Volume 41, Numbers 2 & 3 May 2010 Community College Council of the California Federation of Teachers American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
The Chinese Future CCC president Carl Friedlander saw the future of higher education, and it’s in China.
The Majority Vote Budget Act CFT and its allies have submitted 1.1 million signatures to restore democracy to the Sacramento budget process.
In hard times for public education, five hundred CFT convention delegates worked on ideas for the way forward.
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The CFT-led March for California’s Future spread the word and built alliances Special section starts page 5
P E R S P E C TI V E May 2010
Taking the lead Carl Friedlander, CFT Community College Council President
China, planning its future, learns from California’s past
recently visited Shanghai as part of a small delegation of California education union leaders. The delegation was led by Kent Wong, Director of the UCLA Labor Center, and hosted—with extraordinary kindness and generosity—by the Shanghai Teachers Union. Kent, AFT 2121 President Gus Goldstein and I, all CFT Executive Council members, participated in the signing of a partnership and exchange agreement between
unprepared and which I have been thinking about rather obsessively since I returned. The Chinese government understands that education is the key to the country’s future success. The foundation of its economic development strategy is investing in higher education the way California did in the 1960s. What worked for California in the second half of the 20th century is working for China in the first half of the 21st.
lounge, recreational facilities, etc – a practice required in Chinese universities but against California law). Seven new campuses in ten years is remarkable, and that’s just Shanghai. What is the scale of the enrollment expansion in Chinese higher education? The number of undergraduate and graduate students in China has been growing approximately 30% a year over the last decade. China now has the largest sys-
Scott Myers, UCLA Labor Center Photo
CFT vice-presidents Carl Friedlander, Gus Goldstein, and Kent Wong signed a friendship agreement with Shanghai Teachers Union leaders.
CFT and the Shanghai Teachers Union, and were joined on the delegation by leaders of the California Faculty Association (CFA) and California School Employees Association (CSEA). For many years, UTLA has had an exchange with the Shanghai Teachers Union. A few years ago they initiated an innovative high school student and teacher exchange program, including a one-week home stay program for Los Angeles and Shanghai high school students. Our recent California education union delegation hopes to expand on this existing initiative. What I saw on this, my first visit to China, confirmed everything I had heard about the astonishing economic development in that country and in Shanghai in particular (the last day of our visit, May Day, happened to coincide with the opening of the World Expo in Shanghai). But there was one aspect of China’s development for which I was completely
Like other cities in China, Shanghai has developed a satellite university district, Songjiang, with modern, spacious campuses that can accommodate China’s student enrollment juggernaut. We drove through the Songjiang District outside of Shanghai, where seven universities, each with a different focus, have been built over the last ten years. We toured and spent a day at the largest of the seven, Shanghai International Studies University, which specializes in foreign languages and international relations (other universities in the district focus on Foreign Trade, Engineering and Science, Visual Art, Politics and Law, etc.). The campus, in both acreage and building square footage, is comparable to a mid-size UC campus such as Santa Barbara (minus the oceanfront setting), and currently serves about 8000 undergraduate and graduate students from all over China. (A side note: the Teachers Union has, rent-free, an entire floor of one of the buildings for offices, a
On front cover: The March for California’s Future lands in Sacramento after 48 days. From left to right, holding banner, Irene Gonzalez, Manny Ballesteros, Jenn Laskin. Francisco Rodriguez photo
tem of higher education in the world, awarding more university degrees than the U.S. and India combined. Chinese universities will award 50,000 Ph.Ds this year, surpassing the U.S. This represents a huge growth since 1996, when only 5,000 new Chinese Ph.Ds were awarded. China now produces three times as many engineers each year as the U.S. Coming from California, where the CFT-led “March for California’s Future” had just concluded, it was pretty disorienting. Here, we’re marching, rallying and protesting to mini-
The California Federation of Teachers is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.
mize the devastation to higher education and other public services. In China, the share of the GDP dedicated to higher education has been growing by leaps and bounds. Now California is in a very different situation from China. Our economy is in the toilet, our community college and university systems are already built out, and nobody’s arguing for 30% annual enrollment growth in the Golden State. On the other hand, the prosperity that is fast slipping away from us was built on the foundation of the State’s visionary educational Master Plan. Reducing access and educational quality is the worst thing government can do if we are to protect and enhance our standard of living and extend it to future generations of Californians. The investment required to keep California systems of public education competitive is modest. California lawmakers need to fund a small amount of enrollment growth—2-3%, less than a tenth of the 30% a year the Chinese government has funded. Keeping a great system of postsecondary education functioning and successful costs just a fraction of what it’s costing China to create one almost from scratch—or of what it cost California to create such a system half a century ago. Just as China is reaping benefits now, Californians have, for the last fifty years, seen the long-term social and economic benefits of investing in public higher education. Our State government appears to have forgotten that lesson. The Chinese are teaching the lesson to us once again, and California needs to pay heed before it’s too late.
Mark Your 2010 Calendar June 28-30
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The CFT represents over 120,000 educational employees working at every level of education in California. The CFT is committed to raising the standards of the profession and to securing the conditions essential to provide the best service to California’s students. President Marty Hittelman Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Smith Perspective is published three times during the academic year by CFT’s Community College Council. Community College Council President Carl Friedlander Los Angeles College Guild, Local 1521 3356 Barham Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90068 Email email@example.com Direct inquiries regarding the Community College Council to Carl Friedlander Southern Vice President Mona Field Glendale College Guild, Local 2276 1500 N. Verdugo Road Glendale, CA 95020 Northern Vice President Dean Murakami Los Rios College Federation of Teachers AFT Local 2279 1127 - 11th Street, #806 Sacramento, CA 95814 Secretary Kathy Holland Los Angeles College Guild, Local 1521, 3356 Barham Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90068 Editor Fred Glass Layout Design Action Collective EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS Direct editorial submissions to: Editor, Community College Perspective. California Federation of Teachers 1201 Marina Village Parkway, Suite 115 Alameda, CA 94501 Telephone 510-523-5238 Fax 510-523-5262 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Web www.cft.org To Advertise Contact the CFT Secretary-Treasurer for a current rate card and advertising policies. Dennis Smith, Secretary-Treasurer California Federation of Teachers 2550 North Hollywood Way, Ste. 400 Burbank, CA 91505 Telephone 818-843-8226 Fax 818-843-4662 Email email@example.com
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May 2010 P E R S P E C TIVE
David Bacon photo
Bring democracy back to the state budget process
Majority Vote Budget Act will end the bleeding
n May 7 the CFT and coalition partners turned in 1.1 million signatures to the Secretary of State, seeking to qualify a ballot initiative for the November 2010 statewide election, the Majority Vote Budget Act.
