RANK & FILES, Nov-Dec 2016

Raj Singh, teacher in the School of Business Administration at UC Riverside, and member of AFT Local 1966, recently received the Golden Apple Award for Teaching Excellence. Singh holds advanced degrees from universities in India and the United States, including a doctorate in Policy Planning and Administration. He teaches organizational behavior, introduction to business, human resource management and leadership development, and has co-authored a textbook in crime analysis. Singh is a past chair of the Professional Development Committee for lecturers at UCR.

Francisco Rodriquez, president of the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1936, and CFT vice president, was awarded the 2016 Tony Hill Award by the Pajaro Valley Cesar Chavez Democratic Club for his years of community activism. A California Senate resolution signed by Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, cited Rodriquez’ work with special needs students, the Association of Mexican American Educators, the Pajaro Valley Federation, and his efforts to draw attention to the use of pesticides near schools.

Ingrid Gunnell, member of United Teachers Los Angeles, AFT Local 1021, will represent CFT on the Education Specialist Preliminary Credential Workgroup of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, which is identifying the additional knowledge and skills necessary to teach students with disabilities and recommending a structure for licensing Education Specialists. Gunnell is also legislative chair for PACE, UTLA’s political action committee, and was recently named the Los Angeles County Democrat of the Year for Assembly District 43.

Cynthia Mahabir, sociology instructor at Oakland’s Laney College and member of the Peralta Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1603, co-authored a study of data collected from part-time sociology instructors in the nation’s community colleges. Mahabir is the only part-time faculty member on the American Sociological Association taskforce assembled for the investigation. The results published in the journal Teaching Sociology document differences in working conditions between full- and part-time instructors, arguing for greater support among all faculty and administrators for their part-time colleagues, who are the majority of sociology instructors.

LOCAL WIRE, Nov-Dec 2016


#NoDAPL: University members have been steadfast in support of the Standing Rock Sioux resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline that threatens tribal water sources. On November 10, UC-AFT Berkeley members rallied in front of Wells Fargo Bank in Oakland, urging it to stop financing the pipeline. 

On November 22, more than 100 members staged a “Say No to Trump, Say Yes to Standing Rock” protest at UC Irvine. Standing in solidarity with the Sioux, the crowd called out the president-elect’s dangerous position on climate change. Andrew Tonkovich, president of UC-AFT Irvine declared the protests “part of our commitment to teaching for the advancement of critical thinking.”

Although other unions may have convinced the AFL-CIO to support the pipeline for jobs, the project violates Native American treaty rights and increases global warming. The CFT sent a letter to the AFL-CIO in opposition to the Dakota pipeline route.

The CFT Executive Council passed a resolution supporting Standing Rock on December 3, the same weekend the Army Corps of Engineers issued a halt construction order.

LOCAL 6084

#NativeEd: Robert Chacanaca joined AFT members from Hawaii, Alaska, the Midwest and Southwest at the recent National Indian Education Association convention in Reno.

The event included a presentation on the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipe Line, as well as scores of workshops.

Chacanaca — a member of the Kupa tribe who heads the Santa Cruz Council of Classified Employees — said the AFT stepped up its support for the NIEA last year, when President Randi Weingarten was the keynote speaker at the annual convention, resulting in “more Native awareness within the AFT.”

Classified employees often play a key role, Chacanaca said, in “schools where there are Native teaching aides, food service staff and office personnel, but not necessarily Native teachers.” The majority of California’s Native students attend public schools.

LOCAL 6563

#unionstrong: Teachers and staff at the Spanish-immersion Escuela Bilingue Internacional have joined the Bay Area French-American Federation of Teachers, which represents French-immersion Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley and other private schools. A majority of educators at Escuela chose AFT as their exclusive bargaining representative on October 18. 

“Joining the CFT reassures our teachers and staff that they will not be forgotten,” said educator Laura Guevara, “and that they continue to play a central role in the school’s success and longevity.”

LOCAL 2317

#ABCteachernews: Over 110 educators participated in the Annual West Coast Labor Management Institute held in Buena Park on October 19. District teams throughout California shared promising labor-management collaboration practices.

Other guests included top officers of the CFT and AFT, CTA and NEA, Consortium for Educational Change, and representatives from the South African Democratic Teachers Union. Saul Rubinstein, professor of Labor Relations at Rutgers University, presented the latest research on labor-management collaboration and its impact on student achievement and teacher retention.

