California Unions Sign 'No-Raid' Pacts To Limit Turf Wars
The California School Employees Association--one of the largest independent unions in the nation--is about to join forces with several other unions in the state and limit its turf battles.
Last week, the 95,000-member union announced that it had signed a no-raid, mutual-assistance agreement with the California Federation of Teachers and its parent organization, the American Federation of Teachers.
It is also poised to sign a similar agreement with the Service Employees International Union.
In the last few years, the aft, the National Education Association, and other public-sector unions have accelerated their drive to represent workers in the education-support field, who are a largely unorganized group.
Other unions competing to represent these workers in collective bargaining are the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; the seiu; and the International Union of Operating Engineers. These three unions and the aft are all members of the afl-cio and are prohibited under the labor federation's rules from seeking to win bargaining rights held by one another.
But those rules do not apply to the nea or to independent unions like the csea
The jurisdictional warfare that can occur between these unions over members is costly and time-consuming, union officials say. In particular, it can divert money away from services for existing members.
In August, the nea announced that it had forged no-raid agreements with affiliates of afscme and the seiu in a handful of states. (See Education Week, Aug. 3, 1988.)
Although the aft has forged mutual-assistance agreements with independent unions in the past, said Philip Kugler, director of organizing for the union, none have approached the "magnitude, scope, or breadth of this agreement with the California School Employees Association."
Under the agreement, the unions will work together on local school-board elections and tax levies; explore the feasibility of coordinated collective bargaining; coordinate po8litical action and legislative programs at the state, national, and local levels; jointly defend against raids from unions not covered in the agreement; and cooperate in organizing initiatives.
They will also sponsor joint conferences and training programs, and share resources, staff, and facilities to address such common concerns as asbestos in schools, certification, and student nutrition.
In addition, the csea, through its relationship with other unions, will try to initiate discussions that could bring about similar coalitions between the aft and independent school-employee associations in other states.
Details of the seiu-csea agreement, which was expected to come before the latter's board of directors over the weekend, were not available last week.
In recent years, the csea has been courted by a number of unions that have wanted to affiliate with it.
But George Datz, director of member education and staff development for the csea, said the union was not interested in affiliating with any group "at this point."
However, he said, the mutual-assistance agreements will provide the csea with a "tie to the rest of labor, which we have been somewhat isolated from" in the past.
It could also give the union more of a voice at the national, state, and local level, he said, as the various groups work in concert.
Mr. Datz admitted that the move was precipitated, in part, by inroads into the school-employees market gained by the National Education Association.
John Hein, assistant executive director for affiliate services with the nea, described the mutual-assistance agreements as an attempt by the unions "to protect themselves from some pretty aggressive organizing on our part."
The cft represents 30,000 members in California, compared with the much larger, 208,000-member California Teachers Association, the nea affiliate. The new agreement with the csea thus could be beneficial for the smaller union.
The first joint initiative of the cft, the aft, and the csea is a statewide public-service campaign to boost student safety.