A message from President Ishaque

Hello AFT 1521A Member(s),

Please accept my deepest gratitude for putting your trust in me as your new President. It is indeed a humbling privilege. After taking oath of office, my personal pledge to our members is that they will receive the best representation possible.

If I haven’t told you this already, please know how proud I am of our members and their awareness to know the importance of a union by electing the best team possible across the District. Welcome to all new representatives and I am excited to serve the members with this brand-new team.

You will see a few things change with your union. As always, it will be my continuous goal to listen to the members and let their voice be the guiding principle. Having said that lets us talk about reality in our District, our great State of California and the Nation.

We have a brand-new team of leaders coming in one of the most difficult times labor has ever seen. Our union has gone through many challenges in the past two years, the financial situation of the State is in question, the COVID-19 virus is threatening our lives and livelihood, the District wants to implement changes in the way classified work and there have been proposals to reduce our health benefits. As if all this was not enough, we are in contract negotiations where the employer can attempt to take back what we have achieved by hard work of more than 35 years.

We have been known as a Strong Union and are famous for our resilience and strength during difficult times. Some may attribute this to an individual or a group of individuals. In reality, this is our collective achievement and it is our members’ strength and resilience which makes us famous.

Today, AFT 1521A is not only alive and healthy, they are stronger than ever before. How? The proof of this is in the following facts:

In just the past few weeks,

  • Our HRA card was restored for the next three years. The question of the HRA to be no longer given has been addressed and the new Master Benefits Agreement (MBA) clarifies that HRA will be a negotiated item which cannot be taken away without coming to the Union. Our retirees’ HRA benefits have been restored and they have been made whole. Not only that, we were successful to negotiate that the District pays their Medicare Part B.
  • Personnel Commission revamp started back when you allowed me to serve as your Second Vice President. Today we have a new Personnel Commission Director, one new commissioner and are working on choosing our own commissioner as allowed by the Education Code. The 40-year-old arbitrary methods of doing things has been challenged. We are already seeing positive results for our members even though we are not done addressing our concerns with this entity. Latest development is that the ballot will continue for those who have not been able to vote yet.
  • We have signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the District to give our members a $25 per day stipend if they were required to work at their worksites, restoration of quotas and no loss of pay if they have childcare issues. Further, if you read the MOU you will see that the trainings requested look very familiar as it is the members’ voice being carried.
  • The first day I took office, we signed an agreement with the District that if any changes are made to the job description of our members, they will suffer no loss of pay. So gone are the days when you would lose your educational differential just because now your job classification requires that degree as minimum qualifications.
  • We saved one member’s job and are currently working on saving another one.
  • We heard the members’ concern of inability to reach a live person at AFT office so we have a new phone number for the COVID situation where the members can reach a live person during our business hours. This is in addition to all other avenues that the members have to contact us.
  • We spoke to the Chancellor and have been assured that the District is not considering furloughs and layoffs at least for this fiscal year. AFT 1521A is working with our State affiliate California Federation of Teachers (CFT) to ensure revenue for education by proposing Proposition 15 on this coming November ballot. If Proposition 15 passes, it will generate an additional $12 Billion for the State to fund education and other key services. The best part is, the common person will not suffer any increases in taxes or surcharges as this measure generates revenue by asking big corporations and businesses to pay their fair share in taxes.
  • We are working with our National Affiliate and our mother organization American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to push the government to adopt a sensible and safe return to work process. AFT has come up with a 14-point plan which we will be discussing with our District when the COVID situation allows us to start thinking about going back to our worksites.
  • We stand united in condemning killings at the hands of law enforcement and stand in solidarity especially with our African American Sisters and Brothers. We believe that all lives should be respected and no one should be treated with another set of standards. We are supporting the efforts across the State with CFT to address this situation and to end the status quo.
  • In order to protect our members’ rights as allowed by our contract, we have proposed to the District to extend our contract for another year and to keep the extension two months after the COVID situation ends if that happens within this extended year. We are changing our tone of negotiations to protect our members and to address their immediate issues caused by the COVID virus. For this, we plan to be in negotiations to find ways to protect the classified in the immediate and be proactive rather than reactive. This proposal will be decided upon in the next Board of Trustees meeting on July 8th.

How did we achieve all this in a matter of two to three weeks? This is what happens when the leadership works with the members. The members achieved this by speaking up, defining the issues, providing evidence and walked with the union showing a united front. We acted like a true union and we stood together making each other strong. Our outgoing Administrator, Ms. Ruby Newbold and our former Executive Secretary and now our Executive Director, Steven Butcher, worked tirelessly with the members and the new leadership once it was elected to start resolving issues and bringing results for our members. I am grateful to them and would like to give them my heartiest thanks for all that they have done for us.

This is how we are going to proceed. Remember, its time. Time for our voice to be heard and it’s time for our future.

Very Humbly and In Solidarity,

Suleman Ishaque

President, AFT College Staff Guild, Local 1521A

AFT College Staff Guild | 323-851-1521 | [email protected] | aft1521a.org

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