CFA members from across the state met virtually last week, taking actions to expand member participation, fight course cuts and job losses, continue our union’s efforts to achieve anti-racism and social justice, and demand academic freedom for students, faculty, and staff who advocate for justice.

Leaders also reviewed recent CFA members’ victories and provided an overview of our anti-racism and social justice transformation: past, present, and future.

A screenshot of people on zoom.

President Charles Toombs celebrated members’ reopener contract campaign and looked to upcoming struggles at our CSU campuses.

“Bargaining usually takes up all of the work that we do in a bargaining campaign. And moving forward, bargaining cannot consume everything that we do. There’s so much more work as a union that we have to have operating concurrently with whatever bargaining we are doing.… We know just during the last (CSU) BOT meeting, the position that the Board of Trustees took on CalGETC, and we’re not looking at that as the end. There is still work that we can do, to make sure that CalGETC is not harming our students and us as we do our work with curriculum. And, our current chancellor may think that because we have ratified the reopener (TA) that she will be experiencing labor peace: we want to send a message to her that we are still going to hold her accountable for her leadership. And we’re not always sure why she was hired, but we think it is to be an anti-union chancellor and our voices need to be strong in making sure that that does not happen.”

We must remember our bond as educators, workers, and union members, and embrace our collective power.

“We are all connected. It is an illusion to think that we are separate, and we will find all of the ways, and we will provide resources, to bring us all together and to move forward in doing this work,” Toombs said.

During the anti-racism and social justice panel, activists reviewed CFA’s transformation, centering our present moment and the struggles facing Ethnic Studies programs across the CSU.

CFA Associate Vice President for Racial & Social Justice, South, Sharon Elise described working with an anti-racism, social justice lens as “a set of glasses that I wear to see more clearly” to ensure the People’s University is accessible to and inclusive of all Californians.

“Another way of celebrating this work is to call out the words of bell hooks who said that the view from the margin is clearer, that we can see the social structure from the margins of society because we are in the midst of interlocking systems of oppression that we daily experience and that calls us to see more clearly those structures,” said Elise, CSU San Marcos Professor. “Another way of saying it from Cecil Canton: ‘If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.’ And so we want to bring these views, these perspectives forward so that they are always at the table. And that means that even if you’re at the table and you haven’t had this experiential knowledge, that we have taught you how to use this angle of vision.”

CFA Northridge member Theresa Montaño spoke about the movement to maintain and expand Ethnic Studies in K-12 and higher education.

“The good news is since (Assembly Bill) 1460, since the designated funding to campuses to implement AB 1460, we have seen across the CSU, several new departments, several new Ethnic Studies departments, we see several discipline departments on some campuses: where there was no Asian American Studies, you’re going to see Asian American studies. So there are a lot of new departments. That’s a lot of good news because that’s a question, not just of validating Ethnic Studies as a discipline, but it’s also about self-determination. It’s about defining what your discipline is,” said Montaño, CSU Northridge Professor and Chair of CFA’s Teacher Education Caucus.

But Montaño and others know that the fight for Ethnic Studies is a forever fight. The Chancellor’s Office is trying to erase Ethnic Studies, to appropriate it, to take it away from those in the field charged with implementing Ethnic Studies curriculum, Montaño said.

CFA Bakersfield President Tracey Salisbury reviewed overcoming management’s interference and roadblocks in establishing CSU Bakerfield’s Ethnic Studies department. Management hid money earmarked for the department, reduced student access to Ethnic Studies with targeted class sizes caps, stalled faculty hiring, and more. Salisbury engages in the struggle by leaning on her CFA colleagues.

“So, get yourself a crew. Get mad, be like courage, fill your ears with cotton and tell them what you ain’t trying to hear, because that’s where I’ve become very determined. I don’t hear nothing: If it’s not good for Ethnic Studies, I’m not hearing it,” said Salisbury, CSU Bakersfield Professor and Ethnic Studies Department Chair. “Every step has been a fight. But I want to say that if you are fighting and you are not telling your librarians, because your librarians have your back in Ethnic Studies. Facts. Your lecturers will have your back in Ethnic Studies. But you must use your union – this is what we’re here for. The anti-racism practices are central to Ethnic Studies success. (Management is) scared of us. CFA members have been an invaluable tool to my department’s growth and ongoing fights.” 

As part of the business portion of Assembly, delegates discussed and passed numerous resolutions calling on CFA’s Board of Directors to consider actions such as honoring retired CFA member Paul Kauppila who recently passed away; fighting severe cutbacks in instruction; creating an Articles Committee; enhancing member engagement in bargaining; and supporting academic freedom for students, faculty, and staff who advocate for justice.

The resolutions will be posted once they are finalized and voting is verified.

Assembly delegates also elected CFA East Bay member Jennifer Eagan our northern representative to the American Association of University Professors (term runs June 1, 2024, to May 31, 2026), and CFA Northridge member Stevie Ruiz to CFA’s Audit Committee (term runs June 1, 2024, to May 31, 2027).

Join CFA
Scroll To Top