Resigned to Freedom

Sep 22, 2014 by

Larry Sand – The California Teachers Association prepares for life as a voluntary association.

The worst union in America is contemplating its worst nightmare—a time when state law no longer compels California’s teachers to pay it for the privilege of working at a public school. According to a 23-page PowerPoint presentation unearthed by union watchdog Mike Antonucci, California Teachers Association officials are taking seriously the idea that a raft of pending litigation could put an end to mandatory union dues in the Golden State, and they’re exhorting local union leaders to rise to the challenge. The presentation’s title is fitting: “Not if, but when: Living in a world without Fair Share.”

“Fair share” in this context refers to the union’s current legal right to collect dues from every public school teacher in the state, whether they join the union or don’t. But a world without compulsory dues isn’t hard to imagine—it’s already the reality in 24 right-to-work states, including Florida, Indiana, and Michigan, home to the still-powerful Michigan Education Association. The CTA presentation offers a candid assessment of emerging legal “attacks” in the wake of Harris v. Quinn, in which the Supreme Court this year ruled that the First Amendment forbids the state of Illinois to force part-time home health-care workers to pay collective-bargaining fees. The high court is likely to take up Friedrichs v. CTA, a much wider-ranging lawsuit now pending before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals alleging that compulsory dues to public-employee unions are flatly unconstitutional.

After beginning with some basic demographics and shifting into a brief history of “fair share,” the CTA PowerPoint plows through a chronology of failed state ballot initiatives aimed at curbing the union’s unbridled power through “paycheck protection”—including Proposition 226 in 1998, Proposition 75 in 2005, and Proposition 32 in 2012. The union crushed all three measures simply by outspending their proponents. For example, the CTA poured $32 million into the $44 million campaign against Prop. 75, which would have required public-employee unions to get annual written consent from each member to use part of their dues for political activity. The “yes” campaign, by contrast, spent just $5.8 million. Given that disparity (and the unions’ fear-mongering about the policy issues involved), it’s easy to understand why the measure went down on Election Day. The CTA worries, with reason, that an adverse ruling from the Supreme Court would force the union to rein in its political largess.

via Resigned to Freedom by Larry Sand, City Journal 21 September 2014.

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1 Comment

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    Teacher with a Brain

    I am a member of CTA and I stand behind the organization 100%, indeed, I wholly support unionization. Unions are democratically operated organizations that represent groups of workers who otherwise may not have a vehicle through which to address their concerns. Without the union, management can, and may well, operate whimsically without respect for individual workers, their contribution (teachers are where the rubber meets the road, though you might not believe that to read and hear what has too often been said and printed, especially in recent years).

    When a workforce has no union, you can get ugly practices such as those that are prevalent in many low wage jobs today, which include erratic schedules, last minute scheduling, etc. which make the life of the employee and his/her ability to plan his/her finances and family life almost impossible to manage. Unions are the way the workforce may push back, through democratic means, against management practices that are at times disrespectful and wholly inconsiderate to individuals.

    Unfortunately, human beings are prone to behaviors I refer to as the “passions of the mind.” This is true whether the particular human is a worker or a manager. No system will ever be perfect or without the possibility of corruption, and this is as true for management as it is for union representatives and officers. We must all endeavor to police our organizations to limit corruption where we see it. Certainly, when my district was a nanosecond away from bankruptcy 1.5 years ago, administrators wanted to blame teachers for not taking larger pay cuts (though out district salary schedule certainly falls below the median, and has dropped even further), and most teachers saw the emergency as caused, in a good part, by budgetary decisions that had been made at the administrative level, with board approval, across a period of years, of which teacher compensation was probably only a small portion of the problem (given, also, that teacher salaries did not garner a greater % of the annual budget than is typical in financially solvent districts).

    We need to spread power and invite participation. Unions are still the best way to accomplish this.

    Larry Sand is a malcontent.

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