Grateful for the benefits of ACC membership

Joining a union is one of the very first things many teachers do when they start a new job. Much like taking out health insurance or receiving a benefit like a faculty parking permit, joining a faculty union is often done during the HR admissions process.

If you know someone who is not unionized, I hope you will encourage them to join as soon as possible. Online registration at your local, CCA, CTA and NEA is now possible at join.cta.org.

Joining a union is a form of insurance. CTA members benefit from a $1,000,000 educator liability insurance plan, but use CTA’s group legal services more frequently. Last month, the CTA announced that it had begun work on a threatened permanent dismissal of a Barstow CCD teacher, a North Orange County CCD district retaliatory case and College of the Siskiyous. Although only a small percentage of us need legal support during our careers, the support of lawyers familiar with public employment laws and regulations is a great advantage whenever it becomes necessary. .

Our union membership is also, in some ways, a benefit to employees. There are benefits departments for CTA and NEA members that provide disaster relief funds, travel discounts, and well-approved insurance offers. Additionally, a new faculty member performs their work in an environment supported by past and current union efforts. The wages and benefits we receive are significantly higher than in a similar non-union job; our contracts provide clear processes and some protection against capricious managers; and the policies and procedures that govern each college are subject to close faculty scrutiny. Although many professors don’t think about their retirement plans when they first get hired, their union does. CTA leaders currently hold two of 12 seats on the CalSTRS teachers’ pension board, and a third seat is held by a community college faculty member with significant experience in his non-CTA member union.

Membership in a union is certainly membership in a teacher advocacy group. This year, the state budget included a 4.07% cost of living adjustment (COLA) that combined not only the increase for 2021-22, but also the calculated COLA of 2.31% from 2020-21 which was previously unfunded. CTA’s advocacy resulted in an additional 1% being added to community college funding for an effective increase of 5.07% for most unrestricted accounts. That’s money that can go into teachers’ salaries and benefits! Along with other community college advocates, we were successful in convincing the state to spend $100,000,000 to hire new full-time faculty and provide an additional $100,000,000 for part-time office hours. Our advocacy is working!

Basically, union membership in your Local, CCA, CTA and NEA allows us to come together to accomplish what we could never accomplish individually. This winter, some CCA members will learn how to deal with grievances or hone their negotiation skills. Some will contact their local legislators, and others will review the dozens of legislative bills to recommend which ones should be supported or rejected by CTA’s professional legislative advocates. Still others will work for racial and social justice or engage in one of the many support roles that a great organization needs.

I am grateful for our union infrastructure and hope you will spread the word to your colleagues about the good we have done and will continue to do.

Andrew B. Reiter