“Democracy is supposed to be simple majority rule (50% plus 1). We have lost democracy in our state budget process, with terrible consequences for all of us.” This ballot measure, if approved by the Secretary of State and passed by the voters this fall, would fix one of the most pressing problems faced by CFT members and the rest of the public school community. It would restore democracy in the state Legislature by reducing the two-thirds supermajority required to pass a budget to a simple majority. It would address the legislative gridlock in Sacramento by giving the majority the power to pass a state budget on time. It would prevent a minority of anti-education, anti-labor legislators from holding up the process at the command of corporate special interests, who attempt to extract non-budget related concessions that they would not be able to achieve through the normal legislative process.
Democracy is supposed to be simple majority rule (50% plus 1). We have lost democracy in our state budget process, with terrible consequences for all of us. California is one of just three states that require an undemocratic two-thirds Legislative supermajority to pass a budget. Under these circumstances, a small minority of legislators controls the state budget process, and ensures the continued decline of funding for public education and other vital social services. Each year, items unrelated to the budget—but on the ideological wish list of the minority— are inappropriately thrown into the process as demands of the minority. Over the past several years these non-budgetary items
removing restrictions on contracting out public sector jobs so that employers could instead pay minimum wage without benefits for what had formerly been decently paid jobs; elimination of time and a half pay for more than eight hours work in a day; and elimination of lunch breaks for workers in the hospitality business.
What animates the push for these non-budgetary items is the wish to destroy worker rights and lower a standard of living won by public and private sector unions, all for the sake of higher profits in business and privatizing public education. These actions, followed by efforts to
UTLA member David Lyell collects signatures for the Majority Vote Budget Act in front of a store in Tulare.
stop them by legislators who care about education, public services, and decent jobs in the community, result in the budget deadlocks we experience each year. The solution is reform of this dysfunctional budget process. Under the Majority Vote Budget Act, the undemocratic Legislative two-thirds vote on the state budget would become a simple majority, like it is in almost every other state. Still to come The Majority Vote Budget Act will not magically solve all of the funding problems faculty and students face in public education today, let alone California’s deeper fiscal issues. Still to come would be reform of the state Legislature’s other 2/3 rule, to pass any tax increases or new Source: California Budget Project
taxes. Without that next step, the schools and public services would continue to be seriously under-funded, even after passage of the Majority Vote Budget Act. Since the mid-1990s, tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent of Californians—people who make at least $400,000 per year—have reduced the ability of the state to fund community colleges and the rest of public education properly. Restoring the top income tax rate on this tiny portion of the population to what it was in 1995 would result in five billion dollars per year for California’s budget. But what the Majority Vote Budget Act would do is halt further bleeding that occurs around June each year. Each year for nearly twenty years, the State Legislature has given up a tax or opened up a new tax loophole. Usually this has been done to persuade a few members of the minority party to cross the aisle to become part of the two-thirds necessary to pass a budget. As a result, the state of California no longer collects around $12 billion it otherwise would have received. By coincidence (not!), the annual state budget deficit now hovers at around $12 billion (see chart). In addition to CFT, the coalition that collected the signatures, “Educators, Firefighters and Nurses for an On Time Budget” includes the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; the California Faculty Association; the California Nurses Association; the California Professional Firefighters; and the California School Employees Association. It’s time to stop the bleeding. Join with your colleagues from CFT and these other organizations to help return democracy to our state budget process, prevent the Wall Street privatization gang from pillaging the public sector, and give our students a chance for a better future.
P E R S P E C TI V E May 2010
State Budget Fred Glass photos
Let the budget circus begin S
ince Governor Schwarzenegger released his proposed 2010-11 budget in January, we learned that the state is faced with a new deficit of $19 billion over the next year and a half. For the first several months of the year revenues came in $2.7 billion above projections, which provided a glimmer of hope that additional budget cuts will not be as severe. However, April tax revenues are over $3 billion dollars lower, wiping out all the previous gains. So everyone was wondering how the Governor would address the deficit in the May revise.
Now we know. The May revise proposes $12.4 billion in cuts, highlighted by the elimination of CalWorks, Medi-Cal coverage for Adult Day Health Care services, California Food Assistance Program (CFAP), and state supported child care. In addition, mental health programs have been reduced by 60%. The budget cuts would have a very detrimental effect on children in California. The elimination of CalWorks, which in part helps single mothers find childcare while they go to school to learn new skills, will affect 1.1 million children and the loss of state-supported childcare will affect 142,000 children. No tax increases were proposed to help mitigate the cuts to services. The significant changes from the January budget proposal include: the Governor decided to fund Cal Grant awards which he threatened to eliminate in January, and the $10 million cuts to both Extended Opportunity Programs and the Part-Time Faculty Compensation Program from the January budget proposal has been reduced to $5 million each in the May revise. In addition, EOPS, Fund for Student Success (MESA, PUENTE, and Early College High School), and Basic Skills have been listed
in the flexible category. What is maintained is the negative 0.38% COLA, 2.21% growth, and student fees remain at $26/ unit. In this climate of budget deficits community colleges have come out as well as can be expected. With the Governor’s May revise of the budget it seems that the three ring circus has started under the big top. The clown in the center ring has laid out his proposal and it will be up to the Republicans and Democrats to respond. The Republicans in the ring to the right have sworn not to vote for any budget with tax increases. Republicans who voted for the budget in 2009 that included temporary tax increases in return for permanent corporate tax breaks, known as the “Sacramento Six,” all faced recall attempts: Assembly members Michael Villines, Roger Neillo, and Anthony Adams, and Senate members Dave Cogdill, Abel Maldonado, and Roy Ashburn. While none of the recall attempts were successful, Senate Minority leader Michael Villines was forced out of his position, replaced with Assembly member Sam Blakeslee, and will leave his office to run for Insurance Commissioner. Roger Neillo
The catastrophic budget “solutions” imposed by the governor and Legislature follow the horrifying logic of prioritizing tax breaks for the richest Californians and giant corporations over the needs of the overwhelming majority of the state. Protests erupting for months include health workers and their disabled clients in Oakland last summer (lower right); UC employees in Berkeley (upper left) during the huge March 4 demonstrations across the state; School employees and social service recipients in San Francisco in the fall (upper right).
is termed out and will seek election in the Senate. Senate Minority leader Dave Cogdill was also voted out of his leadership position, replaced by Dennis Hollingsworth, and will not seek re-election in 2010. Senator Abel Maldonado was appointed Lieutenant Governor. So out of the six Republicans who voted for the 2009 budget, four will be out of office soon. In addition, Sam Blakeslee, who replaced Michael Villines as Assembly Minority leader, only lasted 8 months before turning it over to Martin Garrick. As you can see there is very little incentive for the Republicans to pass a budget with any revenues.
