As the 2019-2020 academic year drew to a close, Guild members celebrated the past year’s accomplishments and looked to the future with a mixture of hope and uncertainty.
More than 250 faculty attended the meeting, held virtually on a Zoom webinar on May 29th. Members heard a report from the Contract Action Team (CAT) and an update on contract negotiations. They passed a resolution supporting the people of Minneapolis in their pursuit of justice for the police killing of George Floyd. A resolution to change our bylaws to hold Guild elections every three years instead of two failed to obtain the 2/3 majority needed to pass.
During officer reports, President Joanne Waddell noted that membership continues to grow despite the threat to unions posed by the Janus vs AFSCME Supreme Court decision in 2018. She derided the LACCD Chancellor’s misguided interpretation of AB 705, which deprived some of our students from receiving the remedial education they need to succeed in community college.
Vice President Bill Elarton-Selig and Secretary Mindy Chen discussed the current open bargaining with the District. Treasurer Sharon Hendricks reported that Guild finances are strong.
Guest speaker Jeff Freitas, president of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), addressed potential cuts to education in the proposed state budget and ways of pushing back. He cited the need for both federal stimulus money and state revenues. He lauded the campaign to pass the ballot proposition Schools and Communities First and efforts to eliminate Calbright College and redirect its funding to community colleges.
“We have been lucky in the education world. We have been able to continue to do our job remotely and we have continued to get the funding for this year,” Freitas said. “We are asking our state legislators to pass a tax to fill the hole for next year so there are no cuts to our schools.”
On the subject of potentially reopening schools in the fall, Freitas said that the proposed budget cuts would likely make it impossible for schools to reopen safely. He referenced the AFT’s recently-released “Plan to Safely Reopen Schools and Communities” and its five core pillars.
“Our federal government has resisted testing and tracing,” said Freitas. “Our governor wants to provide the testing and tracing that we need to safely reopen. The decision to reopen cannot be top down from administrators. They have to work with all of you to make sure we reopen in person safely.”
The meeting concluded with the Guild congratulating newly tenured faculty and thanking those who are retiring this semester. A special honor was bestowed upon West’s Chapter President Olga Shewfelt for her years of service to the Guild.