CA Teacher Union Hegemony Challenged
A third lawsuit in as many years will once again challenge exclusive representation and the power base of the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers. StudentsFirst.org, an organization established by Michelle Rhee, filed Bain et al., on behalf of four public school teachers. Michelle Rhee, while Chancellor of the District of Columbia public schools, defied the district’s monopoly bargaining contract to improve student performance with effective reforms. California law for teachers includes mandatory monopoly bargaining and compulsory unionism. Larry Sand, CEAFU Key Leader and President of California Teacher
Empowerment Network, has the story on unionwatch.org.
Now in April 2015, the teachers unions are facing yet another rebellion by some of its members. Bain et al v. CTA et al, a lawsuit brought by StudentsFirst, a Sacramento-based activist outfit founded by Michelle Rhee, was filed on behalf of four public school teachers in federal court in California. It challenges a union rule concerning members who refuse to pay the political portion of their dues.
Contrary to what many believe, teachers are not forced to join a union as a condition of employment in California, but they are forced to pay dues. Most pay the full share, typically over $1,000 a year, but some opt out of paying the political or “non-chargeable” part, which brings their yearly outlay down to about $600. However, to become “agency fee payers,” those teachers must resign from the union and relinquish most perks they had by being full dues-paying members. And this is at the heart of Bain. As EdSource’s John Fensterwald writes,
The question becomes, “Why should a teacher lose a whole array of perks just because they refuse to pay the third or so (it varies by district) of their union dues that go to political causes?”