The California Teachers Association is planning a week’s worth of Wisconsin-style protests and rallies, from May 9-13, to “force legislature to pass tax extensions.”
That’s the short term objective of the “State of Emergency” protests, according to the website for the rallies (screen shot below). The longterm objective is to, “educate and convince communities to change tax structure and achieve tax fairness in order to achieve adequate, stable and ongoing funding for public education and essential public services.”
The “State of Emergency” website notes, “The week begins and ends with a group of educators (with others invited to join) taking over the State Capitol.”
the days leading up to Governor Jerry Brown’s release of a revised budget next month, the state Capitol is going to be the scene of a major protest by teachers… one that could have shades of the marathon sit-in last month in Wisconsin.
Calling the event the “California State of Emergency,” teachers say their goal is to get the Legislature to pass a budget that includes some $11 billion in tax extensions, the same ones the governor still says he wants placed on a statewide ballot this year.
In a phone interview this afternoon, CTA president David Sanchez said the Wisconsin protests are indeed the model of the Capitol protest part of the events planned for the week of May 9-13. He says they intend to have a sit-in here at the Sacramento statehouse lasting all week, with six rallies in cities across the state on Friday the 13th.
“Our teachers are absolutely fed up with what’s happening right now,” said Sanchez.
The CTA was a big backer of Jerry Brown in the 2010 gubernatorial race, and remains so now. But the union is diverging from the governor on the issue of a special tax election, which Brown continues to insist could happen in September or as late as November.
CTA president Sanchez says that any election beyond the Guv’s preferred plan of June — where the taxes have expired and thus become tax increases — isn’t a politically winnable play.
How do the CTA members plan to pressure California lawmakers on the tax extensions? With an allegedly $1 million budget and a 10-page action plan. You can read the organization’s full list of possible activities, but we present to you this snapshot (hat tip Hot Air):
* Target the businesses of legislators in their home districts.
* Circle the offices of “problem legislators.” Target them with various actions.
* Picket/rally in front of legislators’ offices/homes.
* Follow targeted legislators for the entire day.
* Have students and parents do informational picketing for one hour outside their school site.
* Have parents and students camp in front of schools all night.
* Have teachers being laid off contact parents and other CTA members.
* Make phone calls on Parents’ Day. Call parents to tell them how their child is doing and then talk about the budget cuts and invite them to attend the rallies.
* Refrain from Shopping Day. Show the value of educators and other public employees and the economic contribution they make to local communities by refraining from shopping one day.
* Throw monopoly money in the toilet to show that all our money is going down the drain
* Publish a list of companies that are not paying their fair share of taxes. Send letters to these companies and the media and picket their offices. Withdraw funds from banks that are not paying their fair share. (Editor’s note: CTA is a tax-exempt organization.)
* One-day boycott of Microsoft and other corporations that are pushing failed education reform efforts.
* Turn fire/earthquake drill into crisis response drill to the budget cuts (involve students and the community)
* Attempt to close a major artery into town/cities
* Have celebrities involved in the demonstrations
* Dye hair red or wear red wigs
* Homeless encampments of students and teachers as they can afford a place to live
* Have people participate in a run across the state with a torch (like the Olympics)
* Statewide “A Day with No Teachers”
* Pay for everything with $2 bills to show true impact of teachers
* “Lights Out Day” during the week where educators teach in the dark
* Protest at an MLB game. Everyone wears a matching shirt and sits in one section. Have scoreboard acknowledge their presence (i.e., “pink-slipped teachers seated in section ___”)
According to a blogger at NBC’s Bay Area affiliate, the teachers are just wasting their time:
CTA wants to take the action to oppose any attempts to impose an all-cuts budget. The union’s critics claim they are doing Wisconsin-style disruption of government. Both sides are wrong — becasuse they are overstating the importance of the takeover, and of the Capitol itself.
The takeover is really nothing more than political fun — in an old timey, quaint sort of way. No one does this sort of thing anymore, because it’s a waste of time. Fiscal decisions aren’t made in the Capitol. Decisions on spending and taxation are made by formulas, laws and constitutional amendments that were long ago approved — mostly by voters themselves.
The budget is merely a formula of formulas. The legislature isn’t worth protesting — or inconveniencing with a Capitol takeover — because they have so little power. Lawmakers act mostly as a clean-up crew for the fiscal messes created by previous voter decisions. Constitutionally, legislators are janitors in California.
The trouble with CTA’s protest may be that it gives the mistaken impression that the legislature has the power to fix the budget mess. It doesn’t. So let’s hope the teachers’ union makes clear that they are going to the Capitol not because the Capitol matters to the current fiscal debate — but because they want to change the California governing system so that future takeovers of the Capitol won’t be a complete waste of time.
When you read CTA bullet points like, “Work with organization like Ben & Jerry to have them create a labor-union flavored ice cream that can be sold at the rallies and in stores,” you can’t help but agree that these protests will be a “complete waste of time.”