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CA Teacher Union Sued by Teachers - Supreme Court

Original post made by Another watcher, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Jan 8, 2016

A group of teachers has sued the CA Teacher's Union over mandatory payment of union dues. The US Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday and a decision is expected in June.

I love the teacher that started this, Harlan Elrich from Fresno. He said he could do fine without the union's help. "I can negotiate for myself," he said. "I'm a good teacher, highly respected, and I can go anywhere."

"I get to choose what movie I want to go see," Mr. Elrich said. "I get to choose what church I want to go to. I get to choose what gym I want to join."

He should have the same choice, he said, about whether to support a union.

There's a lot of discussion and finger-pointing here in the PW about teachers and Jon Vranesh and the school district and revolving-door principals. Eliminating the union's lock on process and opening up hiring and firing will certainly help in all regards.

Comments (24)

Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 8, 2016 at 6:08 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

The union, as it exits today, exists to serve itself. It's purpose is self preservation over serving those it claims to support.

It's time to evolve and create a customer focused educational system that values, hires, develops, and empowers the right people.


Posted by Rod
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 9, 2016 at 1:17 pm

The self-serving, divisive tactics of CTA and APT are coming home to roost. "Do not be deceived. You will reap what you sow."


Posted by Jtjh
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 9, 2016 at 2:27 pm

I think the focus is being put on the wrong issue. Looking at it from the outside, the problem is that the CTA is basically a monopoly.

In my opinion, teachers need unions. But if they could choose from several unions, there might be less resistance to membership in certain quarters. If there were more than one union, they could still all work together on some issues (eg pay negotiations) but would be able to have differing policies on others, where the CTA's policies currently elicit greater controversy within the ranks.


Posted by Ordinary Joe
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jan 9, 2016 at 5:39 pm

Perhaps unions once had their positive role in America a long time ago. Now there are regulations as OSHA, EEO, etc. which make unions essentially unnecessary. In fact, unions today are parasitic. They latch onto their host organism and sucks the life-blood out of it, contributing anything positive in return to that organism. Once the organism is so weak, or dies altogether, the parasite latches onto another organism. This parasite must be stopped.


Posted by Registered Joe
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2016 at 6:19 pm

Court-watchers report that a majority of the justices seem ready to support the claim that free speech rights are violated when public employees are forced to pay union dues.

Teachers must pay dues and the union spends those dues supporting political agendas that teachers may or may not agree with. In California, teachers are required by law to pay dues whether they like it or not, a so-called "fair share" fee.

In other states where fair-share laws have been struck down, giving workers a choice, union membership and revenue available for politics has declined dramatically.


Posted by Another watcher
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2016 at 7:28 pm

Arguing before the court in favor of the unions is California's Solicitor General, Edward DuMont.

I thought it strange that a CA official would be taking a side, any side, on the issue, which is clearly between a private entity (a union) and provate individuals (teachers).

Then I read that Edward DuMont was appointed by Kamala Harris, our Democratic Attorney general, who is herself running for higher office. In fact, Kamala Harris created the position of Solicitor General as part of her expansion program. That's all we need, more Democratic attorneys making decisions for the rest of us here in CA.


Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2016 at 5:23 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

"Perhaps unions once had their positive role in America a long time ago. Now there are regulations as OSHA, EEO, etc. which make unions essentially unnecessary."
I disagree strongly with this statement. Here is a quote from Robert Reich, former Former U.S. Secretary of Labor:

"Giant corporations can amass market power without facing antitrust lawsuits (think Internet cable companies, Monsanto, Big Pharma, consolidations of health insurers and of health care corporations, Dow and DuPont, and the growing dominance of Amazon, Apple and Google, for example). But average workers have lost the market power that came from joining together in unions."

This is one quote from an excellent article in last Sunday's SF Chronicle, here's the link: Web Link
(And I suggest reading the article before bashing Robert Reich, it is a very informative article.)

The article is about the power that is being held by those with money, and how the lower and middle class have less power than before. Unions are one way the average worker has power, and unions are being weakened and torn down on a regular basis. As Registered Joe has stated, this claim/lawsuit is expected to be upheld, greatly weakening teachers' bargaining power.

