By Ben Velderman
FRESNO, Calif. – Quitting the mob is almost impossible to do, as numerous Hollywood movies have made clear.
Severing ties with California’s largest teachers union is almost as difficult, as educators in the Washington Unified School District have discovered.
The Association of American Educators reports that “several different (single school) districts” in Fresno, California recently decided it made financial sense to unify “under one smoothly-run school district.”
But after that decision was made, teachers in the new district had to determine how to approach collective bargaining. A small but vocal group of teachers wanted to join the radical California Teachers Association, while other educators who had been non-union wanted to maintain that status.
It’s not difficult to see why.
The non-union teachers had not only seen their pay increase 20 percent within the last 10 years, but also enjoyed a collegial relationship with school administrators. This stands in stark contrast to the adversarial relationship unions often create among teachers and administrators.
The non-union Fresno teachers were content and students were learning, AAE reports.
That harmony was threated when “the CTA descended upon Fresno” to try to organize teachers in the newly consolidated district. The AAE reports that CTA representatives tried to scare teachers into joining the union, warning them of the risks they were taking without the CTA’s protection.
Enough teachers saw through the union’s scare tactics and convinced their colleagues to form a local-only association and to purchase liability insurance through the AAE.
But the CTA wasn’t finished, subjecting teachers to a steady barrage of “propaganda and misinformation,” the AAE reports.
Last March, the teachers voted “once and for all against CTA membership,” joining what the AAE describes as an emerging nationwide movement away from teacher unions.
Teachers in Washington State, Illinois, Kansas and Iowa who have chosen self-representation seem very satisfied; none of the groups have converted back to union control after declaring independence, according to news reports.