ORGANIZING OUR UNION
Quality Public Education: Local AFT 1493 Launches New Campaign
By Katharine Harer, Co-Vice President & AFT 1493 QPEC Organizer
Who isn’t sick and tired of seeing community colleges get kicked around — budgets for programs gutted while money for thicker and thicker layers of administration miraculously appears; students struggling to find their way while new policies restrict access and encourage fast-track, accelerated learning; faculty forced to take on more and more clerical and administrative tasks squeezing time for instruction, preparation and one-to-one assistance to students. Not to mention the spectre of the ACCJC threatening to sanction and pull accreditation from our colleges. The California Federation of Teachers, our statewide union, has started a new drive to rebuild public education, and our Local is jumping on board.
The First Stage
This spring our goal is to spend more time with members, welcoming new hires and meeting individually and in small focus groups with faculty on each campus. We want to know what’s going on: SLO issues? Impossible workload? Over-committee-d? We envision these individual meetings and focus groups as a more personal way to share information and as an opportunity to connect with our members.
In May we will submit a grant proposal to the CFT for a full-on campaign to take off in the academic year 2014-15. Here are some of the ideas we’ve been considering:
- Working with local community groups on educational issues
- Setting up a lobbying committee to meet with local legislators
- Building a political action network — a coalition of faculty, students, staff, K-12 schools and community groups — to strengthen our political clout
- Creating an AFT 1493 student chapter to get students more involved in issues and actions that affect them
- Organizing forums and town hall meetings in the community with our student and community partners
To build our ability to do these amazing things we’ve listed above, we need to enlist active members and potential leaders to our Local. The more we are engaged with our faculty, our student body, and our local community, the more power we have to rebuild public education on our terms. As Joe Hill put it: Don’t mourn! Organize!