Topic: Safe Workplaces

Article coronavirus
paid sick leave for covid #PaidSickDaysNOW! Sign the petition

Workers can’t wait, #PaidSickDaysNOW
Sign the petition!

By Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary Treasurer, California Labor Federation

Since the beginning of this pandemic, workers have borne the brunt of this crisis. They’ve been on the frontlines for nearly two years, every day, to keep our economy afloat. Now, with the omicron surge leading to record cases, frontline workers are more at risk than ever. And many are assuming this risk with few protections.

Article Up Front lecturers part-time faculty

UC lecturers’ victory inspires broad movement for equity across higher education
CFT wages a campaign for part-time faculty in the community colleges  

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

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. 

Article coronavirus Staff shortage
Sarah Auwarter, president of the Newport-Mesa FederationSkylar Petersen, president of the Lompoc FederationJuan Ramirez with CFT President Jeff Freitas

Overwork, underpayment, burn out and blame, lead to staff shortages
Unions speak to pandemic-driven shortage of teachers, subs, paras, classified

For years, California elementary and secondary schools have had teacher shortages, particularly in areas of special education, math, and science, but it’s grown worse since the pandemic started, with fewer teacher candidates getting credentials, and 26% more teachers retiring in 2020 than the year before.

Article coronavirus Staff shortage
rural bus driver wearing a face maskRoy Dietz, El Camino Classified EmployeesAnel Gonzalez, Palomar Council of Classified Employees

What does classified work look like 20 months into the pandemic?
Staff shortages, vaccine mandates, strict school bus protocols, but also pay raises and lots of union support

California schools reopened to a new normal. Classified staff are getting their arms around vaccine mandates and making safety protocols part of their daily routines. And nearly every district, from rural elementaries to urban community colleges, are facing serious labor shortages.

Article coronavirus Up Front Staff shortage

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 bannerGilroy members with CFT President Jeff FreitasCFT President  with members at East Los Angeles College

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 beginclassroom with new HEPA filterJason Newman, president of the Los Rios College Federation of Teachers

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 expired 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 will 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.