Doug Thiel hosting Retirement Seminar for faculty May 2017 (repeated in 2018 and well attended!)
As your union President, I do not consider it my job to get involved in politics or to advance any particular political agenda. My focus is on improving the benefits, safely and working conditions of the 1200 Full and Part-time faculty who serve nearly 30,000 students in our three community colleges. The only excursion into the political arena is your union’s work to help elect members to the Board of Trustees who will listen to faculty. These are candidates who run in a non-partisan election.
However, this summer a 40 year precedent that authorized the collection of a “fair share” from non-union members working in the public sector in States that allowed for unions to have collective bargaining was overturned. It was overturned by a highly politicized group that financed the legal challenge of Mark Janus. The politics of this group and the financing by such persons as the Koch brothers is well known. The Koch brothers and other billionaires also provide the financial support to a group know as the Freedom Foundation.
Since Janus, the ultra conservative Freedom Foundation claims it has launched a campaign in a trio of West Coast union bastions — California, Oregon and its home state of Washington — aimed at shrinking union ranks by 127,000 members. The group wants this campaign to serve as an example for similar efforts around the country.
I have previously mentioned that this “Freedom Foundation” will be attempting to use the California Public Records Act to demand your personal addresses and other contact information including your telephone numbers. Your union already as a letter on file with the District to resist this invasion of privacy. Frankly, I did not know much about this group until recently. They clearly have an agenda. The research that I have done on the web indicates extreme biases that goes beyond just attacking public employee unions.
But like I said, my job is not to advocate a political agenda, my concern is the tactics used by this group, I find them invasive. We already get more calls on our phones, text messaging from advertising, and other, unwanted communication as it is. Personally, I do not want another politically driven group to be calling and contacting me with their view of things. That is why I will be working with the District on this issue of faculty privacy.
Funding for this group is not as transparent as it is for the Freedom Foundation. This group is a self-proclaimed whistle blower. And while some good has come from persons willing to expose corrupt practices, Project Veritas appears to selectively edit what it operatives surreptitiously obtain with tapes and videos (often in violation of the law). Multiple lawsuits against this organization have alleged trespassing and theft. This group apparently believes that the end justifies the means. But as a critical thinker, I would argue this can result in a slippery slope. Already, charges of “slicing and dicing” video tapes to mis-represent the actual truth is being presented against Project Veritas in court cases. Apparently, the zeal of this group knows no bounds.
The only reason to mention Project Veritas is that I have received information that this group has already contacted union officials and college instructors in the California Community College Districts this summer. These instances involve misrepresenting who they are while taping what was said to illicit comments that could be used to undermine the integrity of our profession.
Personally, I think such tactics appear to be more about promoting a preconceived agenda than it is about seeking justice.
I can assure you that your Local 1828 is comprised of some highly dedicated senior Executive Council members, as well as highly motivated new Executive Council members. Our pictures are posted on our new website www.aft1828.org under “about us”. I am starting my 23 year in this Community College District as an adjunct philosophy instructor. I also had 25 years of service with the Santa Barbara Police Dept (3 years of which was service in the USMC). I am a strong strongly committed to getting a better deal for our faculty…to make sure we can attract and maintain the outstanding men and women who serve the needs of our many students. I believe we constitute an impressive group of dedicated “professionals”.