In the ring to the left are the Democrats, the majority party. The Democrats have made it clear that a cuts-only budget and dismantling of the social safety net is unacceptable. They have proposed some budget bills to increase taxes such as AB 1836 (Futurtani) which would expand the sales tax, temporarily increase the sales tax by ¾ of a cent, increase the alcohol and cigarette tax, and a temporary increase to 10% for income taxes on those making over $100,000/ year and 11% on those making $200,000/year. AB 2492 (Ammiano) would change Proposition 13 to include a “split roll” for business property. AB
656 (Torrico) is the 12.5% oil severance tax bill which provides revenues in which 50% goes to CSU, 25% to UC, and 25% goes to Community Colleges. AB 1604 (Nava) is a competing 10% oil severance tax bill that would direct the revenue into the general fund. Unfortunately, these bills require a 2/3 vote for passage and there is no sign that that will happen. So, how will this all turn out? Over the summer it will be circus time. Who needs Cirque du Soleil? By Dean Murakami
March for California’s Future
May 2010 P E R S P E C TIVE
David Bacon photo
Start of the next step in the Fight for California’s Future
ith a huge, boisterous crowd estimated at 7500 joining feet with the six core marchers who walked more than 300 miles from Bakersfield over the previous forty eight days, the CFT-led March for California’s Future arrived in front of the state Capitol on schedule at 3 pm on April 21.
Not one legislator addressed the rally, although many had asked to do so. Instead, 80 bus loads of union members from as far south as San Diego and as far north as Eureka heard from their own leaders, from students, from pastors, parents, and finally singing children, whose after school program in Bakersfield had been hit by budget cuts. At the end of a long day, following bus rides, the march through rain-soaked streets, and many speeches, the kids’ rendition of “We are the world” as the sun broke through the clouds brought smiles to most of the faces in view of this reporter and a fitting close to a beautiful day. Not acts of nature or God The March for California’s Future had two goals. The first was to spread the perspective as broadly as possible throughout the radius of the march that the state budget crisis and its attendant local ravages were not acts of nature or God, but the result of conscious choices made by the Legislature and Governor. The marchers—San Diego City College professor Jim Miller, Los Angeles probation officer Irene Gonzalez, retired southern California
teacher Gavin Riley, Watsonville community organizer Manny Ballesteros, Pajaro Valley teacher Jenn Laskin, and Los Angeles substitute teacher David Lyell— delivered this message at rallies, town halls, union meetings, and at schools and college campuses, as well as in churches and community halls. They said that California must restore the promise of public education, demanded a state and economy that worked for all the people,
and proposed fair tax increases on the rich and corporations to pay for a future worth living in. The marchers succeeded beyond expectations in gaining press coverage throughout the central valley, capped by stories in statewide media on the last leg and rally in the Capitol. People along the march route told the walkers continuously they had read about them, or seen them on TV. Many joined in walking for hours or days, inspired by what they had seen or heard of the march in the local media. Planting the seeds The second goal was tougher, which was to build organizational relationships as the marchers went north through the valley—not only to stage these events, but to put in place the foundation for something more lasting: a progressive political coalition that could change the way the state runs itself. As they made their way north, the marchers and their supporters gathered signatures to put the Majority Vote Budget Act on the November 2010 state ballot. If it passes, this initiative will overturn the undemocratic Continued on page 8
P E R S P E C TI V E May 2010
March for California’s Future Profile of marcher Jim Miller
Pursuing a vision Fred Glass photos
From left, Jim Miller addressing crowd in Sacramento; Miller with son Walt on shoulders, flanked by Randi Weingarten, AFT national president, and David Lyell, core marcher; and wife Kelly Mayhew, who attended CFT convention as a delegate and taught Miller’s classes while he was marching.
im Miller heard about the idea of walking to Sacramento when Dean Murakami, president of the Los Rios College Federation of Teachers, first proposed it in August. “Lots of people wondered whether this was really viable,” Miller recalls. “Could we really do it?” But as a teacher of English and Labor Studies at San Diego City College, he also remembered other marches up through the San Joaquin Valley that revolutionized the thinking of people at the time. He recalled particularly the seminal march from Delano to Sacramento led by Cesar Chavez in 1966, which put the nascent United Farm Workers on the map, and then the march in 1994 by the UFW, the year after Chavez’ death. “Dean knew about those marches, and as a labor studies teacher, I was aware of them
too,” Miller says. “History shows that poor farm workers captured the imagination of millions of people with hardly any resources. As teachers, we’re in better shape financially, so it should be easier for us. And we are fighting for the same social justice issues.” Not just a slogan That vision of social justice isn’t just a slogan, Miller argues, but a necessary step in transforming the labor movement itself, so that it will become able to defeat the gutting of the
“We need to seek allies to win our battles, especially this one,” he explains, “so we need a vision of social justice that includes their goals as well. That’s why I’m so proud of the vision of this march. It’s about the future of our whole state, and it involves everyone.”
educational system, and achieve goals that go beyond that. “I believe in the CFT we are moving towards social movement unionism, or as some people call it, social justice unionism, and beyond the old ideas of ‘bread and butter.’” Miller doesn’t argue that the union should not fight for better contracts, but he says that it must reach out to the community beyond the college or school. “We need to seek allies to win our battles, especially this one,” he explains, “so we need a vision of social justice that includes their goals as well. That’s why I’m so proud of the vision of this march. It’s about the future of our whole state, and it involves everyone.” Miller also warns about the reverse danger. The climate of budget cuts pits people against each other, as different groups and constituencies seek to defend what they have. “It’s education versus healthcare, community colleges versus K-12, students versus the very poor,” he warns. “The whole strategy here is divide and conquer, while the top one percent of the population saw its income
double in the last ten years. So we’re already reaching out to parents, community groups and others to break down those divides and stereotypes. This will really help us convince the public that teachers care about the poor, and care about our
cultural studies. Together they came to California, and began teaching in San Diego. For Mayhew especially it was a hard road, with classes for the first two years in four institutions— San Diego City, San Diego State, CSU San Marcos, and UC
San Diego City College student Jose Rodriguez backstage in Sacramento with Miller. Rodriguez marched for a week with other students and spoke to the crowd in Sacramento.
