Topic: Safe Workplaces

Article Up Front gun control

Gun violence in America — something is gravely wrong here
Let’s imagine a world free of gun violence and schools that are open, free, and welcoming

By Jeffery M. Freitas, CFT President

I taught high school math in a picturesque Southern California location with a view of the Pacific Ocean. On nice days, we used to keep the doors and windows of our classrooms open. We had no fences around our school and there were open courtyards that welcomed gatherings of students and staff alike. Much of that has disappeared. Now doors and windows must remain shut on campus and chain link fences surround the beautiful campus in case someone shows up with a weapon of war and the intent to kill.

Article gun control

Saturday, June 11 – March for Our Lives – Join an event near you!
Enough is enough! Our communities deserve common sense gun safety laws now

Last week, AFT announced support for a nationwide Enough Is Enough campaign in partnership with March for Our Lives, AFT affiliates, and other allies.

Educators, parents, and students will send the message that “enough is enough” and that our communities deserve common sense gun safety laws now. The union also will be partnering with Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivor and activist David Hogg in the lead up to the nationwide March for Our Lives events on this Saturday, June 11.

Article coronavirus Classified Conference
conference group shot

Trades workers, custodians ready for increasingly dangerous workplaces
PHOTO GALLERY
CFT conference tackles tough issues of coronavirus, toxic chemicals, climate change, active shooters

Dozens of classified members from locals up and down California recently met at Compton College for the first Custodial and Skilled Trades Conference hosted by the CFT Council of Classified Employees.

“We have talked about this for years, and put it off for two years because of COVID, but here we are,” said a buoyant CCE President Carl Williams.

Janine LugoUESF's Sean Nunsley-Wills and CFT Vice President Anthony ArinwineGilroy Federation officers with CFT President Jeff FreitasCindy EscarenoJanine Lugo

The new normal for special education instructional aides
‘‘SpEd IAs’’ face student pandemic trauma, larger classes, and low pay

California schools have returned to in-person learning, but acute staff shortages are hobbling the return. The hardest positions to fill are often special education instructional aides.

For “SpEd IAs,” as they are known from early childhood programs to post-secondary classrooms, there is no “social distance” with their students. Assignments may require feeding children, changing diapers, and handling medical equipment. Emotional outbursts can also be physically punishing to paraeducators.

Article staff shortage coronavirus AFT
CCE President Carl Williams

AFT task force tackles national staff shortages in education
CFT seeks to set minimum salaries and hourly pay

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.

Article coronavirus

Worker action extends COVID paid sick leave
Retroactive to January 1, 2022 and sunsets September 30, 2022

CFT and our labor partners have fought hard to reinstate COVID-19 paid sick leave. On February 9, Governor Newsom signed the COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave legislation (Senate Bill 114) into law. This is a huge win that will help keep our workplaces and communities safe. 

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave became available starting February 19 — ten days after the legislation was signed. Here is a summary of what is included in the new law:

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.

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. 

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

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
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.