BY HOWARD BLUME, STAFF WRITER DEC. 6, 2022 5 AM PT

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-12-06/l-a-teachers-union-is-demanding-a-20-raise-and-rallies-to-step-up-contract-talks

The Los Angeles teachers union is pressing its demands for a 20% raise over two years, smaller class sizes and a steep reduction in standardized testing — the latest stress test for the nation’s second-largest school district and Supt. Alberto Carvalho as the system struggles to address students’ deep learning setbacks and mental health needs in the wake of the pandemic.

For United Teachers Los Angeles — which staged three simultaneous rallies Monday across the vast school system — its contract platform speaks to the intense pressures that members say are pummeling their profession, leading to dire teacher shortages in California and throughout the nation. Ongoing economic uncertainties and the high costs of living and housing in Los Angeles have intensified their focus on contract talks as teachers worry about career sustainability and increasing workloads.

“When you can’t even afford to live when you work, we got a problem y’all,” UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said in impassioned remarks that closed the rally outside district headquarters just west of downtown. “This district has had seven whole months to address the educator shortage and to make sure that every student has a classroom teacher, every student has a school nurse, every student has a counselor and a librarian and mental health support.”

Speakers at the rally included newly elected school board member Rocio Rivas, who benefited from a multimillion-dollar independent campaign on her behalf from the teachers union.

While Myart-Cruz sought to fire up her rank-and-file, school district officials sought to tamp things down.

“Los Angeles Unified continues to meet with our labor partners regularly,” according to a statement the district issued in the afternoon. “We respect and acknowledge the dedication of our employees and the need to compensate them fairly in this current economic environment. We remain dedicated to avoiding protracted negotiations to keep the focus on our students and student achievement.”

At the rallies, participants focused on record multibillion-dollar reserves, with the message that if teachers and other employees can’t be rewarded and helped now, then when would it ever be possible?

Carvalho, in turn, has focused attention on potential difficulties ahead. Financial forecasters, including the state legislative analyst, warn of an economic downturn just as one-time COVID-19 relief aid is winding down. A raise that is affordable in 2022 must still be paid for three years from now — when money is likely to be tighter, and when steadily declining student enrollment could create more financial pressures.

The L.A. Unified labor actions come as a massive strike among UC academic workers enters its fourth week, with 48,000 teaching assistants, tutors, graduate student researchers and post-doctoral scholars also decrying the high cost of California housing in their demand for a significant pay increase, along with more support for child care, healthcare and transportation. The workers have rallied on campuses throughout the state for several weeks and held sit-ins on Monday, with sides far apart on money.

A common theme for both unions has been the high cost of living in the region, which teachers brought up repeatedly at the downtown union rally.

“As someone who’s new to L.A., teachers do not make enough money to live in the city at all,” said Nekhoe Hogan, a third-year teacher at Manual Arts High School, south of downtown. “The public needs to recognize that teachers are asking for basic necessities, and then to have working conditions be normal — not too many kids in the classroom, not too many administrative things to take care of that prevents them from actually doing their job just teaching kids.”

Other factors also are making the job challenging, including working with students who are behind academically and have greater emotional needs because of pandemic hardships.

“There are many things that they should know currently that they don’t know,” Hogan said. “And so I feel a sort of responsibility to make up two years of education within a semester essentially — and that’s impossible.”

The rallies included parent supporters. Some other parent leaders, who did not attend, are concerned about labor strife leading to more potential learning disruptions. The previous contract settlement was reached only after a one-week strike in January 2019.

Families “are tired of the politics and endless chaos,” said Christie Pesicka, a spokesperson for a parents group that has been critical of the teachers union. “Enrollment is plummeting. By the time the bickering settles, there may not be enough students left for LAUSD to remain solvent.”

Negotiations with United Teachers Los Angeles are relatively distinct. Beyond seeking a pay increase, the union is pushing for changes in the way students are schooled in their “Beyond Recovery” platform, which aims to “ensure our neighborhood public schools meet the unique needs of students, families, and educators in each community.”

Saying that standardized assessments take valuable time from learning, the union is calling for elimination or dramatic reduction of such tests when they are not required by the state or federal government.

Carvalho has acknowledged that such assessments are not always well organized or consistent from one region of the district to another, but has defended their intent. The tests are used as fundamental measures to guide instruction across the system, especially under the data-oriented Carvalho.

Some of what the union frames as demands are in line with district goals, such as expanded access to dual-language programs and more ethnic studies classes. Like the union, the district supports putting a full-time nurse in every school, but hasn’t been able to hire them in a competitive job market.

