CFT member and baseball coach John Altobelli was killed in the
tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas on January 26, along
with his wife, daughter, and six others including NBA great Kobe
Bryant and his teenage daughter.
Editor’s note: With uniquely linked
histories, the CFT and AFT Local 61 both celebrate their
100th Anniversaries in 2019. What follows is a capsule
history of the oldest local union in the California Federation of
Teachers. From the search for true union representation in 1919
to the quest for affordable housing for union members 100 years
later, the history of AFT Local 61 — the United Educators of San
Francisco — is one of proud support for educators, their unions
Los Angeles adjunct becomes chair of California
Rusty Hicks, known to the larger California public as the newly
elected leader of the California Democratic Party, is known to
the students of the Los Angeles Community College District and
the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild, Local 1521, by another
title since 2016 — Adjunct Instructor of Labor Studies.
Sam Russo, one of the core group who organized Adjunct
Faculty United, AFT Local 6106, died on May 5. He was
president of the local for 12 years, and served on the
negotiations team for a number of years.
UTLA’s fight to save public education resonated far and
wide. Messages of solidarity and selfies of fist-pumping teachers
poured in from Kentucky to Canada. Union locals across Los
Angeles set up support networks for more than 200 LAUSD schools.
For Writers Guild members, joining teachers on picket lines was
an opportunity to pay back their mentors.
United Teachers Los Angeles has fought for nearly 50
years to give parents a greater voice in how their children’s
schools are run. In recent years, UTLA stepped up its outreach by
hiring community organizers, building coalitions, and working
with supporters in changing neighborhoods.
Those efforts bore fruit in January, when thousands of
parents joined teachers on picket lines across the
700-square-mile school district to fight for “the schools our
Manual Arts High School has a proud 109-year history.
Alumni include painter Jackson Pollock, actor Paul Winfield, and
tennis champion Richard “Pancho” Gonzalez. Former teacher Josh
Pechthalt was shaped by – and has helped to reshape – the South
CFT President Josh Pechthalt was a student at Fairfax High in
1970, when United Teachers Los Angeles struck for nearly a month.
He later taught social studies at Manual Arts High School for
more than 20 years, and was on the front lines in 1989, when UTLA
struck a second time.
During the strike, hundreds of retired L.A. teachers returned to their former schools to continue the fight for public education. One veteran of the two previous strikes said back then UTLA was up against an intransigent district, but didn’t have to face billionaires and unrestrained charter school growth.
UTLA-Retired is now mobilizing all its 4,300 members for the special election in March to fill a key seat on the LAUSD school board and tilt the balance away from a pro-charter majority.
Eight days after the six-day strike had ramped up public
pressure, the Los Angeles Unified school board passed a
groundbreaking resolution calling for a moratorium on new
charters in the district until Sacramento completes a study of
how their unchecked expansion has affected traditional schools.
The district also made a significant investment in local
With a massive outpouring of community support, a new
generation of teachers shut down the country’s second-largest
school district in a fight for the future of public education.
UTLA members launched their first strike in 30 years to deliver
“the schools our kids deserve.”
“Right now our college doesn’t provide any sort of health benefit
to part-timers,” explained local President Stephanie Rosenblatt.
“Most of the districts around us provide at least some sort of
reimbursement scheme, in which part-time faculty are reimbursed
at even a minimal level for their healthcare premiums.”
According to Danielle Short, classified vice president for San
Diego’s AFT Guild, the local was looking for ways to make campus
tabling more dynamic and encourage more conversation with
A brainstorming session led to the idea of a giant photo frame.
Campus printing services helped create the frame and printed it.
“We used it for our tabling,” Short said. “And then we just ran
with it for other events and outreach. It definitely breaks the
ice — and it’s a lot of fun.”
The Antelope Valley Federation awarded six
scholarships at a May 18 event sponsored by the college
High school seniors Star Collins and Amanda Martinez each
received $500 from the Karen Curtis Scholarship, which the AFT
Local 4683 created to honor one of the union’s driving forces,
CFT Field Representative Karen Curtis.
Today thousands of educators from across Los Angeles jammed Grand
Park today in a rally for “the Schools LA Students Deserve.” They
arrived by rail, bus, car and on foot—wearing UTLA red to send a
loud message to the Los Angeles Unified School District that
teachers will not stop fighting for smaller class sizes, fully
staffed schools, clean and safe schools, and fair compensation.
United Teachers Los Angeles was joined in the rally by students,
parents, and community groups and supported by its affiliates
CFT, CTA, AFT and NEA.
There are adjunct survival guides out there which give basic
union info, and perhaps maybe where the copy machines are located
on campus, then there’s The Part-Timer’s Almanac, A Compendium of Valuable Information, which is perhaps the
most comprehensive, adjunct-oriented union publication published
by a local union.
