Another school year has started. As an educator, August and
September have traditionally been the time when I set New Year’s
resolutions for the coming academic year. It starts me off on a
positive note to identify my goals, my priorities, and the areas
in which I want to learn and grow.
I think about our work at CFT in much the same way, and just like
when I was teaching, beginning a new school year as an
organization is not just the work of one person. Setting goals
for the CFT is not just the work of leaders or the Executive
Council. Rather it demands real-time feedback from our membership
so that we, as a statewide union, can respond to the issues
members identify as top priorities. To do that important work, we
have undertaken a number of projects to listen to members and
respond to what we have heard.
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.”
The Jefferson Union High School District knew it had a problem holding onto staff. The district was losing about 25% of its certificated and classified employees yearly, and a survey showed that many were leaving the Daly City school district because of the high cost of housing.
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.
UPDATE: We are disappointed to report
Governor Newsom vetoed AB 1856 on September 25, citing cost
Find his veto message here. This action is now
Please take a moment to urge Governor Newsom to sign AB
1856, which will increase the workload cap available to part-time
faculty from 67% up to 85% of a full-time faculty workload in
California’s community colleges.
The AFT and CFT applauded President Biden’s plan
announce August 24 to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt
for some borrowers and extend the pandemic pause on loan
AFT President Randi Weingarten
in a press release said, “Today, millions of Americans
can breathe easier knowing that some of the crushing burden of
student loan debt has been lifted. Make no mistake—this is a
transformative action that will change countless lives.”
As educators and classified professionals, we often mark
beginnings and ends with school years rather than calendar years.
Each May, students leave for the summer or graduate and venture
off to another stage in their lives. As these chapters open and
close, it’s hard not to think about similar times in our own
lives, when we moved on from a particularly beloved school or
classroom, and from the school staff that made our experience so
From the Bay Area to San Diego, and from the Central Valley to
the Mojave Desert, part-time community college faculty, along
with full-time faculty and student allies, gathered at
Sacramento’s famed Sutter Club on Monday morning, May 1, to go
forth and make California legislators aware of the critical need
for part-time faculty healthcare and pay parity.
When it comes to union work, power and knowledge work hand in
hand. Union is not simply about expressing demands, speaking
truth to power, and being resolute in the face of adversity. It’s
about making connections, sharing truths, building solidarity,
empowering, and speaking to be heard.
Developing the knowledge to do these things and putting the power
of that knowledge to use was core to the workshops at the CFT
Part-Time Faculty Conference held May 1-2 in Sacramento.
The results of CFT’s groundbreaking statewide survey of part-time faculty offer critical insights into the daily, personal, and structural challenges that part-time and contingent faculty experience when it comes to healthcare.
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.
Higher Education Labor United, a cross-union and cross-sector
coalition, held its Winter Summit virtually on February 23-27,
pushing forward with the larger goals of reclaiming the promise
of higher education, and promoting socio-economic and racial
justice embodied by the New
Deal for Higher Education campaign and Scholars for a New
Deal in Higher Education.
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.
About 200 CFT members from around the state converged at San
Francisco’s Hyatt Regency for a Leadership Conference — the first
time they’d been able to join together for such an event since
the state shut down for COVID on March 13, 2020.
Seeming excited to see one another in person, attendees went to
workshops, many dealing with racial and social justice issues,
and heard from speakers including JEDI (Justice, Equity,
Diversity and Inclusion) Organizer Cynthia Eaton, State
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, and AFT
President Randi Weingarten.
When I decided to become a teacher, I was focused on helping
students and meeting them where they are. I became a mathematics
teacher — slopes, quadratic equations, fractions, square roots
and all. But I entered into the profession because I was
interested in who my students are as people, not just in class. I
wanted to understand their hopes and dreams and help them become
the people they wanted to be.
This is Heather Molloy’s first year on CFT’s Special Education
Services Committee. She says she feels grateful to be part of it
and thinks in a short period of time, the committee has
accomplished a lot.
Molloy, a high school teacher and member of Oxnard Federation of
Teachers and School Employees, is referring to the EC/TK-12
Council’s Special Education Summit in February where members
wrote a resolution to change the state’s Education Code, which
she thinks desperately needs updating.
WASHINGTON — A new national adjunct faculty survey from the AFT
underlines the brutal economic reality faced by millions of
contingent and adjunct faculty at the nation’s colleges and
universities — and illustrates how the pandemic further eroded
job security and bolstered the need for public help.
Dozens of CFT members testified this week in front of two
different budget subcommittees of the California Legislature to
urge our elected leaders in Sacramento to support Governor
Newsom’s $200 million proposal in the state budget
to fund healthcare for part-time faculty in California’s
Following the launch of CFT’s campaign for part-time faculty
healthcare last fall and a successful letter campaign, the
governor included the $200 million in his January budget
For about three years the University Council-AFT engaged in
protracted negotiations on behalf of lecturers in their unit.
Their aims have always been about fairness — better working
conditions for lecturers and improved learning conditions for
students. Their fight has been about not only winning economic
and contractual gains for members, but gaining professional
respect and recognition for their teaching at the University of
California. Their campaign has been a true member-driven effort,
rooted in years of organizing by the statewide local that
represents both continuing lecturers and librarians, led by their
president, Mia McIver, and a committed negotiations team.