Volume 16 Issue 3
By Mike Myslinski
CTA President Dean Vogel speaks at an "Occupy LAUSD" rally, in which hundreds of UTLA members and State Council delegates take part.
In his first speech to State Council as CTA president, Dean E. Vogel vowed that CTA will be integral to the process of defeating a deceptive paycheck initiative about to qualify for the November 2012 ballot, and in passing a school funding measure that’s still in the works. CTA is part of a broad coalition seeking a public funding initiative that supports education and all essential public services.
Council members voted to oppose the paycheck scam, called the “Stop Special Interest Money Now Act.” By banning all California unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes, the initiative would unfairly silence the political voices of the middle class, while letting wealthy corporate interests spend as much as they want. They are picking this fight here because “California is one of the last union strongholds,” Vogel warned. Noting that U.S. corporations already outspend unions by about 15 to 1, Vogel vowed that CTA will work with a strong labor alliance to defeat the paycheck deception scam next year for a third time since 1998. Council also approved spending up to $8 million next year to oppose or support ballot measures.
Vogel reminded delegates that whatever school funding initiative is settled on in the next few months, Council policies say it must be based on the union’s principles of tax fairness and it must be based on progressive taxation. Also, it should generate at least $8 billion to help heal years of unprecedented cuts. In order to be successful, CTA will be working in a broad coalition.
Basic Union Rights
CTA Executive Director Carolyn Doggett noted that coordinated attacks on collective bargaining and basic union rights are mounting across the country, and the battle is on “for the very heart and soul of the America we believe in. It’s a battle for an organized democracy that values economic opportunity, equality and social justice for every American. And it’s a battle for the belief in every child — not just a select few.”
This year alone, 11 states passed anti-collective-bargaining and dues reduction bills, and educators and public employees in six states lost full bargaining rights. There are threats to collective bargaining rights in 20 other states. Invoking labor expert Dr. Elaine Bernard, who directs the Harvard Trade Union Program, Doggett said building community coalitions and showing union solidarity are critical as we move ahead. “Our future really is up to all of us, and the best way to predict the future is to create it!”
Public education central to rebuilding our country
On another front, CTA’s recent support of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement has everything to do with public education, said Vogel. “Public education is central to rebuilding our country and to shrinking the growing chasm between the haves and the have-nots.”
In an emotional show of solidarity, scores of Council delegates — educators from across California — joined CTA President Dean E. Vogel in a march on Oct. 22 from the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles to join United Teachers Los Angeles President Warren Fletcher and UTLA members at their “Occupy LAUSD” protest at the headquarters of the nation’s second-largest school district. The ongoing UTLA protest is focused on keeping public schools public, lessening the influence of billionaires like Bill Gates and Eli Broad in the district, and demanding that the richest 1 percent pay their fair share of taxes while teachers are being laid off and students are stuffed into overcrowded classrooms.