Topic: Safe Workplaces

Article Coronavirus Up Front

Back-to-School Tour puts staff shortage in stark perspective
Dedication and inspired work of our members must be recognized

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

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.

Article Coronavirus
masked teacher with masked students

Answers to common questions about return to in-person 
FAQ for teachers and support staff in TK-12 schools

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.

Article Coronavirus
Classified employee members of the Lawndale Federation around a union banner

Classified members feel the love during Back-to-School Tour
CFT leaders provide encouragement, support for safe working conditions

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.

Article Coronavirus
students waiting for outside class "Engines, Fuel and Ignition"  to begin

What’s on everyone’s mind? The return to in-person
From urban to rural, community college locals weigh in

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.

Article Coronavirus

Legislature fails to extend COVID-19 Supplemental Sick Leave
Legislative Update

The COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) is set to expire September 30. The CFT, in partnership with other unions, engaged in a long campaign to try and pass an extension before the end of the legislative session.

Thousands of CFT members signed our action to extend the supplemental sick leave to help elevate this issue, slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our schools and communities safe. However, those efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.

Article Coronavirus

See our Back-to-School tour in pictures!
Forward Together!

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 emotional well-being.

Article Coronavirus

CFT Back-to-School Tour — Forward Together
SCHEDULE: Union leaders to visit local unions throughout the state

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. 

Article Coronavirus Up Front

Looking forward to life, work, and union without COVID
Embracing opportunities the pandemic has brought forward

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

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 decline.

Article Coronavirus

Pandemic underscores essential nature of classified work
Custodians, health aides hold strong; unions help members get vaccinated

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.

Article CFT Convention Coronavirus

Pandemic relief on the way: Kamala Harris, AFT leaders, Stanford physician
American Rescue Plan and COVID-19 vaccinations

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.

Article Coronavirus

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave expires September 30
Some relief available in the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard

September 8, 2021 — Legislature fails to pass extension

The COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave is set to expire on September 30, 2021. CFT, in partnership with other unions, engaged in a long campaign to pass an extension before the end of the legislative session on September 10. However, those efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. The CFT will continue to advocate for the governor’s office to provide administrative relief in the short term and work towards possible legislative solutions with our labor allies next year.

While not as comprehensive as Supplemental Paid Sick Leave, the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard still contains provisions that allow “exclusion pay” for workers who are unable to work because they were exposed to COVID-19 at the worksite. Exclusion pay means the employer continues to pay you even if you must be “excluded” from the worksite. Exclusion pay remains in effect until January and will likely be extended through March.

Article Coronavirus

California education unions release school reopening plan
CLASSES — A Pathway to Bringing Students Back to Schools 

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, in-person learning.

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. 

Article Coronavirus

Governor releases new “Safe Schools for All Plan”
Consolidated website for K-12 schools, proposed guidance for in-person instruction

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.

Read the CFT press release here.

The key changes announced on January 14 include:

Article Coronavirus AFT

Another round of federal stimulus signed into law
$900 billion COVID relief package extends unemployment benefits

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 pandemic.