The next day, participants joined the ABC Federation of Teachers’ 17th Annual Partnership of Administration and Labor Conference, where union site representatives and school principals share best practices of collaboration. 
In workshops, teams from district schools promoted technology projects and Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports.

Retirees work presidential election in swing states

Pajaro Valley’s Julie Armstrong named top volunteer in Florida

Because Hillary Clinton needed to win in Florida, I volunteered, along with CFT and AFT retirees from other states, in the Sunshine State. 

We worked with diverse groups of Floridians in the AFT and other labor unions through the Working America Coalition, a political action committee of the AFL-CIO. Working America fights for working families, union and non-union, in campaigns to elect progressive candidates and pass legislation to improve the lives of working families. Through targeted canvassing and phone banks, we connected with local teachers and other Florida residents, and heard their concerns about low wages and lack of job security in this “right-to-work” state. 

I met a union building representative, a teacher with 18 years experience who spoke about his stress over poor student test scores and his fear of being fired. He indicated that many experienced and competent teachers are pressured to resign. This exchange strengthened my resolve to advocate for the due process system in California so that our students can be taught by knowledgeable educators. 

I enjoyed the face-to-face contacts and talking to people in their homes. They repeatedly expressed hope for change and appreciation for our efforts. I was thrilled to hear a woman I was canvassing say, “I am a Republican and I am voting for Clinton.” 

We also attended picnics and local labor events to distribute information on early voting. Floridians responded by voting early in record numbers. 

Meeting AFT retirees from active chapters in New York state inspired me to strengthen my own retiree group of the Pajaro Valley Federation in Watsonville. I want to give back to the union after being a special education teacher for 27 years.

For all retirees and soon-to-be retirees, AFT has more great volunteer opportunities, which I call “workcations,” to assist in back-to-school membership drives, particularly in southern states with no collective bargaining. The AFT pays for airfare, lodging, meals, and car rentals. Also AFT booked my return trip for two weeks after election day, which allowed me to visit the Everglades, the Florida Keys, and Cuba. 

My trip was fantastic except for one big disaster — the results of the presidential election. After we recover from our shock and stupor, the big fight begins to prevent the rollback of much progress. Retiree experience and knowledge may be more valuable than ever before.

—By Julie Armstrong, Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1936

»To volunteer call the AFT at 800-238-1133. Speak to the Political Department for campaigns and the Organizing Department for back-to-school drives.

Kudos to our far-flung retiree volunteers

OHIO Bob Coble North Monterey Federation of Teachers
FLORIDA Mary Flodin Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers
Pat Lerman Former CFT Field Representative 
Louie Shelleda Peralta Federation of Teachers
Margaret Shelleda CFT Retiree Organizer, former CFT Executive Director

The Trump effect on American politics

New book puts dominant parties on the analyst’s couch

After the election, California Teacher interviewed Robert Samuels, president of the University Council-AFT, and author of the new book, Psychoanalyzing the Left and Right After Donald Trump.

California Teacher: What does your approach try to explain that other approaches cannot?

Robert Samuels: I focus on the irrational and unconscious aspects of politicians and their followers. I also offer a critique of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump from a historical and psychoanalytic perspective. Although we want to believe people vote according to a rational analysis of policies, most voters make decisions based on unconscious, irrational motivations. It is then easy for someone like Trump to take advantage of their racism and sexism.

CT: Why was Trump so successful with men without a college degree? And why do people with degrees vote Democratic?

RS: Many people with college degrees did vote for Trump, but one thing I critique in my book is the way Democrats have often seen higher education as the solution to jobs, inequality and poverty, and this has allowed them to avoid directly addressing more progressive policies that help the working class. The Democrat Party has become the party of the professional class, and this at times cuts them off from many voters. 

Many liberal politicians and professionals think that because they used higher education to advance, everyone else can do it. They also have a hard time confronting the negative results of their policies and actions because they are highly invested in seeing themselves as doing good.

Democrats have often seen higher education as the solution to jobs, inequality and poverty, and this has allowed them to avoid directly addressing more progressive policies that help the working class.

CT: Do you think the push for free college will succeed?

RS: Due to the high cost of higher education, college now increases inequality and decreases social mobility, and that is why we have to fight to make it free. Some states and counties are moving ahead with free public higher education, but the Trump administration may focus on supporting for-profit colleges.

CT: What does the election say about the future of unions and the organization of labor?

RS: Unions are going to have to do a better job at organizing new workers, but with a new U.S. Supreme Court, they may lose fair share, and so they will have to rethink their whole economic and political model. They will also have to stop giving the Democratic Party a blank check. We should run our own progressive candidates in primaries.

