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By Eric Kaljumägi

A couple of days ago, I glanced through a catalog and found an advertisement for a black T-shirt on which was written “2020 Very bad. Would not visit again.” I seriously considered buying it. While I could fill this page with reasons why I won’t be missing 2020, I’d rather look ahead to 2021, as the new year promises to earn a much higher rating.

Based on articles in the news and comments from medical professionals such as Drs. Anthony Fauci (NIAID) and Bob Wachter (UCSF), educators are likely to be included in the second or third round of COVID-19 vaccine prioritization. This means that you will likely be offered a vaccination sometime during the spring semester. Thus, while fall 2021 will probably not be “normal,” it will likely be the semester when many of us transition back to in-person instruction. In a recent CCA survey, 69 percent of members found distance education less effective than in-person learning, so I anticipate that many of us will be back in classrooms in 2022. CTA has published standards for bargaining a safe reopening, and all local presidents can get this information through their primary contact staff.

With regard to the state budget, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) now predicts that the state will enjoy a one-time windfall of $26 billion in 2021-22. This is more than enough to cover the $12 billion deferred from K-14 education in 2020-21, and we have high hopes that the deferment will be repaid. In addition, the Prop. 98 guarantees are estimated to increase funding for K-14 next year by roughly 3 percent. While the LAO predicts deficits in the following years, we can take heart that their predicted crash of the stock market didn’t occur. The stock market is strong, capital gains are occurring, and income tax is being provided to the state from these gains. There’s even some talk of a small COLA.CCA’s advocacy work looks to be considerably expanded in 2021. We have identified and trained a local legislative lobby group to interact with our state legislators, and we have asked CTA to help us sponsor legislation that supports part-time faculty parity. In addition, we now have an updated process to include CCA in creating and updating CTA’s higher education policies. Although it looks like one or two State Council seats will remain empty this year, there are enough State Council delegates from CCA chapters to ensure that CTA’s work includes the community college voice.

The training work of CCA should also look better in 2021. After having to cancel our spring conference last April, we figured out Zoom and Webex and learned a lot from our first-ever virtual conference this past October. We expect to have a great virtual conference in January. There will be a new Building Strong Locals academy for those interested in learning about union work, and a variety of sessions on topics including negotiations, grievance processing and social justice. Since there are no travel or meal expenses to reimburse, we do not have to limit participation, so please sign up and take advantage of our conference!

One year ago, I had no idea that I would be soon working out of my garage each day with my physical social circle reduced to my two adult children. Six months ago, I had no idea that scientists would soon smash the record for delivering an effective vaccine against a novel virus. While my personal crystal ball is clearly not helping me predict the future, I think there’s good evidence that our collective viral nadir is right about now and that things should start to markedly improve. We will get through this, and CCA will continue to support your local union and advocate on your behalf. Here’s to a much better 2021!

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