The Oxnard Federation of Teachers and School Employees (OFTSE) AFT Local 1273, successfully organized the teachers and counselors at the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE) Charter High School in their district to become a part of their local. After several conversations, meetings and sharing of information, which included a charter school teacher represented by the United Teachers of Los Angeles meeting with ACE folks, a strong majority of the ACE staff decided to join the OFTSE. This success was in part due to the CFT’s Strategic Campaign Initiative and Organizing Plan, which includes charter schools as one of our focused organizing areas. OFTSE President Wes Davis also stressed how important it is to sometimes simply ask the question. He recalled asking one of the teachers “how things were going?” Wes said, “Her reply was to the effect that teachers had no voice and the ship had no captain. From there things moved forward quickly. We look forward to actively supporting our newest members.”
One ACE teacher summed up the group’s sentiments with the following remark:
Thank you for helping us make this happen. I appreciate your dedication to being there for us. I anticipate future bumps in the road, but I know that we have done the right thing -- what’s in the best interest of the students, the school, and the teachers.
“We are so excited to become part of the CFT!”
This was the message from Alice Araiza, a 36-year employee of Pasadena City College, when the members of her union, the Instructional Support Services Union (ISSU), voted overwhelmingly to affiliate with the California Federation of Teachers on May 31, 2012, exactly four months after ISSU first approached the CFT.
The ISSU represents 240 classified professional staff at Pasadena City College, and 180 of them are currently members of the union. In their vote, 123 ballots were cast, with 103 members (84%) voting to affiliate with the CFT.
Since its founding in 1991, the ISSU has always been independent of larger statewide/national unions. ISSU’s leadership realized that budget cuts and changes in administration have created an increasingly difficult work environment for community college staff. They believed that affiliating with a larger union was the best way to build their union’s power to effectively respond to these changes. According to Araiza, “We were in the process of looking for a union that had strength and a stellar reputation. With the CFT we found all of this and more.”