CFA Members Kick Off Semester Through Collective Engagement, Bargaining on Our Minds
“Our theme continues to be Rights, Respect, and Justice, because that is what we deserve to have.”
In his opening speech to kick off the spring term, CFA President Charles Toombs laid the groundwork for leaders, members, and activists as our road to our contract reopener begins. Throughout the event, Toombs and CFA officers presented a vision for how faculty work on our campuses intersects with CFA’s advocacy toward a better contract.
“All of our work is going to involve lots of member engagement,” said Toombs to the more than 150 members in virtual attendance. Attendees discussed partnering with our campus labor councils – as our sibling unions begin their re-openers, too – as well as continued engagement with Students for Quality Education (SQE), other campus student groups, and planning campus discussions on salary, workload, unpaid leave, and health and safety issues.
Member engagement started immediately as chapters began discussing how to continue to showcase our advocacy on campus around parental leave, alternatives to policing, the need for hiring more mental health counselors that reflect the diversity of our students, and equitable salary raises for faculty.
Members also had an opportunity to communicate with graduate students and members of UC-UAW, who successfully ratified their historic contract in December with massive wage gains, support for child care, and new protections against bullying and harassment.
Melissa Mendez and Tanzil Chowdhury talked to members about organizing, their more than month-long strike, the idea of open bargaining within a large union, and solidarity among sibling unions within the University of California system.
Mendez says solidarity came about simply as, “you’re my colleague, why don’t you be my comrade?”
Chowdhury added that when talking to members who aren’t dealing with a particular bargaining issue, a suggested framing response is: “You might not be dealing with this issue, but you might know someone that is, and you care about them.”
Faculty advocacy is not only on campus, but also with upcoming legislative priorities. On Friday, CFA Board of Directors approved legislative bills to sponsor this year. Those bills include:
- our parental support bill that Governor Newsom vetoed last session;
- our bill that would have eliminated the Teacher Performance Assessments as a high-stakes assessment for teacher credentialing, which the chair of the Assembly Education Committee failed to hear last session;
- our CalPERS divestment from fossil fuels bill, which passed the Senate, but the chair of the Assembly Public Employment and Retirement Committee refused to hear;
- a bill to require the Commission on Teacher Credentialing to convene a statewide task force to develop recommendations for creating an Ethnic Studies credential for K-12 teachers;
- a bill to award grants to teaching credential candidates while they are student teaching;
- a bill to limit law enforcement’s ability to use minor traffic infractions to conduct racially biased pretextual traffic stops, which undermine community safety.
CFA members also learned about another bill we are co-sponsoring – Senate Bill 11 — which would push back against the CSU contracting out mental health services and instead increase the number of full-time, permanent mental health counselors on campuses. Senator Caroline Menjivar, who introduced the bill, spoke to CFA members, expressing “how important it is to invest in public education.”
Menjivar explained that faculty are considered heroes, and as a society, they’re being asked to be “social workers, doctors, and parents of our students.” She said SB 11 will help finally fully invest in mental health counselors for the CSU system, which has known about this crisis for more than a decade.
Assemblymember Lori Wilson, chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, and Sen. Mike McGuire, chair of the Senate Government and Finance committee also shared their priorities and support of CFA with members during the meeting.