Consistent with the themes of the CFT Convention “Organize, Resist” hundreds of delegates marched to the federal building that houses an ICE office to demand protection for our undocumented students. Protecting our students and their families was a critical theme of the entire Convention.
Another important highlight was the appearance of ACCJC Interim President Robert Winn at the Community College Council Friday night. He was met with healthy skepticism around his promises to reform ACCJC into a commission that is transparent, reasonable, and fair to all colleges. “We want to take the fear out of the system,” said Winn. He indicated that they would examine making changes in a number of policies – including the weighting the importance of SLOs reporting in accreditation. Many who spoke up indicated that plenty of damage had already been done to our colleges, and yet, Winn refused to take responsibility for the past sins of the ACCJC. City College faculty spoke in force, echoing the frustration and concerns felt by many colleges. Will the ACCJC give its visiting teams more agency in the process again? Will it take a hard look at the policies forcing colleges to pay into a other post retirement benefits (OPEB)? Will ACCJC stop inserting itself into the collective bargaining process? No definite answers. Time will tell if the ACCJC will address these concerns.
Other convention highlights included rousing speeches by East Bay Assemblyman Tony Thurmond who has been a real champion of labor and education, and by the philanthropist Tom Steyer who decried the GOP’s actions that hurt workers and the environment. In his state of the union address, CFT President Josh Pechthalt recapped our success with Prop 55 which puts $6 billion of progressive taxes toward public education for another 12 years. He and others brought up the need to restore accreditation to Compton College, which lost its accreditation under the ACCJC’s ax over a decade ago.
AFT 2121 advanced two resolutions, one for CFT to building up an organizing model for our unions, the other to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline. On the convention floor, delegates voted in favor of both resolutions. Organizing is essential to keeping our unions strong in the face of successors to the Friedrichs lawsuit that will likely prevail in the Supreme Court. The CFT executive council has developed a strategic plan for organizing to buttress against these potential impacts. Our unions’ strength is derived from our members, more than ever, and the convention reminded us that our greatest power comes through collective action.
AFT 2121 President