I believe unions are just as important as they have always been, but maybe for different reasons. I am guessing anti-union comments from above come from people who have never been in a union.


Posted by oldtimer
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 13, 2016 at 5:50 pm

The Public Employee Unions hurt the lower and middle class taxpayer. Unions make sense when you do not have a monopoly. Since the government is a monopoly, the unions know their jobs cannot go away for being non-competitive. So they demand unreasonable requests or threaten to strike. Since the unions finance many of the elected officials, they get what they want which increases taxes or decreases services. In the real world, they would have to think about loosing market share and thus loosing jobs if they are non-competitive.

The other thing with public employee unions is the management teams (who are supposed to be on the other side of the negotiations) have "me too" clauses so when the union gets an increase in pay or benefits, the management team will receive an increase. So since the management team will receive more when the unions make more, and the elected officials are controlled by the unions, there are no checks and balances.

People who I have talked to in private sector unions feel the public sector unions give a bad name to unions and weaken unions in general. People see BART workers striking for outrageous salary/benefits and then blame all unions.


Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2016 at 6:02 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

oldtimer, this thread is about the teacher's unions (though I realize this will affect all unions), so I ask you: when was the last time PUSD struck?

I do definitely agree though that Bart overplayed its hand by playing the strike card when striking twice in 2013, that was idiotic. They turned a lot of people against them.


Posted by teachers union
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2016 at 6:18 pm

The Pleasanton teachers file grievances, have a hit list to remove certain principals they don't like, and simply use ways like not teaching the required material to get their way.

Also they organize 'sick outs' for themselves as well as also tell parents to email the district saying they will keep their children home in 'sick outs' to get their way.

Very disturbing.


Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2016 at 6:41 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

@ teachers union, taking your points one at a time:

Yes, we do file grievances, though not that many. It's great to know we can challenge authority, when needed, and have the union behind us so we don't face repercussions. I bet most workers would like to be able to challenge their bosses when they need to be challenged.

We do not have a principal hit list. Some principals are more liked than others. But other than Vranesh, none have been removed.

"...and simply use ways like not teaching the required material to get their way." So we get our way by not doing our job? That's an odd way to think, teachers who do a good job have more leverage and respect, not the other way around.

When I was in high school many years ago, there was a sick-out done by one department. There have never been any as long as I have been teaching. We don't like them, and I have heard they are illegal, but I cannot confirm that.

Let's stick to the facts, only one thing you said is true (grievances), and they are not that common.


Posted by teachers union
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2016 at 7:23 pm

The revolving door of administrators and so-called interim administrators continues to spin. The PUSD is inundated with grievances from the unions, there is a principal and administrator hit list, all principals in the District have left the District in the last 4 years or left for jobs in the District office or gone out for medical retirement, or have been targeted for removal with very public antics from the union such as the Hart principal. And of course the teachers union also has worked to get classified union personnel removed from school sites for unfounded reasons such as the custodian at Walnut Grove.

All the principals have left the high schools, all but one has left the middle schools (except Conde), and all the principals at the elementary schools have left, with sometimes turnover multiple times a year. Hope you union people at the union shop are all patting yourself on the backs over there.

The teachers union also spends much of its money on political campaigns such as its effort to get Tim Sbranti elected for assembly by doing an all out sleazy hit campaign against Steve Glazer. The end result is that now a Republican assembly member represents the Tri Valley. I'll bet the union shop is not patting itself on the back about that.

And the union has stopped any new school from being constructed in Pleasanton for the last 20 years. Yep, all great productive stuff from the union.


Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 13, 2016 at 9:07 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Get the facts -
- work for a good company / boss and challenges are expected and lead to growth. I regularly, respectfully, challenge decisions / direction I don't agree with. I also change direction if I'm wrong. I don't need to hide behind someone else to do so.
- money, power, influence is earned not given. Just because someone else has doesn't mean everyone else gets.


Posted by teachers union
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2016 at 9:48 pm

In addition, Forbes magazine reports that the union arguments for Freidrich vs. California Teachers Association fell on deaf ears in front of the Supreme Court. Forced payment of union dues violates freedom of speech and freedom of association. Why should teachers be compelled to pony up dues for forced ousters of well - liked principals like Jon Vranesh and forced job changes for CSEA members and to produce hit pieces in political campaigns?

