California Educator

October 2012

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NO ON 32 A "AFTER PAYCHECK DECEPTION was enacted, politicians put a chokehold on us and there was a further shift toward big business, ture attacking teacher rights after the passage of paycheck decep- tion. One of the laws takes away bargaining rights; another pays teachers based on test scores. And the third, says Cyr, "trades teachers for laptops. It eliminated more than a thousand teaching positions by mandating that every student in the state take two online classes to graduate. to get all three laws on the November ballot, and is working hard to get them all repealed. But it has less money to fight with. "The political playing field is tilted toward big business," says A legal challenge was mounted. The IEA successfully petitioned " Cyr. "Corporations consistently outspend the teachers union. Our 10,000 IEA members in the classroom try to be the voice for students who don't have a political voice. When you don't have their right to contribute to political causes cannot be taken for granted after their Legislature enacted a Prop. 32-like "paycheck deception" law that legally changed the way the union collects money for IEA's Political Action Committee for Education (PACE). This could happen in California if Proposition 32 is passed by voters in November, and Cyr warns that it will have devastating consequences. For example, three bad laws were passed by the Idaho Legisla- Idaho NEA affiliate members learned the hard way that " Association president. "We could not make significant political contributions. We lost education-friendly legislators. That was just the beginning. " says Penni Cyr, Idaho Education a balanced system in place, someone loses. And that someone is our students." Before paycheck deception, IEA members had the right to opt out of making political contributions through their dues, which is also the case in California. The new model created a logisti- cal nightmare for the association. The percentage of members contributing to the association's PAC dropped significantly, because the way to contribute became so confusing. The union waged a legal battle that went to the U.S. Supreme Court and lost. In Idaho, the Legislature imposed paycheck deception. In California, it is something the voters will decide Nov. 6. Cyr urges CTA members to embrace the "opportunity" to campaign whole- heartedly against the measure aiming to silence the voice of labor, which she wishes IEA had been able to do. "We learned a lot from this experience, Penni Cyr pened to us reinforced the notion that everything that happens in education is a political decision. We learned it's imperative for teachers to be involved in the political process. You have an opportunity to stop this in California. Learn from our experi- ence. Do what needs to be done. Take every opportunity you have to protect your political voice. Fight as hard as you can to defeat Prop. 32." Idaho is not the only state that has lost political clout due to "special exemption" acts like Prop. 32. " says Cyr. "What hap- "Stifles your voice and decreases your influence to fight for kids." UTAH EDUCATION ASSOCIATION " THE LEGISL ATURE'S INTENT was to reduce our ability to raise funds for political purposes, and that was accomplished," says Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, UEA president. "Our PAC money for campaigns and candidates was reduced by about 75 percent. After this happened, the Utah Legislature became much more conservative in terms of education-friendly candidates." After paycheck deception went into effect in 2002, teacher retirement was the next thing to come un- der attack by lawmakers, who reduced benefits for new hires and changed the retirement limit from 30 years of service to 35. Then came vouchers for private schools, but that legislation was repealed after a lengthy battle. Gallagher-Fishbaugh's message for CTA members: "Paycheck deception measures like Prop. 32 have Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh a direct impact on your ability to participate in the political world. It will change how you do business — and not in a positive way. It quiets your voice. It stifles your voice and it decreases the influence you have — as an individual and as an advocacy organization — to fight for our students." October 2012 11

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