Santa Barbara Federation of Teachers, Local 1081


Chartered 1951

Twenty-four teachers gathered in June 1963 at Jim Jacobsen’s house across from the “Queen of the Missions” to discuss their interest in the AFT with Ralph Schloming, CFT Representative. He reviewed the structure and philosophy of the AFT. Eighteen teachers signed the charter, elected officers, and paid the customary fees and dues.

Jim Jacobsen (LaCumbre JHS) was elected President, Vice President George Hopping (San Marcos), Treasurer Paul Davis (La Cumbre), Secretary Jim Dugan San Marcos), Grievance Chair Jim McDermott (SBHS), and Central Labor Council Rep Tom Martin (SBHS). Other Charter members were: Helene Findley, Donna Hallenbeck, Jack Hickok, Bonnie Hill, Gene Hill, Wayne Jurgensen, Merrill Remick, Bob Traughber, Marilyn Von Bieberstein, Marshall Von Bieberstein, Dorothy Collins, and Frank Dobyns.

Wales Holbrook, a SBHS Psychology teacher, told the new leaders AFT Local 1081 existed in Santa Barbara following WWII. He was past-president. In the Depression teachers took a $1,200 pay cut. In 1951 they joined the AFT to recoup the loss. Once a healthy raise was granted interest waned. Holbrook passed the dues book and records to the new leaders. Local 1081 was resurrected.

The Union announced its presence when the CTC and superintendent agreed to a form of exclusive representation for the CTC/CTA without an election. At the August meeting the officers nervously waited in the stifling board room. The CTC president, a future principal, presented the proposal. Tom Martin gave a collectively-prepared statement that the secret ballot was the only way to determine exclusivity. On a board split 2-2 the proposal was defeated!

In caucus the union leaders slowly realized that in a span of thirty minutes the SBFT had announced its existence, challenged the president of the CTC/CTA, and defeated a proposal of the superintendent. It was an exciting beginning.

Within six months the local had payroll deduction rights, published newsletters, became recognized, and engaged in all district activities. Growth was slow, but from 1964-68, Local 1081 could take direct responsibility for presenting the first comprehensive salary, personnel, and education program to the districts. Local 1081 successfully proposed and lobbied for the first district- paid fringe benefit. Other Union proposals to become policy were personal necessity leave, payroll deduction for insurance, an open transfer policy with postings, open files, an equitable summer school hiring policy, and a class and room assignment procedure. During this period two social studies teachers from Santa Barbara High School served as president, Tom Martin (1964-66) and George Wollschlaeger (1966-68).

SBFT’s 57 members were insufficient to qualify for a Winton Council seat. The Board proposed at least one seat for any recognized organization. The SBTA leadership objected vociferously. The SBFT served on the CEC most years, but their proposals often died for lack of a second. When slights like this occurred, the following morning a “dawn patrol” of leaders like Carol Hansen, Gene Hill, Bruce Roth, and Tom Martin would deliver bulletins to teachers’ mailboxes across the district.

Cesar Chavez’ UFW had friends in Local 1081. In the initial UFW strike Bob Wood and George Wollschlaeger drove trucks of food, clothing, books, and bedding to Delano for the Central Labor Council. Pete Relis persuaded the SBFT Executive Board to send monthly food supplies. The local and Supt. Jackson quietly reached agreement in the 70’s to remove non-UFW grapes from cafeterias. Also on the labor front Mary Stephens (DPHS), was elected first President of the Tri-Counties Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

Ed Siemens, 1968 President, produced The Coast Federated Teacher for Tri-Counties locals printing AFT news of teachers in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo. Locals were chartered in Santa Paula, Ojai, and Carpinteria. Leaders met periodically as a council in Oxnard for dinner and guest speakers. Dick Reese, a SBJHS Building Rep, followed Siemens as president for two terms. Reese’s survey produced a comprehensive contract and over 100 members.

Social events built a close relationship among union members and families. There were dinners, barbeques, pot lucks, TGIF’s and parties. Luminaries spoke, such as Paul Schrade, Regional Director of the UAW. A favorite TGIF location was SBHS math teacher Myrtle Simms’ place on Milpas Street.

In the early 1970’s President Lisa Jalonen responded to the Nixon wage price freeze in a Federal suit with other locals to reinstate lost pay. Jalonen promoted Central Labor Council participation. Under Jalonen membership showed a steady gain.

