At this year’s virtual CFT Convention held March 26-27, the
Part-Time Faculty Committee sponsored two resolutions reflective
of both the longstanding and new problems beginning to emerge in
the wake of the pandemic which has impacted adjunct health and
Results of the CFT officer elections were announced on May
1 after mail ballots were tabulated. The biennial
election was held by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic and
a Virtual Convention. All newly elected leaders will take
office on May 26, 2021.
AFT President Randi Weingarten addressed the CFT Convention,
expressing thanks and gratitude for all the members have
done—pivoting from the classroom to online, providing food
delivery, and bringing hotspots to neighborhoods. Education
workers did all this while taking care of their own children,
living in homes with multiple generations, being at risk due to
pre-existing conditions, and mourning people who had died from
COVID, Weingarten said.
A history professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, who teaches
classes such as Race, Inequality, and American Democracy and the
former Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black
Culture, with his work featured in the New York Times’
1619 Project, and Ava DuVernay’s documentary about
mass incarceration, 13th, Khalil Gibran Muhammad s
At this year’s CFT Convention, several resolutions provoked a lot of discussion, especially considering the attendees were virtually raising their hands to be acknowledged from their living rooms, rather than on the actual convention floor. Some of these included condemning anti-Asian violence, mandating healthcare for part-time faculty, reforming Social Security to support teacher retirement, supporting the PRO Act to increase union organizing, and maintaining a list of retirees to contact.
Kati Bassler, the president of Salinas Valley Federation of
Teachers and Linda Delp, UCLA Faculty Union, shared this year’s
CFT’s Women in Education Award, given for promoting the rights of
women and issues of gender equity in the workplace.
Long-time Berkeley Federation of Teachers president and CFT Vice
President Cathy Campbell, the winner of the CFT’s highest honor,
the Ben Rust Award, opened by thanking classified employees and
teachers for all they had done to keep students safe, get them
food, and make sure they could learn during the pandemic.
This year’s Legislator of the Year award went to Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta. In his first public address since Governor Newsom appointed him to fill Xavier Becerra’s position as California attorney general after Becerra became Secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services, Bonta spoke to the CFT Convention.
The director of California TRANScends, Ebony Ava Harper, addressed the CFT Convention on Friday morning, March 26, talking about working for climate and disability justice and race equity, as well as trans rights.
Alex Padilla, California’s Secretary of State until Governor Newsom appointed him to the U.S. Senate seat left open by Kamala Harris when she became vice president, addressed delegates on the first morning of the CFT Virtual Convention.
The 78th CFT Convention with the theme Rise Up, Recover, and
Rebuild had some firsts: the first one to be biennial rather
than annual; the first under CFT’s new identity, A Union of
Educators and Classified Professionals; the first with Jeff
Freitas as the CFT president; and, due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
the first one held virtually.
Good morning, CFT. I’m thrilled to be here with all of you—my fellow CFT leaders, all my union siblings, CFT and local union staff, and invited guests.
This year’s Convention has a lot of firsts. It is my first State of the Union speech as CFT president and my first time presiding as chair of the Convention. This is the first of our biennial conventions which we approved in 2018 through a constitutional amendment by this very body. And, this is the first-ever virtual CFT Convention. While we are making the best of the current circumstances, I sincerely hope it will be the last virtual convention.
Delegates had a lot to celebrate as they convened for the CFT’s
100th Anniversary celebration in March.
The state’s largest local union, United Teachers Los Angeles, had
held a wildly successful strike less than two months earlier. And
the union’s block of classified employee members were set to
begin the CFT’s second century with their highest union profile
While the issues of pay inequity, the lack of job security, and
access to health benefits are major challenges that plague
part-time faculty —collegiality, inclusion, and connection with
their campuses and fellow faculty are also important for a
part-time faculty member’s long-term involvement with a
Key to increasing adjunct involvement and connection in the
California community colleges is increasing both the
opportunities for and compensation of part-time faculty
participation in shared governance.
Delegates to the 100th Anniversary Convention elected the first
classified member to hold a top leadership position in the CFT,
Council of Classified Employees President Luukia Smith, as
Secretary Treasurer. The man who has held that position, Jeff
Freitas, was elected CFT’s new president.
