Monday, March 30, 2009

CTA: Predictable As Ever

Wonderful news from the front lines of the California Teachers Association:

1) Teachers' Union, Heal Thyself. A couple of weeks ago, EIA reported about the Maine Education Association's recommendations for bargaining in tough times (see item #4 here). I now have a hard copy of a similar list prepared by the California Teachers Association. It includes such tips as:

* "Roll over current contract without re-opening any articles. Maintaining salary and benefits at current levels is a priority; keeping the status quo is a constructive victory."

* "Do not agree to freeze step and column costs temporarily."

* "Do not trade salary for jobs; in an effort to save positions, you could lose both."

* "Do not agree to furlough days."

* "Do not agree to or advocate for divisive budget cutting proposals, such as cutting certain positions (e.g. counselors, librarians or Education Support Professionals/classified)."

* "Do not sit on a budget cutting committee unless union members comprise a majority, and you have a written commitment from the district that you will have the same representation on the budget increasing committee when there is new money available."

These principles and tactics are very interesting considering CTA is currently negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with its own staff unions. In its very first proposal, CTA management proposed eliminating the "no layoffs, no staff reductions" clauses in the contract. CTA employees held informational picketing at last week's State Council meeting in Los Angeles.

2) CTA Pays Its Hotel Bill. Once upon a time, the California Teachers Association had a close relationship with the Hilton Los Angeles Airport, the hotel where the union would hold its periodic State Council meetings and other conferences. The hotel even partnered with CTA in Read Across America events. In 2006, the local hotel workers' union targeted the Hilton for sanctions and a boycott. In response, CTA canceled events scheduled for the Hilton and moved them to the Westin Bonaventure.

Well, I don't have all the details, but apparently the Hilton sued CTA for $1.2 million, which must have something to do with contractual obligations. After the usual drawn-out procedures, in January CTA and the Hilton reached a settlement of $500,000. I'm unsure if this is covered in the union's budget under administration, governance, politics or community outreach.

EIA leaves no stone unturned.

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