A recently obtained a list of CTA contributions from its Association for Better Citizenship political action committee shows that a proportionally great deal of it is going to San Bernadino and San Fransisco.
For November 2011 local elections, CTA donated $14,432 to county party committees, ranging from $80 to the Tehama County Democratic Central Committee to $3,500 to the Orange County Democratic Central Committee.
In addition, the union PAC contributed $226,542 to at least 63 local elections. These ranged from $350 to the Chualar Teachers Association to support the school board candidacy of Rosalba Moreno to $20,000 contributions each to the United Educators of San Francisco PAC and the San Bernardino Teachers Association PAC (three of four school board winners).
Here’s the full list of PAC contributions to local affiliates and their ultimate destination, if available:
Alvord – $3,000
Baldwin Park – $3,234 ($1,078 each to Jack White, Natalie Ybarra, and Mary Ferrer, school board candidates)
Banning – $2,000
Beverly Hills – $2,000
Brawley – $1,500
Burlingame – $600 (Measure E – education parcel tax)
Chaffey – $4,250
Charter Oaks – $1,800
Chualar – $350 (Rosalba Moreno, school board candidate)
Citrus – $2,000
College of the Canyons – $10,000
Compton – $5,000
Culver City – $3,000 (Nancy Goldberg, school board candidate)
Dixon – $1,400
Eastside – $2,000
El Centro – $500 (Patricia Dunnam, school board candidate)
El Monte Union – $1,500
El Segundo – $2,000
Empire – $1,000
Eureka – $2,500
Fairfield-Suisun – $9,466
Garvey – $1,450
Hacienda La Puente – $4,200
Hart – $8,000 ($4,000 each to Gloria Mercado-Fortine and Steve Sturgeon, school board candidates)
La Canada – $1,000
Laguna Salada – $830 (Yes on L – parcel tax increase)
Las Virgenes – $9,000 (Measure K – parcel tax)
Lynwood – $5,000
Modesto – $9,000
Mountain View – $1,890
Newark – $575 (Measure G – school bond)
Newhall – $4,536 (Measure E – school bond)
Norwalk-La Mirada – $6,300
Oakdale – $4,000 (Synthia Jones – $3,000, Tina Shatswell – $1,000, both school board candidates)
Pacific Grove – $2,000 (Measure V – parcel tax)
Palmdale – $13,500
Perris – $1,000
Pomona – $6,000
Potter Valley – $1,000 ($500 each to school board candidates Tammie Smith and Diane Johnson)
Rio Hondo – $10,000
Riverbank – $2,000
Riverside – $4,000
Rosemead – $500 (Qui Nguyen, school board candidate)
Salinas – $1,600
San Bernardino – $20,000
San Francisco – $20,000
Sequoia – $5,000
South Tahoe – $1,400
Sulphur Springs – $2,200 ($1,100 each to Denis De Figueiredo and Rochelle Weinstein, school board candidates)
Sylvan – $3,436 (Steve Miller – $2,000, Chuck Rivera – $1,436, both school board candidates)
Temple City – $1,925
Ukiah – $3,500
Vacaville – $5,000
Visalia – $3,000 googletest
Westside Union – $1,400
Wilsona – $1,200
In each instance, the above money is in addition to whatever money may be raised and spent by the local affiliate. In large cities, this may be substantial. In smaller towns, this may be non-existent, giving the local teachers’ union power over local elections far beyond its numbers.
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.
Does CTA Have More Clout at the Bargaining Table?
Labor relations in California is very structured with Collective Bargaining Laws in place for all public employees. Collective bargaining for schools K-12 and community colleges is known as the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA) and is contained in the Government Code under Sections 3540-3549.3. All recognized bargaining units in California have the right to meet and confer over terms, hours, wages and conditions of employment. The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) maintains jurisdiction over this legal process. Therefore, the salient question is what does CTA bring to either the bargaining table or political action with our representative School Board that is unique or special?
CTA can provide a negotiator to assist the negotiations team generally made up of subject matter experts, the teachers, and canhelp guide the negotiations process. Likewise, most other public sector unions or associations are represented by professionals at the table who work with their respective subject matter experts (the employees represented). CTA does not have a special stable of negotiators who are the only people that can lead the negotiations team during contract negotiations.
Frankly, if one were to read the Collective Bargaining laws for the different groups of employees in California one would be surprised as to how similar they are. The critical skill needed by the negotiator is the ability to work with the negotiations team to accomplish their local needs. There is not a one size fits all template that can be applied to all school districts any more than it could be applied across the board to all police departments or fire departments. Critical, is experience in the negotiations area and the skill to understand the law and specifically the needs of the local association or union.
