Both CalSTRS and CalPERS have mechanisms in place to guard a
retiree’s defined benefit pension against eroding purchasing
power. The first is a cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, and the
second is a “floor” below which the buying power of a pension
cannot fall. Now thanks to a CFT-sponsored bill recently signed
by Governor Newsom, CalSTRS retirees from earlier decades will
see additional relief.
Governor Newsom signed six union bills at the end of September that the CFT successfully lobbied in both houses of the Legislature. The CFT had sponsored or co-sponsored 16 legislative bills alongside several budget proposals in the last year of the 2020-22 legislative session. A majority of these priorities made it to the governor’s desk or were included in the state budget, with only one bill being vetoed by the governor.
On August 16, 2021, Governor Newsom issued Executive
Order N-12-21 to provide additional flexibility to hire
retired K-12 teachers, community college faculty, and classified
staff during the COVID-19 State of Emergency.
Several CFT leaders and members testified today at the CalSTRS
Investment Committee meeting in West Sacramento, urging the
second largest pension fund in the country to pressure companies
that they invest in to stop profiting off family separations at
Most public school teachers working today count on traditional
pensions — which guarantee a monthly income based on age, salary
and years of service — as their main source of financial security
For years, people have been trying to attack pensions with ballot
propositions, said Doug Orr, an economics professor at City
College of San Francisco and the chair of the of the CFT
Retirement Policy Committee. Those propositions always go down in
defeat, Orr said, and now those attacks on pensions are coming to
In April 2013, a few months after the shootings at Sandy Hook
Elementary School in Connecticut that killed 20 children and six
adult staff members, the board of California State Teachers’
Retirement System voted to divest from firms making weapons that
are illegal to own in California. More than two years later, that
hasn’t happened, and Joshua Pechthalt, president of the CFT,
wants to make sure it does. Soon.
Santa Maria part-timers negotiate numerous improvements
Part-time instructors at Allan Hancock College
negotiated an 8 percent pay increase over the next two years
starting this spring when all part-time academic employees
received a 4 percent salary increase. They will get a 2 percent
raise this fall and another in fall 2016. In a tremendous boost,
service faculty (counselors, librarians, and nurses) received an
additional 20 percent pay increase.
UPDATE! On June 5, 2015, CalSTRS cashed out of its
investment in gun manufacturer Remington Firearms, part of the
Cerberus Capital Management portfolio. We thank CalSTRS for
listening to CFT. Read
story in the Sacramento Bee.
By Sharon Hendricks, Los Angeles College Faculty Guild and
CalSTRS Board Member
To help part-time faculty understand how districts report service
credit and to ensure they receive all service credit they have
earned throughout their teaching careers when they retire,
CalSTRS has opened new centers in Irvine, Glendale, and Santa
Clara, staffed by benefits counselors trained to navigate
In June 2014, the California Legislature made significant changes
in contributions to the California State Teachers Retirement
System. The CFT formed a task force to study the issue of the
system’s “unfunded liability” and to submit the union’s
recommendations to the governor and the Legislature. Learn about
the changes passed by the Legislature and the union’s positions
CalSTRS reports that its unfunded liability grows by $22 million
every day that nothing is done. While most California public
pension funds can raise annual employer rates when they need more
money, CalSTRS requires legislation to raise rates.
The Legislature has begun public hearings to address a $71
billion funding gap in the pension system for K-14 teachers.
Without an increase in contributions, CalSTRS predicts its assets
will be depleted in about 30 years.
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed is mounting a major attack on
educators’ pensions. He has filed a voter initiative with the
Secretary of State and may start collecting signatures in early
2014 to qualify it for the November ballot.
In a victory for part-time community college faculty enrolled in
the CalSTRS retirement program, Gov. Brown signed into law
CFT-sponsored SB 114 to correct the misreporting of
retirement service credit.
The governor signed CFT-sponsored SB 114. Authored by Sen. Leland
Yee (D-San Francisco), this bill helps correct misreporting of
part-time faculty work to ensure the right amount of retirement
A new law passed in the final hours of the legislative session
makes sweeping changes to public employee pensions that impose
most of the changes on workers not yet hired, creating a two-tier
system in the workplace where two groups of workers doing the
same work receive different retirement benefits.
Teachers at Ohlone Elementary School were greatly relieved
when Arysta LifeScience, a Japanese chemical company, announced
on March 20 that it would no longer sell methyl iodide in the
United States for use as a pesticide.