communities.” Miller and his wife, Kelly Mayhew, have been pursuing this vision for many years. They went to graduate school together at Bowling Green University in Kentucky in the early 1990s, gaining degrees in American
San Diego. Muckrakers The march was not the first time Miller and Mayhew worked together on a major project. The two collaborated Continued on page 8
March for California’s Future
May 2010 P E R S P E C TIVE
Notes on the last day of the march by Jim Miller
fter the rally at Sacramento State had been washed out on Tuesday April 20, I was nervous when I opened the drapes on Wednesday morning at our hotel downtown, the day of the big march to the State Capitol, to see that the weather was still very ugly with rain pouring down and a high in the fifties. The showers continued on and off through the morning on our way to a Baptist church for our final prayer vigil, but inside the sanctuary, the mood was upbeat. I was pleased to be met by folks from San Diego’s Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice and the children from Bakersfield, and moved by the speech my wife, Kelly, gave when asked to speak about our family’s sacrifice:
I was interviewed by an Associated Press reporter after the service and told her that we were the answer to the Tea Party movement’s misguided anger. Our schools and public services are the product of government, I told her. And our job should be to make them better, not demonize them. That same day in the State Senate, Gloria Romero (D, East Los Angeles) was pushing a bill that would take away hard won seniority rights and due process for K-12 teachers because she did not want to “waste a time of crisis.” Romero is couching her assault on teachers’ rights as a crusade to save poor kids of color from bad teachers, despite the fact that there is no evidence to support the notion that seniority is the problem.
Indeed, we wouldn’t have to pink slip good young teachers at all if Senator Romero and her colleagues in the Legislature had done their job and not allowed funding for education to be gutted. But just as the failed run for Race to the Top funds was fiddling while Rome burns, Romero’s latest assault on my colleagues in K-12 is a cynical diversion from the catastrophic funding problem which contin-
would begin the final mile march to the capitol, I was cheered to see an ocean of yellow ponchos and umbrellas there to greet us. We walked across the muddy lawn toward the staging area, and I ran into a group of around 100 folks from San Diego who made it up for the day. They were students, faculty, staff, faith leaders, parents, community activists and others who had stood in a steady drizzle for over an hour, waiting Fred Glass
“I am honored to have given my husband over to the March—in fact, this has been an experience I’ve borne with joy because of the dire situation we face in our state.... The ‘sacrifice’ my family has made is no real sacrifice—it’s an ‘of course.’ More of us need to speak up, speak out, make our voices heard. We need our social contract back. Thus, I am honored to have been a part of this March to do just that: Speak.”
Core marchers take a bow in Sacramento. From left, Manny Ballesteros, Jenn Laskin, Irene Gonzalez, David Lyell, Gavin Riley, Jim Miller, Kelly Mayhew. In front, Miller and Mayhew’s son Walt, and march organizer Barb Maynard’s daughter Anya.
ues to grow as we race to the bottom of the barrel in per pupil spending. As the day moved on the weather eased a bit and as we approached the park where we
to march. After a brief program on the back of the flatbed truck, we finally headed toward the capitol, thousands upon thousands of people taking up block after
block of the street. The other five core marchers and I headed the procession along with AFT national President Randi Weingarten and somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 domestic workers, nurses, office staff, teachers, students, the disabled in wheelchairs, children, pastors, and union folks from CFT, AFSCME, UDW, CSEA, SEIU, UFCW, UPTE, and more. The rain ended along the way and the sun began to peek through the clouds as we slowly marched the last mile waving to the heads sticking out of office windows. When the capitol dome appeared in front of us, it seemed a bit surreal after walking over 352 miles to get there. I had my son on my shoulders blowing a whistle and my wife at my side and it was moving to think how he would never forget this day. When it came time for me to take the microphone, I outlined our central themes about restoring the promise of pubic education and quality public services, making the government and economy work for everyone, and funding California’s future through fair taxes. I ended with this: “Personally, I am marching for my students
at San Diego City College who are struggling to get by. In California we serve 2.9 million students in our community colleges but we rank 45th in spending per student. We have cut the community college budget statewide by 840 million dollars over the last two years and are currently serving over 200, 000 students for whom we are not being funded. “California’s community colleges have long been the primary ladder for economic and social mobility for working and middle class students in this state. We are the most important door to opportunity and equality for the majority of Californians and that door is being slammed shut. “When one considers that the cuts and fee increases primarily affect working class communities and communities of color, it becomes clear that this march is not just a march about stopping cuts, it is a march for access to opportunity and equality. Our struggle is a civil rights struggle and our movement is a movement for social justice for all Californians, not just those affluent enough to get in the door. “One of the things I am most proud of about this march is that it is not just about my interests.
When the capitol dome appeared in front of us, it seemed a bit surreal after walking over 352 miles to get there. I had my son on my shoulders blowing a whistle and my wife at my side and it was moving to think how he would never forget this day.
Continued on page 8
P E R S P E C TI V E May 2010
March for California���s Future
Fight for California’s Future Continued from page 5
two-thirds requirement for the state legislature to pass a budget, replacing it with simple majority vote. In this activity, the CFT worked closely with AFSCME. One of the core marchers, Irene Gonzalez, is an AFSCME member, and the marchers received tremendous support from the AFSCME-affiliated United Domestic Workers every step of the way. AFSCME is also a partner with CFT in the Budget Majority initiative, together with the California School Employees Association (CSEA), the Firefighters, and California Faculty Association (CFA), and all these organizations worked to make the march successful. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) locals in the valley also contributed support in rallies and
a dozen busloads of members the final day, and the United Food and Commercial Workers supplied the march with food for a week, as well as airing a radio ad urging listeners to come to Sacramento on April 21. Only time will tell whether
has occurred. A lot of listening The marchers did at least as much listening as talking over the seven weeks. They heard from laid off third generation schoolteachers. They heard
administration’s health care bill (the tea-baggers didn’t show, but the congressman had his picture taken with the marchers after the town hall). They were also fed fruit by the side of the road by a woman who had seen them on TV the night before,
“No one expected that the march itself would accomplish the huge task of building a solid and powerful political coalition. But the realistic expectation was that seeds would be planted, and there can be no doubt that that has occurred.”
they were doing. The marchers saw such emotion many times along the way. And no wonder: someone was paying attention. Someone was reaching out, asking to create community. Someone was offering a perspective on why the California Dream wasn’t turning out as expected, and it was a perspective that made sense, and involved the hope of changing things with collective action. As CFT president Marty Hittelman told the enormous gathering in front of the Capitol on April 21, “Today, this rally is not just the end of the march, but a beginning, the start of the next step in the fight for California’s future.”
