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Teachers in San Francisco Pick The A.F.T. as Bargaining Agent

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After an eight-year battle, the San Francisco-American Federation of Teachers union succeeded May 26 in wresting the right to represent the city's teachers from the San Francisco Classroom Teachers Association.

In the fourth decertification election in eight years, the sf-aft defeated the National Education Association affiliate by 300 votes. The margin of victory for the latter in the 1983 and 1986 elections had been fewer than 100 votes.

Of 3,866 eligible voters, 3,141 cast mail-in ballots--1,703 for the sf-aft, 1,388 for the sfcta, and 50 for "no representation," according to the California Public Employment Relations Board.

"This is a mandate, in my mind," said Carolyn Doggett, who organized the sfcta's campaign. "It was a clear tidal wave."

"Teachers want a greater voice in what is going on," said Norman K. Holsinger, coordinator of the sf-aft's campaign. "They felt the current bargaining agent had failed in that leadership."

The sf-aft attempted to make reform issues a central part of its campaign, calling for democratically elected teacher councils in each school. The sfcta ran on its record, touting pay hikes totaling 84 percent since it became bargaining agent in 1981.

Ms. Doggett attributed the loss to "overall bad conditions in an urban setting" that have created intense dissatisfaction among the city's teachers.

"When you're dissatisfied, you look at someone else," she said.

Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the election would enable the aft, which also represents San Francisco's paraprofessionals and school-related personnel, to "move forward to make the public schools a model for both California and the nation."--ab

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