The Novato Federation of Teachers, Local 1986, became the first bargaining agent in Novato after receiving 55% of the teachers' votes on November 4, 1976. NFT has remained the bargaining agent through two decertification attempts, each time increasing our margin of victory.
NFT received its charter from AFT on October 18, 1969 with 23 charter members under the leadership of Arthur (Bill) Atwood. It remained a small group with token representation on the old C.E.C. However, all was not well with the Association chapter. As it became more centered on state and county organization affairs, many members became disturbed that the organization's concerns were becoming less oriented to local teacher needs. Loss of local control was also a major issue to many members for decision making power was shifting from the local organization to the regional or state organization. When it became clear that the Association was unresponsive to these concerns, many members of the Association left and formed an independent group, the Classroom Teachers of Novato (C.T.O.N.), headed by Iris Cloudt. It soon became evident, however, that we needed the umbrella cover and help of a national organization and AFT/CFT met those needs. Thus, C.T.O.N. members joined NFT and became the guiding force of the newly merged organization with triple the membership.
Under the leadership of President Iris Cloudt, NFT continued to grow in numbers as more teachers became disillusioned with the Association. When collective bargaining became a reality, NFT was in a good position to "go for the gold" and become the exclusive bargaining agent. NFT began preparations for a challenge election under the leadership of W. Jerry Larkin and Iris Cloudt, who became the chairperson of the NFT contract committee. The Association delayed the election, but with the aid of CFT/AFT staff people, especially Sam Bishop, NFT ran a successful classroom teacher oriented campaign, under the direction of President Helen Vargas in the fall of 1976.
NFT set out to negotiate the first collective bargaining contract for Novato after obtaining a great deal of input from Novato teachers. Among the highlights of the contract was the concept of professional hours of employment. No time clock was to be employed and teachers were left to determine how their professional duties would be met.
Over the years that NFT has been the official voice for Novato teachers, the contract has been steadily improved. Under the leadership of Presidents P. Carey McCarthy and Helen Vargas O'Hara respectively the following noteworthy achievements were accomplished. Extra duty assignments were slowly bargained away and some weekly prep time was achieved for elementary teachers. A permanent sabbatical fund was established, and teachers were to be paid a negotiated hourly rate or daily rate for any work over and beyond their professional responsibilities, as well as for voluntary participation in District authorized and established in-service activities and curriculum work. Salary increases have also been negotiated to increase Novato's salary schedule rank in the Bay Area.
Over the years great effort has been made to develop a more cooperative attitude in relations between the District and the Federation. Through the grievance procedure and regular meetings between the Superintendent and the Federation president, NFT has assumed an ever increasing role in the professional activities of Novato teachers. As we approach the 1990s, NFT foresees even more improvement in the professional status of our teachers as we continue to improve an already excellent contract. We also look forward to a sharing of decision-making powers in the District. It is the goal of the current officers and building representatives, under the direction of President W. Jerry Larkin, to professionalize teaching and take an active role in determining our future.
(Jerry Larkin, Contributor)