CTA support of Stull’s “teacher firing law” brought many members to the union. Jim Belden, SBTA past- President and Tom Martin wrote regulations for local implementation of the law to alleviate teacher fears.

In 1974 former Local 1081 member Gary Hart won election in the 35th Assembly District. Hart’s organization in Ventura and Santa Barbara has support from many AFT members. He is the Chairperson of the Senate Education Committee.

By 1974-75 many Union initiatives were Board policy. Also, Children Centers teachers were placed on the regular teachers’ salary schedule with an average raise of 15%! CC teachers became active SBFT members. One, Beth Yeager, served as President from 1979-1981.

In 1974, 218 teachers received notices in the first RIF hearings in the District. SBFT immediately called a meeting at which each teacher was offered complete legal representation without regard to affiliation. SBFT attorney Matt Biren represented 191 of the 218. All were rehired in September and the SBFT had 262 members. Temporary teachers sought help, too. Victor Van Bourg, CFT Counsel, represented – them in a suit which went to the California Supreme Court. It clarified issues regarding the classification of temps.

AFT locals in the area organized the first Tri-Counties QuEST Consortium in 1973. Cheryl Hoffman, President of Local 2216 (Carpinteria), a dynamic personality, helped develop the program. This first professional forum presented by a teacher organization in Santa Barbara was followed in 1976 by a larger QuEST Consortium at UCSB. Albert Shanker and Raoul Teilhet were speakers. Assisting in the planning from Aanta Barbara were Rich Dovgin, Gwen Phillips, Linda Carbajal, Shirley Sendrak, Pat Chavez, and Frank De Martino.

Local 1081 had begun to husband resources under 20-year Treasurer Mike Couch. Couch’s budget provided a large office, equipment, money for affiliate participation, social events, scholarships, and a reserve for the election. Nearly 1,100 voters were eligible in the May 5, 1977 election. Although SBFT had only 320 members every member believed “it could be done.” AFT and CFT provided great support to the local from across the nation. Special assistance was provided by Larry Bordan of the CFT. Mark Hamilton and Beatrice Rosales put together an excellent home visitation campaign. Union members visited 358 teacher homes in a three week period.

To develop a contract proposal, the union created “interest groups”. Resource persons were Frank DeMartino/Marge Secrist (Counselors), Gail Johnson (Nurses), Linda Meier (librarians), Connie Barger (coaches), Barbara Forester (Special Ed.), Steve Crosby (psychologists), Jean Silver (social workers), Gwen Philips (alternative school), Bill Waxman (performing arts), and Irene Kim and Nancy Cole (comp. ed.). Ron Yoshida, David James, Gail Fenelon, Jim McDermott, Rich Dovgin Jan and Charlie Clouse assisted in drafting a comprehensive proposal. This was in stark contrast to opposition’s photostat copy produced by CTA. With a 96% voter turnout the SBFT lost by only 54 votes and won 30-35% votes greater than its membership.

As “loyal opposition,” SBFT was critical when required, and supportive when appropriate. The Union continues to provide advice and unofficial representation for teachers. Mark Hamilton became president after Tom Martin joined the CFT Staff in 1978. The following year Beth Yeager assumed the leadership. In 1979 Yeager embarked on a decertification petition drive but the Union lost the election.

Hamilton returned to the residency in 1981, and in 1983 Rich Dovgin, an English teacher, who had served as Vice President and Secretary became President. Dovgin had served many times as SBHS Faculty Senate Chair. That same year SBFT challenged again. Rich and Joanne Dovgin, Couch, Hamilton, and the Executive Board spearheaded the campaign. It centered on class size, involuntary transfers, reduced fringe benefit coverages, extra work days, elementary prep period, and teacher unity. SBFT received 38% of the vote. With a low turnout SBTA barely had majority support of the unit. During Dovgin’s administration SBFT was one of the few CFT non-bargaining agent locals with increasing membership.

In 1987 Ron Yoshida assumed the presidency. He had been SBFT CEC Rep., Vice President, Teacher Rights Representative, Elementary Rep, and school Building Rep. Yoshida focuses on issues directly affecting elementary teachers and students. In 1988 he reported Santa Barbara’s poor ranking among twenty comparable districts in class size and salary. Yoshida stands in support of teachers rights, education reform, and teacher unity. He works for the enhancement of teacher control over the professional improvement of learning conditions.

(Tom Martin, contributor)