Advocacy, the garnering of support for a particular cause or policy, is a core purpose of both CTA and CCA. In the CTA bylaws, Article I, Section 2.a describes a purpose of CTA to “secure unified planning and action on all matters pertaining to public education.” In the CCA bylaws, Article I, Section B.2 calls upon CCA “to advocate equally for all faculty in the Community Colleges at the local, state and national levels.” When the name of this newspaper is the Advocate, you can tell that advocacy is important. In this article, I’d like to describe how CCA has been helping to advocate for you, and how you can help advocate for all of us.
At the individual level, advocates are needed to guide unit members through difficult situations. That is why our winter conference in February highlights advocacy training. Only a few faculty each year at each college will have a grievance against their administration or will be called in for an investigatory interview. When that happens, though, it is valuable to have trained leaders who can guide and support members through these processes. At our most recent winter conference, we had training on both grievance advocacy and investigatory interview advocacy. You should ask your local president who on your campus has been trained in such advocacy and how recently have they been trained.
If you are a leader or future leader at your local, I encourage you to consider attending these trainings next year.
At the union level, CCA advocates on behalf of community college faculty within CTA. While our K-12 siblings are generally interested in our work, many of them know little about our issues. CCA has been hosting informational tables at CTA events for several years now, and we make a point of interacting with CTA leadership so that they have a clear understanding of our needs. The 25 higher education members of CTA State Council also advocate our positions while working on their State Council committees.
Statewide, CTA’s Governmental Relations Department (GR for short) employs six professional legislative advocates, and two of them, Katie Hardeman and Patricia Rucker, interact with the California Department of Finance and the California Legislature on behalf of community college faculty. We meet with our advocates often and count on them to do a large share of this work, which includes meeting with governmental staff and legislators in order to present our positions.
Still, legislators really like to hear from their constituents, and CCA will be more successful if you help. If you live in a district that has a legislator on an educational or fiscal committee, you will from time to time receive an email asking you to make phone calls for or against a measure. Please take the few minutes necessary to do so. If you are asked to send an email about a bill to your local legislative office, please do so. It matters. We are also looking for members who are willing to visit their legislator’s offices in person. Please let Vice President Randa Wahbe (firstname.lastname@example.org) know if you can attend a meeting with her and your local legislator.
In just a few weeks, I will be welcoming the delegates from your local to the CCA Spring Conference. We will network, we will learn, and we will advocate, but those present will only compose about 1% of CCA’s total membership. Come advocate with us!