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Parsing a union letter
Posted By Michael Ackley On 10/24/2005 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.
As we predicted, campaigning for and against California Proposition 75 has reached a hysterical pitch.
The propaganda machines are humming, both for the measure and against, in advance of the Nov. 8 special election. But most strident are the cries from the chiefs of public employee unions. They fear the measure because it would require that they obtain members’ permission before using dues money to support political campaigns.
Below, for example, is an actual e-mail sent to union members by the California Teachers’ Association. We thought it would be helpful for us to annotate this missive, explaining what certain phrases or sentences really mean. Paragraphs from the letter are bold faced, with annotated passages in italics. Our explications are in parentheses.
“Dear Colleagues: Many of you have received an e-mail purporting to be from teachers expressing concern about CTA’s fight against the Governor’s destructive agenda and alleging that the leadership of CTA is “on the verge of bankrupting CTA.”
(“Purporting” – this implies no teacher would write such a thing. “Destructive agenda” – that would be balancing the state budget.)
“There are some things that you should know about this e-mail: This e-mail is full of lies and half-truths. It is not from teachers, but rather from the same group of wealthy individuals that put Proposition 75 on the ballot. Samuel P. Baxter and Robin Arkley, Sr., who paid for the writing and sending of this e-mail, are millionaires who support an agenda of school vouchers, dismantling the public schools, and blaming teachers for the problems in our public schools.
(“Not from teachers” – well, teachers may agree with it, and some may have helped write it, but because they didn’t pay for it, it really can’t be from them, can it? “Wealthy” and “millionaires” – This is to say: Rich is bad. “Agenda,” etc. – Fewer public school teachers means less CTA power.)
“CTA is not on the verge of being bankrupted. The Governor has raised over a $100 million dollars and is spending most of it to try to silence us and is threatening everything we believe in: adequate funding for our schools, smaller class sizes, and protecting the professional rights of teachers. We are doing everything that is fiscally prudent to oppose him.
(“Silence us” – as in silence the union bureaucracy. “Everything we believe in” – this would include dismantling Proposition 13′s protections against confiscatory property taxes and protecting programs that create teaching jobs, no matter how ineffective they may be. “Fiscally prudent” – spend whatever it takes to keep control of members’ money.)
“… CTA member dues do pay for political activity – activity aimed at issues that directly affect our members and our students. We are engaged in politics to make sure that the children we teach have decent conditions in which to learn, that teachers have decent pay and working conditions, and that our profession is protected by due process rights. We make no excuses for that, and we are proud of our record of supporting public education.
(“Decent conditions,” etc. – if the union had limited its political activity to matters of wages, hours and working conditions, it wouldn’t be in this pickle.)
“And that is exactly why right-wing extremists and the Governor’s big corporate special interests are putting up the millions of dollars it is costing to run this campaign against teachers.
(“Right-wing extremists” – people who believe public education is a disaster. “Big corporate special interests” – tens of thousands of small shareholders, including, come to think of it, CTA members, through their pension fund. “Campaign against teachers” – demands for accountability.)
They are right about one thing. Proposition 75 is about democracy and our right to be heard. Don’t let them silence our voices. On November 8, Vote NO on Prop. 75.
(“About democracy” – a majority of the membership thinks it’s OK to take your money and use it to support campaigns, candidates and issues you oppose. You don’t like it? What are you, some kind of communist?)
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