Local control is the watchword when it comes to negotiations. What best meets the needs of this group of teachers, rather than the boilerplate that is being put in place everywhere else. The tailoring of the negotiations process to the needs of the local union/association is time consuming, deliberative, and demands individual focus. This is not the time to be buttonholed into some overreaching scheme or approaches that will not work with your board.
Political action with your respective Board of Education is critical to your success. Your local Board of Education sets policy relative to administration and your wages, hours, terms and conditions of employment. Therefore, as stakeholders in the district, once again a local focus is needed. The time spent educating your respective board about the needs of your fellow teachers is paramount. There is not some statewide script that the Board will read that will make them sympathetic to your individual needs. Just the opposite, the law firms that represent the Districts provide them with training in all facets of labor relations and often that training seems somewhat anti-employee. Under the proper guidance of a labor relations professional working with the local union/association, the employee organization works to develop a relationship where they can educate the Board relative to the needs of the teachers in the district. While we compare our wages and benefits with other professionals in other districts, the hard core reality is that we must have a majority vote of “our” board to enhance our prospects and protect our jobs and benefits.
This is not about the appearance of statewide muscle but about the effort that is done locally to develop relationships with the policy makers that affect us. This is not about money flowing to legislative or congressional campaigns relative to educational policy or to pad the lifestyles of big union leaders. It is about relationships that educate our local policy makers to support our local needs. The California police and fire associations have found that local focus and local control has propelled them into the highest paid professionals in the public sector. Collectively, police officers pay less than $10 per person per month to their statewide organization yet have the best retirement system, highest wages and benefits of public employees associations in the State. There is a local control and direction model that will work for the teachers associations. Let’s learn something from our public safety sector.
What is CIT’s Political Agenda?
We don’t have one; we have a service agenda to provide teachers with a model of representation that is more responsive, effective and far less costly than the CTA model. Politically, our team is all over the ideological spectrum. Our “agenda” is to give teachers the information and tools to decide for themselves whether they want to stay tied to CTA or be independent. What the independent teacher associations decide to do politically (assuming they want to even get involved in politics) is totally up to them.
So you are prepared, CTA will inevitably accuse us of being conservative and/or liberal extremists out to destroy (“bust”) the unions. Odd, considering we are, labor professionals representing employee associations every day.
CTA takes a huge amount of dues yet has created a representation model in which your colleagues, as part of a largely volunteer set of officers, bargaining team members, and shop stewards, do the vast majority of the work for your members. The money you send to CTA goes to pay for a huge, and ever growing, administrative bureaucracy, that apparently leaves no money for professional negotiators and lawyers to handle your disciplinary matters, contract enforcement, and bargaining.
Our Better Model is predicated on your independent teacher association having the freedom to hire, and thus fire, the labor and legal professionals that provide services to them. We do this every day and know what it costs to represent public employees, including teachers. The cost is far less than what CTA charges you because we don’t have the overhead and administrative costs they do, nor the political lobbying expenses they incur. Any extra money that you save (at least 50% of your current dues and maybe as much as 80%) can be returned to the teachers or spent on the services and issue that your local association decides is most important to you.
Currently, as a member of CTA, you must pay whatever CTA and NEA set as their dues. Because CTA is essentially a monopoly when it comes to representing public school teachers in California, the dues have predictably risen higher and higher – without any noticeable increase in services to the members.
The CIT Model returns to the teachers of each district the right to set their own dues.
An independent teachers’ association can set dues comfortably at half of what they are currently paying under the CTA model and still get professional representation in the bargaining process and to cover all contract enforcement and individual disciplinary matters. The professional services can be provided by a law firm such as Goyette & Associates that specializes in representing California public employee associations. These services can be provided to associations with memberships that range from a few dozen teachers to several thousand.
The cost of hiring professionals to handle the core services that the association needs is about 20-40% of the total dues currently being paid. That leaves 10-30% of current dues for the association to use for general administrative costs, other member services and local political action – or whatever the association chooses to do. That still leaves 50% of current dues to be returned to the individual teachers – call it the CTA dividend.
Don’t believe that a labor law firm actually costs less than CTA? It’s true, by a lot! Ask around. Police officers, firefighters, and other public employees pay as much as 80% less than teachers and routinely receive professional labor and legal representation that far outweighs what CTA provides.
The biggest pension fund for California teachers, CalSTRS, is experiencing a massive funding gap and the California Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) is proposing new accounting rules for calculating the fund’s liabilities that will make those numbers even worse. CalSTRS currently has a funding gap of 56 billion dollars–the difference between money it expects to have compared with what it expects to have to pay out in benefits. If the new GASB accounting rules take effect that funding gap will be almost tripled to over 150 billion dollars.
