The night before CFT State Council, on Friday, May 18, the
Federation recognized locals for their extraordinary union work
to support members during the pandemic. The recipients of
our Solidarity Awards are listed below, as well as significant
anniversaries marked by AFT local unions.
Each year the California Community Colleges recognizes five classified employees for their leadership, commitment and ethics. The 2021 honorees include two dynamic and talented CFT members in the Los Angeles area.
The day after Donald Trump was elected president, Melinda Dart,
CFT vice president and president of the Jefferson Elementary
Federation in Daly City, saw a sixth-grade boy with his head on a
desk, sobbing. Girls asked her how a person who’d said the things
Trump said could have been elected president. Dart didn’t have an
answer for that, but she was glad to see these sixth-graders
When accepting her award for Women in Education, along with her
colleague Theresa Sage, for their successful fight against the
Rocketship corporate charter school chain, Morgan Hill Federation
of Teachers President Gemma Abels gave a speech that brought the
room to tears. She talked about the tough personal fight she
faced thereafter — stage IV ovarian cancer with aggressive chemo
treatments and attendant exhaustion.
After people in leadership at the local where he is the former
president, United Teachers Los Angeles, got up to talk about his
mentoring, his commitment to growing the movement, and the
respect they have for him, the winner of this year’s Ben Rust
award, John Perez, got up to speak.
Laura Rico has worked in education for more
than 40 years, starting as an early childhood teacher at the
Artesia High School Children’s Center in the 1970s where she
became a member of the ABC Federation of Teachers.
The Courage Campaign, a CFT community partner, awarded CFT
President Josh Pechthalt with the United in Courage Award on
April 22 at Sacramento’s Citizen Hotel. The United in Courage
Award is given each year to a progressive leader who exemplifies
courage and collaboration in the pursuit of a more fair and just