The Ben Rust Award: CFT’s most prestigious honor

The CFT Ben Rust Award is the most prestigious honor that the Federation bestows upon its members or friends. The award honors an AFT member for his or her commitment and involvement in education, politics, and the trade union movement. The award is presented annually at the CFT Convention.

Ben Rust was a master teacher, a CFT president, a political activist, and a dedicated trade unionist in the Richmond Unified School District. He set a high standard for this award. 

The award itself has been honored by those who have been selected in previous years (see below). All of these recipients dedicated substantial parts of their lives to excellence in education, to the welfare of those who work in education, to effective union member involvement in the political process, and to the union movement.

The annual deadline for Ben Rust Award nominations is in early January. To learn more or obtain nomination materials, email CFT Executive Director This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About former CFT President Ben Rust 

Ben Rust-web

Ben Rust served as president of the California State Federation of Teachers from 1951 through 1958. He was a full-time teacher throughout his tenure in CSFT, and his brand of unionism sprang from his commitment to teaching and his skilled trades background. He was dedicated to the mission of convincing teachers that the path to true professionalism was through the AFT and collective bargaining.

His accomplishments on behalf of teachers were many. Among other things, the CSFT membership more than doubled during his presidency. Under his leadership the CSFT became a player in Sacramento, sponsoring the first-ever collective bargaining bill for teachers in California and numerous other legislative proposals that began to educate politicians about the conditions of teachers.

But perhaps Rust’s greatest contribution to teacher unionism in California was his philosophy and vision. Rust believed that teaching was a craft. On the way to becoming a master teacher, the teacher should pass through an apprenticeship that forges the qualities of independence, scholarship and pedagogical sophistication. He proposed an organic link between the activities of teaching and the craft union tradition, and anticipated reform proposals of the coming three decades.

Ben Rust’s visionary legacy to the California Federation of Teachers is honored by the annual bestowal of the union’s highest honor: The Ben Rust Award.

Ben Rust Award Recipients (listed with most recent recipients first):

Dennis Kelly   United Educators of San Francisco
David Yancey
San José/Evergreen Federation of Teachers
John Perez United Teachers Los Angeles
Laura Rico
ABC Federation of Teachers
Dick Hemann CFT Field Representative
Linda Tubach United Teachers Los Angeles, Local 1021
Marty Hittelman Former CFT President, Los Angeles College Faculty Guild, Local 1521
Jacki Fox Ruby Berkeley Federation of Teachers, Local 1078
Mark Newton San Jose/Evergreen Faculty Association, Local 9157
Mary Bergan Former CFT President, Pittsburg-Antioch Federation of Teachers, Local 2001
Charles “Chuck” Canniff Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers, Local 1794, and CFT staffer
Phillis Basile Coast Federation of Educators, Local 1911
Sandra Mack United Educators of San Francisco, Local 61
Lance Widman El Camino Federation of Teachers, Local 1388
Joan Marie Shelley United Educators of San Francisco, Local 61
Don Maxwell Greater Santa Cruz Federation of Teachers, Local 2030
Mike Crowley Los Rios College Federation of Teachers, Local 2279
Larry Bordan Culver City Federation of Teachers, Local 1343, and CFT Field Representative
Joe McDonough San Mateo College Federation of Teachers, Local 1493
Jerry King Long Beach Federation of Teachers, Local 1263
Ken Lane Berkeley Faculty Union, Local 1474
Maya Decker Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers, Local 1794
Janet Hedlund Salinas Valley Federation of Teachers Valley, Local 1020
Barbara Kleinschmitt AFT Staff Guild, Local 1521
Miles Myers Former CFT President, Oakland Federation of Teachers, Local 771
Marvin Katz Former CFT President, United Teachers Los Angeles, Local 1021
Marian Hull Archdiocese Federation of Teachers, Local 3448, and CFT Field Representative
James Ballard Jefferson AFT Federation of Teachers, Local 1481
Chuck Sohner El Camino Federation of Teachers, Local 1388
Raoul Teilhet Former CFT President, Pasadena Federation of Teachers, Local 1050
Dr. John Sperling United Professors of California
James Herndon Jefferson Elementary Federation of Teachers, Local 3267
Eddie Irwin Los Angeles College Guild, Local 1521
Maurice Englander Former CFT President, San Francisco Federation of Teachers, Local 61
Ethel Sheehan Lukovich Salinas Valley Federation of Teachers, Local 1020
Dorothy Sue Noland Los Rios College Federation of Teachers, Local 2279
Roger Segure United Teachers Los Angeles, Local 1021
Carl Megel Former AFT President
Herb Bauers United Teachers Los Angeles, Local 1021
Richard Martin San Diego Federation of Teachers, Local 370
Hy Weintraub Los Angeles College Guild, Local 1521
Al Tapson San Francisco Federation of Teachers, Local 61
Paul McGinnis Contra Costa County Federation of Teachers, Local 866
Art Carstens University Council–AFT
Evelyn Carstens United Teachers Los Angeles, Local 1021
David Selden Former AFT President