News Releases

Statement from CFT on the recent vote to increase the state’s minimum wage

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Thursday, March 31, 2016

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Higher Minimum Wage Will Help Millions

“Today, California lawmakers passed legislation that will raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour in the coming years. This is an important step and a common sense development that will improve the lives of millions of Californians currently struggling to make ends meet in an economy that too often seems rigged in favor of the haves at the sacrifice of working men and women. We applaud those who voted in favor of this bill.

“As an education union, we have a number of members who will be affected by an increase in the minimum wage, namely many in our classified ranks and others such as those who work in early childhood education. Many of the parents of our students will also benefit greatly from this change. People living on the margins will find a bit of economic breathing room, enabling them to better provide for their families.

“An increase in the minimum wage will help pull millions out of poverty. We commend the legislature for passing this legislation and getting it to the Governor for signing it.”

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The California Federation of Teachers represents more than 100,000 education employees in public and private schools, from Head Start through the University of California. It is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Working People

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Tuesday, March 29, 2016

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Statement from CFT President Joshua Pechthalt

Friedrichs Decision a Blow to Corporate Special Interests

“Earlier today, working men and women across this country heard some welcome news: The United States Supreme Court ruled 4-4 in the Friedrichs v. CTA lawsuit. This is a victory for those who believe in fairness and the importance of having a voice on the job, good benefits and just wages. This is also a defeat for those corporate special interests fixated on weakening the collective will of millions of Americans while rigging both our economy and our democracy in their own favor.

“While this is a day to rejoice, it does not mean that our struggle is over. The deep-pocketed backers of the Friedrichs lawsuit and others will not simply give up. But their attacks, along with the Supreme Court’s ruling and the resilience of CFT’s members, only strengthen our resolve.
“Lawsuits such as Friedrichs v CTA and Vergara v California have been nothing but distractions. With Friedrichs now settled, it’s time that we shift our focus back to what’s important: Working to ensure that we have the best education system possible for the state of California. We have been given the gift of time, and we will use this time effectively on behalf of our members and our students and be ready for the next fight to come.”

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The California Federation of Teachers represents more than 100,000 education employees in public and private schools, from Head Start through the University of California. It is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.

CC presidents move to reform, then leave ACCJC

For immediate release: March 17, 2016
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CC Presidents

City College of San Francisco students who testified on the damage ACCJC has caused their school to NACIQI in December.

Statement from CFT president Joshua Pechthalt

CFT applauds growing momentum for accreditor’s ouster

“Today California moved another step closer to reforming the broken accreditation system for California’s community colleges. With a more than 90% vote earlier this week to reform the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), while preparing at the same time to move to another accreditor, community college presidents struck a decisive blow to ACCJC’s fading hopes of maintaining the unacceptable status quo.

“While a number of individual college presidents had already gone on record regarding the need to move to a new accreditor, this vote shows that a remarkable, unprecedented consensus has now emerged. The presidents’ vote confirms what the Chancellor’s Accreditation Task Force revealed last year: the ACCJC is no longer widely accepted in its community, and does not meet the needs of California public higher education. We expect that the California Community College Board of Governors will outline important details of the developing plan to make this historic move to a new accreditor.

“Last weekend at the annual CFT convention our members voted overwhelmingly for a special dues assessment, affirming CFT will have the resources for organizing and to fight for public education and workplace rights in the courtroom as needed. Our members know that ACCJC’s courtroom assault, like Vergara v. California, Friedrichs v. CTA and other cases bankrolled by anti-union billionaires, represents a grave ongoing threat to the viability of public education. Our membership does not intend to allow a victory in one arena with ACCJC to be undone in the courts.

“The CFT has been fighting for a fair and appropriate accreditation system—in court, at the US Department of Education, in the legislature and in the streets—ever since the ACCJC unfairly and unlawfully sanctioned City College of San Francisco in 2012.”

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The California Federation of Teachers represents 120,000 education employees in public and private schools, from Head Start through the University of California. It is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. For more information, www.cft.org.

