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What is the California Federation of Teachers?

The California Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals affiliated with the more than 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers, and through it with the AFL-CIO.

The CFT comprises the state’s 148 local unions chartered by the AFT. Each local is affiliated with its regional AFL-CIO Central Labor Council and the California Labor Federation.

Through its local unions, the CFT represents more than 120,000 educational employees working at every level of public and private education from Head Start to the University of California.

In all segments of education, the CFT is committed to promoting high-quality education and to securing the conditions necessary to provide the best services to California’s students.


Why is there a CFT?

The CFT was founded in 1919 to provide a labor union alternative for classroom teachers. To gain employee rights taken for granted by other workers, CFT lawyers and courageous teachers tested the courts, again and again, building a strong body of case law. One observer said, “The AFT in California is responsible for having won 90 percent of the cases dealing with teachers’ rights during the 1960s.”

To provide essential workplace rights, the CFT in 1953 introduced the first teachers’ collective bargaining bill in the California Legislature. It reintroduced similar bills for the following two decades until the passage of the Educational Employment Relations Act in 1975 finally brought collective bargaining rights to K–14 teachers and classified employees working in public education. Since then CFT has represented these employees in professional and employment-related matters.

Three years later, in 1978, CFT helped pass the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act, bringing the benefits of collective bargaining to university employees. Today the CFT represents lecturers and librarians at the University of California.