CFT provides training for members and local unions

The CFT offers a wide range of training opportunities to help members and leaders build strong local unions through a mixed schedule of in-person trainings and webinars.

Course descriptions may be found further down on this page. You may register your attendance for a training by clicking on its name below. You may also register for trainings directly from our Calendar.

Date Time Topic
Nov 15 4 –7 pm Preparing Peers for Wellness – IN PERSON
Nov 16 4–5:30 pm Preparing Peers for Wellness – WEBINAR
Dec 6 4–5:15 pm Panel Discussion: Supporting LGBTQ+ Communities
Feb 3-4 11:30 am–3 pm Leadership Conference

About our webinars
Our webinars are presented through Zoom. You will usually receive email confirmation of your webinar registration directly from Zoom; in a few circumstances you will register to attend on the CFT website and receive the Zoom link from CFT.

The email will contain the link to join the videoconference from your PC, Mac, iOS or Android device as well as the phone number if you choose to call in. You will also receive a helpful email reminder from Zoom one hour before the webinar begins.


Course Descriptions
High-quality online and in-person trainings

The CFT offers a full schedule of topnotch online trainings and, in normal times, in-person trainings. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, our in-person courses have shifted to an online format. You may find course descriptions below. 


AFT+ Member Benefits

Member benefits can be a useful tool to engage members. Get informed about the benefits available to members through AFT that add value to being a union member. Learn about some of the new benefits available this year, including discount programs and identity theft protection, and get answers to your questions about the variety of programs offered by AFT.

All Politics is Local: Lobbying Legislators and other Elected Officials at Home

To many of our members, Sacramento seems far away and we only engage with our elected representatives around elections. But there is great value to building relationships with local representatives through our union worksites, and many opportunities to engage them at home throughout the year. Join our legislative staff to learn how to build your political engagement locally. We’ll cover the best ways to develop and maintain local relationships, including successful member lobbying visits with your representatives. Strengthening these local relationships can play an important role in your local initiatives and statewide CFT campaigns.

Building Worksite Structures that Work in Higher Education

Powerful unions require strong leadership structures that are broad and deep enough to engage our entire membership at the worksite. A union with distributed leadership can keep members informed, better handle worksite problems, and provide a foundation for major campaigns. How do we build such a structure, and how do we identify and recruit new leaders? Learn from our organizers and other local leaders how to build strong site leadership on your campuses, and what resources CFT can offer to help.

Collective Bargaining Basics (Series)

This course is geared towards negotiating team members, and provides the basic skill and knowledge needed to understand the entire process of negotiating a contract. Part 1 covers the legal framework of collective bargaining, provides an overview of the process, and explains the roles and responsibilities of negotiators. In Part 2, we focus on ways to ensure the negotiating team can work effectively, provides best practices for identifying issues and setting priorities, and shows how contract campaigns can be used to improve the success of negotiations.

Part 1: Legal framework for collective bargaining

Part 2: Working together as a negotiating team

COPE 101 – Do’s and Don’ts for Political Engagement

Learn best practices to set up and run a local COPE (Committee on Political Education) program, with our recommended best practices to fund candidate campaigns and voter initiatives. You’ll come away with important tips to avoid common pitfalls and make sure your local’s political program keeps everything legal.

Compliance with Union Legal and Constitutional Requirements

Learn how to keep your union operations legal, and consistent with important requirements of the AFT and CFT Constitutions. There are layers of requirements concerning representation, negotiations, officer elections, and convention representation that derive from both the law and our parent unions. Ensure your local practices are consistent with these requirements to avoid potential problems that could divert precious time, energy, and money away from your local priorities.

Crash Course for New Presidents (Series)

This five-session course is designed for local presidents elected within the last two years, and those wanting a refresher course.  We will cover the basic knowledge you need as an AFT Local President, provide participatory training on useful leadership skills, and allow you to share best practices and challenges leader to leader.

Session 1: How AFT, CFT, and your local union function together, what resources are available to help in your work, and the vital signs of effective unions.

Session 2: How to organize members to make your local stronger and more effective.

Session 3: Best practices in communicating with your members and the public. How to identify, recruit and develop other union leaders.

Session 4: How to plan and run effective meetings.

Session 5: Legal requirements of running unions including the Duty of Fair Representation, membership status changes, record retention, and more.

