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 September 30, Governor Newsom signed the final budget trailer bills sent to him by the Legislature after passing the bills and a “budget junior” on August 31. Budget trailer bills are created by the Committee on Budget to provide technical language for the implementation of fiscal allocations. The budget junior bill includes additional allocations as well as additional items necessary for implementation of some July budget expenditures.
The budget-related bills go into effect immediately. CFT priorities in the budget trailer bills are listed below.
Governor Newsom signed AB
152 on September 29, extending COVID-19 Supplemental
Paid Sick Leave through the end of the year for California
workers. This protection was originally set to expire on
This extension does not come with additional sick leave but
instead gives workers access to any of their remaining COVID-19
Supplemental Sick Leave through December 31,
Yajaira J. Cuapio has been a social worker in the San Francisco Unified School District for eight years. With the pandemic, she says the last couple of years have been challenging.
“Students have been isolated for so long that it’s having an impact on their social skills. They’re arguing and fighting, and it leads to unsafe interactions,” she said. “Then academically there have been disruptions. For one thing, a positive COVID case would cause students to have to quarantine for 10 days, and if they’re out that long, truancy is established.”
Joshua McCann much prefers going to campus for his San Diego Community College District classes. Now in his second year and intending to transfer to a UC and major in political science, McCann says connections on Zoom or in your Canvas inbox can’t compare to being with a person in real life.
McCann goes to campus for three out of his four classes. The other night after his philosophy class, he stayed for office hours with the teacher, and ended up having a two-hour conversation about the class with some of the other students.
Ruben Mancillas, chief negotiator for ABC Federation of Teachers,
was pleased about getting a 5% raise for teachers in their latest
contract, which he says is the single largest increase since the
recession. But it’s not only the raise that pleased him.
Local 2317 was headed towards a strike for the first time in
three decades, after uncharacteristically tough negotiations with
a new school board in place. Instead of a strike, ABC did a
work-to-rule campaign, asking teachers to only do what was
specified in their contract.
Samira Rostami has taught Communication Studies at Grossmont College since 2014, as well as at four other San Diego area higher ed institutions including the University of San Diego. Her health took a dramatic turn for the worse shortly after area campuses closed in late March 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.
COVID and the subsequent student enrollment drop during the last
two semesters have placed great burdens on contingent faculty,
from scrambling to teach remotely to negotiating personal and
family challenges to facing reduced assignments and a loss of
While California is showing strong signs of emerging from an
economy ravaged by the pandemic, the community colleges are still
reeling from the impact, most strongly demonstrated in the sharp
decline in student enrollment. This has led to tough situations
for many adjuncts, and for the local unions representing them.
California schools have returned to in-person learning, but acute
staff shortages are hobbling the return. The hardest positions to
fill are often special education instructional aides.
For “SpEd IAs,” as they are known from early childhood programs
to post-secondary classrooms, there is no “social distance” with
their students. Assignments may require feeding children,
changing diapers, and handling medical equipment. Emotional
outbursts can also be physically punishing to paraeducators.
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.
“Fighting an unfair firing can be a lengthy process,” said Tina
Solórzano Fletcher of San Diego’s AFT Guild, Local 1931, which
represents faculty and staff at local community colleges. “Our
certificated members who appeal a termination continue to receive
compensation. Our classified employees should also.”
As the state Legislature embarks on its second year of the
2021-22 session, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to play a major
role in education policy by exacerbating the decline in student
enrollment and creating staff shortages with more educators
retiring than are being hired.
Governor Newsom introduced a $286.4 billion budget proposal for 2022-23 on January 10. The proposed budget is 9% larger than last year’s record high budget, largely because of tax receipts that were even higher than expected. The governor’s office is anticipating a $21 billion discretionary surplus for 2022-23 and this includes billions more for education.
This week Assemblymember Alex Lee (D-San Jose) re-introduced his
bill, now titled AB 2289, that seeks to impose a tax on the
extreme wealth of the richest Californians. The bill would impact
approximately 17,000 multi-millionaires and billionaires in
California, which is 0.07% of the total taxpayers in our state.
