Assistance for CFA Members Affected by California’s Wildfires

Wildfires are sweeping across wide swaths of the state, in both Northern and Southern California, resulting in large scale power disruptions and evacuations, as well as the shuttering of public agencies, businesses and schools.  CSU campuses including Maritime, Humboldt, Sonoma, and San Bernardino were closed this week and another wave of high winds and fire danger is forecast in those areas.

“CFA members who have been displaced or otherwise impacted by the wildfires need to know that your union is there for you. You are not alone,” said CFA President Charles Toombs. “Fortunately, there are a number of different resources you can access for assistance during this trying time.”

CFA members affected by the fires can apply for disaster relief funding through the SEIU Disaster Relief Fund. The program is funded by local affiliated unions, including CFA, and is there to provide relief and assistance for union members who have experienced hardship by way of a natural disaster. Members can find out more about the fund and apply by visiting this webpage operated by SEIU California. Disaster assistance funds are also available directly through your membership in CFA, so please contact CFA if you have been affected.

Faculty may request paid time off when a natural disaster prevents them from going to work, even if their campus is open. Last year, CFA negotiated a new agreement that expands the catastrophic leave provisions in the contract. It expands faculty’s ability to donate their unused leave to those who may need it. Faculty wishing to donate leave should contact their CFA chapter office or campus Academic Affairs. Further details are available on our website. As a reminder, only CFA members may apply for the disaster relief assistance, but all CSU faculty are covered by the catastrophic leave agreement.

Given the emotional weight of these events, CFA’s Counselors Committee has also offered this information from the American Psychological Association to help members, their families and friends cope with the strain brought on by these traumatic conditions. The Counselors urge those affected to “please take the time needed to care for yourselves and your loved ones in mind, body and spirit.” Additionally, faculty also have the option of turning to Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), which are available on all CSU campuses. EAP’s offer support to employees and their families in evaluating and addressing problems affecting their well-being.

Another useful resource, especially for those living and working in high fire risk areas, is the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Statewide Fire Map and Incident Information webpage.