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.
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
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.
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.
I’m Luukia Smith and I’m an accounting technician at El Camino
College, where I have worked as a classified employee for 30
years. For more than half that time I also led the El Camino
Classified Employees, AFT Local 6142, but stepped down earlier
this year after I was elected to head the CFT Council of
My family is from Hawaii. I love the laid-back island culture,
and my leadership style is pretty informal, but “laid back” and
“informal” do not mean I’m a pushover. Far from it.
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
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
“Inspiring and well organized,” was how AFT 2121 President Tim
Killikelly described the 73rd annual California Federation of
Teachers’ Convention, held over the weekend of March 20-22 in
Paula Phillips is president of the Berkeley
Council of Classified Employees. After earning a degree in
human resource management and working in the private sector, she
came to Berkeley Unified as an administrative assistant to the
Personnel Commission. She saw the district grading internal job
candidates harder than external applicants and didn’t think it
Midway through this year’s state convention, CFT President Josh
Pechthalt and Secretary Treasurer Jeff Freitas ran unopposed as
part of a slate called QES-Quality Education Slate and the entire
slate was elected by acclamation.