It’s Classified: News Briefs for Support Staff, Summer 2017

Night shift custodians in Torrance organize to fight short staffing

It’s 10 p.m. and Darlene Esquivel is just pulling into a staff parking lot alongside El Camino College’s facilities management building. Esquivel is one of about 30 custodians on the graveyard shift who put the Torrance campus back in shape while more than 22,000 students sleep.“We do everything from mopping and waxing to dusting,” she said. “And whatever the day shift missed, we do that too.”About 380 staff belong to AFT Local 6142, the El Camino Classified Employees. Former local President Luukia Smith said, “Night shift is out here by themselves. There was no union rep, and they felt alone.”

Five new organizing committee members — Onnis Flores, Barry Cunnigan, Earl Eiland, Lenya Bernal and Esquivel — dedicated two nights to speak with every custodian. Organizers then held a training where they identified short staffing as the most pressing issue and drafted a petition calling on the district to collaborate on workloads.“Short staffing has been an ongoing problem for years,” Flores said, one made worse by budget cutbacks of the past decade. “We feel the pressure to do more and more, to the point that we feel bullied.”

Custodians are assigned “runs,” a regular set of rooms or floors in a building or facility similar to workloads assigned to hotel staff. There are nearly 50 runs on campus, almost double the number of custodians. When vacations and sick coworkers are taken into account, staff are almost always forced to work two or more runs per shift. They can be written up for insubordination if they don’t do their regular run and any extra assignments.“This campaign is our opportunity to make needed changes,” Smith concluded.

Classified stand up for schools as safe havens

Last year, candidate Donald Trump promised that one of his top priorities as president would be to deport an estimated 11 million immigrants. Trump’s election sent stress levels through schoolhouse roofs. Staff and parents at Berkeley’s Longfellow Middle School organized a “Know Your Rights” forum within weeks of the November vote. About 200 people attended, drawn largely by immigration lawyers who provided participants with possible legal remedies.

“The whole school community came together and asked how we could help these kids and their parents,” said Carol Perez, whose son attends Longfellow.

They formed a rapid response committee, and if there is an ICE raid, families have volunteered to host kids and parents facing deportation. Perez is a member of the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees and works as a parent engagement counselor at Washington and Oxford elementary schools. “My job, my role, my heart is to protect these students,” she said. At Washington, Perez said, a teacher helped young students create a Muslim Students Union. Arabic is the third most widely spoken language in Berkeley schools. “Everyone is welcome in our schools.”

Berkeley is a sanctuary city that offers legal support for immigrants and a hotline to address rumors about ICE raids that spread on social media.
The nearby Central Valley farming communities are home to an estimated 331,584 undocumented immigrants and 224,958 U.S.-born children with an undocumented parent.

In Turlock, the school board recently reaffirmed that the unified district does not solicit, collect, or maintain information on students’ immigration status, and that proof of residency is all that’s required to enroll a student, according to Education Code Section 48204.1. The resolution directed the superintendent to support a safe and secure learning environment for all students.

> Find topnotch resources in the union’s Safe Havens toolkit. 

New CCE President: Meet Luukia Smith

I’m Luukia Smith and I’m an accounting technician at El Camino College, where I have worked as a classified employee for 30 years. For more than half that time I also led the El Camino Classified Employees, AFT Local 6142, but stepped down earlier this year after I was elected to head the CFT Council of Classified Employees.

My family is from Hawaii. I love the laid-back island culture, and my leadership style is pretty informal, but “laid back” and “informal” do not mean I’m a pushover. Far from it.

I’m excited to serve alongside Northern Vice President Janet Eberhardt, Southern Vice President Carl Williams, and Secretary Tina Solórzano Fletcher. We want to start by working with locals to identify the needs and issues facing members. 

> Please feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. directly. 

Classified Conference 2017 • October 13-15 • Anaheim Hilton

Our annual conference will be held October 13-15 under the theme, “Classified…the other school employee” (yes, that’s us!).

You can attend workshops on a wide variety of professional topics, hear inspirational speakers, and have some fun at Saturday night’s soirée and other social events.
Scholarships are available to members from small locals and to members from locals that are attending the conference for the first time. Learn more about the scholarships online, where you can also register to attend the conference. The deadline to reserve hotel rooms at the conference rate is September 21.

We hope to see you in Anaheim!

> Learn more about the conference and register to attend online.