CFT Convention Delegates March, Arrested in Civil Disobedience Action for “the Education Californians Deserve”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Friday, March 11, 2016

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Show of unity with CCSF faculty union
SAN FRANCISCO – On Friday, dozens of educators were arrested following a march and rally calling for “the public education that all Californians deserve” while protesting the hard line taken by City College of San Francisco’s administration in contract negotiations with CCSF’s faculty union, AFT 2121. The show of unity came on the first day of the annual statewide convention for the California Federation of Teachers.image003

Members marched from the convention hotel in downtown San Francisco in a light rain to the law offices of Jeff Sloan, the chief negotiator for City College administration in collective bargaining with AFT 2121. CFT members were arrested for blocking the door of Sloan's offices in an act of civil disobedience.

For more than a year City College faculty has been struggling to negotiate a fair contract for its 1,500 members with the college’s administration. On Thursday the union announced that its members had voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike should negotiations fail.

“Today’s march was in support of City College faculty and students, who have suffered enough at the hands of the destructive accrediting commission, ACCJC. They should not also have to endure the bad judgment of their own college administration,” said CFT President Joshua Pechthalt. “Our action today also represents a statement by our members that California’s students – not only at City College but from preschool through university – deserve to be made a priority. We do so by funding our classrooms with an appropriate level of revenues, not by slashing education programs and failing to pay education employees a salary that can keep up with the skyrocketing cost of living in our cities.”image002

CFT’s convention is an annual gathering of six hundred union leaders, members and staff to discuss, debate and decided on important public education and labor policy issues. Extending the progressive income tax component of Prop 30, addressing the growing teacher shortage, combating the Vergara v California lawsuit that threatens teacher workplace protections and ensuring that the state’s community college system receives a fair accrediting process are among the topics being discussed this weekend.

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The California Federation of Teachers represents 120,000 education employees in public and private schools, from Head Start through the University of California. It is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.

California Educators Appeal Decision in Meritless Vergara Lawsuit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, February 25, 2016

Contact:  Fred Glass, 510-579-3343
For CTA: Frank Wells, 562-708-5425   

Civil Rights Icon Dolores Huerta joins educators and community supporters in urging court to overturn flawed decision for the sake of all students

LOS ANGELES —Attorneys representing more than 400,000 members of the California Teachers Association and California Federation of Teachers appeared in the US Court of Appeal today in downtown Los Angeles, to ask that the June 2014 ruling in the deceptive and meritless Vergara v. State of California be overturned for the sake of California’s six million students.

At a press conference before the opening arguments were made, Attorney Michael Rubin laid out the case for reversing the faulty opinion of Judge Treu. Appearing with Mr. Rubin were longtime union and civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, southern California elementary school teacher Gaby Ibarra, and Martha Sanchez a concerned parent who believes current laws work best for students.

Stating that Judge Treu’s decision striking down five California Education Code provisions “is without support in law or fact,” the speakers predicted that Treu’s numerous errors will be clearly visible to the appeals court, and the earlier Superior Court judgment will be overturned. Treu’s decision was stayed pending appeal. But if upheld it would cause great harm to public education.

“There is no basis in law or fact for the trial court’s unprecedented ruling, and we are confident that the Court of Appeal will reverse it. Disputes over education policy are for the legislature to resolve, not the courts,” said Michael Rubin, legal counsel representing California’s educators. “The statutory framework allows school districts considerable latitude in hiring, firing, and assigning teachers and was well within the legislature’s authority to enact. There is no evidence – zero – that these statutes are the cause of any constitutional violation, and we are confident that the Court of Appeal will fully agree with our position.”

Dolores Huerta, renowned civil rights leader, founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association, talked about the importance of teachers’ have a strong voice for students and described how Students Matter misrepresented details of the case in an attempt to get her support. 

“I strongly believe in providing all children with equal access to a quality public education, and that starts with having educators who have the professional rights to stand up and speak out for the students in their classrooms,” said Dolores Huerta. “All my life I have worked to fight discrimination, uphold the rights of workers and improve social and economic conditions for our students and their families. I am not going to stop now by aligning myself with an organization that blatantly misrepresents the facts and pushes an agenda to strip workers of their rights for the financial gain of its backers. Students Matter is attempting to deceive the courts and public opinion in the same way they attempted to deceive me and it’s time to tell the truth.”