CFT is a proud sponsor of this bill — that would raise more than
$22 billion in revenue annually — and will be working closely
with Assemblymember Lee as it makes its way through the state
CFT and our labor partners have fought hard to reinstate COVID-19
paid sick leave. On February 9, Governor Newsom signed the
COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave legislation (Senate
Bill 114) into law. This is a huge win that will help keep
our workplaces and communities safe.
Supplemental Paid Sick Leave became available starting February
19 — ten days after the legislation was signed. Here is a
summary of what is included in the new law:
This leave is retroactively applied to January 1, 2022, and
will sunset on September 30, 2022.
Governor Newsom proposed significant increases for education and a 5.33% Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) in his state budget for 2022-23 released January 8. In his proposal, the governor addressed five concurrent state crises — COVID-19, climate change, inequality, homelessness, and public safety — several of which are reflected in the education budget. This budget is a preliminary proposal subject to negotiations with the Legislature and will be revised in May, with its final passage in June.
By Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary Treasurer,
California Labor Federation
Since the beginning of this pandemic, workers have borne the
brunt of this crisis. They’ve been on the frontlines for nearly
two years, every day, to keep our economy afloat. Now, with the
omicron surge leading to record cases, frontline workers are more
at risk than ever. And many are assuming this risk with few
Each November, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (the non-partisan advisor for the state Legislature) prepares a fiscal outlook in anticipation of the state budget process that kicks off in January with the governor’s budget proposal.
Overall, revenues are growing at historic rates and the LAO estimates the state will have a $31 billion surplus to allocate in 2022‑23. The Proposition 98 guarantee for schools and community colleges is estimated to be $11.6 billion (12.4% above the 2021-22 enacted budget). LAO estimates $9.5 billion will be available for new commitments and $10.2 billion will be available for one-time spending.
California schools reopened to a new normal. Classified staff are getting their arms around vaccine mandates and making safety protocols part of their daily routines. And nearly every district, from rural elementaries to urban community colleges, are facing serious labor shortages.
As the COVID pandemic stretches into the fall, community college
adjuncts have been hit especially hard by the decline in student
enrollment, limited support services, and inadequate or even
non-existent access to healthcare. The loss of work, loss of
insurance benefits, and even the breakdown of personally financed
yet essential teaching equipment have been the tragic results.
The governor signed three of four CFT-sponsored bills that made
it to his desk in year one of the current two-year
session. The session closed on September 10 and Governor
Newsom had until October 10 to sign the bills.
In early August, Luukia Smith, Lacy Barnes, and I ventured up and
down the state on a three week Back-to-School, Forward
Together Tour. We visited with early childhood educators,
TK-12 teachers, classified workers, adult education teachers, and
part-time community college faculty. We witnessed firsthand
students learning in-person. We saw the incredible school
communities our members have helped to build and visited campuses
and classrooms to see CFT members in action.
Now that California schools have returned to in-person classes,
teachers and staff on campuses up and down the state are having
to navigate a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. In mid-August,
the CFT held a tele-townhall meeting to connect directly with
members and hear about your workplace concerns. Below are answers
to the most common questions we heard from you.
CFT’s top officers embarked on a statewide Back-to-School Tour in mid-August as many classified employees and teachers headed back to campus in-person for the first time since the pandemic forced distance learning for California schools and colleges. The road trip included stops from North Bay Counties to San Diego County, in both urban and rural districts.
Most faculty members, staff, and students at the state’s community colleges have been teaching, learning, and working online for more than a year and a half due to COVID-19. Many planned to go back to their campus in the fall semester, but after a brief period of hope that the virus was on the way out the delta variant emerged in the summer, and in many areas, COVID is surging again.
As they have for the past two years, lecturers at the University
of California continue their effort to get the administration to
bargain a fair contract. The last agreement between the
university and the University Council-AFT, expired on January 31,
2020. The union’s negotiating committee has met with UC’s
bargaining team on 50 occasions, yet the four most fundamental
issues are still outstanding — high turnover rates, lack of
performance reviews, widespread uncompensated labor, and
The state budget package for 2021-22 includes changes to
independent study to allow all schools to offer
a replacement for a distance learning option for students and
families who prefer to remain outside of in-person instruction.
The COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave is set to expire
September 30 and due to legislative deadlines, it is no longer
possible for the Legislature to pass an extension before the
existing SPSL expires.