Here is the article Web Link

Noted is that colleges with union faculty are the lowest ranked colleges in the country. Colleges without union faculty are the best. Parents, do not send your kids to a college with union faculty. Kids deserve an education.

The worst thing in the world is to have to have kids suffer through substandard union teachers at the K-12 level + substandard union college teachers at universities and colleges. No wonder Khan Academy is so popular.


Posted by Another watcher
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2016 at 11:30 pm

Facts, there's a big difference between the services that the companies you mention (cable, media, you name it) and the services provided by public sector unions. The difference is that I can vote with my dollars when it comes to private companies. Don't like Comcast? At least there's an alternative. Don't like schools with union teachers? Too bad, pay twice, once with your tax dollars, and once again for a private school. Think Uber is inefficient and mismanaged? Try Lyft. Think BART is inefficient and mismanaged? Too bad, pay anyway.

The inefficiencies brought upon all of us by public sector unions are enormous. On top of the general mediocrity brought upon by unions, we have pensions, health care, and work rules with no-strike contracts to deal with and pay for. Who else besides public sector union employees get to bank their sick time over a period of years? Go check out the facts on the number of unused sick days that CA teachers are allowed to accumulate, and get paid for when they leave. It's over 130. Days. Half a year's pay.


Posted by Unions? Go watch the meetings
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2016 at 11:36 pm

TV30 does such a great job of archiving the school board meetings. on the topic of PUSD's union representatives, I'd encourage you to go watch some of the meetings. TV30 makes it easy, you can jump to any section of the meeting with direct links. At each board meeting, the teacher union president and classified union president each address the board. You can jump straight to their reports by clicking "Associations". If you'd like to see the quality of representation, peruse the April 14, 2015 board meeting. Web Link
At this meeting you can hear Bonnie, the classified union president marvel at how Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi was part of a Global Forum. "Parvin is going to take us to worldwide recognition.....recognized on the world stage". Well, that forum was an open to all supes, if you pay a few thousand $ ... It probably looked good on Ms. Ahmadi's application to Castro Valley!
In the second association report, Janice Clark reports to the board (not sure why...) about her youngest daughter's career choices. Ms. Clark explains that she hoped her daughter would be a teacher, but she changed path and had accepted a position as an admin asst for a CEO, making more money than Ms. Clark "and all of us in here...". She shares how her daughter explained that it's not right that teachers had prepared her to get that super high paying ultra rich job, yet now "i make more than all of you". Ms. Clark's point, I assume, is that it's not right that teachers educate students who go on to be Doctors, Engineers, Scientists, and Admin Assistants (to CEOs), yet they all make more money than teachers.
Go listen to her video yourself. It's worth the time. You can also view her report, and the classified union report, from any other month's meeting. I don't believe you can reach the conclusion that the unions are innocent do-gooders who just care about the kids. I feel sorry for the great teachers who have this "representation" sandwiched between them and the kids.
Both Janice Clark and the CSEA assume a threatening, and confrontational stance with the administration. More money, more concessions, more unfunded pension. It's a take take take mentality. I tend to believe that the majority of our fantastic teachers are similarly saddened by approach of these unions, and their leadership.


Posted by Another watcher
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2016 at 1:23 pm

The vast majority of Pleasanton teachers are what we'd all want: dedicated, hard-working, really caring when it comes to students. For some its just a job, and they ride it out reaping the benefits afforded to them by the union contract.

I really hope the Supreme Court rules to enable teachers to opt out of mandatory payment of union dues. Less dues = less union revenue = less influence on politics and politicians. Over time, less union influence will enable workplace changes like merit pay, which will reward teachers that care and do a great time and weed out those that can't or don't want to. With the current union and its rules in place, that will never happen.


Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 14, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Another Watcher,
Good point. I think many fear the unknown of wage assessment without current union limitations. To the earlier comment about teachers influencing doctors, future ceos, etc the ability to reward and equitably compensate top performing teachers goes up without the current union


Posted by Sara
a resident of Danbury Park
on Jan 14, 2016 at 5:39 pm

The grip hold unions and developers have over elected officials needs to end. No one should be forced to pay dues to a union or developer that end up being used for political purposes particularly when the source of the dues is taxpayer money. We the taxpayers are in fact funding these public sector unions because we pay the salaries of the union members.

Glad the Supreme Court is putting an end to this nonsense.


Posted by Another watcher
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2016 at 6:59 pm

The Supreme Court hasn't put an end to it yet. The decision is expected in June. It's possible that the decision will be a kind of halfway step towards abolishing mandatory dues for public sector workers, rather than a full repeal.

Along these same lines, half the states in the US are now "right to work" states, meaning that private sector jobs are protected from union abuse. Union membership can't be used as a condition of employment in those states. The idea of the "closed union shop" is gone. Even long-standing manufacturing states like Michigan and Indiana are now right-to-work states, and they're competing for business. California, Illinois, New York, and 22 others are not. And public sector workers and unions are exempt from right-to-work laws.


Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2016 at 8:56 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

@ teachers union,
"The revolving door of administrators and so-called interim administrators continues to spin." They are not leaving because of the union, they are leaving primarily for promotions, and some to retirement.
"The PUSD is inundated with grievances from the unions, there is a principal and administrator hit list" Both are false statements.
"...or have been targeted for removal with very public antics from the union such as the Hart principal" The Hart principal is still in place. If we had a hit list, it obviously doesn't work very well.
"And the union has stopped any new school from being constructed in Pleasanton for the last 20 years" Absolutely laughable, we have nothing to do with this.
"The worst thing in the world is to have to have kids suffer through substandard union teachers at the K-12 level" The 'worst thing in the world', really? Over the top hyperbole like that does no one any good. If you don't like union teachers, then go to another state, another country, or home school your kids. There's some hyperbole for you.

@ Pleasanton parent
"work for a good company / boss and challenges are expected and lead to growth. I regularly, respectfully, challenge decisions / direction I don't agree with" That's great, but many bosses have thin skins. It's fantastic to be in that situation, but I've had good bosses and lousy bosses, and unfortunately way too much of the latter.
"money, power, influence is earned not given" Are you talking about teachers specifically or the union as a whole? Teachers get little money and no power and influence without he union, but the union is not 'given' anything. We negotiate for our salaries and working conditions.
"ability to reward and equitably compensate top performing teachers goes up without the current union" False. It will go down.

@ Unions? Go watch the meetings
Thanks for the recommendations, I watch almost every meeting, and have gone to many meetings over the years. I am familiar with the meeting and comments you are referring to, but I really don't understand your point. That we're confrontational? It may seem like that to you in the video, but we actually have a good working relationship with the administration.

@ Sara
"The grip hold unions and developers have over elected officials needs to end...Glad the Supreme Court is putting an end to this nonsense." But it's great that corporations will still have a 'grip hold' over elected officials, with no unions to help the common worker.


Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 14, 2016 at 10:56 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

False? Ha. You must be a sub par performer.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 15, 2016 at 10:22 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"False. It will go down." GtF, where are the facts for that? Why, with a union in place, is the notion of merit pay dismissed? Speculation on my part, but I'd suggest the unions don't want it to be overly obvious who the mediocre performers are, even though everyone knows who they are already. So what your leadership is doing is not letting its own members shine and be rewarded. Have members ever been asked if they support rewarding their best?


Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 16, 2016 at 9:34 am

DKHSK is a registered user.

Let me get this straight:

1. The union takes money from its members to fund political activities and to negotiate pay and benefits every few years.

2. The union gives political funding to democrat politicians and favored education establishment-types.

3. The union then negotiates pay and benefit packages with those same democrat politicians and education establishment-types.

How can any thinking person not understand how this is bad?

Public unions should be banned outright as it is a rigged game against the taxpayer. Plain and simple.

You public employees can and should negotiate your own pay. Don't like the offer (?), do what the rest of us do and find a employer willing to pay you what you think you're worth.

As John McClane said in the movie Die Hard: Welcome to the party pal!


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