The union wants a class-size reduction of four students everywhere over the next two years. The district wants to target reductions to where it’s needed most — based on academic performance and the percentage of low-income families.

Some critics view many union proposals off topic or the prerogative of management. But even with the bread-and-butter agenda, UTLA is known for pushing hard compared with teacher unions elsewhere — and such is the case with the 20% wage proposal.

The district is so far offering 8% according to bargaining updates that the union posts online.

UTLA leaders take pride in having a curricular and social agenda — the union’s platform calls for installing solar panels and buying electric buses.

The union package also calls for a freeze on school closures — which are increasingly hard to avoid as enrollment shrinks — and an end to “the over-policing and criminalization of students in schools.”

The platform does not explicitly call for the end of school police, although union leadership supports its elimination. A union proposal submitted earlier this year sought to “end all requirements for the engagement of police except where mandated by federal, state or local law requiring the involvement of police.”

The union bargaining platform also calls for the district to “push for” federal “housing vouchers to support LAUSD families” and to “convert vacant LAUSD property into housing for low-income families” — although it’s challenging to see how these elements would be enforced through a teachers contract.

Other L.A. Unified bargaining units have typically benefited from UTLA’s hard line — as their raises and benefits have come to mirror those fought for by UTLA. Another union, however, is independently assertive, Local 99 of Service Employees International Union, which represents the largest number of nonteaching employees, including bus drivers, teacher aides, custodians and cafeteria workers.

Local 99 members include some of the lowest wage earners in the school system — earning $25,000 a year on average for work that is frequently part time. They’ve scheduled their own rally for next week.

In the big picture, 2022 has been a year of relative labor calm for K-12 education in California.

“Record funding — so many districts are settling early and working collaboratively with employees to improve programs, et cetera,” said Frank Wells, a regional spokesman for the California Teachers Assn. “Others for whatever reason are taking an unnecessarily hard-line approach.”

In particular, Wells was talking about Covina-Valley Unified, where teachers came within hours of going on strike last week. That strike was averted with a tentative agreement. In Glendale, the teachers union and school district are in mediation.

Many of us at El Camino College have attended the University of California. Our friends and family have gone there. Thousands of our students have transferred there.

Currently, the UC Office of the President is engaged in unfair bargaining, refusing to make good faith proposals at the bargaining table in the area of salary and compensation. We encourage you to write UC chancellors in support of our colleagues across the state and lend a hand to those on strike. For the latest details, and ways you can help, you can check these sites:

https://uaw2865.org/

https://uaw5810.org/

For a summary of the events leading up to the strike, you can read the below LA Times article.

Nearly a week into UC strike, little bargaining progress, but support for workers grows

BY SUMMER LINGRACE TOOHEY, UPDATED NOV. 18, 2022 11:20 AM PT

Menelik Tafari, a fourth-year urban schooling graduate student at UCLA, walked off the job Monday with about 48,000 other University of California academic workers to strike for better pay and benefits. Since his daughter was born in May with complications, he said, he and his wife have struggled to pay for the child care she needs.

Tafari, 32, is one of the organizers behind what has been billed as the largest work stoppage at any academic institution. And as the strike entered its fourth day Thursday, halting research and prompting widespread class cancellations across the UC system’s 10 campuses, the workers said their action has brought to light their financial hardships and difficult working conditions.

“Because my daughter was born with complications, we’ve been on seizure watch,” Tafari said. “We have been very lucky because my mother-in-law has been taking over as the primary caregiver. We pay her around $1,500 a month, depending on what’s going on. But if we didn’t have a family member who was willing and able, we’d be paying about $2,500 a month.”

Tafari earns about $2,500 a month as a teaching assistant and said he has taken other jobs to supplement the income and cover the costs of raising his daughter. In negotiations, the university has proposed covering $2,500 a year in child-care costs for postdoctoral scholars, but Tafari said that isn’t enough.

On Thursday, the union representing academic workers said the two sides had made progress on issues of parking and transit, job security provisions and paid time off. But on compensation, a major sticking point, the UC’s slight increase fell short of union demands.

The union said the new offer amounted to raises of about $132 a month for most student researchers, which would leave many workers paying 56% of their income on rent. The proposal also failed to include in the contract any supplemental compensation, which many graduate workers would receive in addition to base salaries.

“We still think this is far from sufficient,” said Rafael Jaime, president of United Auto Workers Local 2865, which represents 19,000 of the striking workers.

