Birth of a Chapter
Birth of a Chapter
Why classified employees are choosing CSEA
There are many reasons why classified employees are unionizing with CSEA. But when speaking with some of CSEA’s newest chapters, a common deciding factor emerges from across the Association: the need for classified representation.
In the last two years, CSEA has experienced the largest membership increase since the Janus Decision of 2018. With nearly 10,000 new members joining CSEA’s ranks, this means new chapters have sprouted up in school districts across California.
CSEA represents classified school employees working in diverse learning environments that reflect the needs of today’s students.
From an online community college to a military institute, CSEA’s newest chapters are working hard to establish their union voice and lay a strong foundation to advocate for their classified siblings in the face of a changing educational system.
Hear from some of CSEA’s newest chapters about their path to the nation’s largest union of classified employees, and why they chose CSEA.
Calbright College Chapter 53
Calbright College is one of the most unique learning environments in California. As the state’s only online community college, it serves adult learners between the ages of 25 and 34 using a “competency-based education” model which assesses students based on their skills as opposed to the amount of time spent in class.
“I think there's a unique opportunity here and on a larger scale for CSEA and for Calbright classified employees to help others imagine what the world of community college might look like for years to come.”
- Anya Elder, Chapter President, Calbright Chapter 53
Established in March of 2022, Calbright College Chapter 53 represents classified employees who serve their students entirely online. From student success specialists to counselors and other support staff, the chapter serves as a glimpse into new possibilities for classified employees.
“I think there's a unique opportunity here and on a larger scale for CSEA and for Calbright classified employees to help others imagine what the world of community college might look like for years to come,” said Anya Elder, who works as a strategic initiatives specialist. She serves as the chapter president of Calbright College Chapter 53.
"I know there's a lot of fear about what's to come with technology and budgets and things of that matter, but there's actually a lot of opportunity for classified staff. Our chapter can really be on the cutting edge and help others think about the role of classified employees and how we are helping students succeed.”
Elder says one of the reasons why her college unionized was because of the need for equitable treatment of classified staff within a new learning model. By establishing a CSEA chapter, her classified peers are now able to collectively bargain and represent themselves in all matters concerning classified staff.
“We knew that it was important to organize to make sure that our voices are elevated, and that we show a united front among classified employees so that we know we're important,” said Elder. “We needed that recognition. That was really what kicked it off.”
Meadows Union Chapter 829
Another way CSEA chapters are established is through labor representatives reaching out. This was the case for the members of Meadows Union Chapter 829, established in 2021, who had previously represented themselves but lacked the resources only a union like CSEA can provide.
“I challenge all chapters to take the opportunity to do trainings (offered by CSEA) as much as possible because it'll give you the benefit of knowledge.”
- Thomas Beeson, Chapter President, Meadows Union Chapter 829
“What I saw was that CSEA offers solutions. The union offers avenues of communication to representation outside of your district,” said Thomas Beeson, who works as an instructional aide. Beeson serves as the chapter president of Meadows Union Chapter 829. “If you’re not satisfied with your chapter president, you can reach out to your labor rep or your regional rep. I have learned a lot through CSEA policy and trainings.”
Located just north of the southern border in Imperial County, Beeson says the decision to unionize was because of his district’s high rate of staff and management turnover, leading to unfavorable working conditions for classified employees.
By unionizing with CSEA, his chapter now accesses a wider range of resources that helps them better advocate for classified matters and fully represent classified staff in the district.
“I challenge all chapters to take the opportunity to do trainings (offered by CSEA) as much as possible because it'll give you the benefit of knowledge,” said Beeson. “If you don't use that knowledge, it's worthless, because you have to use it against the (school district). It's there, just do your homework.”
California Military Institute Chapter 778
California Military Institute Chapter 778 is the only CSEA chapter that serves cadets
Located in Riverside County, California Military Institute (CMI) Chapter 778 stands alone as the only CSEA chapter representing classified employees serving cadets.
“The inspiration behind our chapter is to be stronger by numbers and have a voice."
- Rosa Galvan, Chapter President, California Military Institute Chapter 778
California Military Institute (CMI) educates cadets using the structure and principles of Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), combining military-style training with a formal education.
Established in 2022, CMI Chapter 778 chose to unionize with CSEA after hearing of bargaining success for classified employees in neighboring Perris Valley Chapter 469.
“The inspiration behind our chapter is to be stronger by numbers and have a voice. A voice that can be heard. We felt it was past our time to have our own union,” said Rosa Galvan, who works as an account clerk. Galvan serves as chapter president of California Military Institute Chapter 778.
“After so many attempts and for one reason or the other, it would not go past only the talks. It was time to make history in CMI and leave a legacy of being unionized.”
Galvan says a key reason her chapter turned to CSEA was a drastic shift in duties and expectations of classified employees since the pandemic, especially as it pertains to workers' rights.
"Though just like we are similar to many sites, we are also so different. We are not just your typical JROTC; our structure and foundation is that of the military," Galvan explained.
“We hope to achieve a strong sense of support and protection to all classified employees, along with equal treatment, equal opportunities, equal benefits, to be united and to remain in a strong and positive environment.”
CSEA chapters have access to a wide range of resources. From our library of documents and forms to specialized toolkits, we have what you need to create a strong union foundation and take care of CSEA business. Visit csea.com/resources today.