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CTA Oral History Archives

Stories of the 1950’s

Dorothy Moser began teaching in 1951, was on the CTA Board of Directors and played a role in the merger that created UTLA.


Stories of the 1960’s

Jean Reiche taught from 1965-89, when she retired. The ex-president of the Santa Barbara Teachers Association now lives in Vista Del Monte, a retirement facility in Santa Barbara that the CTA Southern Section built and once owned exclusively for educators in the 1960s. She chose to live there because of the facility’s past CTA roots as an affordable haven for retired educators.


Stories of the 1970’s

Jim Essman, field staff member, worked for CTA from 1970 to 2004, when he retired. He remembers working two labor showdowns in 1975 – before the state’s collective bargaining law was in effect – when educators in two San Jose school districts, Mt. Pleasant and Berryessa, went on successful strikes simultaneously over maternity rights. He also talks about the need for CTA to organize, and to keep recruiting new leaders and staff to keep the union’s good work rolling on.


Gary Harrison left his mark on CTA Central Valley labor history. A teacher activist for many years in Hanford in Kings County, he joined CTA field staff in 1969 and recalls working two major strikes in the 1970s – in San Juan Unified School District in Sacramento County, and in Bakersfield City School District. He retired in 2000 as manager of CTA’s Region 2 (covering mostly the Central Valley area) and now lives in an assisted living retirement community in Fresno.


Stephen Edwards Jr.: Thousands of educators statewide chose CTA as their exclusive bargaining unit representative during elections held during the pivotal 1975-78 presidency years of Stephen Edwards Jr., 88. This dedicated teacher also inspired his daughter Christina to embark on a 36-year teaching career in public schools; she retired in 2012.


Stories of the 1980’s

Ed Foglia was CTA president in 1988 when educators mobilized statewide to pass the landmark Proposition 98 ballot measure, which guarantees K-12 schools and community colleges at least 40 percent of state revenues. The victory affirmed CTA as a major political force for students and the teaching profession.


After the 1989 mass shooting at Cleveland Elementary in Stockton, Ed Foglia, CTA president at the time, recalls how CTA fought for and won tougher gun control laws in California.


UTLA President Wayne Johnson led successful 1989 UTLA Strike (9 days) involving thousands of LAUSD educators.


Marilyn Russell Bittle was the first woman CTA president under the newly unified CTA, serving 1982-86. She was involved in several Southern California strikes and helped create the union’s crisis assistance program for chapters facing labor conflicts. After a career that also included serving as CTA vice president from 1978-82, and 15 years as executive director of Teachers Association of Long Beach, she retired in 2002.


Stories of the 1990’s

Lois Tinson was the first woman of color to serve as CTA president and served 1995-99. A gifted educator, Lois died in December 2003 after a long illness. In these interviews for the union’s “Journey to Respect” history video, she recalled CTA’s activism and our fight for smaller class sizes that convinced Governor Pete Wilson to sign the Class Size Reduction Program legislation in 1996.


Stories of the 2000’s

Paula Monroe recalls the historic 2006 CTA State Council vote to give full membership rights to Education Support Professionals, adding 5,000 paraprofessionals, office workers, custodians, and other ESPs to CTA family.


Barbara Kerr, CTA president from 2003-2007, recalls showdowns with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, defeat of his Props. 74, 75 and 76 in 2005, and the CTA lawsuit victory to recover billions owed to schools that led to creation of our landmark QEIA reform law for at-risk students.


As CTA president from 1999-2003, Wayne Johnson vividly remembers how CTA negotiated $1.84 billion in state budget surplus funding for education, and soundly defeated Tim Draper’s voucher initiative, Proposition 38. His strong union values were forged, in part, as a youth walking UAW strike picket lines with his father in the 1940s in Kansas City, Missouri.


David Sanchez served as the first Latino president of CTA from 2007-2011 during the Great Recession and massive school layoffs and funding cuts. He recalls how CTA members fought back with statewide campaigns called “Pink Friday” and “State of Emergency” – the latter 2011 effort including his arrest for civil disobedience in Sacramento, along with other educators. He recounts how educators helped elect Jerry Brown governor in 2010 despite Meg Whitman spending $150 million of her own money to oppose him.