California Teachers Empowerment Network is a great resource for teachers to get info about the CTA and where their money is going. California teachers make up this non-partisian, non-political group who are “dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.” President of the CTEN, Larry Sand, gives his opinion on the CTA and their extravagant expenditures in the name of political advocacy. He points out that, “It seems that the public has awakened to the fact that teachers unions donate millions of dollars of their members’ dues to issues that have nothing to with education on a regular basis.”
“According to teachers union watchdog Mike Antonucci, the CTA spent up to $5 million on five of this year’s 12 state ballot measures, none of which had anything to do with education.” We are all well aware of the $1million the CTA donated to the No on Prop 8 campaign, but this $5 million was news to me. And this was news to me…while CTA workers are deciding how to spend the teachers’ money, they are getting paid about twice as much as the salary of a starting teacher to do it.
Sand continues by saying, “What makes all this even more egregious is that these monies come from members’ dues. The CTA does not poll its members on how it spends its political money; nor does it care that many of its members are outraged by its spending habits, which run consistently to the left.”
If you are a CA teacher and this describes you, there are some pitiful excuses for redress, allowed by the State and the union. The CTEN website explains here, how teachers, although forced to join a union that barely focuses on teachers’ actual issues, have options. One is to apply for agency fee status. Under which, teachers can reclaim 30% of their annual dues, in the form of a rebate, or in other words, about $300 of the almost $1000 they are forced to pay in order to teach in CA. The filing deadline for this year was Nov. 15 (sorry for the late reporting) however, by filing now, teachers are still eligible for a prorated refund. CTEN does a great job of explaining union membership options on the page linked above. Another option is to opt out all together and direct your union dues to the charity organization of your choice, rather than giving the money to the CTA.
It is frustrating to many, that despite the measly refund, they still have to pay about $700 a year. Sand offers a little consolation to those who opt out of regular union membership, “they at least have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their dues are not going to support causes they are against. And there are other organizations they can join if they are concerned about any loss of protections typically offered by the union. Those of us who have differences with our union can reclaim a part of the money taken from us and spend it as we choose, perhaps in ways that are in line with our moral, ethical and political beliefs.”
Think about it teachers….how many times has the CTA, or your local union rep actually gone to bat for you or anyone you know? How many times have you been irritated at the CTA for some reason or another? In my Mom’s 15+ years of teaching, I’ve heard many times how the union never actually does anything productive for the teachers. There have been several “talks” about the union rep at the school, or some rep sitting in on a meeting or supposed to be helping with something, but seriously…..how many times do they actually do something that serves the best interests of the teachers…you know, the members of the union who pay their salaries? We’re definitely anti-union in my family and the CTA is usually at the top of our discussion list. I encourage the CA teachers to do some research and see what other info CTEN can provide you with.
Sand also submitted an opinion to the LA Times wherein he describes how for many, “union dues are simply taxation without representation.” I thought we got past that taxation thing a long time ago, but he makes a great point.
“All of us who object to what amounts to taxation without representation must speak up. Teachers who are happy with their union should have the right to continue that affiliation. However, the rest of us — especially those who live in states where we are forced to join a union — would be well served to take a hard look at the organization that claims to represent our best interests and start demanding change.”
Let us know your thoughts on the CTA in the comment section below!