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On The Road

By Mark Smith

In April, I attended the California Faculty Association’s spring Assembly in Sacramento, where CFA members celebrated a recent lobbying trip to Washington DC. A delegation of union leaders, members, and CSU students met with officials in Congress, the Departments of Labor and Education, and the White House.

CFA President Lillian Taiz praised the “inaugural effort,” and reported “getting a great reception from members of Congress and their staffs.”

John Travis, chair of the Political Action and Legislation Committee, agreed, describing this “first trip to Washington, as a good start to our overall political and legislative plan for the future.”

The delegation delivered a simple message on their visits: “The largest public university system in the nation is rapidly being dismantled, and that will undermine the economic recovery of our state and the future of the nation.”

In addition to delivering their message to Washington, CFA used new technologies to deliver reports back to the members in California. They provided updates on Twitter. CSU Northridge member James David Ballard called the Twitter effort “engaging, informative, and it kept our attention since it was focused on our issues.”

This effort complemented the union’s increased use of electronic technology. Last fall, CFA developed a presence on YouTube with a “Cuts Have Consequences” video, still available on the union’s Web site. At the April assembly, CFA staff provided training in Facebook, and launched two new Facebook groups that focus on higher education funding. CFA is committed to incorporating new technologies into its array of organizing tools—something the rest of us may do well to consider.

—Mark Smith coordinates NEA higher ed activities

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