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.