Culver City Federation of Teachers, Local 1343
Chartered in 1958 by ten brave teachers, the Culver City Federation of Teachers, Local 1343, struggled for many years to gain teacher confidence and respect.
While it was true that the outstanding high school teachers were in the AFT (along with a few junior high teachers) it was not until 1970 that an elementary teacher joined. A sick-out at the high school only, in 1969, equaled a major revolution. A few of the teachers called in and said, “I’m on strike and proud of it!” Those probationary teachers joining in the early 60s joined as Mr. or Mrs. X for fear of not getting tenure.
The advent of the Winton Act was a boon to CCFT. In 1973 a CCFT member, Jim Powell, became the chair of the CEC. Because of Jim’s leadership on the Council; the newsletter put out by editor Cal Pitts; Cal’s ex-wife Myrlene, an elementary teacher, who became the CCFT president; former presidents Pat Logsdon, Blanche Patton, Perry Polski, Gary Reidel, Larry Bordan; and other activists like Art Coopersmith, Jane Murray and many others, the CCFT beat CCTA in the first collective bargaining election in 1977 by one vote in a runoff. CCTA had three times the members of CCFT.
A super contract was negotiated, including binding arbitration, with Jim Powell steering things as chief negotiator. Phil Cott became the president and was highly respected by all.
Myrlene went on to join the AFT staff. The old AFT hard-liners started to retire. CTA had maintained a presence and 100 members (out of 350 teachers). And then Phil Cott left Culver City to practice law.
At about that time (1986-87) the CTA chapter launched a campaign for full fringe benefits for retirees, guaranteeing such coverage if they became the bargaining agent. This in the face of the district being financially penalized since 1972 with SB90, a steadily declining enrollment and Serrano.
Despite the excellent leadership of Diane Kaiser, who followed Phil Cott’s presidency, the CTA filed cards in 1988 and won the election by promising a 10% raise each year for three years as well as retiree health benefits. During the eleven year reign of CCFT, CTA challenged two other times and were fended off. New stars have taken over the CCFT leadership, David Mielke as president, Kent Gregory and other teachers more recently hired. Durable Jane Murray still hangs in and is a 110% contributor.
During the first year of CTA as bargaining agent, they negotiated a 4% salary increase, added 20 minutes to the work day along with other take-aways and, of course, did not get retiree benefits.
“CCFT will achieve bargaining agent status again in 1991.” This positive and for sure quote originates with the CCFT executive council, and they mean it.
(Larry Bordan, contributor)