The afternoon of Tuesday, August 31, thousands of educators and
classified professionals from across the state joined CFT’s Back
to School Tele-Town Hall. Three high profile guests joined CFT
members on the call — Governor Gavin Newsom, California Surgeon
General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, and AFT President Randi
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.
CFT leaders visited school communities and workplaces during
a statewide two-week back-to-school tour. On
the Back-to-School: Forward
Together tour, CFT President Jeff Freitas,
Secretary Treasurer Luukia Smith, and Senior Vice President Lacy
Barnes met with educators, classified employees,
students and parents to support a safe return to
in-person learning. CFT leaders also shared their vision for
maximizing a record state budget investment
to strengthen academic achievement and student social
The CFT kicked off a two-week back-to-school tour to visit school communities throughout the state. Starting on August 9, CFT President Jeff Freitas, Secretary Treasurer Luukia Smith and Senior Vice President Lacy Barnes will visit AFT local unions and schools up and down California as the new academic year begins for full in-person learning.
The last year and a half of my communications with you have told
the story of the COVID-19 pandemic, our union’s early responses
to the changes wrought by the virus, our diligence in keeping
school communities healthy and safe, and the first glimmers of
hope as vaccines became available and community spread began to
Teachers at the four middle schools and five high schools
represented by the Salinas Valley Federation of Teachers went
back into the classroom on April 27, with options for families to
remain in distance learning.
The retiree chapter of the AFT Guild in San Diego usually does monthly yoga and meditation classes, as well as getting together for walks and union meetings. Now though, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, members haven’t been getting together in person, chapter President Susan Morgan says.
Throughout the COVID pandemic, CFT members from early childhood
centers to community colleges have shown how essential classified
employees are. During the past 15 months, techs helped power an
overnight transition to online learning, custodians learned how
to hit back at the coronavirus, and health aides are now on the
front lines of reopening schools.
While the number of COVID cases are shrinking, and the vaccination rate increasing, the effects of the pandemic continue, with adjuncts having been hit particularly hard, as despite the heroic efforts of faculty to provide remote and online instruction, California community college enrollment has dropped systemwide by 11 to 12% since last fall, according to Edsource.
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.
On March 19, 2021, Governor Newsom extended COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave to provide California employees with two weeks of paid sick leave when they cannot work for reasons related to COVID-19. To qualify, you must work for an employer with 25 or more employees. This legislation applies to both public and private sector workers.
SB 95 takes effect on March 29, 2021, and will be retroactive to January 1, 2021.
Since the beginning of the pandemic last March, while our
families and our communities have suffered gut-wrenching pain and
loss, billionaires in our state alone have increased their wealth
by over half a trillion dollars.
And their numbers and their extreme wealth just keep on growing.
In March 2020, just as COVID began, there were 154 billionaires
in California – with a total wealth of $688.3 billion. In January
2021, there were 169 billionaires in California – with a total
wealth of more than $1.2 trillion.
California teachers and classified employees want nothing more
than to be back in our physical classrooms and school sites and
know first-hand there is no equal substitute to regular,
California’s schools are the heart of their communities. For many
of our most vulnerable and underserved populations, they are
lifelines. The educational, social and emotional needs of
California’s students, particularly those who often lack the
technological and additional education support to sustain
distance learning, are of paramount concern.
On January 14, the
California Department of Public Health released several
important resources related to the state’s K-12 schools and
COVID-19. Our summary below is meant to guide members and local
unions through the new materials, especially the changes and most
critical elements. The governor and the CDPH are still developing
additional resources, so watch for updates about the plan in
the coming weeks.
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
As I reflect upon the year that is reaching its end, the shock of
all we have endured these past many months hits me anew. When we
started this year, I felt hopeful with many opportunities for
success and change.
On November 3, voters went to the polls to turn things around in
our country and in our state. Or rather, many went to the polls,
but many more had already cast mail ballots in the days and weeks
leading up to the election, a sign of the times during a year of
“stay at home” orders.
The week after Thanksgiving, Mariah Fisher, president of the Novato Federation of Teachers and a middle school drama teacher, said she was ready to go back to in-person teaching, starting that week. She had marked off six feet of space between all the desks and she was preparing to teach acting to students wearing masks.