The 72nd annual California Federation of Teachers Convention took place from March 21–23, 2014, at the Manhattan Beach Marriot Hotel in Manhattan Beach. This year the Part-Time Faculty Association sent its largest delegation ever: Five delegates, including PFA President Mark Miller, Secretary-Treasurer Rich Baker, and Executive Board members-at-large Danielle Blanchard (Drama Department), Lisa McKinley (Counseling), and Nahid Loghmani (Mathematics). It was the first time attending the convention for both Lisa and Nahid.
Three First Place Awards!
For us at Local 6185 the highlight came on the first day, in the very first General Session. We were honored with three First Place wins in the annual Communications Awards, including (for the second consecutive year) First Place for Best Website. (Kudos to our webmaster, Dorran Nadeau, for his continuing fine work). The judges’ commented: “Clean look and appealing color palette. Blog entries on home page make it easy to access most recent news.”
Also for the second year in a row Yours Truly won First Place for Best Public Relations. As many of you are aware, I have been regularly contributing to the “Looking Forward” section of the Santa Maria Times, and I entered these columns collectively in this category. The judges commented: “Great job of getting op-eds out there in a region that is not union-friendly…The writer’s productivity and quality of work are awe-inspiring.” Nice.
Finally, I was honored with another First Place, this time in the category of “Best Single Effort,” for the All-Staff Day power point presentation I put on last August 16, at the start of the Fall Semester.
Parity Resolution Passed!
Another important moment came the following day, when the convention unanimously passed Resolution 23, a measure that could have long term implications not only for us at Allan Hancock College but for all part-time faculty in California. This resolution, which I wrote at the request of the CFT’s Part-Time Committee (Danielle Blanchard is our representative), mandates the CFT to immediately begin lobbying the state legislature to restore the parity funds that have been slashed so severely over the past several years. It also directs the CFT to sponsor legislation that will bring all part-time instructors in the state to full pro-rata pay within five years of the law being passed. We will, naturally, be following both of these measures closely and will keep our members updated on their progress.
The convention opened with a rousing speech to the delegates by Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. She spoke of the need to eliminate poverty in our country and to unionize in order to rebuild the middle class. She was followed by Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, who emphasized in his remarks the importance of education in our nation’s future.
The first general session was followed by workshops in the afternoon. The first day always being the longest of the convention, that evening from 7:00 until 10:00 we attended the Community College Council meeting. Among other things, at this meeting legislation pending that will be of importance to community college faculty was discussed. The meeting was topped off with a short but exciting speech by American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, who spoke about the importance of community colleges and the plight of adjunct faculty. She also responded to questions from the audience.
Saturday began with a speech by Kent Wong, Director of UCLA’s Labor Studies program. There was then a march through the convention hall by student interns from AFT Local 1521. Several of these students spoke to the assembly, stressing the importance of education to them as students and the need for teachers and students to be united and work together.
AFT President Randi Weingarten spoke at the conclusion of the second general session. By now the Grand Ballroom was filled and there was standing room only. Teachers, and their organizations, she pointed out, are under attack by millionaires and billionaires who are determined to destroy public education and privatize it for their own profits and ideology. When her speech concluded she graciously agreed to pose for pictures, and Nahid and I were fortunate enough to get our pictures taken with her.
The third general session took place in the afternoon. Josh Pechthalt, CFT president, gave a “State of the Union” speech, and Jeff Freitas, CFT’s Secretary-Treasurer, gave a report on the union’s overall finances. (They are “solid,” he told us). The session ended with a speech by California Attorney General Kamala Harris.
On the third day we learned that a total of 737 CFT members, staff, and guests attended this year’s convention—the largest total I have seen since I began attending more than a decade ago.
During the fourth and last of the General Sessions, Jim Maher, President of the Community College Division Council, spoke about the many challenges facing the Community Colleges in California. As usual, the plight of part-time instructors dominated the discussion, and he focused on the efforts of CFT to obtain more funding for part-time office hours and health benefits.
You can find more information on this year’s convention by visiting the CFT website and clicking on the convention link (http://cft.org/governance/convention).
AFT Convention Summer 2014
This summer will bring about a unique opportunity for the Part-Time Faculty Association. The American Federation of Teachers, our national union, will hold its bi-annual convention in Los Angeles, July 11—14. Since this convention only takes place every other year, and goes from one city to the next (recent conventions were held in Detroit, Seattle, and Chicago) this will be a chance for members of the PFA to attend without having to travel far. More information on this important event will be coming soon.
Mark James Miller, President, Part-Time Faculty Association of Allan Hancock College, CFT Local 6185, Santa Maria, CA
Mark Miller with AFT President Randi Weingarten