the second goal was met. No one expected that the march itself would accomplish the huge task of building a solid and powerful political coalition. But the realistic expectation was that seeds would be planted, and there can be no doubt that that
from farm workers who had marched with Cesar Chavez in 1966. They heard from a congressman who invited them to a town hall to counterbalance an expected appearance by Tea Partiers due to the elected official’s vote for the Obama
and rushed out to share her lunch, and had dinner cooked by CSEA members in a Grange Hall in Galt. When the CSEA chapter chair welcomed the marchers before dinner in Galt, she cried as she thanked them for what
have the most socially and economically diverse campus in the county. It has mostly working class students, with no ethnic group a majority. We have immigrants here from all over. It’s like living at the crossroads of the world. Our median age is 26, so as honors coordinator, I look for a way to help people to transfer to 4-year universities.” Miller and Mayhew are hoping that student activists will walk at least part of the way, and take the message of the march into the communities where they live. “Our students are organizing for the March 4th Day of Action that precedes the march,” she says. “Then many are going up to the valley to walk over spring break.” At the first big meeting to discuss it, the San Diego AFT Guild, Local 1931, not only fully supported the march, but more than 30 members volunteered to walk at least part of the way.
The San Diego/Imperial Counties Central Labor Council also passed a resolution backing it. Where Dad is Mayhew and Miller belong to the parent teachers club at their son Walt’s elementary school. “I have a 6-year old who’s very smitten with his daddy,” she says. So Walt’s teacher has proposed putting up a map in the classroom, and tracking each day “where Dad is.” As vice-presidents for political action and community outreach of the AFT Guild, Local 1931, Mayhew and Miller have already visited State Senator Christine Kehoe. “She says she’s on board with efforts to get rid of the two-thirds vote requirement for the state budget,” Mayhew explains. “But we want to use the march to go beyond that general support. We’ve heard legislators in Sacramento, including Democrats, tell us
we have to look at the cuts as the ‘new normal.’ We want to point out how angry people are, how desperate these times are.” Like Mayhew, Miller is pressed by a sharp sense of urgency. “I’m convinced that if we do what we always do, we’re certain to lose.” While teachers might not be quite used to the farm worker style of living on the march, Miller remembers parts of his own family history that helps keep him motivated. His father, an engineer at Lockheed in Los Angeles, lost his job in the 1980s, just before he would have qualified for a full pension. “That inspired my hostility to social Darwinism – watching American business throw him under the bus.” Miller himself worked bluecollar factory jobs to get through college, and now watches his niece at UCLA trying to survive the coming 32% jump in fees. “Personal sacrifice can help
us demonstrate the importance of our message,” he says, “so I ask our members, ‘Do a day with me.’ Sometimes you have to lead by example, and I can’t ask someone to do something I’m not willing to do myself. And it’s not even what people had to do a century ago, when the Wobblies [members of the Industrial Workers of the World] were murdered in free speech fights in San Diego, San Pedro and Fresno. Our movement was built by blood sacrifice, and we’ve gotten used to the idea that being in the labor movement means we just go to meetings. So now we have to up the ante a little.”
ing to save their jobs and their patients’ lives in Stockton. We have heard teachers telling us about their pink slips in McFarland, and Lodi and Elk Grove. “We have spoken with working folks struggling to get by and the elderly and disabled afraid of losing their homecare all the way up the Central Valley. “We did not look away and
we will not forget them. We will stand by them and fight with them. We are in this for the long haul. We are in this to win. “I stand here today because I believe that my six-year old son Walter’s future is inextricably bound to the future of your sons and daughters. We need to imagine a future not of scarcity
and desperation but of hope and justice for all of us.”
By Fred Glass
Pursuing a vision Continued from page 6
on a muckraking history of San Diego with sociologist Mike Davis, Under the Perfect Sun, published in 2003. Davis profiled the county’s moneyed interests and political shenanigans, Miller outlined its history of labor and social movements, and Mayhew interviewed activists and labor leaders. “We wanted to disrupt peoples’ image of San Diego as a tourist paradise, and in particular I wanted to present a rich tapestry of real voices,” Mayhew says. “Jim and I have always worked together, and written together. We have different styles and ways of going about it, but they’re very complementary. Now it’s going to be kind of weird not having him around for seven weeks.” Mayhew finally got her full time contract at San Diego City in 1999. She teaches women’s studies now in San Diego. “I love teaching at community college,” she enthuses. “We
Journalist David Bacon interviewed Jim Miller and Kelly Mayhew before the march started, and this article was written at that time.
Notes on the last day of the march Continued from page 7
I am marching also with my brothers and sisters from UDW who care for the elderly and disabled, with nurses, and office workers, students and parents and religious leaders who know that we need a moral budget that cares for all regardless of means. “I am proud to say today that the California Federation of Teachers rejects a politics that
pits one group against another in a struggle over a shrinking pie. To quote an old saying in labor, ‘An injury to one is an injury to all.’ “I have come from San Diego to Sacramento, walked 352 miles past closed schools in Madera, tent cities in Fresno, and foreclosed homes in Atwater. “We have met nurses fight-
Jim Miller blogged each week from the march. His collection of eight essays reflecting on the journey along the way can be perused at www.cft.org.
May 2010 P E R S P E C TIVE
Up for grabs in Sacramento
Education or Incarceration I
n his State of the State address in January 2010, Governor Schwarzenegger gave a ringing call for “a historic and transforming realignment of California’s priorities” from incarceration to education. Gov. Schwarzenegger told lawmakers: “Thirty years ago, 10 percent of the general fund went to higher education, and 3 percent went to prisons. Today, almost 11 percent goes to prisons, and only 7.5 percent goes to higher education.” He called for a constitutional amendment to prevent the state from spending more money on prisons than on higher education, and to restore some of the cutbacks suffered by the UC and CSU systems—not including the community colleges or preK-12. The Governor’s chief of staff, Susan Kennedy stated: “Those protests on the UC campuses were the tipping point.”
