Poway Federation of Teachers, Local 2357

Chartered 1972

As you can tell, our first years as an organization were a bit stormy. We had started two years before this incident with six members, Ted Roybal as our first president and Wanda Faust as our vice-president. Many of us had been upset with the way teachers were treated in Poway, but Ted was the real organizer. Under his leadership we won the right to use mailboxes and began our growth as an organization.

Wanda Faust also encountered Superintendent Craig's diplomatic ways, as is demonstrated by the last paragraphs of 3-6-73 and 4-2-73 letters to Wanda:

Wanda, your activities have reached the point where they are considerably more than a nuisance. Henceforth, I intend to document each violation of district policy or procedure. Unless you conduct your activities in an honest, open and approved fashion, I shall be forced to take appropriate disciplinary and/or dismissal action against you.

I also suggest that you not waste everyone's time by making any Board presentations. The Board and I see eye to eye in this matter, and the only way we intend to modify our stand is to have a court order us to do so. In my opinion, the legal gobbledygook cited by Holden is pure hogwash. If not, bring on your high-powered legal staff; we are quite prepared to defend our position in court. This determination has been amply demonstrated in the three lawsuits brought by Mr. Daniel Nasman, who, significantly, is no longer with us.

We continued to “waste everyone's time” and the organization grew. Supt. Craig was later returned to the classroom by the Board of Education and “significantly, is no longer with us.”

PFT organized around such issues as 6th grade camp, Supt. Craig's salary freeze, school board elections, Stull Act evaluations, Title IX enforcement, vouchers, year-round schools, collective bargaining, and enforcement of the Special Education requirements. Although educational issues had priority, PFT also supported the social issues of the day such as the grape boycott and the J.P. Stevens strike.

By the time of the Rodda Act of 1976, PFT was a credible organization. Anna Wilson was our president during this meet and confer time and continued to be active throughout the first very arduous negotiations. Anna continues to be active today.

Wanda Faust was president when PFT won the first collective bargaining election on December 6, 1976. We had less than 25% of the teachers as members but we won because we were willing to confront the administration with the issues. Faust was also an active vice president of the California Federation of Teachers for over 10 years, CFT's first chairperson of the Women in Education Committee in 1971, chair of the Teacher Legal Defense Fund and received the CFT Teacher Rights Award.

In these early years of bargaining, when we spent hundreds of hours at the bargaining table, Twin Peaks School, with almost 100% membership, was a lifesaver. Thanks to Tony Bechtold, Don Raczka, and many others, any projects that needed to be done could be sent to Twin Peaks.

Our first bargaining team was made up of Wanda Faust, chief negotiator, Don Raczka, Warren Abraham, Jim Barter, Kim Model1 and Tom Bankhead. This represented a coalition of members of both teacher organizations and one non-affiliated teacher. Joanne Peterson, Bill Chiment, Dan White, Kevin Dorward, Bob Bjorkquist and Jim Schanback were added for the second set of negotiations. Wanda, Don, Kim and Jim continued.

The teachers and many community members were also supportive when a billboard was sponsored to demonstrate our plight in October 1976, “WELCOME TO POWAY, HOME OF THE LOWEST PAID TEACHERS of all 81 comparable California districts,” and when we had a march down Poway Road September 27, 1979.

Essie Ricketson has made many contributions through the years. She has been a County Labor Council Delegate, CLUW president, and CFT Women in Education Committee member, as well as organizer of two art auctions, our Title IX expert and great writer of flyers. Essie has received the CFT Teacher Rights Award and the CFT Women in Education Award.

Our first full-time president in 1981 was Don Raczka, a member of many negotiating teams, organizer of negotiation activities, and a COPE award recipient. Don fought the battle against teacher layoffs when there was a $2.4 million error and Poway received 0% from the state, and made another effort to achieve unity in forming the United Educators of Poway. UEP was elected the collective bargaining agent but CTA's constitution prohibited this united teacher organization. Currently Don's mentor project helps set standards throughout the country. This Professional Assistance Program, with a union majority on the governance committee, provides fulltime teacher consultants to induct and evaluate all new teachers.

By the 1983-84 school year, membership had grown to 69%, a 23% increase over the last three years of Bill Chiment and Don Raczka's terms as president.

Returning as a full-time president, Bill Chiment, another seasoned negotiator and CFT vice-president, expanded the professional role of teachers in our district by developing the mentor teacher program with a teacher elected selection committee. He also got Poway teachers involved in the educational reform movement through the Forum on the Teaching Profession, the California legislature's Blue Ribbon Commission. A scholarship program for high school students was also expanded.

Jim Dyer, a CFT vice-president and PFT president from 1985-87, participated on five bargaining teams, negotiated the Monthly Forum with the superintendent and instituted the annual training workshop for building representatives. Also during Jim's term, forty-three teachers were properly placed on the salary schedule and received back pay, and CFT awarded Poway special recognition for membership growth. The membership award was for the highest membership percentage in the state for a union that has voluntary membership.

Our current president, Bill Crawford, has continued our tradition of vigorously defending teachers' rights. In addition, a number of seeds planted in past years have come to flower. The Mentor Teacher project of Don Raczka has become a union-management partnership to support and evaluate first year teachers. Hourly teachers have been placed on the uniform salary schedule, and the district has agreed to provide after-school child care for teachers' children. AFT President A1 Shanker was invited by the district to address an all-teacher meeting. Most hopefully, we are working with the district toward a mature, non-adversarial bargaining model. Thus far have we come from the days of “I am the Superintendent, you are a teacher.”

This sounds like a success story of presidents, but it has been the success story of more than these people everyone from the secretaries, Lillian Hecht and Jenny Humphrey Savage, to the CFT staff and leadership, and most of all to the members and supporters, past and present.

We continue to negotiate and to fight the battles for teachers that Ted began.

Most recent negotiating team members were Bill Crawford, chief negotiator, Dick Bosworth, Bridgitte Haley, Eunice Hiediman, Rick Mercurio, Tom Salston, and Jim Shadoan. PFT has made progress in the area of salary and fringe benefits; no longer are we 81st out of the 81 comparable districts in California! We are also incorporating more educational issues into our negotiations and agreements as we continue to defend teacher rights through grievances and unfair labor practices when necessary.

Many present and past PFT activists are in leadership positions in the County and State Departments of Education as well as mentor teachers, principals and vice-principals.

There were six members when we started in 1971. Today we have twenty schools with about 75% membership. With membership of more than 750 teachers, PFT is one of the 100 largest K-12 locals in the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)!

(Wanda Faust, contributor)

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