Attention Everyone of Voting Age in California: You need to vote in the November Special Election, whether you agree with my political stances or not. If you do not vote, then a small minority will decide the fate of some rather wide-ranging issues.
Speaking with a colleague today made me realize that I need to post here on a regular basis again. The special election is right around the corner and I have done very little to encourage everyone to vote (for some background, read an earlier discussion of the propositions).
Last Wednesday, I received an email titled “How Our Union Dues Are Being Spent,” a letter supposedly drafted by teachers and meant to show that Proposition 75 is really in the best interest of teachers. It was an attempt to play the pathos card, to get me thinking, “Well, if other teachers support the proposition, then maybe I should rethink my position!” The email paints prop. 75 as giving teachers a choice in how their money is spent, while completely ignoring the fact that prop. 75 will render unions ineffective politically.
Such a simplistic interpretation of the proposition is misinformed at best and malicious at worst.
Unions need to take political action on a regular basis and anything done to stymie that action means that unions cannot fight for union members on anything approaching the scale that politicians fight for their agendas. If unions are to take on politicians when they suggest legislation that is bad for union members, unions need to be ready to battle on the same level as those politicians.
Here’s the response I sent to the email (which bounced back to me since the address used to send the email is not accepting rebutals, a sure sign of cowardice):
Regarding prop. 75:
There is already a way for individual teachers to request their union dues not be spent for political purposes; teacher’s can opt out of the union’s political stances (addendum: see an announcement from the National Right to Work Foundation, circa 1997). If that’s what you would like, shame on you for not further investigating the options you have.
However, quite often, those political stances the unions take are taken in order to afford teachers the recompense and benefits that we enjoy and deserve. It is not as if CTA is taking political action unrelated to their call as leaders of the teacher’s union.
Prop. 75 only weakens the power that the CTA has. Do politicians need to ask permission to spend donated money on a particular political cause? Of course not; that would be ridiculous. So while politicians are free to spend the money they’ve gathered on whatever causes they want, CTA needs to ask permission before getting out there to defend teachers and the work we do. That is also ridiculous.
To be required to get everyone’s permission, something that will be incredibly difficult and will not likely happen for a majority of the work the CTA needs to do, is really just a way of handicapping the CTA and preventing them from taking *any* political action. The CTA has fought against the current governor and it’s no wonder he would like them to simply shut up. Prop. 75 is a way to do exactly that.
Voting for Prop. 75 is voting to take away the only voice teachers have in politics; a collective voice, that of the CTA, is the only way teacher’s needs will be heard by politicians who are used to being lobbyed.
Thank you for your time and consideration.