespread collapse of economic activity brought about
by efforts to contain the virus’ spread.
The AFT on April 30 released a detailed road map that, in
the absence of a COVID-19 vaccine, charts a path to safely and
responsibly reopen school buildings and other institutions
crucial to the well-being and economic vitality of our
The 20-page, science-based “Plan
to Safely Reopen America’s Schools and
Communities” sprung from an intense collaboration
of public health professionals, union
leaders and frontline workers to prepare for
what happens next in the period between flattening the curve
and truly eradicating the virus.
The new bipartisan federal stimulus legislation, known as
the CARES Act, was signed yesterday. The $2.2 trillion bill
— the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act — is the
third piece of federal coronavirus response legislation passed in
recent days and contains significant new resources to assist in
Los Angeles adjunct becomes chair of California
Rusty Hicks, known to the larger California public as the newly
elected leader of the California Democratic Party, is known to
the students of the Los Angeles Community College District and
the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild, Local 1521, by another
title since 2016 — Adjunct Instructor of Labor Studies.
One of the more talked about resolutions passed by the biennial
AFT Convention this July was Resolution
15, which calls for AFT to support City University of New
York adjuncts in their quest to achieve through “actions,
demonstrations, and advocacy,” a minimum of $7,000 per
The resolution, which passed with resounding support and no
opposition, also supports this minimum in “all other AFT locals’
campaigns for fair adjunct pay.”
Tina Solórzano Fletcher of the AFT Guild, which
represents nearly 6,000 employees at San Diego and
Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community Colleges, was honored with the
Talking Union Award at the annual AFT Paraprofessional and
School-Related Personnel conference in April. Fletcher is a
member-organizer for AFT Local 1931.
This year, the local prioritized one-on-one contact with
non-members, and from September 1 through May 31, signed up 506
From eight local unions to 3,000 locals and 1.6 million members
World War I and the Depression: The
American Federation of Teachers was founded in Chicago, with
eight locals signing on as AFL President Samuel Gompers welcomed
the union into its fold in 1916. The union operated from one room
of AFT Financial Secretary Freeland Stecker’s five-room bungalow
in Chicago. President Charles Stillman lived next door.
You have created a mighty, mighty union with mighty, mighty
values,” AFT President Randi Weingarten told attendees of the CFT
Convention. “You bend the arc towards justice every day. Now we
have a fight like never before, a fight to the finish, and we
By the Numbers | AFT local unions
3,370 Number of locals chartered by the AFT 3,019: Locals with fewer than 600 members
(90 percent) 1,819: Locals with fewer than 100 members
One in four of AFT’s 1.56 million members belong to a small
local, and 90 percent of AFT local unions are considered
small, defined as having fewer than 600 members.
While belonging to a small local can foster a sense of teamwork,
small locals often come up short of the resources, training and
volunteers to effectively represent members, according to a new
AFT task force.
From helping pass Proposition 30, which raises billions of
dollars for education, to fighting back against Vergara v.
California, a lawsuit filed on behalf of nine student plaintiffs
which seeks to dismantle teachers’ rights, AFT President Randi
Weingarten stands up for California educators and students.