Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Thursday, April 28, 2005

I Met Barbara Kerr.....

Last night at our local Uniserv WHO Awards, Recognize building reps and negotiators dinner at the local country club, I had the opportunity to meet CTA President Barbara Kerr. She looks just like her picture that is published in CALIFORNIA EDUCATOR. She was seated at a special table reserved for special guests, all of whom had to eat facing the crowd. Anyhow, I had my letter and several copies of blog postings from other California teachers that were 'upset' in some manner over her/CTA's proposed $180 dues increase or their lack of democracy. (UkiahcoachBrown, RightontheleftCoast, EdWonk and myself, Polski3).

I ambled over to her table and introduced myself as a long-time teacher, and stated that I had a letter containing several grievances against CTA and its employees. She was polite and indicated that she would verbally like to hear some of my concerns. I began with my concern about CTA dictating to its locals what could and could not be in their local bylaws. She said that, Yes, CTA does have some things that can and cannot be in the bylaws of their local affiliates. Here is part of my letter to her:

Dear President Kerr,

I am writing to you to express some of my disappointments and frustrations regarding CTA and its officials.
To begin, I would like to ask you why CTA is dictating to what can and cannot be in the bylaws of a local CTA Affiliate? Several years ago, there was a long, negative contract negotiations between the El Centro (Elem) Teacher’s Association and the governing board of the El Centro (Elem.) School District. ECETA officers were not forthcoming in keeping its members informed about what was going on. Using our bylaws that existed at that time, members of ECETA circulated a petition and forced its own officers to hold a meeting to discuss the state of negotiations. This happened twice, and ECETA chief negotiator, Ernie Bristow and ECETA President Bruce Roberts were furious at this 'insubordination' to their 'power'. After the contract was settled, Ernie Bristow retired from teaching and immediately became the local Uniserve Director. One of the first things he did was to inform ECETA that "our Bylaws were out of compliance with CTA directives" and we HAD to change them to meet the criteria specified by CTA. I REPEATEDLY ASKED MR. BRISTOW TO SHOW ME THIS LETTER / DIRECTIVE FROM CTA. He refused to ever share this letter or directive from CTA with me.
So, via a committee that included myself, Bruce Roberts and Ernie Bristow, the Bylaws of the ECETA were changed. The new bylaws now make it nearly impossible for members of ECETA to petition their leaders for a meeting to discuss a subject of concern of ECETA members, the officers are now elected for a much longer term of office and there were changes to make it harder to amend the bylaws. Yes, I complained and argued about many of these proposed changes, but Uniserve Director Bristow kept up his mantra, "CTA said we have to do this!" I tried to include a number of additions to these proposed new bylaws such as inclusion of secure, monitored voting for local elections, making negotiators an elected position and allowing for adequate notification of ALL schools of scheduled ECETA meetings. These additions to these proposed bylaws were quickly 'poo-pooed' and tossed out by Misters Roberts and Bristow. In short, these new bylaws make ECETA a much less democratic organization, make it much more difficult for members to make changes and discourages participation by its members. Yes, to my disgust, these new bylaws were approved in a very lightly attended ECETA meeting; approved without even being able to read, study or debate the new bylaws. Again I ask, “Why is CTA dictating to its locals what can and cannot be in our bylaws?"
Mrs. Kerr seemed concerned to hear this. I will know the extent of her concern when I get a response from her or one of her many, many minions.

I also wrote to her:
" Secondly, I really wish CTA would stop their endorsement of candidates for political office. In my opinion, this does more harm than good. It makes CTA look like an arm of the Democratic Party, because 98% of its endorsements are for Democratic Party candidates. I believe CTA should strive to work with ALL people that are elected to higher public office, be it the Governor, the State Senators or the members of the State Assembly, for the benefit of CTA members. ( FYI, I am not a registered or active member of any political party ). Quit giving these pandering politicians union money and hopefully, this may encourage them to do what is right without being paid for it."

I also mentioned, both verbally and in my letter, that I wished CTA and NEA were truly democratic organizations who allowed their members to actually be able to cast a vote for their state and national officers.

I ended with my thanks to her for being here this evening, and that I wished the President of CTA would come by sometime to talk to the teachers, not just the Uniserv Rep and his special invitees or the local officers. I mentioned that years ago, when I taught in Arizona, AEA President Dennis Van Roeckle (currently NEA V.P.), made the effort to come way up to where I/We were in the N.E. corner of Arizona to talk to the teachers and how we appreciated his visit with us. (we were about a seven hour, one way, drive from Phoenix.)

Special for this evening, I made up a button; it was a red circle with a red slash through the words "Democracy, CTA - NEA". While standing in line to get the mostly bland dinner buffet that was available, a well-dressed older lady ahead of me kept turning around and glancing at me. Finally, she said to me, "IF I may, why are you wearing that button?" I looked at her and replied, "When I can cast my single vote for who is President of my State Union and President of NEA, then I believe I can take it (the button) off." She kinda nodded, and with what I interpret as a slightly 'sour'or 'annoyed' look on her face, she turned away. I later found out that she was the Director of CTA, Diana Jones.

Anyhow, CTA President Barbara Kerr got to hear from me. I really hope she responds. I will let readers of my blog know if I hear anything back from CTA or if I get a visit from some goons in the middle of the night.....oh, but this isn't that kind of Union, is it?

I also found out last night that I am going to LA for the NEA Convention. Unfortunately, I was not elected. I get to go because I applied and the numbers of California teachers who are needed did not surpass the number who applied, so I do not get the pleasure of being elected by my fellow teachers to represent them at this grand, lovy, socialistic affair.

As always, thanks for reading my blog. I Welcome Your Comments !