California Educator

MARCH 2011

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California teachers join in the Wisconsin fight LEFT: “We are with you tonight, we will be with you tomorrow, and we will be with you as long as it takes,” said CTA President David A. Sanchez at the rally in support of Wisconsin workers. Linda Middle School in Victorville. “We are so con- cerned about what this means for the middle class. Public workers are not the root of all evil, and we shouldn’t be demonized.” Her husband agreed. going through, but Adelanto District Teachers Association members Dee and Mark Heit- kamp thought showing their support for collective bargaining was important enough that they drove 400 miles from Victorville to turn out for a union rally in Sacramento on Feb. 22 — and then turned around and drove back that night. “If we take turns, I think we I can get back around 2 a.m. so we can teach tomorrow,” middle school teacher Dee Heitkamp said, minutes before the candle- light vigil began on the West Capitol steps. The Heitkamps joined a crowd of 2,500 to pro- test the heavy-handed proposal by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that eventually was passed by the Wisconsin Legislature to elimi- nate that state’s collective bar- gaining rights. Joining in the rally co-spon- 30 California Educator | MARCH 2011 t may have been a small sac- rifice compared to what their colleagues in Wisconsin were sored by CTA were several other unions, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Service Employees Interna- tional Union (SEIU) Local 1000, the California Labor Federation, and the Sacramento Central Labor Council, and a large contingent of Tunisian-, Egyptian- and Libyan- Americans who filed in after their own protest nearby. Smaller vigils were held in Oakland and Palm- dale, and even larger rallies took place throughout the state and nation. CTA local chap- ters and members that couldn’t attend also sent messages of solidarity through CTA’s Facebook page. (See sidebar on the next page.) “My husband and I have been watching the news for weeks,” said Dee Heitkamp, who teaches at Mesa “I’m here because I’m afraid that if we get rid of collect ive bargaining, we’ll have no say over our jobs or be able to advocate for our students,” said Mark Heit- kamp, who teaches third grade at Eagle Ranch School in Victorville. Wisconsinites became out- raged when their newly elected governor surreptitiously slipped a proposal to eliminate collec- tive bargaining into his plan to cut public employee pensions and benefits. In the ensuing weeks, teachers agreed to con- cessions in their contracts, but drew a line in the sand when it came to the elimination of col- lective bargaining. Using what’s being called “the nuclear option,” Walker and the state’s Senate Republicans stripped out the financial com- ponents of the governor’s un- popular budget repair bill on March 9. That allowed them to vote on provisions to eliminate collective bargaining without the presence of the 14 Senate Demo- crats who had fled to Illinois to prevent its passage. The result is that Wisconsin state public employees’ rights to negotiate over pay have been severely curtailed, and their rights to bargain over BELOW: Thousands gathered in front of the West Capitol steps in Sacramento to support collective bargaining rights. CTA Photos by Rosemary Mangino

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