Dec. 2015 Advocate: From election victory to PTer medical stipends


From election victory to PTer medical stipends

By Katharine Harer, AFT 1493 Co-Vice President & Strategic Campaign Initiative (SCI) Organizer

Your SCI organizers, Katharine Harer & Michelle Kern, threw themselves body and soul into the election campaign for Maurice Goodman during September and October.  This gave us a chance to meet many of you as we tabled, flyered and talked up our candidate. (See article, p.1.) At the same time, during National Part Time Equity Week in mid-October, we initiated the next stage of our Part Timer medical stipend campaign, setting up a table at CSM for several days in a row and meeting a number of our part time colleagues.

PT medical stipend campaign
We’ll fill you in on how the PT medical stipend campaign has evolved.  Last school year, Katharine and Michelle worked closely with the AFT 1493 Negotiating Team and Executive Committee to craft the initial stage, with the goal of drawing awareness to the inequities of the Part Timer Medical stipend and to problems with the process of applying for the reimbursement.  We organized a very successful and seriously moving presentation to the Board of Trustees and reached out to our part time colleagues through one-to-one conversations, flyers and articles in the Advocate, as well as during our Part Timer Appreciation events.

As a result of our organizing efforts, AFT negotiators convinced the District to improve the reimbursement stipend, from $600/semester to $1000/semester for three semesters, starting Fall 2015.  Our current push is focused on making sure that our over 700 part-time colleagues know about the stipend, the amount and the eligibility factor, so that they can apply for it.  In the long run, everyone (including the District) agrees that the District needs to find a better way to offer health coverage, such as covering our part-time teachers through a Kaiser plan, and the goal of our negotiators is to move in that direction. Meanwhile, we want to make sure everyone who needs it uses the “new and improved” stipend.  Michelle has created some excellent informational materials that tell part timers about the new stipend and make the application process as smooth as possible.  Contact Michelle for more information: and look for us on your campus.  Note: The deadline to apply for reimbursement for Fall 2015 is Jan. 31, 2016.

Schools Our Children Deserve conference
Plans for Schools Our Children Deserve, the public education conference we’re organizing in collaboration with the Jefferson Elementary and Jefferson High School union leaders for March 19, 2016 at Skyline College, are moving right along.  Go to for more information. Skyline College will co-sponsor the conference and provide breakfast for all the attendees, and it is free of charge if you register up until February 1st.  The awesome Jeff Duncan-Andrade is our opening keynote speaker, followed by two rounds of workshops on a variety of topics of interest to students, families, teachers and community members.   National AFT staff are flying out with information about a special First Book program for K-12. The afternoon ends with a short talk by Josh Pechthalt, the President of the California Federation of Teachers.  Childcare will be provided at Loma Chica, the Skyline childcare center. Mark your calendars for this important event!

“Building Power” campaign
We’re being targeted – for good things!  Katharine was invited to attend a national AFT Political Boot camp in early October where she was trained in the nuts and bolts of campaign organizing with experts from all over the U.S.  She got barked at by New Yorkers and sweet-talked by New Mexicans!  It was a serious blast of information and camaraderie and truly inspiring to meet other union organizers who are working hard for their members.  And — the CFT has chosen our local as one of only 16 around the state to take part in a new campaign called Building Power that will help us reach out to and involve more members (this means you!)  The goal is to strengthen our ability to withstand the ongoing attacks on education, such as the Friedrichs case, currently being considered by the Supreme Court.  If Friedrichs wins, it would do away with agency fee, which is central to helping unions thrive.