Huerta, whose foundation has worked on education issues for the last five years in the Central Valley, had made a video with Students Matter, which was posted on their website. However, after learning that the suit would strip basic workplace rights from teachers, and that the backers of Students Matter were some of the same corporate special interests who opposed a recent ballot measure that immediately stopped devastating budget cuts to California’s schools and also pushed an initiative aimed at silencing the voices of workers and their unions, she demanded that the organization remove her video from their website. 

Gaby Ibarra, who has been teaching fifth grade at Niemes Elementary School in the ABC Unified School District in southern California for 19 years, told reporters she feels outraged that this baseless suit demonizes teachers and proposes to destroy her right to due process. 

“My students need me to be secure in my classroom in my knowledge that I have the freedom to teach in the way that I know is best," said Ibarra. “My rights in the classroom are what protect the right of my students to a good education. Rather than demonizing teachers, we should be talking about integrating art and music in the curriculum, hiring more nurses and librarians, lowering class sizes, providing more resources for our schools, and about parents and teachers working together more effectively. This suit does none of these things. It does not fix the problems we know are there, and attempts to fix problems that don’t exist.”

Martha Sanchez whose children attend Los Angeles Unified School District schools believes current laws ensure her students have the best opportunity to succeed in school.

“As a parent I believe my children receive the best education possible when their teachers have clear employment rights. No teacher should have to worry about arbitrary administrator decisions or political whims to know they will have their jobs each year. Any lawsuit that tries to remove those rights, claiming that this is the reason why students don't have the best education possible, was written by people who either don't know what happens in schools or who wish harm to public education.”

CFT and CTA joined Governor Jerry Brown in submitting appeals, as did State Superintendent Tom Torlakson. Those appeals expose deep and numerous flaws in the lower court ruling, among them that there is no evidence the challenged laws have caused harm or inevitably would cause harm to anyone, that the court blatantly ignored evidence proving these laws improve the quality of public education for California students, that the court intruded on an inherently legislative function, and that the student plaintiffs recruited to front the case have absolutely no standing to bring suit. Some of those students attended charter and pilot schools that aren’t even governed by these laws, and the teachers they complained about in their testimony had very good evaluations; one was the Pasadena Unified School District Teacher of the Year. Prominent civil rights groups, national education policy experts, school board members from across the state, and top legal scholars have also filed their own briefs urging reversal of the earlier ruling.

More information on the case as well as background can be found here and here.

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The 325,000-member CTA is affiliated with the 3 million-member National Education Association. The California Federation of Teachers is the statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, and represents more than 100,000 faculty and school employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education.

 

Governor’s State of the State: Progress, Challenge of Inequality

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Thursday, January 21, 2016

Contact:  Fred Glass, 510-579-3343, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Statement from CFT President Joshua Pechthalt

Clear Case for Prop 30 Renewal

“In his State of the State address delivered earlier today, Governor Jerry Brown spoke eloquently of California’s strengths and challenges in the coming year. He underscored the state’s significant fiscal gains following a period of deep economic recession, but did not shy away from directly addressing the growing disparity between the top 1 (and .1) percent and everyone else that threatens the California Dream. He spoke of the many recent improvements to the lives of Californians, especially in comparison with most other states, but also emphasized the unpredictable threat of future recessions. We applaud the governor’s measured and thoughtful message.

“Gov. Brown briefly gave credit to the positive impact that Proposition 30 has had on California’s fiscal stability and the resulting restoration of spending on public schools and community colleges. However, Prop 30’s expiration puts that progress and stability at risk. The governor’s own evidence clearly shows the necessity to extend the progressive income tax component of Prop 30, a modest obligation for the state’s wealthiest individuals but a significant source of revenue that benefits millions of students across California.

“The Governor concluded his remarks by stating that “California is still The Great Exception. We dare to do what others only dream of.” This sentiment and reality depend on maintaining and extending the sources of revenue that support them—especially given that, as Governor Brown indicated, our state’s economy is susceptible to downturns. The inevitability of a future recession makes Prop 30 essential to continued funding for education and to help stabilize the overall budget.”

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The California Federation of Teachers represents 120,000 education employees in public and private schools, from Head Start through the University of California. It is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.

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