A court ruling on Tuesday striking down job protections for teachers in California deals a sharp blow to unions…
Teachers Vote Out CTA, Opt For Independent Model
Sacramento, CA – In the past few weeks, three different teachers’ groups had the opportunity to vote on whether to continue to be represented by the California Teachers Association (CTA) or be represented by an independent association comprised of their own members. When the votes were counted by officials from the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), teachers in each group voted overwhelmingly in favor of an independent model and against CTA.
Teachers from Corning Union High School District, Millville Elementary School District, and Springville Union Elementary School District submitted petitions to decertify CTA as the recognized representative of their teacher bargaining units. The teachers also indicated that they wanted to be represented by newly created teacher associations that are not affiliated with CTA. Instead, these independent associations may choose to retain a labor law firm to provide them legal services.
“For those of us that supported this change, it came down to saving a substantial amount of money in dues, securing a higher level of service for our members, and regaining control of our Association and our agenda,” states Lance Alldrin, President of the newly created Corning Independent Teachers Association (and former President of the Corning Teachers Association, the CTA affiliate at Corning Union HSD).
California teachers pay $1,000 or more in union dues under the CTA model. Independent teachers associations have complete autonomy on setting dues, but the typical savings is at least $500 per year for each teacher.
“We are excited to be able to partner with some tremendous teachers throughout the state,” says Rafael Ruano, attorney with Goyette & Associates, the Sacramento-based law firm that assisted these three teachers’ groups through the decertification process and is now continuing to represent the new independent associations. “Teachers have been essentially stuck in a monopoly arrangement with CTA charging extremely high dues and providing a level of service that many teachers feel is not a good value,” explains Ruano, “with Goyette, we can provide teachers with ready access to attorneys and tailored representation that allows each association to focus their energy and resources on the issues that matter most to them.”
While CTA is a major player in California politics, that is not necessarily a good thing for some teachers. “While we appreciate the things that CTA does with regard to lobbying for educational funding, many of our teachers felt disconnected to CTA as they have used dues to support social issues that many of us don’t feel have a direct connection to education,” offers Alldrin.
“We expect another round of decertification petitions to be filed next year,” says Ruano, and encourages any teachers interested in learning about the process to visit www.svorcan.info/caindependentteachers.
It appears that Governor Jerry Brown’s recently unveiled 12-Point Public Employee Pension Reform Plan is gaining traction over a wide swath of California voters and not just fiscal conservatives. Periodically the Sacramento Bee publishes an interesting debate between two writers titled “Head to Head.” Head to Head pits conservative Ben Boychuk and liberal Pia Lopez on a wide range of political issues. The November 2, 2011-piece caught my eye. The question debated between Mr. Boychuk and Ms. Lopez was: “Does Brown’s pension reform plan go far enough in curbing costs?” Not surprisingly, Mr. Boychuk says it does not but give Governor Brown credit for a good start. I was most surprised, in fact shocked, that Ms. Lopez supported Governor Brown’s pension reform plan. Ms. Lopez sets forth a thoughtful analysis of the Brown Plan and concludes that while it does go far enough it is in fact a good idea.
Ms. Lopez’s opinions are consistent with a recent LA Times poll which found that over 75% of State Democrats supported significant public employee pension reform. California’s Public Sector employee unions should note the direction of public opinion and plan accordingly. While there seems to be wide public support for the Brown Plan, it still has to pass the Democrat-controlled Legislature before it ever reaches voters as a ballot initiative–a total longshot. Notwithstanding, the Brown Plan is tame compared to other pension reform plans that may show up on next year’s ballot such as a 100% defined contribution plan and mandatory freezes on all pay levels tackling the problem of the massive underfunding of existing pension obligations. Recently, a Little Hoover Commission report found that the ten largest pension plans in California had a collective 240 billion shortfall over the next 30 years. Critics argue that the Brown Plan does not come remotely close to meeting this shortfall.
For today’s California public sector employee union it is imperative that they keep their enemies close and their friends closer.
Can you give examples of individual members that have been aided by Goyette & Associates representation?
When solving individual membership issues it varies greatly. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call for our labor representative to make administration aware of an issue and they can successfully diffuse a situation within minutes. In other situations, when the possibility of someone’s job or more importantly someone’s credential was in jeopardy our labor representative jumped to support and guide our members in addition to meeting with administration to successfully resolve these issues.
Black Oak Mine Teachers- please join us for one of two informal informational meetings near your schools.
- CIT will be at the American River Pizza and Grill in Cool (corner of hwy 193 and hwy 49) at 3:00pm on Wednesday, February 1, 2012. We would love to answer your questions, get your feedback and chat with you about your upcoming contract expiration.
- We will be at Rosie’s Garden Cafe in Garden Valley at 3:00pm on Thursday, February 2, 1012. Goergetown, Golden Sierra and Charter teachers are welome and encouraged to come.
“Our unit grew tired of the inadequate representation offered by our big international union. Goyette and Associates has been instrumental in our transition to self representation. From bylaws to Agency Shop membership, Goyette has helped us through the process of establishing an employee association. They are responsive, accurate, and friendly as well. Goyette has made it clear that they are more interested in a long term relationship with our group than they are in making a few extra dollars. I would recommend Goyette to any employee group looking to take control of their own representation.”
President, Chico Employees Association