With the June 2018 Supreme Court 5-4 decision on Janus v.
AFSCME ending “fair share” revenues, many locals were
prepared to lose members, and organized to stop that.
“Some people will find it attractive to save a few hundred bucks,
so we have to develop a new culture of unionism and union
activism,” Community College Council President Jim Mahler told
the delegates, encouraging them to greet new workers on campus.
“We say, ‘Hi, here’s where the copy machine is, here’s the
bathroom, and here’s the union card.’ We’ve got to be membership
Along with being caring and compassionate, United Teachers Los
Angeles Secretary Arlene Inouye is a good listener – just as
important as being a good speaker, said United Educators of San
Francisco President Susan Solomon, presenting Inouye with the
Women in Education Award.
Former teacher and Assemblymember
Jackie Goldberg welcomed Convention delegates to Los Angeles
on March 22 and recounted an important history in the CFT’s 100th
Anniversary year. She talked about the need to reverse the damage
of Proposition 13.
AFT Local 2121 member and former CFT Communications Director Fred
Glass presented retiring CFT President Joshua Pechthalt with the
CFT’s highest honor, the Ben Rust Award. Glass called Pechthalt,
who was AFT vice president of United Teachers Los Angeles before
being elected CFT president in 2011, an organizer, a trade
unionist, and a fighter for social justice like Rust.
On its 100th Anniversary, the CFT voted to rebrand itself. In
Resolution 1, which convention delegates passed unanimously,
it will now be CFT: A Union of Educators and Classified
Professionals. The change formally recognizes that the union
proudly represents a broad spectrum of education workers.
Luukia Smith, elected Secretary Treasurer of the CFT by
delegates, and the first classified employee to serve in this
position, was first to rise in support of the change.
Hundreds of delegates to the CFT Convention celebrated the 100th
Anniversary of their union at a hotel of nearly the same age, the
historic Millennium Biltmore in downtown Los Angeles.
During general sessions, delegates watched a series of videos
chronicling the CFT’s history of activism. Outside the ballroom
doors, they could view a wide range of exhibits in the CFT Hall
This past weekend over 600 delegates and guests gathered at the
historic Millennium Biltmore hotel in downtown Los Angeles to
take part in the 2019 CFT Convention. Throughout the weekend we
celebrated CFT’s 100 year anniversary, recognizing the incredible
activism, dedication, and success of generations of educators and
classified professionals who worked tirelessly over a century for
our students, our schools, and our professions.
At this year’s CFT Convention,
delegates passed Resolution 15 calling for the CFT to
support changing the workload cap in a community college district
to 80 percent of a full-time equivalent load, effectively
allowing part-time faculty to teach up to 12 units.
A couple of days after his speech at the CFT Convention in
Sacramento last year, Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D- Richmond)
announced his candidacy for state superintendent of public
instruction. He regrets not announcing at the Convention,
Thurmond told delegates, who waved blue signs in his support.
About 400 delegates at CFT Convention discussed resolutions on a
broad range of policy issues; heard from the law school dean at
UC Berkeley, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Tony Thurmond, the
CFT-endorsed candidate for the job of superintendent of public
instruction; joined thousands to rally and march for safer
schools and common sense gun control; learned a whole lot about
Janus v. AFSCME, a Supreme Court case that could effectively turn
the public sector into a “right to work” zone; and heard from a
teacher in West Virginia where they succeeded in getting a 5
percent raise for all public employees.
Becoming president of the ABC Federation of Teachers after the legendary Laura Rico – known for leading a successful eight-day strike in 1993 and serving as a vice president of the CFT, the AFT and the AFL-CIO simultaneously – meant people had some pretty high expectations of him, said Ray Gaer, current president.
This past year has been at times demoralizing, frightening,
offensive and challenging. Yet through it all shines a ray of
hope that something may be changing. In spite of all the
administration’s bombastic rhetoric, or because of it, there
seems to be broad opposition to Trump’s policies and growing
clamor for something different.
A woman’s place is in her union, Morgan Hill Federation of
Teachers President Gemma Abels told attendees at the CFT
Convention before introducing this year’s winner of the Women in
Education Award, Sandra Larsen, president of the Petaluma
Federation of Teachers, who led a successful strike last spring,
the first in the union’s history.
