California Educator

October 09

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“Among people who do not belong to unions, a majority now say they would vote to join a union in their workplace if they had the opportunity.” Elaine Bernard, Executive Director Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard University voice or influence in the workplace, so they exit when they are unhappy. In schools where teachers have a voice, they roll up their sleeves and work with others to improve things. Why are newer teachers sometimes unaware of the value of unions and the empowerment that comes from belonging to them? A union isn’t just an organization that you join. A union is “collective action” with others. You need to experience a union to fully appreciate its value. It takes a while for new teachers to get involved. New members think of the union as other people, but only when they start to gain some experience and get involved in the union do they realize that they are the union. The challenge for CTA and local chapters — and it’s a very big challenge — is to give new mem- bers some experienc- es and activities to al- low them to learn about their union. President Obama learned years ago in Chicago that the best way to build a community is to organize people around issues of concern to them, and take action to change things. Why are unions good for us? Democracy has to be something more than electing rulers every two or four years; it needs involvement by citizens every day. In a democracy workers have a right — in- deed a responsibility — to make their voic- es heard and to participate in collective de- cision-making on a daily basis. So in a sense, unions are the premier democratic institution in our society. Read more about CTA’s rich history at about/who/our+union.htm. CTA wins its Prop. 98 lawsuit against the state and passes the Quality Education Investment Act, which uses the proceeds from the lawsuit settlement to fund proven reforms at lower-performing schools. CTA wins passage of a $10.4 billion statewide school bond. CTA extends membership to Education Support Professionals, welcoming about 5,000 school paraprofessionals, offi ce workers and custodians to the CTA family. CTA members successfully mobilize to stop the harmful Miller-Pelosi reauthorization proposal for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (the so-called No Child Left Behind Act). The proposal would have placed more emphasis on test scores, created new sanctions for struggling schools, and eroded employee rights. Nearly 11,000 CTA members receive pink slips in March. In April, the CTA offi cers embark on a six-week statewide “Cuts Hurt” bus tour to focus attention on the governor’s proposed cuts. The tour culminates in a CTA Lobby Day at the State Capitol in early May. CTA’s actions reduce layoffs to 5,000. As the state budget crisis unfolds, schools are hit with massive cuts. More than 27,000 educators receive pink slips. CTA stages Statewide Day of Action on “Pink Friday,” March 13, and launches the “Stand Up for Schools” website. With CTA’s help, the number of layoffs is reduced to 17,000. In late July, due to CTA’s efforts, the Legislature reaches a budget agreement that will restore $11 billion of Prop. 98 funding in future years. 2006 2007 2008 2009 october 2009 | 15 Page 17 Photo by Scott Buschman

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