Ryan King, a spokesperson for UC, pointed out that the university’s latest proposal eliminates the two lowest salary steps for graduate researchers, which would amount to significant increases for those workers, closer to 20%, calling it a “generous proposal.” But he did say the average increase would be around 8% for most graduate student researchers.

On Wednesday, UC Provost Michael Brown told university leaders in a letter that the union’s pay and housing demands would be an “overwhelming” financial hit that could reach several hundred million dollars a year.

Pushing back, the union said the four UAW bargaining units representing striking workers are asking for a package that would amount to 4.5% of UC’s total budget.

“That’s a fair price to pay for world-class teaching and research,” the union said in an email.

Though UC officials called for a third-party mediator Monday, Jaime said he was glad the university has continued to bargain without one.

Jaime accused UC of dragging its feet, saying the university bargained Wednesday and Thursday with only one of the four striking units: that representing graduate student researchers.

“It’s very inefficient,” Jaime said. “We want to be bargaining around the clock.”

Meanwhile, as polls show U.S. support for labor unions at its highest point in nearly 60 years amid a wave of high-profile campaigns at companies such as Starbucks and Amazon, backing for the UC strike has grown among some students, faculty and workers at other unions.

Faculty members said they’ve held “teach-ins” about the strike or brought their classes down to the picket line, and some professors have canceled classes altogether.

Though lecturers in the UC system have a clause in their contract against canceling their classes in “sympathy strikes,” Katie Rodger, president of the UC-AFT, said the union that represents about 6,000 UC lecturers and librarians is encouraging members to support striking workers by joining the picket lines when not carrying out assigned duties.

Undergraduate support for the strikers has surpassed 16,000 signatures, and the union has received almost 50 letters of support from faculty and departments across the 10 campuses.

Among those departments is the ethnic studies department at UC San Diego, where assistant professor Roy Pérez, said he teaches both undergraduate and graduate classes, including one with more than 400 students that usually has seven teaching assistants.

“UCSD could not meet the educational needs of so many students without the work of TAs,” Pérez said. “TAs’ working conditions should be a top financial investment if the UC system wants to sustain the quality of education it promises while pursuing record-breaking enrollment numbers.”

Nick Callen, a fourth-year undergrad at UC San Diego, said two of his classes have been indefinitely canceled as the strike continues. One of his professors has gone on with business as usual, not mentioning the strike or changing classes.

“I am a little concerned just because it’s close to the end of the quarter,” Callen said of his disrupted classes. “It’s like we’re on hold until we hear something back from the strike. … It is really stressful, but I’m glad that they’re doing it.”

Amina Hearns, a fourth-year UC Riverside student, tutor represented by the UAW and the chair of the UC Student Assn., said there’s a divide between undergraduates in humanities, arts and social sciences who support the strike and students in math and science who tend to be less supportive. She said the divide can be attributed to misinformation from the administration and some of their professors.

“They try forcing this grad students versus undergraduate students,” she said. “Like ‘Look, they’re not striking and not grading your work and that’s why you’re behind.’ And that’s not true at all. The fact that they’re not reading your work is because they’re not getting the demands that they need.”

Teamsters, the union representing drivers and other workers, notified UPS drivers in southern and northern California that they have the right to honor the picket line and not deliver packages to campuses during the strike.

At UC Berkeley, strikers spoke Wednesday morning with workers from the International Union of Operating Engineers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Laborers’ International Union of North America. The union members agreed not to work at the construction site in solidarity with the strike.

The workers are demanding a base salary of $54,000 for all graduate student workers, child-care subsidies, enhanced healthcare for dependents, longer family leave, public transit passes and lower tuition costs for international scholars. The union said the workers earn an average current pay of about $24,000 a year.

UC has offered salary scale increases of 7% in the first year and 3% in each subsequent year for teaching assistants and tutors, and increases for postdoctoral scholars of 8% the first year, 5% the second year and 3% in subsequent years. UC said pay increases would amount to up to 17%, depending on the union.

Between his four-year fellowship and a guaranteed job doing medical education research for the school, Tafari is able to cover the tuition and fees for his program, but because his fellowship is over in June, he said he’ll have to pay about $40,000 a year to finish his degree.