“Mr. Schwarzenegger’s prison expansion plan is the legacy of a 2007 law, AB 900, dubbed “the largest prison expansion in world history” by the New York Times. Rushed through the Legislature without one minute of public hearings, this law calls for spending $12.4 billion of our tax money to build 53,000 new prison beds.” It was a significant victory that the Governor had to back off on dismantling UC and CSU, even admitting that the administration changed course because of an effective statewide movement. We must pay tribute to the students who spearheaded the action this fall, together with staff and faculty. Many are still facing court dates and administrative sanctions. Governor pits people against each other However underneath the Governor’s headline-grabbing rhetoric, his proposals were not really about transformed priorities. His proposals pit people against each other to fight
over shares of a too-small pie, shrunken by 30 years of tax cuts on corporations, banks, large real estate interests and wealthy individuals. The Governor turned the budget knife away from the more politically powerful university systems, and against the most vulnerable Californians. In-Home Supportive Services— home health aides for people with severe disabilities--would take an 87% hit. Medi-Cal— already the worst-funded program for low-income public health care out of the 50 states—would take another $2.4 billion cut. Mr. Schwarzenegger even floated the idea of outright eliminating CalWorks, the state
welfare program for destitute mothers. We heard a vague promise to cut prison spending through privatization, while actually adding 53,000 new prisoners. Private prisons—the direct descendants of now-outlawed Southern contract labor systems—are notorious for some of the worst abuses such as feeding prisoners only two times a day to increase their profits. The biggest private prison company, Correctional Corporation of America, is a Schwarzenegger campaign contributor.
data source: state of california, dept. of finance tables
Prison spending explodes Since 1984, state spending for post-secondary education has declined while prison spending exploded 126%. As a result, California has the seventh largest prison system in the world, holding some 170,000 people in its prisons and jails. Our state now has a far higher rate of imprisonment than in South Africa under apartheid. Overwhelmingly the prisoners are impoverished African Americans and Latinos marginalized by the disappearance of stable employment in their communities. By the late 1990s, more people of color were entering prisons than four-year universities. From 1990 to 1997, three Latino males were added to the prison population for every one added to California’s four-year public universities. Among African-American men, the ratio of prisoners to students stands at a shocking five to one (and rising). The prison system has mushroomed not because of some
monstrous crime wave but because of three decades of highly politicized “tough on crime” laws and the harshest parole rules in the country, giving California the number one recidivism rate nationwide. Last August a federal panel of three judges called conditions in the system “appalling and criminogenic.” An average of one prisoner per week dies of the substandard medical care in these grossly overcrowded prisons. Mr. Schwarzenegger’s prison expansion plan is the legacy of a 2007 law, AB 900, dubbed “the largest prison expansion in world history” by the New York Times. Rushed through the Legislature without one minute of public hearings, this law calls for spending $12.4 billion of our tax money to build 53,000 new prison beds. Real solutions The issue is what kind of society we want to live in. Real solutions would look like this: First, California must generate progressive tax revenue and reinvest in public education— pre-K through PhD—and social services. Second, the Governor should cut California’s grotesquely bloated prison system by adopting steps long proposed by the courts and prison advocates: reform California’s draconian parole rules; adhere to the court order of a federal three-
judge panel and reduce the prison population by 43,000; overturn AB 900; and follow the lead of several states such as New York, which just reformed its Rockefeller Drug Laws and closed down four state prisons. Then we could put some of the resulting savings into community-based programs to help those released succeed in reintegrating back home. To help set right our state’s twisted priorities, get involved in CFT’s Fight for California’s Future to win progressive taxation. And circulate the open letter from Californians United for a Responsible Budget, a coalition of 40 organizations aiming to reduce prison spending. by Vicki Legion and Robert Lane The writers are active with CURB (www.curbprisonspending.org). Vicki Legion (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an AFT member who teaches at City College of San Francisco; coordinates a transfer program to San Francisco State University; and is part of a campus activist group called the Vampire Slayers. Robert Lane, PhD, JD (BOBLANE01@aol.com) is a lawyer.
P E R S P E C TIV E May 2010
Legislative Update Judith Michaels, CFT Legislative Director New Bills for a New Decade In this catastrophic budget year, we’ll be concentrating most of our efforts in concert with students, administrators, classified staff and management groups to preserve the very nature of our enterprise. Yet we cannot neglect the need to move important policy matters through the Legislature, keeping in mind the higher education reform goals of achieving full equity in compensation for contingent faculty members and ensuring that 75 percent of undergraduate classes are taught by full-time tenure and tenure track faculty and that qualified contingent faculty have the opportunity to move into such positions as they become available. Faculty and College Excellence We carry forward the principles of FACE (Faculty and College Excellence) not only through legislation, but also through bargaining. Moving bills and resolutions through the Legislature enhances collective bargaining and keeps the academic staffing crisis before the Legislature as it addresses student fees, student access, and, this year, a review of California’s Master Plan. When the FACE Resolution stalled last year in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, the author amended the Resolution to address another subject. This year Assemblyman Pedro Nava will carry FACE, under a new Resolution number [ACR 138 (Nava)]. Part-time Faculty Situation In another step on the long
road to the principles embodied in FACE, Assemblyman Paul Fong and Assemblyman Pedro Nava have introduced AB 1807, with Assemblywoman Fiona Ma as joint author. We thank David Yancey and the San Jose Evergreen Faculty Association, Local 6157, for asking Assemblyman Fong (who in his other life is one of their members) to take an active role in formulating a bill to address seniority for part-time faculty. While some faculty teach part-time by choice, others have taken to the roads—working on multiple campuses, facing precipitous class cancellations, and stringing together assignments— to earn enough to remain in academia. In 2001, CFT sponsored AB 1245 (Alquist). The new law made right of first refusal a mandatory subject of bargaining. After ten years, it is time to determine how this law has worked, and urge districts, in stronger terms, to act. Many of our locals have secured at least rudimentary rights for part-time faculty; however, faculty who work part-time often cannot consistently work under contracts bargained by CFT. Last year, CFT’s Part-Time Faculty Committee, under the guidance of chair Phyllis Eckler (Glendale College Guild, and Los Angeles College Guild) formulated and guided a resolution through our convention, and subsequently reached out to other organizations to draft a bill addressing seniority rights for part-timers. Thanks to this hard work, AB 1807 enters
the session with support from all the faculty unions and associations. Progress on Retirement Thanks to legislation last year, CalSTRS has formed, and we are serving on, a committee to look at the many retirement issues facing part-timers. This year Assemblyman Mike Eng is carrying AB 1862, a bill addressing membership on the California State Teachers Retirement Board (CalSTRS), a board that has exclusive control over the investment and administration of the State Teachers’ Retirement Fund. Briefly, it makes
rules, sets policies, and has the authority to hear and determine all facts pertaining to application for benefits under the retirement system. Currently comprised of twelve members, five are appointed by the governor (including one member who must be an STRS retiree), four are ex-officio members, and three members are elected by active members of CalSTRS. Retirees are not eligible to vote in that election. AB 1862 would correct this inequity by requiring the retiree representative to be elected by CalSTRS retirees, rather than being appointed by the governor.
