Welcome back! I hope you’re well rested after a relaxing and rejuvenating summer and that the semester is off to a productive and engaging start.
The summer kept PFT busy. Janus v. AFSCME was decided June 27, just as faculty settled into their summer break. This Supreme Court case, brought by right-wing, anti-labor groups, overturned a 41-year-old precedent that allowed unions to collect fair-share fees from unit members. In response, we held more membership drives (at BCC and Merritt) and even made house visits around the Bay Area . The work that we did has brought PFT’s membership rate to almost 85%,- a figure that shows the administration that we’ve chosen to stand strong together!
Summer board meetings provided another opportunity to stand together. Over 30 students and faculty attended each session to insist that budget cuts, announced just after the close of the spring term, be made away from the classroom. The concerted action led to a reversal of the discretionary cuts that threatened to turn off the lights at the colleges. We’re grateful to everyone who took time to stand up and fight back.
Still, budget woes are sure to continue into the 2018-19. The district is trying to pass two initiatives in November: a new bond measure and an extension of the parcel tax. Over the summer, PFT was involved in a variety of discussions focused on accountability and the proper use of parcel tax monies. We are hopeful that the promises from the district office, to spend funds in the classroom, will come to fruition. Even with the parcel tax and bond measure in place, the PCCD budget situation seems dire. PFT continues to argue that faculty and staff are underpaid and that the district relies too heavily on a part-time workforce, a group that is not provided with sufficient benefits, job security, or fair wages. The data are clear: Peralta has a large, well-paid administration that relies heavily on expensive outside consultants.
As we enter into our last year of our current contract, budget issues will be central. Negotiations will be difficult as long as district pleads poverty. But we’re not a poor district and so we must stand together and hold our administration accountable. Together, with our supermajority and actively engaged membership, we can secure significant improvements. Stay tuned for opportunities to weigh in on union priorities, educate each other on issues, and volunteer to get involved.
November will find us at the polls, so the runup to the midterms will be busy. We have three board members up for reelection, the hope of a blue wave across the country, more than 20 ballot initiatives (including our own parcel tax and bond measure), and an important race for the State Superintendent of Public Education. Look for announcements about phone banking, precinct walking, and perhaps even a bus trip or two. And, of course, mark your calendar to vote on November 6!
With these myriad challenges, it’s vital that faculty stand together; and PFT offers the best opportunity for faculty organizing and action. This year, with contract negotiations getting started and so many continuing budget issues, it’s especially important that we engage and work together. To that end, we have a number of gatherings already planned for the upcoming semester. We urge you to participate in and build your union by attending these events and speaking up.
Bring the family to our Labor Day Cookout on Monday, Sept. 3 from 11:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. in the Laney Bistro. An RSVP is required to attend. This celebration of the Labor Movement is organized in collaboration with Berkeley Federation of Teachers, Oakland Education Association, AFT 2121, CFT, and the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees.
Welcome back happy hours from 4-6 p.m. during the second & third weeks of school:
- Wed., Aug. 29: Monaghan’s – http://www.monaghansoakland.com
- Th., Aug. 30: Rockwall – http://www.rockwallwines.com
- Wed., Sept. 5: Eureka – http://eurekarestaurantgroup.com/blog/locations/berkeley
General Membership Meetings:
- Tues, Sept. 11, 12:00-1:00 p.m. at BCC
- Tues., Dec. 6, 12:00-1:30 p.m. at Merritt
- Tues.., Oct. 16, 12:15-1:15 p.m. at COA
- Tues., Nov. 13, 12:00-1:30 p.m. at Laney
Presidential Office Hours – Wednesdays from 10-2 starting in October:
- BCC: 1st Wed. of each month in room 341A
- COA: 2nd Wed. of each month in room C-201
- Laney: 3rd Wed. of each month in room A-237A
- Merritt: 2nd Wed. of each month in room S410
PFT’s Executive Council meets on the first and third Thursdays of each month 3-5 p.m. at our offices (500 E. 8th St., catty corner from district A&R); all members are welcome and encouraged to attend. And if you can’t attend a meeting, reach out to one of your EC representatives (click here for the representative contact list) and ask about opportunities to get involved.
I am wishing you a productive, engaging, fruitful year ahead. I hope to see you, stand by you, and work with you as we move forward together.
Jennifer Shanoski, Ph.D.
President, Peralta Federation of Teachers, AFT 1603