Dear Editor – In Response ….

This is in response to recent claims by David Mielke, president of the Teachers Union, and Debbie Hamme, president of the Assn. of Classified Employees, about how important the joint union endorsements of School Board candidates are. Facts about teacher’s union and district employee union endorsements based on information from District offices and statements by David Mielke and Debbie Hamme:

* There are 335 teachers in the district.

* The Culver City Federated Teachers Union endorsement is voted on only by its executive board which consists of 14 names.

* The math: 14 CCFT Union officials out of 335 teachers = 4.2%. This assumes all voted.

* There are 404 classified employees in the district.

* The Association of Classified Employees Union endorsement was voted on only by 7 people if I am reading Ms. Hamme’s statement correctly..

* The math: 7 ACE Union officials out of 404 employees = 1.7%

Putting rhetoric aside, the union endorsement represents 1.7% to 4.2% of the district union employees. Mr. Mielke is quoted as saying “The community wants to know what the classified staff and teachers think about our school district.”

Yes, the community does want to know what they think about our school district.

But we do not know.

We are only given what the executive boards think. Wouldn’t a more transparent and representative process be to ask the 739 employees to vote on the endorsements? When union members vote on the contract terms, all members can vote to approve or disapprove the negotiations. Why aren’t all members asked to approve or select who they would like leading their District on the School Board?

It is not politics, sour grapes, lack of substantial insight, or “knee jerk” reactions to point out that the union endorsement has questionable probative value.

But this is the way our unions have always run the endorsement process, the unions will rightfully reply. Because it is how it has “always been done” does not mean that it has to continue.

Now it is up to the voters to decide on the importance of the union endorsements. You have the facts, now you make up your mind.

Does the joint union endorsement really, truly, and clearly reflect who our wonderfulteachers and staff support in the school board election?

A quick look at the websites for three of the candidates not endorsed by the unions (Kathy Paspalis, Steve Levin, Sue Robins) show around 100 endorsements to date by CCUSD teachers, employees, and former teachers. Take a look at the union endorsed candidates, you will find significantly fewer union member endorsements.

Does the joint union endorsement really show the community what the majority of staff  and teachers think?

Decide for yourself.


Jamie Wallace

The Actors' Gang


  1. Dear Ms. Wallace,

    I am not sure where you have gotten your numbers, but I would like to point out that “teachers” and “certified” employees are one and the same group. Therefore, you are still not providing accurate information to the readers that you claim you want to inform. But, since your goal is to inform the community about endorsements and how important they may or may not be in this election, I, as a member of this community, would appreciate it if you would provide the same statistical information regarding the endorsements of the Chamber of Commerce and UPCC in your quest of investigative reporting.

    While I think you would probably find that panels representative of the greater body in any group are the norm, it would be interesting to do the comparison. Perhaps, you could provide us with that information?

    By the way, I did visit the websites of the other candidates, as you suggested, and while there may, indeed, be individual members of the unions that support candidates other than the ones endorsed by their respective unions (because that is what democracy is all about!), there is no where near the 100 you mention. In fact, I only saw one retired employee from my union listed, so perhaps you could point out the others? I would like to respectfully request that if you are going to write articles about the union endorsements (or any other union issues, for that matter), that you at least verify your “facts” before posting.

    Otherwise your posts actually DO represent “politics, sour grapes, lack of substantial insight, or “knee jerk” reactions.”

    Best Regards,

    Debbie Hamme

  2. I mistakenly wrote that there are 404 “certified” employees, please note that it should have said “classified,” since that is the proper designation for the hard working non-teacher employees in our district. This does not change the fact that according to District offices there are 404 classified employees, and that according to Ms. Hamme’s comments, only 7 ACE union members voted on the endorsement. 7 out of 404 equals 1.7%. Ergo 1.7% of the union members voted on the endorsements and the logical question still remains as to whether they truly and clearly represent what the majority of the classified employees in this district really think about who they would support for school board. It is a statement of fact and simple mathematics based on information from the District office and Ms. Hamme’s written statements.

  3. Ms. Wallace,

    First, there are NOT 404 members in my union–you may have been given the total number of classified employees in the district, but many of these are confidential employees or members of administration or supervisory personnel that are technically considered “classified” employees, but are not part of my union.

    That being said, I find it very telling that you chose not to respond to the other parts of my post. Because I think that in the comparisons, the organizations that you support would have the same percentage ratios of interview panels to membership that the unions had, and you want to keep that quiet.

    I also wonder just how much protesting you would personally be doing had your favorite candidates been endorsed by the unions?

    I guess what they say is true: the best defense is an offense, and while you and other readers can go out of your way to discredit the union endorsements, the Democratic Club endorsements, the L.A. County Federation of Labor endorsements, endorsements by elected officials, or any other endorsements, for that matter, we all know you’d be singing a different tune if your candidates had received them.

    Oh, and by the way, when your whole post is focused on demeaning our endorsements, the process by which we arrived at them, how unimportant they are and what they may or may not mean to the community, it really doesn’t help your cause to refer to us as “the hard-working non-teacher employees in our district.” The damage has already been done.

    It’s time to give it a rest and let the voters decide, don’t you agree?

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