“If you’re undocumented, if you’re poor and an international student, if you don’t come from generational wealth, the odds of you being able to get a graduate degree is slim to none,” he said. That “really makes it so that we have fewer of the best and brightest here, doing the quality research that can transform our society to something that we all can be proud of.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-11-17/uc-strike-little-bargaining-progress-but-support-for-workers-grows

CAMPUS EQUITY WEEK | October 24-28, 2022
The Federation’s Part-time Faculty Committee annually holds a Campus Equity Week (CEW) to recognize the contributions and working conditions of part-time faculty who make up the majority of instructors at El Camino College. CEW is an opportunity to raise awareness of the unequal working conditions of part-time faculty and how those conditions impact student learning and our goals for community wellness. Perhaps even more importantly, CEW is an opportunity to underscore the inequities, such as healthcare, part-time faculty face.  All faculty are welcome to our events!

Be informed and engaged during Campus Equity Week:

More Informed Monday | October 24, 2022

Week-long Virtual Campaign Use these images and virtual backgrounds to change your ECC online profile photos and virtual backgrounds. Show them off throughout this week of education and action.   

Unemployment Benefits Workshop 12 PM – 1 PM | Zoom

Stay informed so you are prepared for what to do if you do not have an assignment.  Register through Cornerstone and receive flex-credit.  Join here.  Meeting ID: 861 2307 6533

Tried and True Tuesday | October 25, 2022

Wear Red + Share out on Instagram Post a photograph of yourself wearing red and tag @eccfederation on IG.  Then, share one thing about your professional life as an adjunct professor on The Federation’s IG.  You will be entered in a gift card drawing.  (The winner will be notified by email and the gift card will be mailed to you.)

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Workshop 4PM – 5:30 PM | Zoom

Learn the ins and outs about this loan forgiveness program.  Register through Cornerstone and receive flex-credit.  

Join here.  Meeting ID: 861 2307 6533

Warrior Wellness Wednesday | October 26, 2022

Part-time Faculty Retirement Workshop 1:30 PM – 3 PM | Zoom

This workshop, facilitated by Grace Chee, part-time faculty and Chapter President at West Los Angeles College, provides tips to navigate the CalSTRS benefits and services for part-time educators. Full-time educators are welcome to attend.  Join here.  Meeting ID: 861 2307 6533 

Closing the Food Insecurity Gap 3 PM – 6 PM | ECC Warrior Food Pantry 

In recognition of our faculty colleagues and students who experience food insecurity, collaborate with the Warrior Food Pantry to help distribute food and toiletries. Sign up here.  Use these answers to complete the sign-up form.

Unable to make it to the Warrior Pantry?  Want to help more ?  Click here for details on the Refugee Supply Drive.  

Thoughtful Thursday | October 27, 2022

Part-time Faculty Healthcare Teach-in 10:30-11:00 AM | The Federation Office Coms 201-D 

Receive updates about the new legislation on part-time faculty healthcare.  Learn how this state-wide win could expand health care coverage for our campus community. Please RSVP here.  

Adjunct Social Hour 11:15 AM-12:15 PM | The Federation Office Coms 201-D 

Rest in community and practice self-care by hydrating and nourishing yourself with light refreshments at the Federation office.  Please RSVP here

Finally Friday |  October 28, 2022

Find your Federation Flow 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM | The Federation Office Coms 201-D

Were you unable to participate this week because of your schedule?  Come by the Federation Office and enjoy some coffee and a donut.  We will find your Federation Flow through conversation and community.

Web: www.aft1388.org **   Instagram: @eccfederation   

**   Twitter: @eccfederation    **   Email: eccfederation@gmail.com

September 5, 2022 update

Because of the mobilization of faculty, family, friends, and allies across the state (see original story and ask below), the California legislature allocated $200 million for PT health care benefits. This historic victory means that community college districts can be reimbursed from this $200 million fund to provide PT health care benefits to their employees, but districts are not obligated to do so.

That means that across the state, local unions need to negotiate with their employers to ensure these funds are used on our campuses. Such a deal seems like a no-brainer. However, in many districts administrators will resist using this money to provide a basic human right.

At El Camino College, the Federation will be negotiating this new benefit for PT faculty and will need your support and help. To get involved in the campaign, please contact the chair of our PT committee, Laila Dellapasqua at vespa250cc@gmail.com

Below is the original story published February 23, 2022.

