In Other News…

EDUCATORS PEN OPEN LETTER ON STUDENT DEBT REFORM: Educators – from high schools to universities – are adding their names to the growing list sounding the alarm on the college student debt crisis.

Seventy-three educators signed an open letter decrying predatory loans that have disproportionately placed a higher financial burden on families of color. 

“… The cost of financing every dollar of these loans increased (over the last decade) — with the most disadvantaged students paying more but getting less,” the letter states.  “Who could have imagined that the student loan crisis would widen the black-white wealth gap? Education was supposed to close it. Who could have foreseen couples delaying their decision to marry, or giving up on it altogether, because of their student loan debt? Who would have described a student loan in the same terms as a payday one, with hidden fees and no way out, in the days when student loans were manageable?”

Representatives from all levels at high schools, community colleges, and public and private universities signed the letter, including CFA Member Anthony S. Alvarez from CSU Fullerton and former CFA president Lillian Taiz of CSU Los Angeles.

Student loan debt is pegged at $1.5 trillion in 2019, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.

As state and federal financial support for public higher education has dropped, tuition and housing/food/textbook costs have skyrocketed much faster than inflation.  Students should have access to the same education without taking on mounds of debt that previous generations were afforded.

Supporters are asking other educators to add their name here to advocate “for a more just and prosperous future for those entrusted to our classrooms.”


US BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS: UNION MEMBERS MAKE MORE THAN NONUNION MEMBERS IN 2019: Some article headlines jump out as being completely obvious; an almost ‘duh’ moment.

Like, for instance, this headline. 

But in our current climate with anti-union states, anti-union court rulings and a federal administration that stymies union workers rights, new federal data may seem surprising.

Even if only a little.

Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released 2019 data on median weekly earnings for union workers versus non-union workers.

Union workers made on average $203 more each week than their nonunion counterparts, or nonunion workers made 81 percent of what union workers made.

Latinx/Chicanx union workers had median weekly earnings of about $954, according to BLS data, while Latinx/Chicanx nonunion workers made $686. Or Latinx/Chicanx nonunion workers made less than 70 percent of their union counterparts.

Black union workers had median weekly earnings of $905, while black nonunion workers made $711, according to BLS data. That’s about 78.5 percent of what black union workers made.

The data, which can be viewed here, breaks down union versus nonunion workers not only by race, but also by gender.

In summation: unions are pushing – and getting – higher paid jobs on average for their members.


UC COLA STRIKE HEADS TO DAY OF ACTION MARCH 5: The University of California graduate student worker strike is expanding.  Students at the system’s 10 campuses are launching a statewide day of action Thursday. 

UC Santa Cruz graduate workers began the effort in December, bringing attention to their inability to pay rent with their wages.  They are demanding a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) that better reflects housing costs and the valuable work they perform.

The teaching assistants perform a lot of the system’s teaching, grading and advising in exchange for tuition remission, healthcare coverage and wage stipends.  More than 50 workers still withholding grades from the fall term were fired last week.  Others were not offered spring term assignments. The move in effect takes away healthcare from pregnant strikers and leaves international grad students vulnerable to deportation.

More than 500 graduate students have pledged not to fill the spots vacated by dismissed teaching assistants.  UCSC administration does not appear to have a back-up plan.

UC Davis, Irvine and Santa Barbara graduate workers joined Santa Cruz’s labor actions in February.  UCLA and Berkeley grad students voted March 2 to join a statewide day of action March 5 to shut down their campuses.

Workers have garnered support from across the globe, most recently from faculty at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.  Supporters can help by signing this pledge and donating to the fundraiser.

The UC acknowledges the impacts of housing affordability on students, faculty and staff, but officials say they are in contact with the graduate workers’ union, UAW 2865, and cannot open negotiations until the MOU expires.  Graduate workers argue their labor is being exploited with non-livable wages.


CFA EXPRESSES SOLIDARITY FOR CFA MEMBER, ACTIVIST: CFA released a statement in support of Dr. Melina Abdullah — a member of CFA, faculty in Pan-African Studies at Cal State Los Angeles and co-founder of the Los Angeles Chapter of Black Lives Matter – regarding an incident this week outside of the home of Los Angeles County’s top prosecutor.

BuzzFeed News reports that the husband of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey pointed a gun at Dr. Abdullah and other activists outside of Lacey’s home on Monday, “telling them to leave or he would shoot.”

CFA Statement in Solidarity with Dr. Abdullah:

“The California Faculty Association expresses solidarity with Dr. Melina Abdullah, faculty in Pan-African Studies at Cal State Los Angeles and co-founder of the Los Angeles Chapter of Black Lives Matter. We support the actions of Dr. Abdullah to exercise her right of free speech and to demand accountability from public officials for excessive police violence and the killings of civilians.

“On the morning of March 2, 2020, Dr. Abdullah and Black Lives Matter advocates were exercising their right to peaceably assemble in front of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s house because of the D.A.’s refusal to meet with them for years. We are appalled by the actions of Mr. Lacey, husband of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who pointed a gun at Dr. Abdullah’s chest and threatened her in an aggressive and chilling act of intimidation. Community members have a right to participate in public actions and demand accountability from their public officials, and public officials must be held accountable for ensuring the safety and first amendment rights of their constituents.”