CFA Members Join Virtual Day of Advocacy and Solidarity

Nearly a 100 members attended CFA’s virtual advocacy webinar, “Solidarity & Political Action at a Distance,” donning CFA swag and sporting “Proud to be CFA” virtual backgrounds.  

CFA hosts a Lobby Day every year, but with California practicing social distancing due to COVID-19, the event went online this year. It was important for members to express solidarity together and learn that they can still advocate in meaningful ways for important causes.  

“CFA activists love getting together every year from all over the state to meet at our union hall in Sacramento and then meet with legislators,” said Jennifer Eagan, chair of CFA’s Political Action and Legislative Committee. “We advocate for a strong CSU budget and for bills on issues that impact faculty, students, and higher education.  And, while we’ll miss the face-to-face lobbying, the socializing, and the dancing (yes, that happens), we did what everyone’s doing.  Going online with people we care about and talking about what we can do to help each other and CSU students.  I loved seeing the faces of my friends and union siblings and felt empowered by our collective action.” 

State Senator Maria Elena Durazo (photo) gave the keynote address and reiterated the importance of helping Californians and Americans who, before the coronavirus, were already living on the edge, surviving paycheck to paycheck with no safety net.

“We have to get the most vulnerable and really take care of them,” Durazo said. “We need to protect people’s lives and livelihoods.”  Durazo reviewed what the State Legislature has been doing while sheltering in place, and said she looks forward to working with CFA to make sure the union is part of discussions on priorities moving forward.

CFA President Charles Toombs provided participants an overview of CFA’s advocacy the last several months to successfully protect student, faculty, and staff health and safety, preserve faculty contractual rights, and safeguard our most vulnerable students and faculty.  Members of Students for Quality Education gave powerful testimonials about student struggles. Their presentation was an emotional show-stopper for many participants.

Eagan reviewed CFA’s Top 5 Political Moments, including campaigning to get CalPERS to divest from migrant detention companies, helping Gavin Newsom win the governorship, and fighting for increased transparency in tenure-line faculty hiring (Assembly Concurrent Resolution 73).

Attendees then moved to zoom breakout rooms to discuss their favorite organizing drives and campaigns. This was first-time attendee Raquel Baker’s favorite part of the advocacy day.

“It is great being part of an organization with active student members. In addition to meeting CSU students in the breakout room conversation, I got to hear about great actions and advocacy that CFA has been a part of – not marketing material or historical information – but the engaged, excited reports of people moved by their involvement in the events. It was moving and inspiring and made me feel thrilled to be part of CFA,” said Baker, an assistant professor of English at CSU Channel Islands.

Member leaders also presented an overview of discrimination against the Asian Pacific Islander population related the COVID-19.  CFA member Russell Jeung is part of a coalition tracking the discrimination, and leaders reviewed some of the reports so far. Attendees appreciated the information because it helps them, as one participant said, “feel the emotional response to the discrimination, not just know about it.”