Defending Democracy: A Primer on Joining Mass Mobilizations

After Election 2020, we faced unprecedented threats to our democracy, including attempts to frustrate voting by mail, voter intimidation, calls to stop counting votes on Election Day, and even plans to discard popular votes in contested states. In cities across our country, people took to the streets to demand that every vote be counted and to stop any attempt at election theft. This training explains the scenarios that may threaten democracy and the right to have every vote count. Participants will practice the skills needed to organize and mobilize others to join us in action, and how to participate in mass actions while protecting the health and safety of everyone involved.

Digital Communications: Action Network, Hustle, and E-Forms

Member engagement and communication are central to a strong union, and have gradually shifted increasingly to digital forms. AFT and CFT support many tools and platforms for digital communication and engagement that enhance our work, and are available to all AFT locals. Learn how our locals are using Action Network, Hustle, and electronic membership forms to engage their members and improve their communication programs. Find out which tools best fit your needs, and how to get additional support to implement them in your own local union.

Legal Update: Duty of Fair Representation and Maintenance of Membership

Get an important update on best practices to uphold the Duty of Fair Representation (DFR) and maintain your membership. Refresh your understanding of the DFR legal requirement to provide equal representation to both members and non-members of your local union. What are current legal challenges to these requirements, and what practices are recommended to steer clear of them? Learn about any new legal challenges to these practices that might suggest changes to your local union’s current practices. Understand the latest challenges to union requirements to “opt out” of membership, and learn the best practices recommended to handle such requests. In addition to providing the latest news on these legal developments, we’ll provide time for discussion and some Q&A with our chief counsel.

Legal Update: Parental Leaves for Education Workers

Members frequently ask how to prepare for childbirth or adoption, and which laws and programs provide benefits. Are school employees entitled to the leave and pay provisions of FMLA and CFRA? How do members know if they’re eligible for disability benefits, and under which plans? What are my rights to child-bonding leave? What benefits are common in union contracts, and how do members coordinate all of these benefits with the employer? Join one of our attorneys to find out how it all works and provide the answers your members need.

Local Union Plans That Get Results

Planning involves more than making a list and checking off boxes. A good plan establishes vision and direction, democratizes our knowledge, focuses resources, and keeps us on track to our goals. Our best work emerges from proactive planning instead of reactive responses. Improve your understanding and skill in creating solid plans for your local, from individual meetings to extended campaigns.

Making the Most of Site Meetings

The increasingly busy lives of our members often make it difficult for them to attend union membership meetings. But there are lots of ways to bring the union meetings directly to our members’ worksite! From informal union coffee breaks to formal standing worksite meetings, meeting members where they work can be a valuable way to build visibility and increase member participation. Learn how our locals have successfully brought the union to their members, and how to plan your own meetings to be successful.

Member-to-Member Outreach Drives

Member-to-member outreach drives have become a necessity for many of our local unions today. Successful outreach programs increase membership, build visibility, and identify new leaders, and activate member participation. They are a critical component of a local union program in worksites lacking a robust new employee orientation program, and when turnover is high. Learn what’s required to run a successful outreach drive, and hear from local leaders who have used them to build stronger local unions.

Political Action: Mail Program and Phone Texting

We’ll show you how to utilize CFT’s templated mail program and phone texting in lieu of door-to-door canvassing.

Political Action: Offline to Online Social + Digital Strategies and Tools

We will walk you through online options to reach your members including digital ads, organic and paid social outreach, online petitions, and more.

Political Action: Running for Office

We need our voices represented in public office! Are you interested in running for office? Is your local union planning to run a candidate? Learn how to identify and recruit candidates, create personal stories that resonate, and raise the necessary funds to elect our members and advocates into office. The Campaign Workshop will share the skills you need to successfully run for office. 

Political Action: Using Storytelling to Connect with Members

Storytelling is a powerful and engaging tool for campaigns and communication. We will discuss Do’s and Don’ts, how to capture your members’ stories, and how to use storytelling effectively.

Political Action: Voter Education Communications Strategy

It is critical that local unions understand and communicate their election rules to their membership. In this course, we will walk you through how to run a voter education program, including planning for an all vote-by-mail election and encouraging household voting.

Self Care for Educators: Taking Mental Health Days That Improve the Quality of Your Professional Life

Stay plugged into the work of education by plugging into your mental health. In this workshop on self care and mental health strategies, participants will learn: 

  • To identify symptoms of depression and anxiety, compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress, and burnout. These are all related conditions that may look the same and that can impact the quality of our professional life but have different causes.  
  • To screen your own mental health and determine whether you need to follow up with a mental health professional.
  • Strategies for self-care that go beyond manicures and smoothies. Real recommendations that help you stabilize your body to help you make healthy decisions for your career, your family, and your mental health. 

