The union label

There’s a new union boss in town, cracking skulls all over the schoolyard. OK, I’m kidding. The Chico Unified Teachers Association is a relatively peaceful bunch, but it’s true there’s a new president of the union that represents Chico’s public school teachers.

George Young officially took office as CUTA president on June 6. For the past year, he’s served as vice president and has been hanging with Dan Sours, president since 1998. “I spent the time learning everything I could,” Young said.

Young, who’s been in the Chico Unified School District for 10 or 11 years, teaches English as a second language at Pleasant Valley High School, and he’ll still do that for two class periods.

He’s a little surprised to find he’s turned into a union guy. When he first started teaching, he remembers, he’d see the dues taken out of his paycheck, and “I thought, ‘Who are these people? What are they doing with my money?’

“You have to have an advocate,” he realized. As for his new role, Young said, “I’d nervous and I’m excited—all that stuff.”

Young was the site coordinator during contentious contract negotiations when teachers at PV chose to do a “job action” that included not helping students with out-of-class projects such as competitions at the fair, but he said people shouldn’t infer anything about his leadership style or political stance from that.

“One thing I’m going to work on is improving our relationship [with CUSD administration],” he said. “We’re talking nicer to each other. We’re toning down our rhetoric.”

He said that future talks should be calmer as the CUSD and CUTA work toward a long-term agreement on salary issues. “We want to work out a formula for how we get the money,” he explained. Young said the parties are still a few years off from returning to an “interest-based bargaining” model, where everyone gets together and talks openly about the types of things they want rather than the back-and-forth of traditional bargaining. “You’ve got to be getting along for a while before we go to interest-based bargaining,” he said.

Meanwhile, the union has reconciled itself to paying more toward its health insurance costs and doesn’t blame the CUSD for the nationwide trend. “We kept good insurance a long time longer than anyone expected,” Young said.

CUTA’s new vice president is Vicki Bertaina, the new recording secretary is Sarah Jensen and the treasurer—once again—is Ren Wakefield.

Everything but the body parts

Let’s put this one in the too-tacky-for-words file. American PaperOptics, “the world’s leading manufacturer of paper 3-D glasses,” has come out with a publication called “Images of 9-11 in 3-D.” In the brochure included with the press release, one can see the World Trade Center billowing with smoke, firefighters sifting through the rubble and people setting out candles in memoriam.

“This is not 3-D as a gimmick. This is history!” writes John Jerit, president of the company. “This is 3-D that forces us to take pause, focus and reflect on the depth of destruction, to see a clear vision of evil, and to witness the inner strength of the human spirit.”

I don’t know about you, but all I can think about when I’m wearing these silly glasses is Godzilla, and it wasn’t Godzilla who attacked those buildings back east.