September 6, 2012
I recently met with Rafael Ruano, a lawyer, who has a very interesting proposition for the teachers of California. His message in its entirety is pasted in below. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Or if you’d like to speak with Mr. Ruano directly, his contact information is included at the end of his message.
A Better Model
The big teachers’ unions have been taking from teachers for decades, often pushing policies that build their membership and power but don’t necessarily improve working conditions or wages for the very teachers they claim to represent – let alone improve the educational system. The power of CTA in California seems too big, too entrenched to ever change. But what if there was a better model, and the shift to that model could happen one school district at a time?
In California, individual teachers can opt out of paying a portion of their union dues by becoming an agency fee payer. That can save a teacher hundreds of dollars a year, but they are still forced to pay as much as $700 a year or more. Teachers who become agency fee payers also lose many benefits of union membership, including the right to vote on their contracts.
The Better Model is an independent public teacher association that controls its own destiny. By contracting out for expert legal and labor representation, but retaining for its members all policy and decision-making authority, teachers can easily save half of their current dues ($500/year or more) and get better and more responsive representation than the big union model.
CTA apologists will say that such a model would be risky and leave the teachers unprotected by the vast resources of the statewide organization. The thing is that tens of thousands of California public employees are already 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, managers, firefighters, general employees, and everything in between. There are even public school teachers operating under this model, including traditional public and charter schools.
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 it is very expensive.
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.
If you are interested in talking to someone with CIT about their model and about the steps that need to be taken to decertify CTA in your district, go to www.svorcan.info/caindependentteachers or call (888) 993-1600. Thank you.
Would you recommend Goyette & Associates to other teachers associations?
I would recommend the CIT model and G&A to any teachers association who wants experienced professional labor representatives and labor attorneys in their corner. Their daily interaction with individual members and our association’s executive board has created a great working knowledge of how our school operates and the various issues they encounter. This intimate personalized knowledge combined with their experience, expertise, and relationship building has acted as a catalyst for getting our school on track to becoming a highly desirable place to work.
How has your association been helped by having a professional representative guiding you through a contract negotiations?
As a professional educator, my education and training has prepared me for being an effective teacher, however it never prepared me for how to successfully represent employees at disciplinary hearings in danger of losing their jobs or how to prepare and negotiate a comprehensive labor agreement. G&A has brought to the negotiating table an experienced and polished professional negotiating staff and labor attorneys who are experts in their fields and at the top of their game.
What is it like to have the CIT Model working for your association?
Horizon Certificated Employee Association has retained Goyette and Associates since June of 2009. In this relatively short time, G&A has provided our association and its members many comprehensive and competent services by professional representatives including attorneys, professional labor negotiators and access to survey and research departments.
It is great having a multiple labor representatives and attorneys dedicated to our association, its members, and our school. Their intimate knowledge of how our school operates in addition to the understanding the nuances of our labor agreement have changed the dynamic between our school’s administration and our association. In three years G&A has provided exceptional representation for countless grievances, coordinating and overseeing multiple fair association elections, filed several unfair labor practices, provided representation during disciplinary hearings, assisted in the monitoring of school budgets, accounting and business practices in addition to coordinating contract negotiation preparation guidance and successful contract negotiations. G&A’s labor representative assigned to our association provides at a minimum weekly contact regarding personnel issues and any outstanding issues between our association and our school’s administration.
The most impressive aspect of the service provided by G&A is the personal connections they have made with our membership, our association’s executive board, and maybe even more importantly is the mutual bridge of trust, honesty and respect that they have built with our school’s administration and human resources department. The impact of this positive relationship building has had an immeasurable effect on our members, our communication and problem solving with administration, and as a result a better more effective school.
“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