Either way CalSTRS needs more money from taxpayers, teachers or both to avoid running out of money that pays out these benefits over the next 30 years. This issue, and many like it have created a hot button political debate pitting conservatives and conservative groups, who say the current public pension systems in California are unsustainable, against unions, that, while making some concessions, have resisted major structural changes. Unlike CalPERS, who can simply demand more money from their participants (cites, counties, and special districts) CalSTRS needs a legislative solution. In other words, CalStRS needs lawmakers to find a way to balance the books.
In many ways, CalSTRS’ current problem comes down to an accounting question: How should pension funds measure their long-term liabilities? Right now, pension funds base their calculation on a forecast that their investments will earn 7.75% a year. However, because public pensions are guaranteed by the taxpayer, many argue including GASB, that the assumed investment return should be much lower comparable to safe investments like U.S. Treasury Bills. If the investment earning assumption decreases the pension fund simply needs more cash, a lot more. It is fair to assume the pension fund investments will earn at least 7.75% per year? Maybe, maybe not. Look at your own personal investments over the years for guidance. Certainly there have been years when average investment earnings have exceeded 7.75% (dot com boom, real estate boom, etc.) Of course there have been years when investment earnings have been far less than 7.75% or even in the negative. What the question really is: How much tolerance for risk does or should the California taxpayer have.
CalSTRS Response: http://www.calstrs.com/Newsroom/whats_new/pension_reform_response.aspx CalSTRS appreciates that Governor Brown has taken a very important step in addressing the critical and complex issues facing the state’s public pension systems. We look forward to receiving more detail on the proposal and having the opportunity to review it in depth. The most important reform CalSTRS needs is a plan of action to address its long-term funding shortfall, which only the Legislature and Governor have the authority to implement. We will continue to work with the Governor, Legislature and our stakeholders to develop a plan that includes contribution increases that are gradual, predictable and fair to all parties. It’s important to note that some provisions of the Governor’s proposal, such as board governance and health care costs, do not apply to CalSTRS. Moreover, since CalSTRS contribution rates are set in statute by the Legislature, our contribution structure is extremely predictable and has not experienced pension “holidays.” CalSTRS members contribute 8 percent of salary to fund their pension, while their employers contribute 8.25 percent. These rates haven’t changed since 1972 and 1990, respectively. The State’s contribution of 2.541 percent was reduced from 4.607 in 1998. CalSTRS administers a hybrid pension system consisting of a mandatory traditional defined benefit pension and a cash balance plan which is similar to a 401(k). CalSTRS also offers its members a voluntary defined contribution supplemental savings program such as 457(b) and 403(b) plans. A look at the average CalSTRS member who retired in 2009-10 further illustrates the unique aspects of CalSTRS: • Retired at age 62 • Performed 27 years of service • Earned a pension that replaces nearly 60 percent of salary • Receives approximately $49,000 in earned benefits annually • Does not earn Social Security benefits for their service • Does not receive employer-paid health care benefits after age 65
Governor Brown’s 12 point pension reform plan that was released today outlines big changes to current and future public employees, including California state employees as well as employees of local governments, schools and special districts. The Governor’s plan, while probably outraging institutional Unions, probably does not go far enough for conservatives and conservative activist groups. The Governor’s pension reform plan cannot be implemented, in most cases, without bargaining with the employees and employee organizations it affects. One thing is for sure though, the employee associations better bring it’s “A” game to the bargaining table to discuss the Governor’s plan. With the right approach, many of the employer needs outlined in the pension reform plan can be accommodated while preserving the fundamental elements of California public employee pensions. The California public employee pension system has been the cornerstone of public service for over 2 generations. That system, which has supported probably the finest public sector workforce in the country, needs to be preserved the common sense way.
Main Points of Governor Brown’s Pension Reform Plan
1. Equal Sharing of Pension Costs: All Employees and Employers
2. “Hybrid” Risk-Sharing Pension Plan: New Employees
3. Increase Retirement Ages: New Employees
4. Require Three-Year Final Compensation to Stop Spiking: New Employees
5. Calculate Benefits Based on Regular, Recurring Pay to Stop Spiking: New Employees
6. Limit Post-Retirement Employment: All Employees
7. Felons Forfeit Pension Benefits: All Employees
8. Prohibit Retroactive Pension Increases: All Employees
9. Prohibit Pension Holidays: All Employees and Employers
10. Prohibit Purchases of Service Credit: All Employees
11. Increase Pension Board Independence and Expertise
12. Reduce Retiree Health Care Costs:
State Employees Savings will be in the neighborhood of $900 million per year to the State.