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California Dental Hygienists’ Association attempting to terminate charter relationship with ADHA


Some interesting news is coming out of California regarding the California Dental Hygienists’ Association terminating their charter relationship with the American Dental Hygienists’’ Association.

Some interesting news is coming out of California regarding the California Dental Hygienists’ Association terminating their charter relationship with the American Dental Hygienists Association.

In a recent e-mail sent out to CDHA members, followed by a post on the CDHA Facebook page, the leadership of the CDHA has announced this termination. However, the matter seems to be unresolved because according to the CDHA bylaws, the CDHA House of Delegates must make the final decision when they vote at their next meeting on June 3-4.

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The announcement from the CDHA

The California Dental Hygienists' Association (CDHA) announces that it has terminated its charter relationship with the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA). CDHA is therefore, by way of this announcement, advising our members and professionals in the dental hygiene field that CDHA is no longer affiliated with ADHA.

CDHA did not arrive at this decision quickly or easily. Like many of you, CDHA has for some time questioned whether the benefits provided by ADHA justify the dues ADHA imposes. ADHA put this issue into sharp focus on October 30, 2015, when, it presented CDHA with a new written Charter Agreement - drafted by ADHA without any consultation with CDHA - and insisted that CDHA sign it by April 1, 2016. This new charter agreement would have imposed significant new obligations on both CDHA and its Components while providing virtually no additional benefits.

Problematic portions of the proposed charter agreement include requirements that CDHA radically alter the structure of its Components and that both CDHA and its Components be forced to turn over all of their collective funds and records to ADHA in the event that this new charter agreement is ever revoked or terminated.

Over the past several months, CDHA contacted ADHA and asked for changes to the proposed charter agreement. By letter dated March 2, 2016, ADHA's legal counsel made it clear that ADHA would not discuss any changes. ADHA's counsel wrote: "The Constituent Charter Agreement is uniform across the organization. ADHA will not modify the charter agreement."

ADHA's intransigence left CDHA with no options. Upon extensive review and discussion with its legal counsel, the CDHA Board of Trustees voted on March 18, 2016, to terminate any existing charter agreement with ADHA. This decision was based on their concern for the welfare and best interests of CDHA and its members. A formal letter of notice was forwarded to ADHA on March 21, 2016. That letter expressly left open the possibility that CDHA would consider signing a new charter agreement if ADHA reconsidered its position and agreed to modify key provisions of the draft document. CDHA has made that same offer to ADHA on at least two later occasions, but ADHA remains unwilling to discuss any changes to the most problematic portions of the charter agreement. ADHA has recently attempted to disguise this hard position by claiming that it was willing to discuss CDHA's "status as a constituent" and that its legal counsel was available to discuss the "specifics of the charter agreement." Those offers are unhelpful because CDHA's "status" under the new agreement and the "specifics" of that new agreement are clear. What CDHA needs is ADHA to make changes to key provisions of the proposed charter agreement. ADHA remains unwilling to even consider this concept.

Faced with the loss of its largest Constituent, ADHA has attempted to undo this decision by challenging, without any credible basis, the authority of CDHA's Board of Trustees. ADHA is now communicating directly with CDHA members in an effort to persuade CDHA's House of Delegates to reverse the Board's decision when the House meets at its June 3-5, 2016 meeting.

It has always been CDHA's intention to have its House of Delegates review and discuss these issues in depth at the June meeting. In the meantime, CDHA trusts its members will recognize that CDHA continues to work diligently and tirelessly to promote the interests of California dental hygienists and the dental hygiene profession. CDHA remains committed to further developing our professional relationship with the thousands of California dental hygienists who provide necessary and important care within their communities.

CDHA is your voice, representing and leading California dental hygienists. Please be patient as we move forward to implement the changes to our organization and your membership necessitated by this restructuring. We will provide you with updates as this matter develops.

In response, ADHA President Jill Rethman sent an email to the CDHA members on behalf of the ADHA.  

Response from the ADHA

You may have recently heard about CDHA’s Board of Trustees voting to separate from ADHA, which will have a significant impact on California dental hygienists. As a fellow District XI member, no one is more disappointed in the action CDHA’s Board has taken than I. ADHA has been affiliated with CDHA for over 90 years and we know that we are stronger together. Not only are we disheartened by this news, but our Board of Trustees and legal counsel contend, as according to CDHA bylaws, that the CDHA House of Delegates must make this decision. Fortunately your House meets on June 3-4 and we understand they will deliberate this issue further. You have an opportunity to voice your opinion to your delegate in advance of this historic meeting.

The American Dental Hygienists’ Association’s (ADHA) goal is to ensure that we maintain a strong relationship with all 51 constituents so that we can collectively represent all U.S. dental hygienists, advance the profession and increase access to oral health care. We value every single member. Here are a few examples of how we support you.

In the spirit of transparency and hope that CDHA will remain an important part of our ADHA family, we are hosting an ADHA Town Hall Webex on May 24th at 12 noon PT. Please register here and be a part of the conversation.

In the meantime if you have any questions or comments please email us at askadha@adha.net. We want to hear from you and hope for a positive outcome.

Together, we have a powerful voice.


Read exclusive comments from ADHA president Jill Rethman and others on the next page...


In preparation for this article I reached out to Jill Rethman, president of ADHA, and Lygia Jolley, the president of the CDHA. Jill Rethman stated, “The situation in California is still very fluid since their HOD has the final say. The California HOD meets in early June and will need to its bylaws in order for California to sever ties with ADHA.”

Jill further stated, “We are still hopeful for a positive outcome as we firmly believe in unity across the country is best for all dental hygiene professionals in the United States. There has been a great deal of misinformation spread in California about CDHA’s relationship with ADHA.”

As of this writing, CDHA President Lygia Jolley has not responded to my email requests.

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Additionally, I reached out to veteran clinical hygienist and educator of over 45 years, Linda Jorgenson, who is also the past president of the Wisconsin Dental Hygienists’ Association. She had the issue of charter agreements come up during her presidency and has studied it in great detail.

Linda states, “Because it is a tax-exempt organization (501(c)(6), the ADHA has no choice but to adhere to Federal and State (IL) laws regarding (501(c)(6)’s, the State organizations are chartered by ADHA, and they too, will have no choice but to adhere to their own State plus Federal laws (think IRS) in order to remain in existence. Under Federal and State law, the CDHA Treasury must go back to the chartering organization, ADHA. If CDHA’s bylaws didn’t say that now, they will need to be changed in order to remain in compliance with IRS regulations for (501(c)(6). The IRS is ‘cracking down’ on tax-exempt, non-profit organizations and denying their requests for tax-exemptions if they don’t meet strict criteria. Everything in the charter agreements is there in order to protect the ADHA and its Constituents from the consequences of non-compliance. Bottom line: the ADHA and State (i.e. CDHA) are better protected from negative financial and legal consequences if they are in compliance with Federal and State laws.”

Overall, this is still a very dynamic situation that will be playing out over the next couple months. Please stay tuned for updates as they become available.  

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