CT: Do you think the election bears out your conclusions that moderate Democrats have moved away from their support for workers and a more equal society, and that moderate liberals remain tied to outdated policies and the status quo?

RS: Since Bill Clinton, the focus of the liberal class has been on growing the economy and education but not dealing with stagnant wages for most workers. Some liberals fear that a real radical change would upset their relatively comfortable lifestyles, and so they demonize someone like Bernie Sanders and a true left alternative. Many of our own unions attacked Sanders. 

Half of all Americans live in poverty or near poverty, and their pain is real, but conservatives have pushed people to see the liberal elites as the real victimizers. Even very wealthy Republicans see themselves as the victims of taxes, government regulation, and progressive politics. The working poor and the billionaire class can then bond over their shared victim identity. We need to provide a real progressive alternative.

CT: Many people see Bernie and his campaign as the direction the Democratic Party should move. Do you think the Sanders candidacy has the ability to point a way forward?

RS: Sanders never was really talking about revolution or socialism, and so he ran to the right of his own radical rhetoric. He did do a great job attacking inequality, Wall Street, and our campaign finance system. He promoted universal healthcare, free public higher education, and strong climate change legislation. So Sanders definitely points in the right direction, if the Democratic Party is willing to listen.

New law brings reemployment rights for part-time faculty

Successful CFT-sponsored legislation calls for districts to negotiate

Community college districts will soon be compelled to negotiate what CFT-sponsored legislation calls “reemployment preference for part-time, temporary faculty.” The landmark provisions require districts to negotiate with the union in order to receive significant funding available from the state Student Success and Support Program.

What is “reemployment preference”?
Because part-time faculty in the California community colleges are defined in the state Education Code as “temporary,” they are not guaranteed any form of reemployment at the end of each academic term’s teaching assignment. However, many part-time faculty are in practice “reemployed” by colleges and districts where they have previously taught, frequently teaching two or more academic terms per year over many years.

Reemployment preference refers to rights earned by part-time faculty to be reemployed or offered an assignment by a college or district before other part-time faculty who have not yet earned those rights. Such rights are sometimes called “rehire rights” or “the right of first refusal.”

How will this law help part-time faculty?
Part-time faculty without any locally bargained “reemployment rights” have no ability to predict their future employment at institutions they may have taught at for decades and are effectively “at will” employees. Some but far from all California community colleges have established, through collective bargaining, some form of reemployment rights for part-time faculty. These range from a straight seniority list, with individual faculty ranked and then rehired according to length of service, to “pools” or levels of reemployment preference in which all members have achieved some minimum length of service. In this latter scenario, all members of a given pool or level have equal reemployment rights.

This law will require districts seeking state Student Success and Support Program funds to establish “minimum standards” for reemployment rights that include: length of time taught at the college or district; number of courses taught there; professional evaluations; and “availability, willingness, and expertise” of individuals to teach specific classes or accept specific assignments.

Will this affect my job? If so, when?
The law stipulates that in order to receive SSSP funds, any district without a collective bargaining agreement for part-time instructors in effect as of January 1 must begin good faith bargaining by July 1 with those instructors’ exclusive representative to establish a system of reemployment rights. Any district with a collective bargaining agreement is required to establish such a system “as part of the usual and customary negotiations between the district and the exclusive representative for part-time, temporary faculty.” Thus, negotiated changes will occur at varying times over the next several years.

What kind of reemployment can I count on in the future?
Because of the governor’s preference for local control of legislation implementation, we’re likely to see variations in the form reemployment rights take throughout the state. Changes where you work will depend on what local unions and districts are willing and able to negotiate on behalf of part-time faculty.

How can I strengthen reemployment rights where I work?
Because this legislation requires local bargaining by the exclusive representative of part-time faculty, you should communicate directly with your union leaders. Join in discussions about this legislation, asking questions and adding your thoughts at union meetings and gatherings. Encourage your colleagues to do the same.

— By Linda Sneed, part-time English instructor at Cosumnes River College, member of Los Rios College Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2279, and a CFT Vice President. This article appeared first in the CFT’s Part-Timer newsletter

On the long and winding path toward job security

Former part-time community college instructor Jose Medina, an assemblyman from Riverside, carried CFT-sponsored Assembly Bill 1690. The bill requires districts with no collective bargaining agreement for part-time faculty in effect as of January 1, 2017, to negotiate with their unions to establish standards for reemployment, including workload distribution, evaluation procedures, and seniority rights. 

