Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the California School Employees Association (CSEA).
Name of Union: California School Employees Association
Mission: CSEA represents classified school employees across California in collective bargaining efforts while working to further the professional and legislative goals of its members, students and communities.
Current Leadership of Union: Ben Valdepeña is the 45th president of CSEA. He has worked as a custodian with the Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District since 1983. He has held a variety of elected and appointed leadership positions locally and with CSEA. He also serves as an executive vice president of the California Labor Federation.
Keith Pace serves as executive director, Rob Feckner is vice president of the CalPERS Board of Administration, and Clyde Rivers represents CSEA on the AFL-CIO Executive Council and California Labor Federation Executive Board. The CSEA board of directors is made up of five officers and 10 area directors, all of whom work as volunteers.
Current Number of Members: 240,000.
Members Work As: A wide range of essential work, including security, food services, office and clerical, school maintenance and operations, transportation, academic assistance and paraeducator services, library and media assistance, and more.
Industries Represented: Public schools and community colleges in California.
History: In 1927, a group of custodians in Oakland came together to support another custodian who couldn't afford to retire because California's public schools offered no pension plan. The group formed CSEA to bargain for rights for themselves and other school employees.
In the years after World War II, CSEA's membership grew from 1,400 members to nearly 10,000. In the 1950s, they helped establish the "Classified Bill of Rights," which helped increase benefits and legal protections for classified employees.
After Prop. 13 passed in 1978, CSEA fought budget and program cuts that targeted music, art, athletics and school transportation. In 1988, they helped pass Prop. 98, which established a minimum level of state funding for public schools.
In the ensuing years, CSEA would grow to nearly 800 local chapters. In 2001, it became an independently chartered member union of the AFL-CIO. CSEA fought back against pension raids and voucher campaigns, and worked to maintain and improve school funding to protect crucial services for California students.
Current Campaigns: CSEA has a variety of campaigns to fight outsourcing, promote school safety, protect school funding, and defend against staff layoffs and pension cuts.