More opportunities for support
Spurred by the successes of working in coalition with other labor unions, several local CCA chapters have further strengthened their relationships by joining their local Central Labor Councils.
“We’ve received a lot of support from the Central Labor Council in our area,” said Eric Maag, president of the Southwestern College Education Association in Chula Vista. “During our last board of trustee election, they contacted us to provide volunteers to walk precincts for our board candidates. It’s been another important community connection.”
Joining the local Central Labor Council essentially means CCA chapters becomes a member of the AFL-CIO, a membership that some 20 CTA chapters have found to their benefit.
“It’s important to be politically connected and to form alliances with other labor unions,” said Josue Arredondo, a part-time English instructor at Southwestern College. Arredondo regularly attends meetings of the labor council’s political organizers’ meetings. “If we are all working together to elect candidates, it’s another way of holding elected officials accountable.”
The Hartnell College Faculty Association in Salinas joined its Central Labor Council back in 2006, after local labor activists mobilized to support the first-ever strike by Hartnell instructors.
“Hartnell College was actually the first faculty and teacher association to join the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council,” said Christine Svendsen, president of the Hartnell College Faculty Association. “The hard work of other local organizers convinced us that joining the labor council would bring union clout with it.”
Labor support was critical to the success of the 2006 strike, Svendsen said. Among their activities were convincing other union members not to make deliveries to campus.
“The labor council stayed in close contact with me so we could alert the membership on a moment’s notice when we were ready to go out on strike. Their communication system was excellent and they worked to get bodies on the picket line quickly,” she said.
The faculty association has been engaged with the labor council since then.
“The message is that we need to help each other,” said Ann Wright, former association president who is one of four Hartnell delegates that attend the monthly CLC meetings.
Joining the picket lines
Earlier this year, Hartnell faculty joined in picketing a Carmel hotel that had fired its union employees and replaced them with non-union workers.
“That hotel hasn’t budged, but other hotels have thought twice about it, and have negotiated fair contracts with their workers,” Wright said.
More recently, Wright joined with the CLC and the local faith-based organizations to educate local residents regarding the Affordable Care Act.
Faculty at Long Beach City College had a robust discussion at its Rep Council before deciding to join the labor council recently.
“It was very important to have everyone discuss the issue but in the end, all agreed it was a great idea,” said CTA Long Beach City College President Lynn Shaw.
A onetime steel worker and tradeswoman now teaching at Long Beach City College, Shaw says she understands that faculty don’t always view themselves as union members.
“We have to do a cultural shift about unionism,” she said. “There’s sometimes an elitism on our part about being ‘professional.’ It’s time for us to call the association what it is – a union!”
CCA President Lynette Nyaggah encourages more alliances with local labor councils.
“CCA leadership supports their chapters’ membership in the AFL-CIO, because they know how powerful these alliances can be in supporting the work we do. Right now many of our chapters are engaged in Board of Trustee campaigns. When they have the power of other unions behind them, they have more boots on the ground to win their elections,” she said.
For more information on joining local labor councils, email the CCA President at firstname.lastname@example.org.