Community College Council President Jim Mahler first met Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) when she worked in Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante’s office. She supported labor then, and she supports it now, he said, advocating for International Workers’ Day and passing paid sick leave for all workers.
United Educators of San Francisco Executive Vice President Susan
Solomon started her speech at the Ben Rust Award luncheon by
talking about some of the things that were happening 50 years ago
– the Vietnam War dragging on and Martin Luther King getting
assassinated while supporting striking garbage workers.
At the EC/TK-12 Council meeting on Friday night, President Rico
Tamayo thanked West Virginia teacher Angela Johnson for staying
up late to Skype with the council about the successful strike she
was part of in her state. She brushed it off.
Through speeches, chants and signs, the crowd of thousands at the
March for Our Lives in Santa Ana made it clear what they wanted:
common-sense gun control.
At the rally organized in response to the shootings that killed
17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida,
students, teachers, and community members, along with Lt. Gov.
Gavin Newsom, spoke to the crowd, talking about people they loved
who had been shot, how they didn’t want to be afraid to go to
school, and how the United States has more than 90 gun murders a
If you get a case on the Supreme Court, make your brief a
shameless attempt to pander to Justice Anthony Kennedy, said UC
Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, keynote speaker at the CFT
Convention. Why? Because Kennedy has been in the majority 97
percent of cases this year, and 98 percent the year before.
About 400 delegates discussed resolutions on a broad range of
policy issues; heard from the law school dean at UC Berkeley, Lt.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Tony Thurmond, the CFT-endorsed candidate
for superintendent of public instruction; joined thousands to
rally and march for safer schools and common sense gun control;
learned a whole lot about Janus v. AFSCME, a Supreme Court case
that could effectively turn the public sector into a “right to
work” zone; and heard from a teacher in West Virginia where they
succeeded in getting a 5 percent raise for all public employees.
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 the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
put City College of San Francisco on the severest sanction, a lot
of legislators didn’t get it, said Tim Killikelly, president of
AFT Local 2121, the faculty union there.
Delegates overwhelming elected the Unity Slate, led by CFT
President Joshua Pechthalt and Secretary Treasurer Jeff Freitas.
The slate’s 24 vice presidents were elected from among a field of
29 candidates. Pechthalt and Freitas have now begun their fourth
two-year term as leaders of the California Federation of
It’s typical for educators to lead the way, philanthropist Tom
Steyer told attendees at the CFT Convention. As the son and
grandson of teachers, Steyer founded NextGen Climate, a non-profit
that acts politically to prevent climate disaster.
It’s not the work of a few vigilantes when Immigration Customs
Enforcement agents target students, said Laura Flores of the
California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation — it’s becoming the
law of the land.
DACA students, educators speak out at ICE building, state Capitol
Friday, Cesar Chavez Day, the first day of the CFT Convention,
Art Pulaski of the California Labor Federation promised the
delegates that he will make sure other unions — the plumbers,
carpenters, and building trades — back up the CFT in their fight
against charter schools and privatization. Then he got them fired
up for the march in support of immigrant rights.
The 75th Annual California Federation of Teachers Convention,
held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in downtown Sacramento, welcomed
hundreds of members and memorable speakers eager to combat the
destructive and oppressive policies of the Donald Trump
Administration. The fact that the first day of the convention
fell on Cesar Chavez Day was fitting considering the theme of the
convention: Organize. Resist.
The convention was also highlighted by biennial elections, with
current leadership receiving overwhelming support for another
Sisters and brothers, members of the CFT. It is always great to
be at our convention, to see friends, to think about the year
gone as we prepare for the challenges ahead.
And boy do we face some tough challenges.
The election of Donald Trump jeopardizes the progressive gains of
the last 80 years. Trump also threatens, almost daily, the basic
sense of ethics, civic mindedness and fairness, valued across the
The Grapes of Wrath written by John Steinbeck powerfully
told the story of one family’s challenge to survive the
devastation of the Great Depression of the 1930s. It’s a story
that continues to resonate eighty years later. As they begin
their journey to California, the Joad family asks Reverend Casey,
who in the film version is played brilliantly by the great
American actor John Carradine, if he would like to join them.