#MembershipBlitz In November
the Peralta Federation of Teachers,
launched a six-day membership drive as part of a year-long
strategy to recruit and engage members.
To prepare, the union audited membership files to make sure it
had a signed membership form for every member. It then
coordinated instructor schedules, recruited volunteers, finalized
logistics, and assembled new member packets with helpful union
information and a new union sticker.
Facing a crisis of affordable housing that
threatens to push educators out of the city, United Educators of
San Francisco’s 6,200 teachers, early childhood educators,
paraprofessionals, nurses and social workers negotiated an 11
percent pay increase over three years, as well as annual bonuses.
The overall compensation package will grow to 16 percent if
voters approve a parcel tax that city leaders hope to place
on the ballot in 2018.
AFT Local 6142 members made two important
gains at the bargaining table with front-loaded pay raises and a
reworked system of longevity stipends.
Chief Negotiator Luukia Smith said El Camino College staff will
receive a 5 percent raise for 2017 retroactive to January 1, with
at least 1.28 percent more in 2018 and a cost-of living increase
the following year.
Monica Marlatt, a career development
specialist for Santa Cruz city schools, has good cause to
appreciate her membership in AFT Local 6084, the Santa Cruz
Council of Classified Employees.
Marlatt’s daughter, Madeline, is studying nursing at Gonzaga
University in Spokane, Washington. Books and nursing fees alone
totaled $900 last semester, but help is on the way. This summer
the CFT awarded Madeline, and eight more continuing college
students, a Raoul Teilhet Scholarship for $3,000.
#ScienceMarch Numerous local unions took a stand for reason,
facts and scientific analysis in the Science March and Climate
March held during the month of May, including groups from the
Greater Santa Cruz Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2030, and
UC-AFT San Diego, AFT Local 2226.
#DumpDeVos: Demonstrators at a boisterous
event in Oakland — organized on social media in just a few days —
denounced the nomination of Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of
Education. Hundreds of parents, educators, and students gathered
at a noon rally on January 31.
Instructional support staff members of AFT Local 6525 were proud
to learn that The Aspen Institute had named their school,
Pasadena City College, one of the 10 best community colleges in
the country. The institute bases its assessments on a rigorous
analysis of student performance and achievement data.
Every fall, the College Staff Guild meets to address on-the-job
and political issues in the Los Angeles community colleges. This
year, more than 200 members of AFT Local 1521A took on another
challenge: disaster preparedness.
Fifty survival packs were raffled, members heard from
preparedness experts at the Red Cross and they committed to work
with their campus emergency response committees as part of shared
And what do the experts say? Being prepared when trouble hits
greatly raises the odds of survival. Here are three easy steps to
#NoDAPL: University members have been steadfast
in support of the Standing Rock Sioux resisting the Dakota Access
Pipeline that threatens tribal water sources. On November 10,
UC-AFT Berkeley members rallied in front of Wells Fargo Bank in
Oakland, urging it to stop financing the pipeline.
New study explores sociology adjunct working conditions
As the only part-time faculty member of an American
Sociological Association taskforce assembled to investigate the
teaching of sociology within community
colleges, Peralta Federation of
Teachers member and Laney College instructor
Cynthia Mahabir co-authored a scholarly study of data collected
from part-time sociology instructors in the nation’s community
Contagious…This spring Ann Marie Wasserbauer, president of the
Association of College Educators, delivered 513 petitions from
faculty and students to the West Valley-Mission Community College
Board of Trustees with the message: “Come back to the bargaining
On May 17, the National Labor Relations Board ordered the
Sacramento Job Corps to return four more residential advisors to
their jobs with full pay and benefits. The NLRB decision makes
nine AFT Local 4986 members who have been reinstated and made
whole more than 26 months after their initial terminations.
The NLRB also ruled that six residential coordinators were
unlawfully removed from the bargaining unit, and adopted an
administrative law judge’s finding that the employers are liable
for the unfair labor practices.
Reclaiming schools…. On May 4, teachers, support staff,
parents, students, elected officials and others participated in a
series of walk-ins and other events in support of public
education. Spurred on by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools,
which held walk-ins across the country, CFT members in schools
from districts in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Daly City and
Morgan Hill, as well as Cerritos College, turned out to show
support for the high-quality public schools that all our students
LOCALS 1481, 1493, 3267 Schools our students deserve… More than 250
parents, teachers, school staff, students, and community members
attended the “Schools Our Children Deserve” conference at Skyline
College on March 19 to hold a four-hour conversation about what
should be happening in North San Mateo County public schools.
Campus Equity Week draws attention to
inequities among faculty in higher education and calls for
economic justice, job security, and institutional support for
contingent and part-time faculty. Originally organized by the
Coalition of Contingent
Academic Labor, these October events aim to bring greater
awareness to the precarious situation for contingent faculty in
higher education, organize for action, and build solidarity.
