California Educator

August 2014

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CTA & You Regional profiles Members maer By Mike Myslinski, Frank Wells and Dina Martin For elementary music teacher Eve Albright, who has taught in the Bay Area for 25 years, the good news hit her like a well-performed student rendition of "Happy Days Are Here Again!" Her union, the 1,600-member Mt. Diablo Education Association, negotiated a historic new contract in March that will slash the cost of her health benefits. This coming January, her painful $1,788 monthly payment for family Kaiser coverage will drop by more than $1,000. And a 9 percent raise will be phased in over three years. "I credit our strong union for these successes," she says. "Also, our parent community and new superintendent have all helped to bring a new era of labor coop- eration and teamwork in the Mount Diablo Unified School District. I am so thankful for the union and for everyone who helped make this dream a reality." The new settlement reverses an experi- ment a t the bargaining ta ble in 1999-2000 tha t placed health care benefit dollars on the salar y schedule. As benefit costs soared, salaries became less competitive, so the new contract returns to of f-schedule benefits compensa tion. Albright's husband is self-employed, so her family depends on her for health coverage. "Our daughter was in kindergarten when we started this battle to regain our health ben- efits, and was diagnosed with an incurable, chronic disease in fourth grade, which made it impossible for us to change health care providers. At least now, as she is a young adult learning how to make her way in our society, we can still provide her with excellent health care for a few more years." In addition to personally speaking to the MDUSD school board, Albright took part in union protest rallies. It was the right thing to do, she says. "I real- ized I was not the only one who had been suffering from rising health care costs. I listened to friends say they could no longer afford to be a teacher. Our union leaders organized rallies and asked us to wear our blue shirts in soli- darity. I enthusiastically joined the cause." EVE ALBRIGHT Elementary music teaer What's your CTA story? There are so many reasons membership is good for you personally and professionally. Meet members who share what matters most. Want to share your CTA story? Write to P H O T O B Y M A R C S T E R N B E R G E R 50

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