California Educator

April / May 2018

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Page 47 of 75

C O L L E C T I V E V O I C E through unions is the most powerful means by which w orkin g m en an d w om en h av e b e en a b l e t o m a k e a l i v i n g w a g e , g a i n af fordable health care, ensure decent w orkpl a c e c ondition s, and sust ain a f a m i ly. Me m b e r s of t e a c h e r s u n i o n s such as CTA, specifically, use their col- lective voice to advocate for their students as well. B u t m a n y c h a f e a t unions' power, particularly forces that seek to weaken public-sector unions to promote their own corpo- rate-backed agendas. A U.S. Supreme Court d e c i s i o n i n J a n u s v . AF SC ME, exp ect ed thi s spring, could further these agendas. Mark Janus, an Illinois child-support worker, contends hi s free sp eech rights have b een vio- lated because he must pay agency fees to a union (the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) that, among oth er things, n egotiat es wage contracts and working conditions on his behalf. It is one of many cases being brought and supported by con- servative groups to undermine workers' collective voice. As a New York Tim es stor y recently noted, these groups have worked in con- c er t o v er th e years to d e pl et e union ranks and align the judiciary in a more conservative direction (capped by Neil Gorsuch's appointment to the Supreme Court last year). Chief among them is the Washington-based Freedom Foun- d ation , al s o kn ow n a s C h o i c e f o r Te a c h e r s , w h i c h h a s b e e n a k e y p l ay e r si n c e t h e e a rly '90s in anti-labor initia- tives nationwide. The foundation is led b y C E O To m Mc C a b e , who has stated, "Unions will not go away on their own. We need to drive a stake through their heart." It is engaged in campaigns to convince union members in Washing- ton, Oregon, California and other states to drop their membership. It is funded by the State Policy Network, the Bradley Foundation, and political groups affili- ated with the billionaire Koch brothers. Goal is to mislead educators and weaken unions C h o i c e f o r Te a c h e r s , t h e Fr e e d o m Foundation, the California Association of Educators and the California Teach- e r s E m p o w e r m e n t Ne tw o r k , a m o n g oth ers, s ound nic e and cl aim to re p- resent educators, but they don't. They are fun d ed by c or p orat e bi l lion aire s w h o a re tr y i n g to w e aken o u r u ni on and put us out of business. But CTA i s not a busin ess. We're a union of professionals dedicated to all students. We're educators w ho valu e investing time and resources in our stu- dents, instead of trying to privatize public schools for the sake of profits. We're champions of human and civil rights. And we're proof that unions are the only hope for working families at a time when the economy is rigged against working people. A track record of advocacy For 154 years, CTA has been standing up for working people, our students and the communities we serve. We use our power — our collective voice — to ensure stu- dents have the resources and educators they need to get the quality public edu- cation they deserve. Attacks on CTA are not going to stop, but our work continues. For more information about C TA's track record and ongoing work, go to Standing Up for Students, Educators History shows union power against attacks on working class CTA is not a business. We're a union of professionals dedicated to all students. CTA officers, Board members and delegates to State Council shout out "Educators, stay strong!" — a message of strength and solidarity to educators in Oklahoma, Kentucky and other states. 46 Advocacy J A N U S V . A F S C M E

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