LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Two California advocacy groups are calling on teachers in Los Angeles and statewide to drop their memberships with labor unions.
Members of the California Public Policy Center (CPPC) and California Teachers Empowerment Network (CTEN) have announced the kickoff of a two-month campaign aimed at educating teachers on how they can cut ties with what critics including Steve Gunn of the nonprofit Education Action Group Foundation described as "increasingly radical," "industrial-style" unions.
The campaign also seeks to inform Los Angeles Unified School District teachers represented by United Teachers Los Angeles — which allows members to affiliate either with the California Teacher Association (CTA) or the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) — on how they can receive a rebate of $300 to $400 on dues if they drop their union memberships.
The partnership has also created a website that offers printable, generic opt-out letters for dropping union membership.
In order to be eligible to receive a rebate, teachers must opt out of CTA and send the union a request annually between Sept. 1 and Nov. 15, according to CPPC and CTEN.
"I've worked with hundreds of teachers who wanted out of CTA and everyone has a unique reason for doing so," CTEN President Larry Sand said. "Some teachers are shocked to learn that CTA has spent over $290 million in members' money on political activities in the last 14 years."
Sand's comments were in reference to a report that found the CTA spent more than $211 million on campaign and lobbying spending between 2000 and 2009, topping other lobbying groups including Chevron Corp., Philip Morris USA, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, according to the report.
Critics such as Gunn hailed the campaign and called for teachers to "drop their ties to these increasingly radical groups that only represent the views and interests of a small group of elite union leaders."
There was no immediate response to the campaign from union officials.
Earlier this month, the UTLA filed two unfair labor practice charges against the LAUSD for alleged retaliation against a dozen teachers at Crenshaw High and City of Angels School.
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