Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Political Email From Like-Minded Teachers

This morning teachers at my school in Sacramento received the following email from two teachers in Southern California. How did they get our addresses? Not that I mind, so much, because I agree with their message, but I'd be pretty incensed to get political propaganda email--at my school address--from, say, the CTA. So I think it's wrong of them to reach out this way, but I'm not sure I have a better way for them to get the pro-Prop 75 message out. Bottom line: This was the right thing to do only if you believe the ends justifies the means. And I don't.

But since I agree with the message, I'll repost it here, in its entirety.

From the Desk of: Lillian Perry, Fontana Teacher
From the Desk of: Larry Sand, Los Angeles Teacher

October 12, 2005

Dear California Teacher:

We are also California teachers and are writing to you because we're concerned about what the leaders of our union, the California Teachers Association (CTA), are doing to our union and with our hard earned dollars that we send to them in Sacramento every month.

Here's the bottom line: Our current leadership is on the verge of bankrupting the CTA to fund a political agenda that many of us do not support.

Every year, union leaders in Sacramento take more than $100 million dollars from California teachers' paychecks. This is approximately $300 per teacher per year. Much of this is used to fund a political agenda over which individual teachers have little control. Even worse, this is taken from our paychecks without our permission.

Earlier this year, the CTA leadership decided it still didn't have enough money to spend on politics, so the union leadership decided to take an additional $60 each year from our paychecks for the next three years. This forced assessment gave the union leaders an additional $50 million or more of our money for their political agenda.

According to court documents filed last week, the CTA has at least $34 million in outstanding loans. Now, these same union leaders are trying to borrow ANOTHER $40 million through a line of credit.

When will enough be enough? Where has the money gone?

To dozens of consultants and political firms (getting paid millions of dollars), pollsters, television and radio advertising, direct mail firms and the list goes on and on.

Much of this "Sacramento slush fund" has been used to oppose Prop. 75 - a very simple measure that says the CTA must ask our permission before political campaign funds are taken from our paychecks.

Why would CTA be so opposed, and spend tens of millions of dollars, to having to ask our permission?

Could it be that union leadership is concerned that we might not agree with their political agenda - like spending millions to qualify a measure that would have raised property taxes and millions more for measures that have nothing to do with education?

Proposition 75 will give teachers a choice, a voice and a say. It will bring accountability to the CTA. Please read the measure for your self. If you agree with us, please join us in voting "YES" on Proposition 75.

Prop. 75 is about union democracy, a voice for teachers and guaranteeing us the right to choose how our money is spent. Visit to learn more.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Paid for by Teachers, Firefighters, and Law Enforcement for Paycheck Protection, Yes on 75, A Coalition of Taxpayer Associations with funding by Robin P. Arkley, II and Frank E. Baxter, 1500 W. El Camino Avenue, Suite 113, Sacramento, CA 95833.

[The blue hyperlinks didn't transfer well, so I hope I was able to delete them while also showing where in the text they were--Darren.]


Dan Edwards said...

I recd. that e-mail too. NOW, if California teachers will just read it and make up their OWN minds and not be programmed drones for CTA.....

As for it being delivered via e-mail, I personally don't have a problem with that. If I don't want it, it gets deleted and sent to the trash. It is cheaper/more cost effective than stuffing envelopes and paying .37 cents each to mail them out to thousands of teachers.....

CTA BETTER NOT ever start emailing me their political crap.

Anonymous said...

As far as how they got your school email address to begin with, it's likely a pretty straightforward exercise in data mining: If your school has a staff directory page on the web site, it's easy to pull off the email addresses. If your district has some sort of standard template for school web sites, then this process could even be automated.

iHug Trees said...

Wow! "Funding a political agenda over which individual teachers have little control. Even worse, this is taken from our paychecks without our permission."

Since I didn't vote to go to war in Iraq, do you think I could get the tax $$ I paid back? After all, Bush never asked me for permission!

I hope prop 75 passes and sets a precident so that my permission will have to be asked for every single thing that my money EVER gets spent on whether I agree with it or not. After all, this is a democracy! Lets make the system more beaurocratic!!! YAY!

Anonymous said...

Tech Goddess: teachers in CA are forced to join CTA. Then we can't elect the people who spend our dues on political things we disagree with.

Believe it or not, a majority did actually get to vote for Bush. After he spent the money.

As a part of our jobs, a profession we join because we can and like to work with children, should not be taking our money to support causes we can't even say Yea or Nay about. YOU can vote for the president and Congress. WE can't influence how CTA spends OUR money, at least not now.

I got this email too. A nice change from the usual political stuff I hear at school.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: "As far as how they got your school email address to begin with, it's likely a pretty straightforward exercise in data mining: " but the Yes on 75 campaign - who sponsored the email (don't go thinking this is actually from these two teachers) claims they had a couple of interns dig around for the addresses? They sent the email to 90,000 teachers. They bought the list somewhere.

SoCal Simon, You're NOT forced to join the CTA or other union. You can opt out and become a so-called "Agency Fee" payer, where you only pay for the bargaining process. There was a supreme court case that decided this years ago.

Plus, you can - if you're a member - elect people who agree with you. Provided, of course, that enough of your colleagues agree with your agenda.

EdWonk said...

Sorry to have to correct you "Anonymous" but CTA/NEA doesn't allow its rank-and-file to vote for any of its statewide/nationwide officers in anything like a multi-candidate election.

Nor is there any viable mechanism for changing the bylaws to do so. (Neither union has their own bylaws online; what's up with that?)

As for "agency fee" payers, it is true that those folks can get some of their money returned. The typical amount is 15-20% of the full combined dues. The amount is set solely at the discretion of the union.

I think of it like this: A mugger has taken $910 from my wallet. But if I ask (on time, and in the proper format) the thief might return as much as $182 of my cash.

At our website, we will continue to challenge NEA and its state affiliates to democratize their respective organizations, as well as provide full financial disclosure to their membership in an easily-obtainable format.

Additionally, we challenge these unions to provide their members with a forum for the expression of dissent, much like New York's progressively-minded AFT affiliate (UFT) has done with their comments-enabled blog, Edwize.

If these NEA affiliated unions are to survive as viable and effective entities in the 21st century, then they must cease using tactics more suited to the middle of the 20th.

Today's educated professional will not "toe" the union line if he or she has no say in the decision-making process and is not allowed to freely choose their own leaders.

I firmly believe that it is due to CTA/NEA's autocratic leadership model that so many teachers feel alienated by their union and only a minority of members show-up for union-called meetings and activities.

Three good models of effective and democratically-run unions are: The Professional Baseball Players Association, The Screen Actors Guild, and Actors Equity.

The teachers unions could learn quite a bit from a careful study of these participatory-model unions.

Darren said...

Tech Goddess--your analogy is flawed. CTA is not a GOVERNMENT agency, and union dues are *not* taxes.

What really frosts me is that a government entity, my school district, takes my money and gives it to a *non-government* entity, the union. Against my will.

And agency fee payer status is not what you might think. CTA gets to determine how much of my dues money they spend on collective bargaining, a true conflict of interest. Is it any wonder the figure is always 85% or more??? And if I opt to become an agency fee payer, I wouldn't be considered a full union member--in fact, I wouldn't even be allowed to vote for my own contract, which is part of what that "85%" *should* be for!

Let's face it. It's a racket, and CTA calls all the shots. They should not be *entitled* to my money, they should have to work for it.