Far too many part-time faculty in California do not have access to affordable quality healthcare. The lack of healthcare access for many part-timers, a reality made all the more pernicious and conspicuous during a pandemic, is symptomatic of the far-reaching exploitation of contingent faculty. A majority of part-time faculty across California have deemed the creation of a healthcare pool important.1 

In response, CFT launched a state-wide campaign in October 2021 to secure healthcare funding for part-time faculty. This campaign has already achieved a foundational win. In January 2022, Governor Newsom allocated $200 million for part-time healthcare to the state budget. This is significant as it represents an increase of almost 400 times the existing funding for part-time healthcare!2 

But, we have more work to do. We need guarantees that this funding will remain in the state budget. Part-time faculty deserve quality healthcare that is affordable, and we must continue the work for a more equitable higher education system. We are asking our colleagues to please support this effort in the following ways:

1In a 2020 survey, 73% of CFT respondents thought the creation of a healthcare pool was important or very important for part-time faculty. https://www.cft.org/article/cft-launches-campaign-secure-healthcare-part-time-faculty

 2You can read more about the campaign here: https://www.cft.org/article/member-action-leads-governor-pledge-200-million-toward-part-time-faculty-healthcare

Dear colleagues,

What a year 2021 was! We are hopeful and excited about 2022 despite the continued challenges of COVID. Here is the Federation’s 2022 State of the Union Address.

Membership

Federation membership remains strong, though we have a few colleagues who are not currently members. Throughout the spring semester, the Federation will be directly reaching out to our non-member colleagues to discuss the union and the benefits and importance of membership. Strong membership numbers and engaged members will be crucial to negotiating a good 2023 contract.

The Federation’s Financial Health and Discussion of Changing Dues 

The 2020 reorganization of our office and a focus on trimming expenses have strengthened our union’s financial position. Our reserves continue to grow and, according to our accountant, we are much closer to reaching an appropriate level of reserves for a union our size. As a reminder about how our dues are spent, some of our dues go to the California Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers who provide support and benefits. Our dues also go to local expenses such as professional services and maintaining our office. Union Officer stipends come from release time paid for by the District (much like Senate or other special assignment release time), not our dues.

The Executive Board has identified an unfair issue with our current dues structure. We still use a flat monthly dues rate, which is regressive in nature. A FT faculty member making $65,000 a year pays the same dues as a FT faculty member making $85,000 a year; a PT faculty member with one assignment pays the same dues as a PT faculty member with three assignments. In the spring, the Federation will ask members to consider changing to a “percentage of income” rate to replace the flat rate. We can use a percentage of income structure in a way that would not change what the majority of members now pay in dues while a few folks on the edges will pay a little more or a little less every month. The percentage of income dues structure, if approved by members, will be more fair. 

Organizing for a Stronger Voice

The Federation’s Executive Board launched a number of projects to strengthen our union and support our members. The new website has been useful for providing members with union-related information and updates. 

In Fall 2020, we launched Federation Meet Ups in divisions across campus and for Part-time faculty on an experimental basis and in 2021 the number of Federation Meet Ups expanded. These monthly meetings last about 45 minutes and provide an opportunity for members to get the latest Federation and work updates, ask questions, share ideas, and meet up. We see these meetings as crucial to building the kind of union culture necessary for a strong voice on campus. We would like to see these meetings happen in every division and program. We will help you get your division Meet Ups going if they are not happening already—just drop us a note.

In February 2021, the Federation’s Executive Board proposed to the membership some major changes to the structure of the union with the goal of building our union’s capacity. When the members voted to approve the changes, we added officer positions, clarified officer roles and responsibilities, and created a number of standing committees (part-time faculty, organizing, grievance, communications, research, and social). Angela Simon has organized a retiree committee. If you want to lend a hand to the Federation, these committees are a great way to get involved.

In the political arena, Federation members revitalized the Committee on Political Education (COPE), which is a separate legal and financial entity that gets involved in El Camino College BOT elections and local and state elections. The COPE made significant progress in 2020, especially in building relations with the Trustees and community, labor, and political leaders in the South Bay and across the state.

In the 2022 election cycle, the COPE will be active in the BOT elections (2 seats are up this year) and we encourage you to lend a hand. Who our bosses are matters. The Federation is now meeting regularly with 4 out of 5 BOT members as well as the ECC President. These relationships were crucial to the successful reopening of our contract to recover nearly all of the 2020 COLA that the previous BOT and administration refused to pass on to its employees. 

All things Contract: Contract Reopener, MOUs, Pay, and Negotiations

Because of the efforts noted above, the Federation led a successful campaign to convince the BOT and administration to reopen our contract with the goal of recovering the state issued COLAs in 2020. The efforts with the help of Federation and community members eventually led to a combined 7.2% COLA, effective December 1, 2021, for all salary schedules and pay rates. 

