When Susan Trask was 40, she went back to school and earned a
degree in ornamental horticulture at Long Beach City College.
Trask has since worked as a groundskeeper at the college
district, and this year she was elected president of AFT Local
6108, the Long Beach Council of Classified Employees.
After the North Bay fires destroyed more than 5,000 homes and
killed dozens of people, William Ortlinghaus, who teaches
physical education at Kenilworth Junior High and his wife Jen, a
teacher at Valley Vista Elementary, were happy to go back to work
after school had been cancelled for a week.
“It was the only normal thing we had left,” Jen said, “And my
fourth graders were curious to see if we were still alive and our
dogs were OK.”
We don’t spend much time changing bulbs anymore,” said Palomar
College electrician Rick Beach. “There aren’t many left on campus
And fewer by the day. Beach and maintenance and operations staff
members of the Palomar Council of Classified Employees, AFT Local
4522, recently led the installation of LED lighting across
Palomar’s San Marcos and Escondido campuses.
The CFT made history in 2016 when it became the first statewide
labor organization in the United States to adopt a Climate
Justice Agenda. When Resolution 29 was brought before delegates
to the CFT Convention, I presented the history of my local union
in forging the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council
Environmental Caucus, the first such body in the nation.
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.
Today, as CFT members joined with coalition partners in
Sacramento to rally for protection from agricultural pesticides
for students, the Californians for Pesticide Reform bestowed an
award on the CFT for its local and statewide efforts to make
schools near fields safer.