Dear faculty colleagues,

Physical and mental health have been top of mind for most of us since the pandemic began—and all of us know too well that our communities are still confronting significant health struggles. We are writing to share a free mental health benefit available to all working AFT members, and to ask your help making sure workers across California have access to the paid sick leave they need to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy.

First, our national union launched free Trauma Counseling in April 2020. AFT’s program provides up to 21 hours of counseling for members experiencing trauma of many types—including secondary trauma. Secondary trauma within the context of this benefit is the emotional duress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another. This secondary trauma can also be known as compassion fatigue. As community college faculty, we frequently experience secondary trauma—never more so than in the last 18 months. We know that the coming year will be even tougher, so AFT and our local are here for you. To see more about AFT’s Trauma Counseling and how to access it, click here, or visit For more instructions on how to register for AFT member benefits, see here.

Second, we are asking all AFT members to take action now to extend emergency supplemental COVID sick leave in California. In less than 30 days California’s emergency supplemental COVID sick leave will expire if our elected officials in Sacramento don’t act. Without an extension, many California workers will be in danger of losing their jobs if they are unfortunate enough to get infected with COVID. School workers without sufficient sick leave will also be at risk of losing pay should they become infected with COVID. And with most kids still too young to qualify for vaccinations and parents already receiving notices of quarantines and classroom closures, parents are at risk of being terminated or forced to quit their jobs to care for their children unless emergency supplemental sick leave is extended. Click here to tell California’s elected leaders to extend emergency supplemental COVID sick leave now! This link provides a pre-written letter you can edit, and automatically sends to your state legislators based on your address. The whole process takes 30 seconds or less.

Thank you, as always, for all you do for your students, colleagues, and families. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch and let us know how we can support you.

In solidarity,

Marianne Kaletzky, Executive Secretary
pronouns: she/her/hers