»Gilroy Federation of
Paraeducators negotiated a 5.5 percent pay increase
retroactive to December 1, a one-time 2 percent raise back to
July 2014, adjustments of 3 percent for most job classes,
increased stipends and out-of-class pay.
»Weaver Federation of Educational
Employees will see a 5 percent raise retroactive to
July 1, 2014, and 1.1 percent off-schedule for the entire year;
another 5 percent raise and one-time 1.1 percent lump sum on July
1, and a third 5 percent pay increase in July 2016.
Only four of 125 Job Corps centers in the
United States are unionized, and CFT members staff two of them.
Adams & Associates is the private contractor managing both Job
Corps centers — with very different results.
In San Francisco, AFT Local 6319 represents 150 staff in the
Treasure Island Job Corps Workers Union. Local President Emily
Rapaport said the Department of Labor ranks centers on student
job placement and a range of other metrics. “Since Adams came in
about five years ago, we have been either number one or two in
Funding in limbo… The last few years have been a
terrible time in the adult education world, according to Jack
Carroll, the executive director at the Pajaro Valley Federation
of Teachers. Carroll, who teaches office skills to adults, hopes
AB86 will alleviate that by providing $25 million for adult
Santa Maria part-timers negotiate numerous improvements
Part-time instructors at Allan Hancock College
negotiated an 8 percent pay increase over the next two years
starting this spring when all part-time academic employees
received a 4 percent salary increase. They will get a 2 percent
raise this fall and another in fall 2016. In a tremendous boost,
service faculty (counselors, librarians, and nurses) received an
additional 20 percent pay increase.
LA turns out for education.… Thousands of
people jammed Grand Park on February 26 in a rally for “Schools
LA Students Deserve.” They wore red to send the message to Los
Angeles Unified: Teachers will not stop fighting for high-quality
education including culturally relevant classes; smaller class
sizes in fully-staffed clean and safe schools with social and
emotional support for students; and fair compensation for
teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians. Students, parents,
and community groups joined United Teachers Los Angeles at the
With City College of San Francisco still in limbo status due to
unfair sanctions from the Accrediting Commission for Junior and
Community Colleges, nearly 150 part-time faculty have lost their
jobs in the past couple of years and few, if any, part-time
counselors have been rehired.
Two CFT members were named Labor Leaders of the Year by the
Tri-Counties Central Labor Council: Steve Hall, president of the
Ventura County Federation of College Teachers, and Debra
Stakes president of the Cuesta College Federation of Teachers.
Congratulations Steve and Debra!
Protecting the rehire pool…When administrators at
Oakland’s Laney College chose not to rehire part-time sociology
professor and Peralta Federation of Teachers Part-time Faculty
Representative Cynthia Mahabir, and two other members of the
Part-time Faculty Rehire Preference Pool, the faculty rallied
Today teachers across the Petaluma City Schools District
leafleted parents before and after school, asking them to contact
the school board in support of a decent contract settlement that
can properly support a quality education. Petaluma teachers have
not had a cost of living adjustment in seven years.
The Petaluma Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1881, representing
more than 425 teachers, counselors, psychologists, nurses and
other certificated employees in the Petaluma City Schools
District, has recently turned up the heat in support of contract
After months of mobilizing staff, parents
and community allies from Watts and Koreatown to East Los
Angeles, Early Childhood Federation President Ruben Siguenza
recently sent supporters some bad news. “I regret to inform you
that our fight is over,” Siguenza wrote in an April 18 email. “We
have lost Kedren Head Start.”
Four years ago, school security aides in San
Francisco gave up an hour from their eight-hour day when their
supervisor told a roomful of the workers it would save the jobs
of two young women. The hours were to be restored in two years.
Along with the hour-a-day layoff, the safety workers — known as
“T-10s” for their job designation — also endured five furlough
days per year.
Raise the wage…Educators are joining the fight to raise
poverty-level wages. The Berkeley Federation of
Teachers is a leading participant in the campaign
to raise the minimum wage in Berkeley and securing a better
economic future for the city’s families.
AFT Guild successfully negotiated for
continuing education part-time faculty in the San Diego
community colleges to be on the same salary schedule as
credit-course instructors, and in the Grossmont-Cuyamaca
district for part-timers teaching 50 percent of a full load to
be eligible for fully district-paid healthcare coverage
starting January 2015.
Community support saved an innovative cooking and gardening
program that faced closure last spring, but only leftovers remain
after the Berkeley Unified School District cut two-thirds of the
“Even the chickens in the garden were given away because no one
was left to tend them,” said Daria Wrubel of the Berkeley Council
of Classified Employees. Wrubel taught gardening to 450 students
at Thousand Oaks Elementary before she and more than half the
classified staff were cut.