My friend, Larry Sand, a Los Angeles school teacher, along with Lillian Perry, a Fontana school teacher sent a letter to 90,000 school teachers in California who are members of the CTA (California Teachers Union) as described in this post.
Larry just wrote in an email:
About a week ago Lillian Perry and I, along with the “Yes on 75” team, sent an email to 90,000 teachers in CA. The letter addressed the fact that the California Teachers Assn. is spending many millions to defeat several initiatives, which will be on the ballot here in November. CTA chief, Barbara Kerr, flapped her wings, smeared us and threatened us, but never did deal with the substance of what we wrote.
This past Thursday a second email (attached) went to the same teachers. We have yet to hear from Ms. Kerr.
This is the second email he sent to the California teachers:
From the Desk of:Lillian Perry, Fontana Teacher
From the Desk of: Larry Sand, Los Angeles Teacher
October 20, 2005
In every public school in California, we teach our students about our right to freedom of speech. We teach them the value of being able to disagree, but still respect the opinions of those you disagree with. Apparently, freedom of speech is not something our union, the California Teachers Association (CTA) supports.
We wrote to you last week because we strongly disagreed with the political and financial decisions being made by the leadership of the CTA. The purpose of our email was to express a legitimate opinion and to inform our colleagues of our concerns.
Never in our wildest imagination did we believe that the CTA would threaten us with jail time for exercising free speech! Two days after we sent our email, the CTA announced that it was seeking to press criminal charges against us. This is what was reported in the Sacramento Bee:
“CTA Chief Counsel Beverly Tucker sent letters Friday asking the district attorneys of Sacramento, Alameda and Los Angeles counties to investigate the e-mails and ‘take appropriate action including filing criminal charges.’” (10/15/05)
This is what happens when you challenge the political agenda of our union’s leadership.
They do not tolerate a different point of view and instead threaten us with criminal charges because we dare disagree with them. We will never stop speaking out on what we believe and no amount of threat or intimidation will deter us.
We can only assume CTA leadership reacted this way because we are telling you information they don’t want you to know. For example, did you know that the CTA has already spent over $60 million THIS YEAR ALONE on political consultants and television ads? They have spent so much money on politics that they are seeking a $40 million loan just to keep providing basic services to teachers. According to a sworn affidavit by CTA Controller Carlos Moreno, an inability to get this loan would “cause great financial harm to CTA and affect CTA’s ability to continue to deliver its current level of services to members over the long term.”
How is it that our current leadership allowed our union to spend so much money on politics that it must now put itself even deeper in debt in order to provide actual services for teachers? Did you know that our leadership had a private meeting in June where they voted to raise our dues by $180 in order to cover the debt created by all of this political spending?
Our union leadership has grown quite adept at wasting our money on politics. In the past few years alone the CTA has spent over $100 million on political consultants and television ads supporting ballot measures that have NOTHING TO DO WITH EDUCATION!
Here are just a few examples, and you decide for yourself if you agree or disagree with how our leadership spends OUR MONEY. Did you know that CTA:
*Spent $10,000 fighting AGAINST the Three Strikes Law?
*Spent more than $2 million this year on ballot measures dealing with prescription drugs, state energy policy and an abandoned effort to regulate the way people buy cars?! (WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH TEACHING???!!!)
*Spent more than $2 million in 2004 in support of a losing ballot measure that would have made it easier to raise taxes?!
*Spent close to $3 million last year in a botched effort to roll back Prop. 13 and raise property taxes?! Then tried to do it again this year, spending more than $2 million, and botched that one too! (AN UTTER WASTE OF YOUR MONEY!)
Now what on EARTH does state energy policy, and shopping for cars, have to do with education? And what does it get us, as teachers in the classroom? Not a thing.
The millions they wasted on things like that abandoned car shopping campaign sure could come in handy in my classroom. Or yours.
As we mentioned, the CTA leadership is seeking criminal charges against us for sending you these emails. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with our view of the union leadership, we hope you will at least support our right of free speech to voice our opinion.
Please feel free to write to us directly and make your voice heard as well. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is the problem. The public employee’s unions, particularly the CTA, have assessed their union members large amounts of money for political activities. They have done this whether the union member agreed with the position of the union or not. This has provided the unions with vast amounts of their members’ money for political purposes and given the unions great political clout in California. The unions are in great fear of losing this source of funding. So much so that they will threaten two teachers who expressed their opposing opinion by sending emails to other California teachers, presumably in violation of a rule that says that the email list can’t be used without permission of the union. They will try and cut off opposing voices by whatever means they can.
The problem here is that a substantial number of union members do not agree with the political positions of the unions. They should not have to contribute to political causes which they don’t support. Proposition 75, on the November ballot in California will require the unions to get the consent of each member before assessing him for political action funds. I think that is fair. Each member should be able to choose whether he wishes to contribute. Proposition 75 should be supported, and so should Larry Sand and Lillian Perry.