Social Media, Zoom and the Law

In this training, CFT legal counsel will go over employee rights in using social media and discuss when the use of social media is protected and when a district or employer may be able to discipline an employee for their conduct on social media. We will also discuss the marginal legal guidance there is about using Zoom while teaching and the union’s right to bargain over how Zoom is used as a teaching platform.

Supporting LGBTQ+ Communities

Given the attacks on the LGBTQ+ community across the country, this CFT panel discussion will help members gain knowledge and understanding of what we can do to mitigate these attacks and provide resources to help our communities. Hear legal updates on the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being introduced across the country and gain an understanding of the right-wing attacks and how they part of a bigger strategy to attack Democrats and harm our LGBTQ+ communities.

Treasurer Training (Series)

This comprehensive five-part training will put you at ease and provide you practical tools to effectively carry out your role and responsibilities as a local union treasurer. Accounting experts share examples of best practices essential in union administration. The course is designed for new or experienced AFT local union treasurers whose responsibilities include maintaining union’s financial records and reports.

Session 1: Course overview

Session 2: Per capitas, budgets, and COPE

Session 3: More on budgets

Session 4: Financial audits

Session 5: IRS forms

Understanding and Negotiating Health Benefit Plans

Negotiating health benefits consumes tremendous time and energy, and much of the ‘negotiations’ happens away from the bargaining table between districts, brokers and providers. Learn the different ways that medical benefit plans are structured and priced so you can play a more active role in shaping the benefit packages in your own district. You may become better informed than your employers about the best options to minimize costs while maximizing benefits.

Understanding California’s State Budget

Everyone knows that our schools and colleges are underfunded and lack the resources students need. But how well do we understand the way schools are funded in the first place? Join our CFT Research Director to learn how education is funded through California’s budget process, and the role CFT and our members play to advocate for better funding for our schools and communities.

What is a Community School? 

This training is designed to give preK-12 union leaders a brief overview and understanding of community schools as well as the capacity to assess your current school climate and determine if it would be a good candidate to become a community school. Here’s what community schools do: 

  • Provide a framework for school improvement that taps into our value system and belief that every child deserves a high-quality, equitable public education.
  • Help overcome the barriers to learning created by poverty and a lack of opportunities by utilizing and coordinating existing resources so that all children can become career, community, and college ready.
  • Embody solution-driven unionism and have the potential to mobilize members and build ties to the community while fighting back against those who wish to defund, destabilize and privatize public education.

Winning New Members from the Start: New Hire Orientations

Our experience since the Janus decision highlights the importance of a well-executed new hire orientation program. Good relationships forged at the beginning of employment between the union and new employees are stronger and tend to persist over time. The most successful union orientations are those that utilize a team, a well-prepared presentation, good materials, and advance preparation. The good news is that every local union is capable of such a program! Utilizing our collective experience and stories from successful local unions, we’ll provide everything you need to be successful signing up new employees from their first day on the job.

Worksite Leaders (Series)

This series covers a range of introductory topics including legal rights, basic grievance handling, role of worksite leaders, member outreach, and tools to address worksite issues and contract violations. This is a great course for local unions that aim to strengthen representational programs and expand member-to-member outreach.

Part 1: Building power for our members, students, and communities

Part 2: Legal rights & responsibilities of site representatives

Part 3: Organizing and mobilizing members

Part 4: Tools for problem-solving


Bargaining Strategies and Layoff Preparations for 2020-21

With the announcement of a severe state budget shortfall as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are facing the imminent possibility of significant cuts across every sector of public education in California. We want to offer you the best possible guidance for contract negotiations through 2020-21, and help you become fully prepared for the discussions about layoffs that are already happening in some districts.

This training will provide specific and detailed information to prepare you for the immediate steps needed to protect members’ jobs and safeguard your contracts to the best of your ability. Our trainings are tailored for specific concerns among classified staff, community college faculty, and certificated K-12 staff. 

Conducting Local Union Officer Elections During the Pandemic

Many local unions are trying to figure out how to conduct local officer and AFT delegate elections during the current pandemic and “shelter in place” orders — while also complying with local constitutions & bylaws and federal union election laws. We will offer guidance and recommendations from the AFT and CFT, and help you figure out the best way to implement these practices in your local union. This training will feature CFT general counsel.

Current COVID Legal Issues

In this training, CFT legal counsel will review the types of legal guidelines that apply to in-person instruction during the time of COVID. We will discuss why the state and other entities are generally legally allowed to impose vaccine mandates on staff and students and provide updates about various lawsuits in California and around the country that have challenged vaccine mandates. We will also explain the union’s right to engage in collective bargaining over the effects of these mandates and teacher and staff rights to take leave.

