Friday, March 18, 2005

Union UnAccountability: The CTA Edition

Barbara E. Kerr is alerting us to a scheme by the California Teachers Association (CTA) to raise annual dues (by $180.00 per member) in order to build a $54 million war chest to fight Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's education initiatives. This comes as a surprise to most of us who actually pay dues to this organization.

Like most California school teachers, I am forced to pay dues to three unions. One is the National Education Association, (NEA) the second one is,
The California Teachers Association, (CTA) and last (and definitely least) the Middletown Elementary Teachers Association. (META)

As I have said before, I actually like the ideal of teachers having an organization that exists in order to advocate improved salaries and working conditions for teachers.

But... I will only support such an organization if it is democratically-run, financially transparent, and accountable to its rank-and-file. Neither NEA nor CTA comes close to fulfilling even one of these important criteria.

Concerning past increases in dues, it would have been nice if these "Associations" would have bothered to ask (via electronic polling/voting) us dues-payers what we thought about increasing the amount of monies withheld from our paychecks in order to pursue the unions' political aims.

But neither NEA nor CTA believe in that sort of thing.

For the past three years in a row, the NEA has raised its dues. And now we hear that CTA will likely do so (yet again) as well.

In both organizations, dues are increased upon the "recommendation" of an appointed "executive committee." The membership never has an opportunity to have a say in setting the level of monthly dues. And since California is a "closed shop" state, the withholding of dues (from the union) is not an option.

Neither NEA nor CTA cares a bit that teachers in our school district haven't received any sort of pay-increase in three years.

Each and every teacher in our mid-sized California school district is currently paying $810.00 in annual dues. And they will increase again next year.

Most months, I receive a union propaganda-sheet-in-the-guise-of-a-magazine from C.T.A. called
California Educator. (It used to be known as California Teacher, but that wasn't high-falutin enough.)

pointed out by Darren over at Right On The Left Coast, the February edition of this "magazine" informed us hapless members victims that CTA President Barbara Kerr, Vice President David A. Sanchez, and Secretary-Treasurer Dean E. Vogel have all been unanimously re-selected by the executive committee for another two year term.

Just like that. No contested elections, no debates, no opponents, and, of course, no vote. Laughingly, CTA refers to itself as a "rigidly democratic organization."

The salaries received by these full-time unelected union operatives are a carefully-guarded secret. Repeated attempts to learn them have been unsuccessful. What we have learned is that these union people all get free lifetime full-family medical and dental insurance, while most of use teachers (Who actually pay for all this.) wind-up on Medicare at age 65.

The union gravy-train continues running unchecked.

Update: (PM) Darren, over at Right on the Left Coast, has some additional thoughts on this subject.

Update: (3/19) Katie, who writes A Constrained Vision is telling us about some of the shenanigans that the Georgia teachers unions have been pulling in order to derail much-needed reform of outdated educational funding laws.

Update: (3/22) In a comment on this post, Mike, from the Education Intelligence Agency, has let us know the salaries of these unelected union "Presidents:"

  • NEA President Reg Weaver has an annual salary of $242,519 and a taxable housing/benefit allowance of $97,000.
  • CTA President Barbara Kerr receives an annual salary of $174,864. It is unknown what, if any, housing allowance that Kerr gets, but we do know that she has lifetime health insurance for herself and her dependents.

We here at the 'Wonks think we know why these union people refuse to allow us ordinary dues-paying rank-and-file members to have a vote... They really are a legalized racket, and when is the last time you ever heard of a bunch of racketeers being democratic?

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