Since March 2020, amidst the global pandemic, the Federation negotiated a number of MOUs and held a number of meetings with the district to ensure a safe, equitable workplace, whether we were working remotely or returning to campus. 

The Federation also continues to field questions and handle grievances from members and monitor and enforce our contract. One of the bigger issues we have worked on is ensuring accurate and timely payment for our labor. You should always check your contracts and paychecks for accuracy and if you have questions about your pay, please reach out to us.

Our current contract, which the BOT ratified in October 2020, will expire December 31, 2022. We have sent out a survey to see what is important for our next contract. Please fill it out. We believe we will be in a better position at the bargaining table this time around, but there is a lot of work to get us to that place. Please join your colleagues and step up your participation in the union. The most important determinant of our success in contract negotiations is the attention and active engagement of our members.

Member resources

On our website, we have our current (and older) contract, MOUs for working during COVID, information for filing for unemployment benefits, and more. Use the website to learn more about your rights and benefits as a union member. The resources for calculating correct load and pay will be available soon on our website

The California Federation of Teachers (CFT) has launched a statewide campaign to urge the legislature and the Chancellor’s office to fund part-time faculty health care. After a few years of hard work, including the recent petition campaign, there was movement in Sacramento. In his 2022 state budget, Governor Newsom has included $200 million to help community colleges pay for part-time health care benefits. The next step is to lobby the legislature to accept and even expand on Newsom’s proposal in the May revise. We will keep you posted and may ask for help for this basic economic right to be funded. By the way, the state budget is looking very healthy for the next year or two. 

Hong Herrera Thomas (HIST) put together a really helpful “faculty resource” guide. You can download the guide here:  https://aft1388.org/ecc-faculty-resources

Lastly, we really appreciate the work you do for our students, the college, and the communities we serve. If you ever have questions or want to lend a hand to the Federation, please get in touch with us.

In unity,

The Executive Board

Arlene Holt Baker served as AFL-CIO Executive Vice President from 2009–2013.

Arlene’s commitment to activism on behalf of working families has been a source of strength that has empowered her to overcome challenges and disappointments that might have deterred a leader of lesser mettle.

As a grade schooler in Fort Worth, Texas, Arlene Holt Baker revered President John F. Kennedy. So she was thrilled that her mother got her released from school to travel to the parking lot across the street from the Texas Hotel where she heard Kennedy speak briefly before heading off in his motorcade.

“There was so much hope vested there,” Arlene recalls. “Because we had a president who believed in making things better.” Arlene was back in school by noon, where she heard over the intercom that President Kennedy had been shot. “By the time I got to geography class, they announced he was dead.” It was Nov. 22, 1963.

Were hope the only thing Arlene had to draw on, she might never have risen through the ranks of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) as a grassroots organizer and area director for California to become the first African American Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO. President Kennedy’s death was not the only tragedy that dashed her hopes in those early years.

There was her father’s death in an automobile accident in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination that same year and Robert Kennedy’s assassination not long after.

Inspired to Serve Others

What caused Arlene to persevere through it all was the belief that helping others is a person’s highest calling, a conviction inspired by her mother, Georgia Louise Leslie, a domestic worker who never let Arlene and her six brothers and sisters dwell on the fact that “we didn’t have much. She would always remind us that others were worse off. She sacrificed to pay her poll tax, her church tithe and her NAACP dues, and she really believed in volunteerism.”

Throughout Arlene Holt Baker’s more than 30 years as a union and grassroots organizer, she has put her mother’s inspiration to work helping others help themselves through union representation and political activism.

As an organizer for clerical employees for the City of Los Angeles, she “learned what it really was to empower people,” she says. “Economic empowerment occurs through collective bargaining and having a voice at work.”

She shares with AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka a commitment to inspiring a new generation of union activism. “The future of the labor movement,” she says, “is young people. Our workforce today is dynamic – younger, more diverse, more people of color. The only way to grow a movement that has the strength that we had in the Thirties, Forties and Fifties is to tap into the energy and cultures of the emerging workforce.”

Arlene will build on her legacy of inspiring activism and reaching out to diverse communities to support the needs and aspirations of working people.

Organizing Activism

Holt Baker got her first job in high school through President Lyndon Johnson’s poverty initiative. Working after school at the $1.40-an-hour minimum wage, she made more than the $6 a day that her mother earned as a full time domestic worker.

