The new CSA Executive Board wasted little time getting down to Union business.
Two days after being sworn in ninety Executive Board members and their Alternates took part in an eighteen-hour retreat Feb. 26 – 27 at the New York LaGuardia Airport Marriott.
CSA President Ernest Logan said beforehand that he wanted the retreat to give new Executive Board members a chance to find out more about the critical role it plays as CSA's policy arm, as well as the union's history and important issues unions face across the country.
Friday night's dinner and meet-and-greet reception was followed by a two and half hour "things you need to know" discussion session Saturday morning around the theme "What does it mean to be an Executive Board member."
CSA Historian Manfred Korman told about CSA's 1962 origin, when eleven groups, spearheaded by the High Schools Principals Association. Korman told of CSA's hard won progress, noting how health benefits were not fully funded until 1965 and that it was not until 1969 that CSA negotiated its first contract.
(For a complete CSA history timeline click HERE).
Tracing the CSA Presidency from Dr. Benjamin E. Strumpf to immediate past President Jill Levy and President Logan, Korman urged the group to "protect each other like we're brother and sister."
Building on that theme, President Logan reminded Board members that "we can't forget our history," noting that Irwin Shanes "built the Welfare Fund from scratch. No one gave us the benefits we enjoy today. Someone had to fight for them."
Reading from the children's book, "Click, Clack Moo; Cows That Type" by Doreen Cronin, (in which cows strike for better working conditions), Logan urged Board members to sign their union cards and join the President's Club.
"Today is about what it means to be part of a union," Logan told the group. "It's about our duties and responsibilities to get things done collectively. "When we're having a rally, you should be there if no one else is, because you represent the people who elected you."
Executive Vice President Mark Cannizzaro told how he came to the union and rose to became a chief negotiator who handles myriad issues, including "things that should make sense don't make sense," like when a settlement had to be renegotiated because the other side contended it applied to principals and not assistant principals.
General Counsel David Grandwetter – who shared that he still uses a flip cellphone, updated the Board on several legal cases, including settlement of the C-30 lawsuit (governing time limits on open investigations), Vergara v California and the derivative Mona Davids v New York, a case filed in Staten Island which seeks to end teacher tenure, and Friedrich v California Education Association, which if sustained by the US Supreme Court would end automatic union dues check off.
Noting that a California judge upheld Vergara, Grandwetter said Davids is "an exact replication of Vergara, filed in Richmond County court a year and half ago, seeking the exact same thing." Cannizzaro blasted the intent of Davids, saying "If the courts end tenure and the last in first out rule, why is that a good thing for the jobs we do?"
Even though Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's death ended the conservative majority on the Court, which was widely anticipated to deliver a union adverse ruling in Friedrich, Grandwetter said it and other pending cases means it is too soon to declare victory.
"That bullet has not hit the ground," Grandwetter said. "And if that bullet does land, there are more guns, more bullets."