By all measures, this was a very successful midterm election. Democrats picked up 40 seats in the U.S. House, which they will now control, and more than 300 legislative seats nationwide. In California, we ran the table on statewide officers and elected a supermajority in both houses of our state Legislature. Most importantly for us, Tony Thurmond was elected superintendent of public instruction.
Years back, my family took a trip to Hawaii. While there, Japan suffered a serious earthquake and we were told to prepare for a tsunami that never materialized. Like the one on my trip, the “blue wave” that could give Democrats a majority in the House and possibly the Senate, might be just as illusory as our Hawaiian experience. Unless we help make it happen.
At this pivotal moment in our history, we can look back with pride while looking forward with a tempered sense of confidence. Knowing what our union has overcome in its first century, we will face the coming challenges and emerge a stronger union.
Delivered by President Josh Pechthalt at CFT Convention, March 24, 2018
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.
The daily revelations of sexual misconduct by men in authority seem like a turning point in the struggle for gender equality. While this appears to be a sea change, we must remember that Donald Trump’s claim he could grab women inappropriately without their consent failed to derail his run for the White House. That, however, may have been the opening salvo.
We learned in the final days of September that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up another union fair share case. With the court’s ruling coming early next year, it feels like we are on a ship with an iceberg rapidly approaching. Fortunately, as we prepare for an unfavorable decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case, we had already prepared for the similar Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case.
With less than one month left in the presidential contest and the race for the White House tightening, progressives have to make some clear-eyed decisions about whom to support. Will they support Hillary Clinton or will they cast a protest vote and support Jill Stein?
There is a lot at stake in this coming November election. Not only will we elect a president and therefore shape the Supreme Court for years to come, but we also have a key U.S. senate race, a vital state ballot measure to extend Proposition 30, and important state and local legislative races.
Four years ago we talked about the need to pass Proposition 30, a measure that has added more than $6 billion dollars annually to the state budget after years of devastating cuts. Now we have to extend it. The measure for which we are gathering signatures — The Children’s Education and Healthcare Protection Act — will raise $5 to $11 billion a year, eliminate the sales tax increase, and continue to ask wealthy Californians to pay a bit more in personal income tax.
It’s time for the labor movement to remember what energized our ranks and inspired American workers to join unions. As we face a continued decline in membership and legal challenges that threaten to erode the strength of public sector unions and the movement as a whole, now more than ever, we need to take our message to the streets.
Survivor tells horrific tale of persecution and murder
Angel Neri described the unique education given students at the Raul Isidro Burgos School in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, in his speech at CFT Convention. The school takes students from rural farming communities, trains them as teachers, and then encourages them to return to work in schools in the poorest, most remote communities in Mexico. This has earned the school the enmity of corrupt and violent elements of Mexican society.
California’s largest, oldest corporations have not been paying their fair share for more than 35 years. As a result, the state has lost billions of dollars in uncollected property tax revenues — a major factor pushing our public schools to the national bottom in per pupil spending and class size average. The state’s most at-risk families and individuals have also seen essential services repeatedly cut for more than a generation.
Helping young people mature into adults is one of the rewards of being an educator. Unfortunately, the political tug-of-war enveloping public education can distract us from the special relationships that happen in the classroom. I have been reminded recently why I chose to become a teacher in the first place.
The super wealthy and their swollen circle of reactionary think tanks and echo chamber conservative media are committed to eradicating what remains of the labor movement and giving corporations unlimited power over every aspect of American life. Public education stands as an obstacle to such a corporate world committed to keeping wealth and education in the hands of a few.
The CFT’s emerging campaign for quality public education underscores the fundamental problem we face in this country — the lack of a powerful social movement for economic, political and social equality.