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Teacher Collective Bargaining

In 2002, the powerful California Teachers Association amassed a $2 million war chest to support a bill they sponsored to give teachers the authority to negotiate issues such as curriculum and textbooks ­ matters that are the responsibility of local elected school boards. Co-authored by the Speaker of the Assembly, with Democrats in control of both houses as well as the Governor's office, passage of the legislation seemed assured.

Business groups, education advocates, school boards and school administrators asked our staff to help design and implement a public affairs campaign that would explain the implications of this proposal to the public and generate grassroots opposition to the bill. With a fraction of the resources available to the teachers' union, our team launched a public information campaign that relied on highly respected educators and opinion leaders to deliver the message that public education would suffer if control of our children's education were taken from locally elected school boards and subject to the highly politicized and contentious environment of the bargaining table.

Newspaper editorials, columnists and letters to the editor condemned the bill as a blatant power grab and thousands of parents wrote to legislators demanding them to reject the legislation. There was so much public opposition to the bill that Assembly leadership, including the Speaker, decided not to send it to the floor for a vote.



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