What is the Better Model?
It is an independent public teacher association that contracts for responsive, superior legal and labor representation for half the dues currently paid in the big union model.
Tens of thousands of California public employees are doing it. Hundreds of public employee associations are independent meaning, they are simply not attached to CTA, SEIU, AFSCME, or one of the other large national and international unions. Public employee associations represent California public employees that work for the state, counties, cities and special districts, including police officers, nurses, mid-managers, firefighters, general employees, and everything in between. There are even public school teachers operating under this model, including traditional public and charter schools.
California Independent Teachers was founded by labor and legal professionals that have been working for independent employee associations for decades. We know that this works; we make our livings from making sure that we provide superior value and responsive representation to our association clients.
How does the better model work?
• Once a bargaining unit of teachers in a school district decides to act and decertify the big union that has been controlling their labor rights, they elect to be represented instead by an independent association made up of all the teachers in that same district. This new independent association has its own set of bylaws and simply replaces the big union with respect to the contract with the District.
• Instead of paying $1,000/year in union dues to support a massive organizational and administrative bureaucracy that siphons away as much as 90% of the money towards the state and national union, you pay dues that are determined locally by you and your colleagues to cover the actual cost of providing the services that you need.
• The independent employee association collects the lower dues and then contracts with labor and legal professionals to provide the representation for the membership.
• Labor professionals provide the research and expertise to educate and advise the association’s negotiating team, as well as handling contract enforcement and grievances.
• Lawyers represent the association and individual members in disciplinary matters and legal disputes, instead of stewards that are often undertrained and always in the difficult position of defending a co-worker.
• The elected Board of Directors sets the agenda and policy of the association, without having to defer to the state or national unions on any matter. An independent association does not mean that current practices or contract provisions are nullified or change, it does mean that the membership does not have to consult with or get approval from anyone before trying something new.
If the association wants to keep dues the same as they are now, they can do so, and then decide how best to allocate that extra money. Some may opt to build up a reserve or contingency fund; others may choose to become more actively involved in local elections, including for their local School Board; and some may decide that they want to make a sizeable direct contribution to a big union in support of their broader political and social agenda (it is unlikely that the donation would be declined…).
This model works. Ask around. Chances are that your local police officers’ association or deputy sheriffs’ association are not affiliated with a statewide or national union (though they probably belong to a lobbying organization and/or legal defense fund) and they pay substantially less than teachers do in dues.
The truth is that CTA and CFT have had a virtual monopoly of teacher representation in California. While we can debate the long term success or failure of such representation statewide and nationally, there is no doubt that locally, the big union model is not responsive, not independent, but very expensive.
Learn more about the CIT Model. Join us at an information meeting, check out our blog, friend us on facebook, or send us an email or call. Take control of your labor representation – and save a lot of money while getting a far better product while you are at it!