Scabby the Rat and Sabo-Tabby have long, rich history in the labor struggle

Scabby the Rat is known worldwide as a labor icon, a symbol representing the unfair and unsafe practices of employers and union busters. Scabby, an inflatable rat balloon ranging in size from 6-20 feet, is the brainchild of two union organizers from the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.

Scabby first took to the picket lines in Illinois in 1990. Since that time, Scabby has appeared at strikes and protests from coast to coast. You may have recently seen Scabby on the line with teachers in Oakland or recall a yellow version of Scabby from the historic Chicago teachers strike of 2012.

When Scabby appears on a picket line, at an informational leafleting, or at a rally, you can be sure labor unrest exists between the workers and management. Scabby sends an unmistakable message that the union is ready to fight the boss for better working conditions.

The courts recently ruled that the use of Scabby is protected free speech.

Employers must learn that if they don’t want negative attention from Scabby, they must respect workers and honor their contracts! Rest assured – when bad management and union busting tactics infest worksites, Scabby the Rat will appear!

The labor mascot representing employees engaged in the struggle for workplace dignity is Sabo-Tabby, or Sabotage. Sabo-Tabby was originally a mascot of the International Workers of the World (IWW), most likely the creation of Ralph Chaplin, author of Solidarity Forever. Sabo-Tabby is a symbol for direct action at the point of production – a work slowdown or strike. Often seen on union buttons, flyers, and posters, Sabo-Tabby’s message is an injury to one is an injury to all. Over the years, bosses and their politicians have portrayed Sabo-Tabby as too radical, but today’s workers of the world, whether baristas, bricklayers, or CSO, know Sabo-Tabby’s message of solidarity is the only way to rid the workplace of Scabby infestations!

CSO: A Union that Supports Your Union

CSO members walk the picket line with CTA members at the recent New Haven TA strike.

Being a member of CTA is a mark of distinction. Being an active member or a leader even more so. It shows a passion for the profession, an understanding of the value of a strong union and what it takes to keep it thriving.

More than money or slogans or mission statements, it takes people—like you. Did you know there is a union within your union? One comprised of people just as dedicated and hardworking as you who heard the call, and made it a profession?

For certain you know us…we work behind the scenes, beside the leaders, building and advancing the cause of public education. We are at your bargaining tables and training your members at every conference.  We are in the state capitol. On every State Council committee. At every Service Center and Regional Resource Center. When your members run afoul, we are there. You see us getting after it at every NEA RA. We are the 275-strong California Staff Organization.

Our union is much like your local chapter. We have a governing structure, rep council, bargaining team, committees, and a contract with CTA that we negotiate with management just like you do with your districts.

There are a few differences between our union and yours: While CTA chapters are recognized under the state Educational Employment Relations Act, CSO is recognized under the federal National Labor Relations Act. While most California educational employers have separate unions for certificated and classified employees, we have a sister union called the California Associate Staff.

Your local Primary Contact Staff person who is always just a call or text away, the C4OB staff who prep you for bargaining, the regional organizers who swoop in for a crisis, the political organizers who help you flip your school boards when they do you wrong, the Human Rights, Governmental Relations, Legal, Communications, Member Benefits, ISSD, TID, Instruction and Professional Development staff who work tirelessly to bring value to membership…we are CSO. Even some of your associate staff in your local office are CSO members!

We are proud of the work we do on behalf of our members, leaders, and the students of this state. Say “hi” to one of us and ask us about our union!

CSO and teachers “Stand Up For Students” around state

The Bay Area may be one of the most developed places on Earth, yet there is still an undiscovered frontier in California.

Real justice in education for all students as yet to be discovered here, yet some CSO staff are working hard to help Region 1 CTA members and residents decide what it looks like and, ultimately, find it.

About 40 CTA members and CSO staff met at Westlake Middle School in Oakland Feb. 27 to become Partners in Advocacy in the form of a movement they call “Stand Up For All Students.”

CSO staff Katherine Clarke, Dawn Cova, Larry Spotts, Kathlene Beebe and Becky Flanigan developed and are leading the plan to put the people at the forefront to educational decision-making. They prepared a grant application and a plan to empower CTA members to protect their students’ rights.

And CTA members and the community are rising to the challenge.

“Members came to discuss their ideas for ensuring quality public education for all students and they worked together to develop strategies to help meet their goal ,” said Katherine Clarke, Primary Contact Staff in the Salinas Regional Resource Center. She said that many of the CTA member activists at the meeting have been working for years for educational justice, they simply needed a forum to come together and the coaching required to develop a well-organized “plan to win.”

Their goal is lofty: To Create a Movement to Build a Stronger Union to strengthen Free, Safe, and Quality Public Education for all Students based on Social, Economic and Political Justice. One of the first steps is reaching out to other organizations to build effective alliances in the community.

