By Mike Myslinski
Tim Nichols reacts to Council’s mobilization
Declaring that “we have right and truth on our side,” CTA President Dean Vogel asked State Council delegates to help defeat the Special Exemptions Act aimed at silencing our political voices — and to fight to pass the governor’s November tax measure to avoid billions in immediate new cuts to education.
In a rousing, animated speech, Vogel said, “We have a great challenge ahead of us, but this union — all of us — wouldn’t be who we are without taking on challenges.”
Feeling the urgency of the CTA campaign, Council delegates at their June 9-10 meeting took the unprecedented step of canceling the regular Oct. 20-21 session in Los Angeles. Instead, the nearly 800 delegates will mobilize in their communities, working to make a huge difference late in the campaign at the local level.
On the November ballot is the Special Exemptions Act, the misleading, unfair and unnecessary attempt by wealthy, anti-union forces to silence the political voices of CTA members and of all unions across the state. Disguised as reform, it’s a corporate power grab that prevents educators from using their collective voice to protect students, improve schools and colleges, and enhance the teaching profession.
“This initiative would allow super PACs and billionaire businessmen to write their own rules to have an even greater influence in politics,” Vogel warned. “We must stand up and speak louder here in California! We won’t have a government by and for the people as long as politicians are paid for by big corporations and the 1 percent.”
This attack on the middle class would prevent unions and corporations from using voluntary payroll-deducted dues for political purposes, such as protecting class sizes, school funding and other priorities. All union members can already opt out by law from having dues used for political purposes.
Most corporations use profits, not payroll deductions, to press their agendas.
Vogel urged all CTA members to spend the summer warning their communities about this attack. “Let parents, friends and neighbors know that if they take away our ability to advocate for their students, they are taking away the chance at a better tomorrow for all of us,” he said. “Use our voice to say: We are CTA and we will not be silenced!”
He also urged support for the governor’s Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act, thanking delegates for turning in more than 300,000 signatures earlier this year to qualify the measure. It taxes the wealthy to generate about $9 billion annually for schools and communities.
“This initiative is a temporary tax that asks the richest Californians to pay their fair share to help fund public education and other essential services,” Vogel said. “If the initiative fails, public education is facing an additional $6 billion in budget cuts.”
In her speech to Council delegates, CTA Executive Director Carolyn Doggett reminded delegates what our profession and our students would lose if corporate special interests succeed in silencing the political voice of CTA members.
In just the past dozen years alone, Doggett said, CTA members have defeated a school voucher initiative, passed more than $20 billion in statewide school construction bonds, made it easier to pass local school bonds by lowering the vote required to 55 percent, and defeated attacks on educators’ collective bargaining rights and a secure retirement. In 2005, CTA and its allies defeated an “all-out assault” by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on school funding, educator rights and the rights of union members.
Doggett also cited CTA’s passing of legislation requiring the teaching of contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans and Americans with disabilities in schools, and the stopping of a “terrible reauthorization” of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which would have made the flawed law only worse.
“This is the power of the ballot,” Doggett said. “And this is the voice we will lose if the Special Exemptions Act is passed.”