In Memory of Sam Bishop: A Short History of the CFT/Field Representatives Union
For those who've been around the CFT longer than most of us, these names may seem familiar: Hank Clarke, Don Henry, Hugh MacColl, Ralph Schloming and Bill Plosser. They were CFT staff representatives during the 50s and 60s. They had no union of their own, for if they did, most would have been the one and only member. In the late 60s, greatly due to the relentless efforts of Raoul Teilhet and his faithful side-kick Marie Whipp, the CFT began to grow. The times were right. Teachers were as frustrated with their lot as they were with the CTA (which got them there in the first place). Teilhet had the right message and a method of delivery without peer. As the CFT grew, so did its staff.
In 1972, at the first real training workshop for CFT staff, held at UC Santa Barbara, the California Federation of Teachers Field Representatives Union was formed. What else would one expect of a group of union activists brought together with a common employer? There were rights to be protected, salaries to be bargained, a contract to be negotiated, and a general all for one and one for all attitude prevailed. Besides, it was fun: a union of unionists so to speak.
Since 1972, many members of CFT/FRU have joined and moved on. Dick Arnold, Leona Sibelman, Mike Nye, Harriet Levy, Elsbeth Marshall, Rose Ungar, Ralph Lloyd and Sheryl Pettitt form this set of alumni. Rudy Kne, now an AFT national representative, is the only person to have served as a member of pre- and post-CFT/FRU who is not currently on the CFT staff. Probably the most notable of all however, a guru to many of us, was the soft-spoken, Mississippi-accented Sam Bishop. Sam was a charter member of CFT/FRU. Some eight years later he joined the staff of AFT. During his time on the CFT staff, Sam taught us much. Some of us worked our first strike under Sam's direction (Pajaro). He was the kind of person whom everyone liked as well as respected. Sam died of leukemia in 1979, a great and untimely loss to all of us. It is in Sam's honor that the current CFT/FRU members dedicate this page.
As for today's current roster of CFT/FRU - here we are, and whence we came, including the date we joined the CFT staff and CFT/FRU too! (You see we have a union shop.)
(Chuck Caniff, contributor)