She began her work in the labor movement with AFSCME in Los Angeles in June 1972, coincidentally in the same month that William Lucy took office as AFSCME’s Secretary-Treasurer, the first African-American to hold one of that union’s top offices.

Seeing his picture being put up in AFSCME’s Los Angeles office, her undying optimism was reinforced.

“I felt somehow that it was destiny to be there with an organization that believed in social and economic justice.”

She moved through the ranks of AFSCME and, as an organizer and international union representative, was successful in helping to organize public-sector workers in California and helping them win contracts that provided better wages and pay equity for women.

Rewarding Results

Visiting some of these workplaces years later, she saw how having a union contract had “given women the opportunity to buy first homes, first autos, to send their kids to college. It was uplifting.”

As AFSCME’s international union area director in California from the late 1980s to 1995, Arlene worked with AFSCME councils, locals, labor councils and allies advocating for working families.

During that time, she was appointed by then-California Speaker of Assembly Willie L. Brown Jr. to serve on the Comparable Worth Task Force Committee and also sat on the board of directors of the Southern California Industrial Relations Research Association. She has received numerous civic awards for her work as a labor and community advocate.

Political Activism

Also in California, she helped run AFSCME’s political activities, working with AFSCME council and local leaders to mobilize union voters in numerous national, statewide, county and municipal elections.

She was an active member of the California Democratic Party, serving as a state delegate to the Democratic National Convention for the elections held between 1980 and 1996 and as first vice chair of the state Democratic Party from 1993 to 1996.

In 1995, Arlene came to the AFL-CIO as executive assistant to Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson. Working in 1998 for the first time with current AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, Arlene’s successes included the campaign to defeat the anti-worker California Prop. 226, which was designed to weaken the voices of union members in the political process. She also was instrumental in organizing labor’s massive support for the more than 20,000 migrant workers who pick and process strawberries in California, as the workers struggled to join a union through the Farm Workers.

Community Activism

As Assistant to the President of the AFL-CIO, Holt Baker became the first director of the AFL-CIO Voice@Work campaign in 1999. Holt Baker launched a dynamic movement to engage elected officials, clergy members, community leaders and others in support of workers’ freedom to form unions. In 2000, she ran the federation’s member education and get-out-the-vote effort in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and later coordinated the AFL-CIO’s Count Every Vote activity in the Florida recount.

Beginning in 2004, Arlene served as president of the nonpartisan voter education and mobilization effort Voices for Working Families, which registered and mobilized thousands of women and people of color to vote in under-registered communities.

She returned to the federation in 2006 to lead the AFL-CIO’s Gulf Coast Recovery effort. That work has included partnering with the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust’s Gulf Coast Revitalization Program and the Building Trades Gulf Coast Pilot Project to bring affordable housing and good jobs to people in the region – working closely with national and local advocates in fighting for the just rebuilding of the Gulf region.

On September 21, 2007, Arlene Holt Baker was unanimously approved to fill out the term of retiring Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson, becoming the first African American to be elected to one of the federation’s three highest offices.

Serving as Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO, Holt Baker used her voice and her platform to advocate for the rights of workers to organize, health care reform, fair trade, immigrant rights, LGBT rights, voting rights, and the right for all union members to be able to fully participate in democratic unions that reflect the rich diversity of the workplace.

A RESOLUTION of the El Camino College Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1388 (ECCFT) to declare the lives of Black, Indigenous, and all Peoples of Color (BIPOC) matter; and

WHEREAS, we uphold the ideals of equal justice under the law, racial justice, and human dignity for all of our students and faculty; and

WHEREAS, allowing injustice to go unchallenged violates our principles; and

WHEREAS, racial inequality has always been a favored tool of those who wish to weaken and divide working people; and

WHEREAS, the Black Lives Matter movement has gained powerful traction in conjunction with recent tragic events involving, in particular, police brutality and institutionalized racism that target the BIPOC community; and

WHEREAS, we also believe that the growing divide between “haves and have nots” in American society undermines the realization of the belief that BIPOC lives matter in the actual workings of the criminal justice system, our schools, and workplaces; and

WHEREAS, we experience the toxic impact of the intersection of racism and poverty in too many of our students’ lives and in our classrooms; and

WHREAS, while we profoundly believe and insist that the lives of our BIPOC students and faculty matter;

WHEREAS, we express solidarity with the thousands of protesters throughout the Nation who are peacefully expressing their outrage and frustration at the deaths of unarmed Americans; and

WHEREAS, we support and express solidarity with the El Camino College Academic Senate’s resolution, to declare that the lives of Black students matter; and

