CFA Activists Kick Off the Year with a Focus on Building Connections for Power

Nearly 200 CFA members met in San Francisco on August 16 for the 2019 Fall Leadership Kickoff, during which participants worked collaboratively to strategize on ways to strengthen CFA and foster a sense of member unity, while deepening our connections to issues and allies that build our power.

CFA President Charles Toombs urged all to continue building these connections because these are what will help us achieve the ambitious goals and face the challenges we have before us, from ensuring our voice is heard at the bargaining table to improving racial and social justice on our campuses and beyond.

Toombs also reminded the group how effective we can be when CFA’s voice is part of the conversation. With the election of Governor Newsom, we finally have a governor who understands what makes the CSU the People’s University, and why it is so critical for the state to reinvest in our system. As his remarks to our members at last spring’s Lobby Day reveal, Gov. Newsom understands the causes we hold close to our hearts; his first budget – which added an unprecedented $654 million in additional funding to the CSU – demonstrates the difference an election can have.

“If we had not taken the time and exerted the effort to develop this relationship over the last few years, I don’t think we would be in the position we now find ourselves in,” Toombs said. “This is why we build connections for power. It’s an approach that requires a lot of time and careful planning, but one that can ultimately pay off in significant ways for our members.”

With this in mind, the Kickoff participants turned their attention to the bargaining campaign that is also starting up this fall. Though our contract is expiring on June 30, 2020, history suggests the bargaining process is likely to extend well beyond next spring.

CFA Bargaining Chair Kevin Wehr explained, “We made major gains at the bargaining table in the last contract and the two-year extension, but with our contract set to expire in just a few months, the time is now to start readying ourselves for a fight. As it has been in the past, your involvement and engagement on this matter will be at the heart of this campaign.” All CFA members should plan to participate in this process by accepting the invitation to complete an online bargaining survey that will enable us to prepare and identify the most important faculty issues.

The Kickoff also featured a panel discussion with presentations from special guests from Rutgers AAUP/AFT, which recently won a great contract by focusing on a common good approach to bargaining. Prof. Deepa Kumar, immediate past president of the faculty union, and Deandrah Cameron, a student organizer and activist with the Rutgers One coalition talked about how faculty, students, and community organizers worked on issues that brought them together and boosted the strength of all. In addition, CFA members discussed how they are doing similar work that broadens the scope of the union’s advocacy, building our power, and strengthening our commitment to being a union centered around anti-racism and social justice. Mya Dosch (Sacramento) and Michelle Ramos Pellicia (San Marcos) spoke about their work concerning immigrant justice; Anthony Ratcliff (Los Angeles) discussed CFA’s legislative priorities; and Renée Byrd and Moxie Alvarnaz (Humboldt) talked about organizing for real campus safety for students, staff, and faculty.