Alya Mehrtash staff writer
History teacher Joanie Garratt revoked her membership from the teacher’s union, the Beverly Hills Education Association (BHEA). Garratt became the first member to leave the union since its establishment.
Garratt made her decision to leave the union following its endorsement of a candidate for the Board of Education whom she does not support. Garratt’s political standing was her main opposition to the candidate, who she views as a supporter of Donald Trump. Prior to this endorsement, however, she had also experienced other issues with the union.
“I never felt that I had a voice, I never felt that they listened to what I had to say,” she said.
While Garratt regrets “having to leave the union,” she claimed that she wasn’t getting much out of her membership to begin with. Regardless, she did not plan on leaving the union until its endorsement of the Board of Education candidate.
“I used to be a lot more supportive of the union,” Garratt said. “The honest truth is [that] I wasn’t seeing so many benefits to being a part of the union. However, I had no intention of leaving…I believe in collective action, I believe in collective bargaining, but this particular union had been alienating me for quite a while.”
The importance of the community and of a collective effort was emphasized by BHEA President Ethan Smith.
“Simply put, unions like the Beverly Hills Education Association are necessary to protect the rights of teachers and the essentials of good education in communities,” he said. “The advocacy of teacher’s unions is not only good for teachers, it is good for students and their communities…Unions are essential to healthy schools and school districts. They always have been and always will be.”
Alluding to her past experiences with the union, Garratt urged its leadership to value their members, something that she personally did not feel.
“Don’t take your members for granted, listen to what they have to say, validate them, make them feel that they have something to contribute,” she said. “That’s the opposite [of how] I’ve been made to feel.”
Smith declined to comment specifically about Garratt’s departure from the union.