Turlock teachers first affiliated with AFT-CFT in 1972, through a Modesto local. In 1973 the group was chartered as the Turlock American Federation of Teachers #2424. Charter members included: Juan Adrover, Denis Chamberlain, Harvey Litvack, John Smith, James Biever, Robert Edwards, George Owings, Edward Brault, Mary K. Holden, and Mary Jean Parton. Ed Brault became our first president, Denis Chamberlain vice-president, Mary K. Holden, treasurer, and Bob Edwards, secretary. Ed Brault heightened interest in the organization through his writing of TAFT's newsletter: "The Roaring Mouse."
In 1975, Denis Chamberlain turned the leadership over to Dan Larson. At this point the future looked bleak for the fledgling organization. Membership had dropped sharply as a result of CTA's campaign. There was a crisis of leadership. No one wished to become president. After a considerable search, Jim Biever agreed to accept the presidency.
Beginning in 1976, all three organizations began campaigning to become the bargaining agent. There were differences among the organizations as to whether the bargaining agent should be for both the elementary and high school districts or represent them separately. The Educational Employees Relations Board held a hearing in 1977 to determine the outcome. The EERB, later to be renamed PERB, ruled that the districts were separate and that each should have a bargaining agent.
TAFT held a decided disadvantage: of 117 teachers in the high school district, TAFT had only 11 members while PEG had 30, and TTA had 66 members. Jim Biever, as president was given help and advice from past presidents Ed Brault, Denis Chamberlain, and Dan Larson. The major issues in the election were independence of local action, difference in the cost of dues, forced agency shop fees, keeping the membership informed, and secrecy of action by the CTA leadership.
The break came shortly before the election when the PEG leadership decided to ask its membership to support TAFT in the election at the high school. This coalition of 11 TAFT members, 30 PEG members, and a considerable number of TTA members who crossed over, produced a TAFT election victory of 59 to 45.
TAFT grew quickly. Negotiations with the district were long and hard during the early years. TAFT's first priority was to negotiate a contract that would provide teacher protection. Salaries were of great importance, but it was generally agreed that we would never accept a raise as a tradeoff for giving up teacher rights and protection.
The district was determined not to negotiate at all. Unfair labor practices were filed against the high school which resulted in the district being given some 39 citations for unfair labor practices. From this time forward the district did negotiate although unwillingly. Denis Chamberlain acted as chief negotiator for 6 years to be followed by Dan Larson.
In 1984 elections for the presidency of TAFT were hotly contested. After eight years as president and two previous challenges, Jim Biever was defeated by George King. George King served one year and was then promoted to principal of Roselawn Continuation High School. Eric Julien, vice-president, A1 Berg, treasurer, and Ken Donaldson, secretary & benefits chairperson, also turned over their positions at about the same time after many years of service. Ron Scheer ran unopposed for the presidency in 1985 and continues to serve in that capacity. Dan Larson continues to serve on the negotiations committee. Jesse Cone continues his many years as grievance chairman. Jim Biever continues as delegate to the Central Labor Council and was elected Secretary-Treasurer in 1987.
TAFT remains strong and has a membership of 73. In recent years animosity has declined as the district has gradually accepted the necessity of negotiations.
Under the leadership of Ron Scheer the teachers now have representation on district committees and have voting advantages on the district budget committee, lottery committee, health benefits committee, and curriculum council (a faculty senate).
The current elected officers: Ron Scheer, president, Megan Boyle, vice president, Dale Pollard, secretary, and Nancy Main, treasurer, along with the rest of the members of TAFT are proactive and play important roles in the planning and development of their school, its curriculum, climate, budgets and negotiations.
History of TC-AFT 2424, Classified Unit of TAFT
TC-AFT represents the Office Technical Business Services Unit which consists of clerical employees, instructional aides and campus supervisors of Turlock High School and Roselawn Continuation High School and the Turlock Adult School.
In January, 1986 members of the classified unit, dissatisfied with the representation of C.S.E.A., discussed the possibility of changing their union affiliation.
After meeting with TAFT president Ron Scheer, certificated members voted and approved the addition of a classified unit to their organization.
Mary Venema, Administrative Secretary, requested a meeting with AFT field representative Sheryl Pettitt. Sheryl met with members and informed them of the benefits of AFT representation. After several meetings, the decision was made to decertify from C.S.E.A.
The Office Technical and Business Services Unit was decertified from C.S.E.A. in September, 1986, following months of campaigning and a somewhat bitter election.
The negotiating team of Ardyce Reisenauer, Linda Sutton, Mary Venema and CFT Representative Bill Callahan have made significant improvements in the contract during the past three years, including longevity pay, vacation increases and reclassifications for more than half of the unit members.
(Ron Scheer, contributor)