WHEREAS, the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubrey, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and too many others are indicative of a growing social-economic division that threatens the current and future well-being of our academic community;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the ECCFT affirms its commitment to support policies and practices designed to dismantle structural racial inequality; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the ECCFT will continue to fight for equal opportunity in employment, housing, education, and the funding of public services, and to ensure that all citizens are treated with the due process that is their legal right; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the ECCFT will continue to support the Black Lives Matter movement and other racial justice organizations; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the ECCFT will confront and work to eradicate racial prejudice, bias, aggression and structural inequality in our colleges and workplaces; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the ECCFT will work to tackle the inequities that result from institutionally racist policies and practices in our colleges and workplaces, including hiring practices; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the ECCFT will oppose policies created to marginalize BIPOC communities. We choose not to accept these conditions, as they exist, but to accept the responsibility for changing them in our colleges and workplaces; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the ECCFT encourages members to add to their curricula concepts of equal justice under the law, of racial and social justice, and of institutional racism in their classrooms and other academic spaces; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the ECCFT urges our members to engage in intentional learning spaces to organize for racial justice with recognition of the interconnected nature of racism coupled with systems of oppression that impact people based on class, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability and language; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the ECCFT recognizes that the fight for civil rights and equality is as real today as it was decades ago and urges members to take initiative in collaboration with local and national organizations fighting for racial justice against the harsh racist practices to which many BIPOC people are exposed. No matter who you are, Black lives matter, and a system of fair, transformative, and restorative justice that is accountable to communities is something to which each of us has a right; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, the ECCFT will join with other labor and educational groups to call for the creation of a national model for community policing and well-funded, thoughtful programs that divert marginalized young people into academic and career programs and for an end to systemic and institutionalized racism.

Adopted by the AFT 1388 Executive Board June 9, 2020.

The El Camino College student newspaper has published a series of articles on the Federation’s efforts to recapture COLA for faculty. Most articles were authored by journalism student Elizabeth Basile, who attended every on-campus event we hosted from start to finish.

We believe it was a collective effort on the part of faculty, Federation leadership, and supporters that helped us reach an agreement. We thank The Union for its attention to our fight. Below is the complete list of articles published in October.

Negotiations on COLA leads to more negotiation and campaigning

Written by Elizabeth Basile. Published October 6, 2021

El Camino College has enough in reserves; pay faculty what they deserve

Written by Editorial Board. Published October 6, 2021

El Camino College Federation of Teachers holds second educational campaign on campus

Written by Elizabeth Basile and Jose Tobar. Published October 9, 2021


The El Camino College Federation of Teachers reaches agreement with District over COLA

Written by Elizabeth Basile. Published October 14, 2021



El Camino College Federation of Teachers gathers in response to agreement reached on Oct. 13
Written by Elizabeth Basile. Published October 20, 2021

On Thursday September 30th faculty gathered on campus to focus on COLA negotation efforts. Student journalists were there to cover the event. See the article published by The Union on October 3, 2021.

In addition to the article, we have a video for you to watch about the event. The Federation leadership was please to see the degree of support we had from faculty, staff, students, community members, faculty family, and even a trustee from a local K-12 Unified School District. Contact us for information on our next event.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @eccfederation or join our facebook group.

The Federation has worked for several months to reopen Article 10 (Compensation) of our 2020-2022 contract with the goal of negotiating the 2019/2020 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of 3.26%. We are pleased that President Thames and the Board of Trustees (The District) have agreed to re-enter negotiations.  

During the 2020-2022 contract negotiations, the District’s negotiating team contended that it had already spent the salary portion of the 2019/2020 COLA on other expenses and that massive budget shortfalls were impending. In response, the Federation’s members voted to forgo a salary increase in 2020 in support of the El Camino College community. 

The District’s reserves (savings in the bank) are on track to grow from $28.5 million (2018/2019 actuals) to $56.2 million (2021/22 projected) after accounting for the Federation-negotiated 5.07% COLA that will take effect January 1, 2022.   

The Federation proposed a retroactive 3.26% COLA increase to our salary schedules, effective January 1, 2020. This is estimated to cost the District about $4.4 million. However, the District’s offer was a one-time payment significantly less than the District has received from the state. 

The Federation’s negotiating team did not accept this offer because it is drastically less than what faculty at nearly every other campus in the state have received–most have received the full 3.26% COLA. 

Another negotiations meeting is scheduled for Monday 10/4/21. Please get involved with the Federation so we can work together to address this problem.