82nd annual California Federation of Teachers Convention

The 82nd 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.

First Day

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.

Second Day

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.

Third Day

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



2013 CFT Convention

The 81st annual California Federation of Teachers Convention was held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento this year, starting March 15 and ending March 17. Danielle Blanchard, George Torbert, and Mark James Miller attended as delegates from Local 6185.

For us, the highlight of the convention came on the first day, when our local was honored with two first place awards in the annual Communications Award Contest. We won for Best Website, (kudos to Dorran Nadeau, our webmaster!) One of the judges said, “Nice blog-style site that has a clean, uncrowded look.” Mark Miller was also honored with first place in the category of Best Public Relations for the articles he wrote last year in the Santa Maria Times. The judges commented, “Regular op-eds in the local newspaper are a great way to connect with the community…Conducting union education in the pages of the general media is no mean feat.” We are very happy to have been recognized this way and intend to continue with our efforts.

But the convention was about much more than this. The delegates heard rousing speeches from CFT President Josh Pechtalt and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (our national union). Delegates attended workshops on subjects as varied as member benefits, retirement planning, and community organizing. Our victories in the 2012 election were celebrated, but the celebratory atmosphere was tempered by the knowledge that more battles lie ahead. Members who worked especially hard in last year’s elections were recognized and honored for their work.

Among the other notable events of this year’s convention:

  • Josh Pechtalt and Jeff Freitas were re-elected as CFT President and Secretary-Treasurer, respectively.
  • A moment of silence was observed for our colleagues who lost their lives to gun violence last year.
  • Jim Mahler from San Diego was elected President of the Community College Council.
  • A resolution was passed supporting a federal ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.
  • Another resolution called on CFT to support legislation prohibiting workplace bullying by college administrators.
  • Other resolutions called for universal health care in California, reform of the Community College’s accreditation process, and the appropriate use of online instruction.
  • Reports were given on CFT’s legislative and lobbying efforts. Among the bills CFT is sponsoring is one that would prohibit excessive budget reserves by community college districts. Another seeks to place limits on the amount of overload community college faculty can teach.

There is much more but I think this is enough for now. (For more information you can visit CFT’s website: www.cft.org). Next year’s convention is scheduled for March 21–23, in Manhattan Beach, and no doubt it will be as exciting and rewarding as this year’s has been.

Mark James Miller, President, Part-Time Faculty Association of Allan Hancock College, CFT Local 6185, Santa Maria, CA