“Our attitude is “Si Se Puede,’” said Larry Spotts, PCS at the Concord RRC. “Our job as organizers is to empower our members to make change based on their values and priorities. It’s fabulous working with like-minded colleagues who want the same thing, because it made for a fantastic kickoff.”

Another next step are two forums for educators to learn about their rights and how to protect their immigrant students.

In southern California, CSO staff Helen Farias and Lian Shoemake, CSO Retired staff Steve Pulkinnen, and  Region 4 Organizer David Partida are working on a project in South County Teachers United.

South County Teachers United Social Justice Corps, also funded by a CTA Community Engagement Grant, kicked off this past Martin Luther King Holiday. That event brought together about 200 teachers and community partner organizations, ranging from immigrant rights groups to those supporting LGBTQ+ students.

“Several teachers have since partnered with these groups to host workshops on their campuses,” Farias said. “We are currently planning another forum focusing exclusively on immigrant rights, as well as developing an action plan for the May 1 Day of Action.”

Farias, in her first year as CSO staff at the South County UniServ, is leading the project. The goal is to engage members and to increase capacity and parent support, to increase the capacity of the union and involve members who are not typically involved in other union functions.

“There are a lot of new teachers who are passionate about improving public schools, but there is no vacancy for them to get involved in their union,” Partida said. “This is a place for them to get involved.”

There is also some excitement in Orange County – last year they formed a countywide PAC to run a countywide campaign for two County Office of Education Board members. They won one, and they lost one.

“That was ground-breaking and that progressed into what we are doing right now,” Partida said. He said the Orange County Service Center’s Organizing Committee has launched a promising organizing project. The goal is to identify new leaders. Partida conducted a training with about 40 organizing team members from several chapters who role-played one-on-one dialogues and built local plans for organizing.

“They have never been connected in this way,” Partida said. “They usually focus on their chapter’s issues and have not worked together. It’s a new opportunity with potential.”



CSO Members Lead Battle Against Racism

Aim to Have Union Members, Educators Recognize Impact of Bias on Students

More than 40 participants – ranging from CTA members to staff for lawmakers – took part in a May 13 forum at CTA’s Natomas office designed to help educators shrink the “discipline gap” that has seen disproportionate numbers of children of color facing suspension or expulsion.

Among the alternative methods of discipline delved into at the forum is “restorative justice,” which requires students to take responsibility for their actions and make appropriate restitution for misbehaviors.

CSO has been at the cutting edge of training its own members, educators, and CTA leaders about the dire effects of both conscious and “unconscious bias” – through which even well-meaning persons can wind up treating adults and children from different backgrounds in ways that may be harmful.


Rosemary Louissaint – A Passion for Advocacy

CSO has a new bargaining chair, Rosemary Louissaint, from CTA’s Concord RRC. Rosemary is no stranger to union work.  She comes from a unionist family where union work has always been held in high esteem.  Her Mom was a dedicated shop steward for Kaiser and her Dad, who is now deceased, was part of the Vallejo Unified School District’s classified union.  Rosemary grew up with four sisters, so her bargaining skills began to sharpen at an early age!

Rosemary learned about advocacy at her mother’s knee and recalls their many phone conversations over the years. She learned how to represent those who could not advocate for themselves.  Rosemary quickly realized that fighting for workers’ rights is about having working conditions that provide opportunities to maximize professional and personal excellence.

In addition to what she gleaned from her mom, Rosemary affectionately re

Rosemary wearing her CSO red!

Rosemary wearing her CSO red!

members the many conversations with her mentor, Ted Bynum. Ted showed her how important it is to take care of the whole person. He taught her to be ever-mindful of those who are beneficiaries of every hard-fought collective bargaining agreement won.

Rosemary finds great joy in working with her five local chapters.  She believes that within the brother and sisterhood of the union, each person has value; the union is made more successful by the contributions each member makes. Recognizing the importance of supporting her members in many innovative ways, Rosemary makes certain that they have opportunities for enhanced and meaningful membership engagement.

As the CSO Bargaining Chair, Rosemary wants to ensure that the best bargaining agreement is negotiated. She leads a team who aspires to reach an agreement that provides for members’ needs through a process that is transparent, accessible and promotes unity.  Rosemary believes that the best bargaining year is not only when we gain and improve working conditions, but when we build stronger internal relationships amongst ourselves.

Away from the office Rosemary enjoys reading, traveling, spending time with her family, and sharing a great meal with friends.  Rosemary is married to her wonderful husband, Rosemond and they have a 13-year-old daughter, Rosie. Rosemary and Rosemond have been dedicated to their transformative Haiti Mission, Brother Helping Brother (  They are doing their best to help impoverished children of Haiti become educated in hopes of building a better and stronger Haiti.

Rosemary is very pleased and excited to be working with her new team:  Penny Upton, Frank Wells, Susan Midori-Jones, Norma Ortiz, and Jane Robb.  Together they plan to do their best for CSO!


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