Skip Navigation or Skip to Content

Our Rights on the Job

Thanks to years of strong union advocacy, California educators have certain rights guaranteed by law on the job. 

The rights of working people are constantly under attack. It is only through our strong collective power that we preserve and enhance our rights.

In The Classroom Teachers Have the Right To: 

EC 49066
Make the final decision as to student grades.

EC 49331
Seize any injurious object from any student while on school premises or under the authority of school personnel.

EC 49079
Be informed of each student who engaged in, or is reasonably suspected of, acts that are grounds for suspension or expulsion, within the past three years.

EC 48910
Suspend students from class for the day of suspension and the following day. Ask the parent or guardian to attend a conference as soon as possible.

With Administrators, Teachers Have The Right To:

Ask what a meeting’s purpose is before attending.

Assert the right under Weingarten and EERA to representation in meetings that have the potential to lead to discipline.

Stop a meeting that has become disciplinary in nature until representation arrives.

Request unusual directives in writing before complying. 

Refuse to give explanations and/or submit a written statement, until after consulting with a union representative.

Remain silent and consult a lawyer if accused of conduct that could lead to criminal prosecution.

FAQs for Leaders and Members: Filing a Cal/OSHA Complaint

Resource Spotlight: California Department of Fair Employment and Housing Commission

Posters, Guides, and Fact Sheets 

DFEH provides numerous posters for worksites and other areas to help inform the public about their rights on the job. The posters about immigrant rights and family rights are available in 12 languages.

Weingarten Rights: Your Right to Union Representation  

“If an employee has a reasonable belief that discipline or other adverse consequences may result from what he or she says, the employee has the right to request union representation. When the employee makes the request for a union representative to be present management has three options:

  1. it can stop questioning until the representation arrives.
  2. it can call off the interview or,
  3. it can tell the employee that it will call off the interview unless the employee voluntarily gives up his/her rights to union representation (an option the employee should always refuse).”

SCOTUS Decision, NLRB v. Weingarten

“If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative be present.”

Best Practices 

Keep accurate and on-going records of student discipline.

Take and keep notes of all parent and administrator meetings.

Be cautious with what you post or share on social media.

Guide to Educator's Rights

Your Union Contract – As Vital As Your Lesson Planner

How it Works

At least once every few years, your local union and your school district sit down to negotiate the terms for working in the district. CTA has more than 1,300 chapters across the state, and educators in each chapter bargain a contract defining the issues for all members of the bargaining unit: teachers, librarians, counselors, and all certificated staff. Educators sit down as equals with administrators at the bargaining table and both sides start the process with initial proposals.

Once a union contract settlement is reached, it must be ratified by a majority vote of a chapter’s members, and then by the school board. When the contract expires, the process begins again. If a state mediator cannot help break any bargaining impasse that occurs, and a non-binding report from a neutral fact-finder fails to resolve the crisis, only then can teachers strike.

Not everything is negotiable. Critical job issues that are within the legal scope of bargaining include compensation, hours of work, safety matters, class size, evaluation and disciplinary procedures, health care, access to personnel files, preparation time, seniority, transfer rights, a grievance procedure with binding arbitration to settle major disputes, discrimination, job assignments, and early retirement.

Issues not within the scope of bargaining include a district’s staffing needs, the district budget process, matters affecting employees outside the bargaining unit, the timing of layoffs, an advisory committee formed by the employer, and access to information unrelated to union representation.

A Little History 

On Sept. 22, 1975, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed CTA-sponsored Senate Bill 160 by state Sen. Al Rodda, known as the Educational Employment Relations Act or the Rodda Act, to give California public school teachers collective bargaining rights. The legislation established an administrative body that became the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).

How We Enforce Our Contracts 

Disputes over labor law can be settled by filing an “unfair labor practice” charge with PERB. Disputes over sections of a labor contract can be settled by filing grievances against the school district. Our collective power fuels both of these enforcements. Strong local chapters have strong contracts!

Bottom Line

Our right to collective bargaining levels the playing field.

CTA’s Position on Collective Bargaining

See our full position below

Because collective bargaining promotes educational excellence, all segments of education should employ the process. State law should be expanded to require school boards to negotiate procedures and methods for involving teachers in decisions that shape curriculum, peer assistance, and other professional and instructional matters.

Resources on Collective Bargaining for Download

Resources for learning and sharing information on collective bargaining.

Collective Bargaining

What it is and how it works.

Unions and Bargaining

Setting the record straight.

Bargaining Benefits Everyone in Education

Collective bargaining gives educators a voice in their workplace.

Professional Development Benefits Students

Learn more about why we advocate for professional development in bargaining.

Your Right to Due Process

Learn more about our position on Due Process. Want to learn more? Your local union chapter staff and leaders are excellent resources.

CTA believes an adequate probationary period is necessary and no dismissal action should be initiated unless the bargaining unit member has been informed of his/her alleged deficiencies and given time and assistance for their correction.

CTA believes in the instances where substitute teachers are represented by their local Association, the dismissal process shall be followed. CTA believes, in such cases, substitute teachers have just cause in disciplinary cases.

Whatever the specifics of the format for due process (permanent status) protection, the following criteria must be present to guarantee fair procedures. As such, these criteria will form a base for consideration of alternative formats, and for the evaluation of proposals from all sources regarding revision of existing due process (permanent status) laws in dismissal actions:

1. Bargaining unit members must have access to a hearing of charges, evidence, and presentation of defense before an impartial, objective, “third-party” source.

2. The conclusions and recommendations of such hearings, with right of appeal, must be binding on all parties in the proceeding.

3. Rules of evidence in administrative proceedings must be the same as those utilized in civil actions.

4. The proceedings and resulting conclusions and recommendations must reflect the participation of professional peers in the process.

5. Dismissal proceedings must be based upon sound procedures, which would include:

A. Clear definition of standards of performance and of criteria upon which those standards will be judged. Student performance on standardized tests shall not be considered valid criteria. These standards and criteria shall be mutually agreed upon by the evaluatee and evaluator.

B. Early notification to the bargaining unit member of alleged deficiencies.

C. Opportunity, including time and assistance from district sources, to correct alleged deficiencies before dismissal action is taken.

6. It is the responsibility of the professional organization to protect the due process rights of its members.

A. CTA members who are selected to serve on Professional Competency Commissions should be willing and able to ensure that the legitimate rights of the certificated employee defendant are of service.

B. CTA shall establish criteria to guide certificated employees in the selection of their representative on Professional Competency Commissions.

C. CTA shall provide training and assistance so that the certificated employee representative on Professional Competency Commissions will effectively carry out the objectives cited in item (a) of these principles.

(TEAF: January 1979, June 1984, October 1992, June 2001, May 2005, October 2007; PRR: June 2012)