We need to work hard to make our State Senators and Assembly Members aware of the importance of these measures as we visit them in their district offices, march through the state, and talk with them in the halls of the Capitol. Please do your part as we develop lobbying plans to take these bills through the legislative process, securing the votes necessary to put it on Governor Schwarzenegger’s desk before the Legislature adjourns August 31, 2010.
Conversation topic when talking with legislators: District obligation to hire full-time faculty The California Federation of Teachers is urging the Legislature to preserve the Faculty Obligation Number (FON), a regulation that requires community college districts to increase the number of full-time faculty over the prior year in proportion to the amount of growth in funded credit Full-time Equivalent Students (FTES). Governor Schwarzenegger is proposing to suspend both the 75/25 law and the Faculty Obligation Number (California Code of Regulations Title 5 Section 51025) until 2012-13. While the 75/25 statutory ratio represents a guideline for districts, a California Community College regulation (commonly known as the full-time Faculty Obligation Number, or “FON”) imposes financial penalties on districts that fail to meet their employment target for full-time faculty members. State statute expresses Legislative intent that 75 percent of credit instructional hours be taught by full-time faculty, with no more than 25 percent taught by part-time faculty. The California Education Code treats full time and adjunct faculty, in contrast to their counterparts at the California State University and the University of California, differently. Generally, faculty who teach in excess of 67% of a full-time teaching load, usually 15 units per semester, are hired as probationary instructors and progress through the ranks to permanent status. Districts who hire part-time faculty who teach less than 67% of full time as temporary faculty, that is, as faculty who do not, by law, achieve permanent status. Because the California Community College Board of Governors, on November 2, 2009, determined that inadequate funds existed to implement an increase in the fulltime faculty obligation for Fall 2010, we are rapidly falling behind the Legislature’s desire that colleges be staffed with adequate numbers of full-time faculty. The recent Board of Governor’s action means that a final Fall 2008 obligation will continue as the final obligation for Fall 2009 and Fall 2010 unless districts experienced sufficient decline in funded credit FTES, a circumstance that would cause a further reduction in the obligation to staff our colleges adequately. The CFT is working with budget and policy staff in the legislature to make sure that this change is not made in a budget trailer bill during the wee hours of the morning. It’s an issue worth raising as you talk to your Legislators.
May 2010 P E R S P E C TIVE
scott myers photo
Promise of the DREAM Act D
elegates to the CFT Convention in March received an important reminder of the power of higher education when Kent Wong provided an overview of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (or DREAM) Act.
Director of the Center for Labor Research and Education at UCLA, and a CFT vicepresident, Wong has spent the last several years traveling the nation with some of UCLA’s undocumented students, making sure their stories are heard. Last year students in his course on “Immigrant Rights, Labor, and Higher Education” wrote, edited, and published Underground Undergrads: UCLA Undocumented Immigrant Students Speak Out.
Kent Wong encouraged his students to produce Underground Undergrads.
“I’ve been teaching at UCLA for 20 years, and these are the most extraordinary students of my career,” Wong says. “They care so much about their education. They have to endure tremendous opposition, yet they are succeeding. It’s been a privilege to work with them.” The bill could impact 2.5 million young people in the United States today, offering access to higher education and also a path toward citizenship. If it passes, students who come to the U.S. as children and complete two years of higher education or military service could gain permanent resident status. “Now is a crucial time for the DREAM Act,” Wong told CFT conventioneers. “President Obama has said he will sign the bill when it reaches his desk.” Introduced repeatedly since 2001, the DREAM Act has gained bipartisan support.
A step beyond The DREAM Act goes a step beyond California’s Assembly Bill 540 (2001), which allows California students with three years of high school in the state and a diploma or G.E.D. to enroll in our institutions of higher education for in-state tuition and fees. AB 540 students represent an estimated 35,000 in the state’s community college system, according to a recent Sacramento Bee article. The promise and opportunity AB 540 offers to students often goes unnoticed and even unknown. “When we do outreach into the high schools throughout San Francisco, we often find that undocumented students, some of them having only just discovered their status, think college is entirely out of reach,” says Leticia Silva, a counselor with City College of San Francisco’s Latino/a Services Network who co-chairs the college’s AB 540 Task Force. The City College task force of faculty and administrators seeks to inform the campus community about the law and help students qualify for in-state enrollment fees for credit classes. It has also expanded outreach and helped procure priority access to the college’s book loan program, usually based on financial aid status, as well as advocating for increased scholarships and stipend-based work study positions on campus. Special support Even for students who are able to leverage AB 540 and attend community college, the leap to transfer to a four-year institution can appear insurmountable. “Some students say, ‘Why should I keep going to school if I’m not going to be able to get into university?’ and lose hope,” explains Grecia, who is starting a student club for AB 540 students at City College. “There are some scholarships, but they are very competitive.” Will, a student taking English at CCSF under AB 540, was encouraged to learn that some
Nancy (left) and her mother celebrate her graduation from UCLA.
universities work to lend special support for undocumented students. “I never thought it was possible to attend a top-rated school like UCLA. It’s good to know, because it’s harder for us because financial aid is not available from the government. I would love to have an opportunity to go to a UC.” It is also a crucial time for AB 540 in California. Both major Republican gubernatorial candidates, Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner, have pledged to undo AB 540. Wong warns that Poizner will run a harsh anti-immigrant campaign and wants to throw undocumented students—from early childhood to higher ed—out of our public schools. Even with the help of AB 540, these students face significant obstacles, including their inability to apply for financial aid, work legally, or drive to campus. When they do overcome the odds and obtain degrees, they cannot use them to get legal jobs. The DREAM Act would change that. At the CFT convention, Wong introduced his audience to Nancy, whose story parallels those of many undocumented students. It wasn’t until her senior year in high school, as she discussed college, voter registration, and future plans, that she learned she was undocumented. Nancy described the initial anger—and later the gratitude— she felt towards her mother for her in-limbo status. “My mom’s choice was always to give me a better life. I can’t be mad at her for that.” Nancy said many don’t understand her situation and admitted that at first she also assumed there was an easy fix.
Her mother had gained legal status some years before, but due to an error on the part of the immigration attorney, Nancy’s own status had never been settled. She had grown up thinking of herself as an American and a U.S. citizen. Now she can’t even get a driver’s license — and might never be able to. Though discouraged, Nancy enrolled at community college under AB 540. She later found IDEAS, a network of UCLA students and staff for undocumented students. Through the group she met others in her situation and found mentors who supported her to transfer to UCLA and get her B.A. in Sociology and Education. Turned down Harvard With no access to financial aid or a solid support network, Nancy turned down Harvard for graduate school and entered a Master’s program in education at UCLA, where she is now a teaching associate in Wong’s course, helping others learn about the issues that undocumented students face. She’ll begin doctoral work this fall. Having a Ph.D. in her sights gives her a feeling of hope. “I want to feel like all this hard work is going to be useful and is going to go back to my community,” she says, noting also that without the DREAM Act, the degree won’t change her difficult situation. By Alisa Messer [The last names of the students in this story have been omitted for their protection.—Ed.]