Engaging and Supporting Our Members in a Crisis

Communicating with our members has never been more important. Members need to receive critical information about health, safety, and employment, and they need to know that the union is here to support them. Local unions are now engaging members in new ways, including Hustle text messaging, email systems, online meeting platforms, tele-town halls, and more.  Some locals are going beyond simple engagement to develop programs to support members who may be at-risk or more vulnerable in the current crisis. Learn about the variety of tools available to communicate with members and tips for effective communication. You’ll also hear what some local unions are doing to provide real and meaningful support for vulnerable members of our unions and communities

Finding Relief from Student Debt

Is student debt still weighing you down in the current crisis? There may be a way to find relief! Recent federal legislation provides some relief from your student burden, at least on a temporary basis.  And if you work for a public institution or for a nonprofit, you may already qualify for public service loan forgiveness. Learn what’s changed to relieve the student debt burden during the current pandemic. We’ll also share how to qualify for loan forgiveness, how to make your payments manageable, and how we can work together to address the student debt crisis in California.

Treasurer Roundtable: Keeping the Union Running During the Pandemic

Using results from a recent survey, in this informal discussion we’ll talk about the administrative and financial challenges to running your local unions during the pandemic. This training is limited to local union treasurers and presidents, or their designees.

Unemployment & Underemployment During the Pandemic

Are you losing your job (or losing hours) as a result of the current pandemic? Is someone in your household unemployed or underemployed? In many cases, you may be eligible for benefits you’re not aware of. Unemployment benefits have been significantly expanded as a result of the CARES Act and other recent laws, and we’ll cover important changes members need to know about.

This workshop will also demystify the process of applying for unemployment benefits. Learn about requirements of the Employment Development Department (EDD) and the step-by-step process when applying for benefits. This workshop will benefit anyone facing reduced, cancelled, or unscheduled work in the present and near future, and those whose households include people experiencing loss of work. 


Presidents: How to Run an Effective Local Union

This course covers the basic knowledge you need as an AFT Local President, provides participatory training on useful leadership skills, and allows you to share best practices and challenges leader-to-leader. This training is designed for local presidents elected within the last two years and those wanting a refresher course.

Treasurers: Financial Stewardship for a Strong Local Union

This comprehensive training will put you  at ease and provide you practical tools to effectively carry out your role and responsibilities as a local union treasurer. Using a hands-on format, accounting experts share examples of best practices essential in union administration. The course is designed for new or experienced AFT Local Union Treasurers whose responsibilities include maintaining union’s financial records and reports.

Running for Public Office: Candidate Training

We need our voices represented in public office! Are you interested in running for office?  Is your local planning to run a candidate? Learn how to identify and recruit candidates, create personal stories that resonate, and raise the necessary funds to elect our members and advocates into office. 

Site Reps & Stewards: Resolving Workplace Issues

Achieving good resolutions 
to on-the-job issues is an important way that the union brings fairness and the voice of educators to the workplace. In this introductory course for union stewards and site representatives we discuss strategies, best practices, and skills to address on-the-job issues so that our classrooms, campuses, school buses, offices, and school grounds are better places for our members to work and our students to learn. We look at a variety of tools including basic grievance handling, organizing, and member outreach.

Train-the-Trainer: Worksite Leaders 

Participants will leave this Train-the-Trainer prepared to teach the CFT Worksite Leaders Training Program for new union site reps, building reps, and stewards. The training that participants will deliver covers a range of introductory topics including legal rights, basic grievance handling, role of worksite leaders, member outreach, and tools to address worksite issues and contract violations. This is a great course for local unions that aim to strengthen representational programs and expand member-to-member outreach.

Train-the-Trainer: Political Organizing

Elections are critical for public education unions and workers’ rights. Local governing board seats may be open and significant statewide races may be in play. This curriculum will provide local union leaders and staff with materials for political action workshops at union meetings and key information to ensure a win at the ballot box.


Customized Training and Strategic Planning for Local Unions

The CFT Training Department provides local unions with meeting planning and facilitation support for executive board retreats and strategic planning sessions. In these meetings, local leadership teams focus on the strategies and best practices that will enable your organization to successfully meet the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Teams discuss concrete goals and make plans to put ideas into action.

The CFT Training Department is also available to assess your local union’s training needs and work with your local leadership to create a customized training and leadership development plan.