Thursday, September 22, 2005

Just Got A Call From CTA

At about 5:45 tonight I got a call from a CTA staff member who encouraged me to vote the party line on certain propositions on the ballot for this November's special election. A half an hour later (now) I finish my call with her. Wow.

There's no way I'm going to do this phone call justice in this post. It was refreshing to actually have a conversation with a CTA staff member (as opposed to a supporter), a conversation in which we actually engaged each other and didn't just hurl sound bites at each other. She seemed genuine in her beliefs, which included genuine disappointment that CTA has not earned my respect or support. She claimed to be a Republican, but she gave all the standard union cliches:
1. You don't *have* to be a union member, so you're really *not* giving your money to CTA against your will.
2. I'm sorry you don't see all the good things CTA does for you.
3. Someone has to stand up to the governor on education issues.

Of course, I gave my standard responses to such points:
1. Unless I'm a union member or have religious convictions against joining a union, my only options not to be a union member are a) not to be a public school teacher, admittedly a poor choice, or b) be an agency fee payer, get approximately 15% of my dues refunded to me each year, and have no union rights or privileges--including the right to vote on my own contract!--even though I'd still be paying over $800/year to the union. I'm essentially required to be a union member and to have my money taken from me against my will by a government entity and given to a non-government entity.
2. The fact that you see what CTA does as "good for me" does not mean that that is so. I see much of what they do as antithetical to my beliefs.
3. I don't want my union taking my money and spending it on political causes, even education issues. When they do that they act like the very special interest that the governor claims we are! Decisions about education should be left to the taxpayers, through their elected representatives, or at the local level, to the parents of the district, through their elected school board.

There were several other topics that we discussed.

Why don't these CTA people see the injustice of compelling me to give my money so they can spend it without any accountability to me? If I had to guess, I'd say that if CTA took a position on evolution vs. intelligent design, they'd probably go with evolution--yet as an organization CTA isn't evolving. It's operating 1950's style in the 21st century. Even some AFL-CIO unions are starting to see the light. Why can't CTA see that I feel disenfranchised by the very union I involuntarily bankroll--not because I don't have a say, but because my minority view is never seriously considered?

She said she took several notes on my complaints about the union and would share them with other staff members. I don't expect anything to occur, but it was nice to think that someone at least listened.

And as a finale, read this article about unions in general :-)


Stephanie Ozenne said...

I just moved from California to Utah, and one of the things I'll miss the most is not being able to vote in that special election. The idea of making unions get permission before spending members' money on political stuff made me smile, and I was excited to vote! I guess I'll just have to take this one in from the sidelines.


Darren said...

That's too bad. We can use every vote we can get on that issue, right now the only one that seems to have a chance of passing.

Anonymous said...

frankly, I'm shocked that it's even legal to require union membership in order to hold any particular job. Just requiring that the union asks you before spending the money you're required to give them doesn't go anywhere near far enough...


Dan Edwards said...

How Cool, you got to banter with a CTA flunkie! Did you mention that said flunkie probably would not have a job if it was not for your union dues? I am a bit surprised 'she' talked to you so long.....of course, unfortunatly, Darren, it is you and I and all the other teachers in CTA California that are paying for those phone calls. Man, I wish they'd call me! I encourage every "forced to be in CTA/NEA" teacher who reads this to have their "script" ready if a CTA flunkie or Zombie from Uniserv calls you.

Stephanie: Does the registar of voters where you lived KNOW you moved? Maybe you could request an absentee ballot and vote ? After all, what is morally right is not always necessarly 'legal'. Hell, CALIF. lets illegal immigrants vote.

Good Job Darren !

Anonymous said...

As many times as I've read this on Education Wonk and elsewhere, I still find it so hard to believe that CA. can do this. Is there nothing you can do about it? I know I'd be really angry if someone forced me to join, say GAE (Georgia Assoc. of Educators, NEA affliliate), if I didn't want to or didn't feel they represented me well. I'm not currently a member of any teacher's union, although in Georgia, I'd think the only reason to really join one is for Tort Liability Insurance, because unions in Georgia don't have any real power, I don't think anyone listens to them, and teachers can't strike.

Darren said...

Trust us, Dana. If we could get out, we would.

California is a very blue state when it comes to workers.