“She had grown up thinking of herself as an American and a U.S. citizen. Now she can’t even get a driver’s license— and might never be able to.”
P E R S P E C TI V E May 2010
Fighting for California’s Future ing year. But workshops, videos, speeches and award ceremonies played their part in making the 68th convention a memorable one, including the Ben Rust Award for a CCC activist (see box).
March for California’s Future: a ray of light Poking out from bad news about state budget deficits and other obstacles to righting the ship of public education was a ray of light: the March for California’s Future, with six people, including four CFT members, making their slow way on foot through the Central Valley to Sacramento. Its three themes—restore the promise of public education; government and economy that work for all; and fair taxes to fund California’s future— formed the outlines of a solution to this sea of troubles. A couple of short videos on the march and its historic antecedent, the United Farm Workers march in 1966, brought the experiences of the six core walkers before the
San Mateo Community College Federation of Teachers Local 1493 delegation catches its collective breath in a rare moment of quiet at the 2010 CFT convention. Left to right, Dan Kaplan, Karen Oleson, Nina Floro, Katherine Harer, Joaquin Rivera.
convention. A live video feed provided some real time connections to Jim Miller, Jenn Laskin, Gavin Riley and David Lyell, AFT members who spoke briefly from the road to the convention floor. The delegates gave them a standing ovation for their sacrifice and dedication to the cause of full funding for education and all social services.
Star power A battery of speakers brought some star power to the convention. Oregon legislator Michael Dembrow, a former Portland AFT community college local president, told the delegates that the recent passage of ballot measures in his state raising tax rates on the richest Oregonians and corporations in order to prevent the gutting of public education and other services offered lessons for California. “If we can do it, you can do it too,” he said to cheers. Senator Barbara Boxer received an ovation when she promised the full house of CFT members that she would do everything she could to make sure that the reauthorization of the ESEA would not contain the worst features of No Child Left Behind. CFT president Marty Hittelman in his State of the Union address decried the sorry condition of funding for public education and vital community services, and spoke forcefully about the need to engage in the Fight for California’s Future campaign. He critiqued the K-12 “Race to the top” initiative of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, noting sharply that there were too many continuities between Bush and Obama administration public education policies.
fred glass photos
n dire times for public education, the CFT convention in Los Angeles over the March 19-21 weekend provided some help. In the words of one delegate who had never been to a CFT convention before, “I’ll definitely be coming back.” The reasons were not hard to find. The five hundred delegates at the 68th annual CFT convention only needed to look at the screens flanking the stage. Between camera shots of the speakers or pages of resolutions during floor debates, the “Fighting for California’s Future” logo reminded everyone of the necessity to preserve public education against the horrific assaults being leveled by the governor and Legislature. And the convention offered hope and possible blueprints on how to be successful in that effort. The main work of the convention took place on the convention floor, where delegates argued and voted on dozens of resolutions to shape union policy over the com-
CFT president Marty Hittelman leads applause for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer at CFT convention.
Debates and awards The most spirited floor debate broke out over a resolution on the California Democracy Act, a proposed ballot measure in circulation for signatures that calls for majority vote on both taxes and budget in the state Legislature. After prolonged discussion, the delegates decided to support urging members to sign the petitions, and have CFT endorse the measure if it reached the ballot. But there were intense arguments over many of the dozens of resolutions heard on the floor. The CFT bestowed several awards on members and friends of the CFT. Legislator of the Year went to Julia Brownley, who expressed her appreciation that the previous year the union withheld the award due to the Legislature’s failure to find an alternative to massive state budget cuts. The Ben Rust Award landed on the shoulders of San Jose Evergreen Community College instructor Mark Newton (see accompanying article).
Running as a theme throughout the convention was support for the Budget Majority Act, in process of circulation en route to the November Ballot. Delegates signed petitions at a table staffed by CFT activists, and took stacks of the petitions with them from the convention. Workshops on education and union topics gave delegates insight into those issues, and numerous evening receptions and parties provided some down time and space to get to know one another off the convention floor. In all, the convention provided CFT members with some momentary shelter from the social and economic storms besetting their everyday work lives, and during its three days, demonstrated the truth of CFT president Hittelman’s conclusion to his State of the Union speech: “We, in the union movement, are the major force in the creation of a civilized society.” By Fred Glass
Ben Rust award recipient Mark Newton Mark Newton, one of the founding members of the San Jose/Evergreen Faculty Association, AFT Local 6157, was for seven years its first president. Mark’s first taste of union activity was not a positive experience. The local was an independent association. The union was fractured, quarreling internally and not serving the needs of the faculty. Its influence within the district was almost nonexistent. Enter Mark Newton. He ran for the presidency of the union with the best of motives: to help the faculty receive fair contracts, more respect and better pay and benefits. Soon the union regained its unity, direction and momentum and won the first big raise in years, for both full-time and part-time faculty members. By the beginning of his third year he and other executive board members were finishing negotiations with CFT representatives to form AFT 6157. The ratification vote was 97% in favor of affiliation. Mark’s leadership and commitment to union processes, and the power of the AFT/CFT, has made life better for the faculty and changed the tenor and tone of the environment in the district. Trustees call the union to discuss issues; in years past they wouldn’t even
return the union’s phone calls. The administration is more responsive and more collaborative than at any time in the district’s history. Mark also served as a member of the South Bay Labor Council and was elected to that council’s executive board. He has been an important asset to CFT in his efforts at organizing other locals up and down the state of California. Mark is a soft-spoken biologist who has garnered enormous respect from his colleagues and students. A leader in his department, he has worked diligently to develop the plans and insure that the new Science building at San Jose City College was built with full time, adjunct faculty and students in mind. His calm analytical mind and decisive style is just what the union needed and what is still producing big benefits. Last but not least Mark is an excellent educator. He is one of the key faculty members in bringing the “Achieving the Dream” program to our district and also continues to serve as a member of the Academic Senate. Mark epitomizes what is right about unions.
Ben Rust recipient Mark Newton, with wife.
[edited transcript of remarks delivered by current Local 6157 president David Yancey at the Ben Rust Luncheon]