Legislative Successes, Inclusive Name Changes Highlight Virtual Fall Assembly
Nearly 150 CFA leaders from across the state joined virtually at CFA’s Fall Assembly to move forward on the union’s membership recruitment, Anti-Racism and Social Justice organizing, faculty rights, and election campaigning missions.
During his welcome address, CFA President Charles Toombs celebrated CFA’s work, commitment, vision, values, and success. Toombs reviewed our efforts to protect the health and safety of faculty, students, and staff and to safeguard our faculty rights during COVID-19. Work remains as we head into contract bargaining and fight back against irresponsible cutbacks from campus management.
Toombs also highlighted CFA’s work during the recently concluded state legislative session in which we successfully sponsored and supported bills to repeal the ban on affirmative action, to implement an ethnic studies requirement for all students in the CSU system, to prohibit the use of the carotid artery restraint/chokehold by law enforcement, and to establish a task force to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans.
“With our Anti-Racism and Social Justice work, whether it’s legislation or not, we are moving this work into many areas of people’s lives, and as we do this, we have redefined the work, mission and relevance of what a union is,” Toombs told the gathering. “So many other state and national unions are joining in this approach.”
Various councils, committees, and caucuses met at the Assembly, October 13 through 17, to discuss ongoing matters, provide input on resolutions, and plan upcoming actions. Delegates discussed updates on bargaining for a new collective bargaining agreement and ways to protect jobs and work as campus presidents aim to solve state funding cuts with unimaginative and unnecessary reductions to faculty and staff while sitting on more than $1.5 billion in reserves.
Delegates approved four resolutions:
- Educating Against White Supremacy and Affirming Academic Freedom: in response to the Trump administration’s misguided attacks on Critical Race Theory. The resolution adds CFA’s name to this statement by U.S. Educators and Educational Scholars.
- Assembly Bill 1460 Implementation: this calls on the CSU Academic Senate and Chancellor’s Office to rescind their ill-designed impending changes to Title V and G.E., engage in genuine collaboration with the Council on Ethnic Studies and Ethnic Studies faculty on implementing AB 1460, a true Ethnic Studies graduation requirement.
- Re-Affirming the Rights and Interests of Coaches in Negotiations with the CSU: to remind the CSU that coaches have bargaining rights under the CFA Collective Bargaining Agreement and that CFA will defend ALL CFA members from austerity measures.
- Strategic Planning for Post-Election Contingencies: in which CFA endorses and commits to participate in organizing work to demand that all votes be counted in the November 3 election and to defend democracy.
“(The 91st CFA Assembly was) [s]o inspirational and informative,” said Gloria Rhodes, Outreach and Diversity Initiative Librarian at San Diego State University. “It is challenging to capture energy on a ZOOM meeting, but I think everyone who participated today was energized. And the numbers attending was impressive!”
Also at the Assembly, the Asian Pacific Islander Caucus renamed itself the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Caucus to better reflect the communities represented by the body.
“Today, there are over 20 million Asians in the U.S. that trace their roots to more than 40 countries in East and Southeast Asian and the Indian subcontinent, each with unique histories, cultures, and languages,” said Vang Vang, co-chair of the APIDA Caucus. “We choose to use APIDA which stands for Asian Pacific Islander Desi American because is a pan-ethnic classification that intentionally includes South Asians (Desi) as part of our community.
“The APIDA umbrella is more inclusive and aligned to the values of CFA’s Social Justice Transformation work. It includes East Asian, South Asian, Pacific Islander and faculty like myself, I am Hmong (Southeast Asian) from Laos.”
Also updating its name this weekend was the Indigenous Peoples Caucus. The group changed the name to the Native American and Indigenous Peoples Caucus. Caucus members added Native American to the caucus name to center, bring greater visibility, and uplift the peoples whose lands we occupy.
The 2020 Fall Assembly wouldn’t be complete without some get out the vote activity. During festivities, member leaders stopped by our virtual Action Room to text and phone bank non-members to recruit them to sign up for membership, and to ask them to support Propositions 15 and 16 on the November 3 ballot. Volunteers signed up many new members and secured more than 250 commitments to vote yes on Props 15 and 16 to close a corporate property tax loophole and bring back affirmative action to college admissions and faculty hiring. [image:34596]
Delegates also chatted with three progressive state legislators: Secretary of State Alex Padilla, and Assemblymembers Mike Gipson and Lorena Gonzalez.
Padilla thanked CFA for our help educating the public on the many ways to vote in the historic November 3 election while protecting their health and safety. Gipson and Gonzalez thanked CFA for our advocacy on key issues in 2020 and answered member questions on initiatives for 2021 to make California a better, more inclusive and more equitable state.