Educators score local ballot box victories

Coalition building proves critical to electoral success

“We phone-banked until we couldn’t talk any more,” reported Pamela Ford, president of the Antelope Valley College Federation of Classified Employees, in describing how her local union worked with campus faculty and community allies to elect Barbara Gaines, a middle school principal, to the board of trustees in this conservative high desert region.

According to Ford, the classified and faculty unions at the community college plan to build on their electoral success by supporting two candidates in the next election. They are also working to formalize a coalition of education unions in the Antelope Valley.

School board and college trustee candidates backed by local educators scored impressive victories in a number of districts.

On the Central Coast, the Salinas Valley Federation of Teachers elected three candidates, reports union President Steve McDougall. The union, representing faculty in the high school district, ran an aggressive campaign employing mailers, precinct walks and phoning. The local worked with community and labor allies, coordinating its efforts with the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, Daly City voters elected school board candidates supported by the Jefferson Elementary Federation of Teachers in San Mateo County. The nearby San Mateo College Federation of Teachers was likewise successful in its trustee races. 

In Los Angeles County, candidates backed by the ABC Federation of Teachers, Citrus College Adjunct Faculty Federation, El Camino Federation of Teachers, El Rancho Federation of Teachers, and the Hawthorne Federation of Classified Employees won at the polls.

“Our candidate took first place,” said William Zeman, president of the Citrus College Faculty Federation. The local, representing part-time faculty on campus, worked with the full-timers’ union on the campaign to achieve a significant political shift. “A majority of the board is now sympathetic to faculty,” said Zeman.

— By Kenneth Burt, CFT Political Director

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