However, after AB 1690 passed the Assembly on a concurrence vote, Gov. Brown requested amendments. In hopes of securing the governor’s signature, efforts were made to include his amendments, but it was not possible in the final days of the session. Instead, Medina collaborated with former teacher turned senator Tony Mendoza to, in legislative shorthand, “gut and amend” Mendoza’s Senate Bill 1379 to allow incorporation of the amendments.
SB 1379, among other things, requires minimum standards of reemployment preference, extends the timeframe for compliance to July 1, 2017, and makes compliance a condition of districts receiving funds allocated for the Student Success and Support Program.
The governor signed AB 1690 and SB 1379 on September 30, and the two bills act in tandem.

—By the CFT Legislative Staff

Black Lives Matter conversation engages, unites

Powerful discussions make the link to mass incarceration


When we say Black Lives Matter, we’re saying we need an agenda that puts our lives right up there with everyone else’s,” said Christopher Wilson, from Alliance San Diego, a group mobilizing for change in low-income communities and communities of color.

Wilson spoke at the Classified Conference on October 8, before attending the funeral for Alfredo Olango, a black man killed by police in nearby El Cajon. 

“Don’t be offended by Black Lives Matter — what we’re saying is that we are important too. It’s not an exclusive statement,” he explained. “It does not say care about us and not anyone else. It says care about me like you care about others.”

Many classified employees spoke in support of Black Lives Matter. A Lawndale member in a family with both interracial marriages and white police officers praised the movement, but asked, “How are we going to make it that police officers are not all bad? How is your organization going to work with police?”

Wilson responded, “Your question assumes I have to do something different than be myself. When I get pulled over, I just pray that I have the demeanor to not get killed. There is nothing I can do to live through that situation if that cop is having a bad day.”

Others expressed the view that African-American police officers are facing their own challenges and that this is a problem that affects all groups. 

On the night before, attendees heard Maria Robalino, who works at the AFL-CIO’s Civil, Human and Women’s Right Department, lay out the stark reality that, while people of color comprise 37 percent of the general population in the United States, they represent 60 percent of those in prison: 1 in 15 black men and 1 in 36 Latino men, as compared to 1 in 106 white men. 

While the level of crime in the United States is comparable to other industrialized nations, the U.S incarcerates more people than Russia and China combined. With only 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. accounts for 25 percent of prisoners worldwide. When Robalino queried attendees, the majority raised their hands to say they had family members or close friends in prison.

What’s more, immigrants who lack citizenship are four times more likely to be sent to jail as citizens who commit the same crimes. And more than half of incarcerations are for non-violent crimes.

Robalino said many prisons are non-union and privatized, with the Corrections Corporation of America (recently rebranded as CoreCivic) being the largest prison contractor in the state. 

In its contracts, the CCA is guaranteed 90 percent occupancy. “They want to keep their beds full,” Robalino said. 

CCA manages more than 65 correctional and detention facilities with a capacity of more than 90,000 beds in 19 states. The corporation has also helped draft 85 bills nationwide urging incarceration. 

When attendees brainstormed about how the labor movement can help, one idea that emerged was supporting the “ban the box” movement. The box refers to the check-off box on job applications that asks, “Have you been convicted of a felony?” When people mark that box, their application usually gets set aside.

“If you went to prison for theft,” explained Christy Figueroa, from the AFT Guild in San Diego, “that shouldn’t mean you can’t get a job in a line of work that doesn’t involve money.”

Lawndale’s Carl Williams agreed. “The labor movement can do more by creating jobs that are friendlier to the formerly incarcerated.” He cited an apprenticeship program in Washington. 

“The United Food and Commercial Workers are teaching people how to be retail workers. We can make a pipeline from prison to good union jobs.”

— By Jane Hundertmark, CFT Publications Director

San Francisco paraprofessional named Member of the Year

Tom Harriman has been a special education paraprofessional for 30 years at Lowell High School, escorting students into the community to help them develop independence and effective work habits.

Harriman has represented paras on the executive board of United Educators of San Francisco for 15 years, and serves on the CFT Special Education Committee. He stays abreast of local union resolutions, city and state politics.

“Whenever we need someone to lobby, Tom is ready, and he is one of our go-to paras when we need phone bankers,” said Carolyn Samoa, UESF vice president for paraprofessionals. “The only time he will say no is when it interferes with his students.”