The California Dental Hygienists’ Association (CDHA) terminated its charter today with the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) on the second day of a meeting in a downtown Fresno hotel. The decision reflected an effort by the CDHA to manage its assets, as well as its own identity in the American dental hygiene community.
Earlier on Saturday, CDHA members supported a March decision of its board of trustees to terminate a charter agreement with the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) in a historic vote. The landslide outcome—140 members of the state dental hygiene association’s house of delegates supported its board compared to 14 in opposition—contradicted apparent decisions on the first day of decision making during the three-day meeting. At the end of the first day, the CDHA appeared to be leaning toward ongoing discussions with the ADHA for as long as a year.
But a strongly worded report out of a CDHA reference committee helped turn the tide. Delegates confirmed its board’s belief that a charter agreement with the ADHA would be “too costly” and “financially detrimental” to the state’s dental hygienists.
The voting started around 11:20 a.m. PDT and, by 12:30 p.m., delegates were busy revising the bylaws governing the professional trade association, crossing out “ADHA” in favor of “CDHA” in regard to rules regarding membership, dues, etc.
Afterwards, the ADHA posted a statement on its website: "We are disappointed by this development and are committed to ensuring California dental hygienists’ continue to have a voice through their national association and to be supported in their professional development throughout their careers. While ADHA explores chartering a new California constituent, know that all active CDHA members remain a member of ADHA national. We continue to believe in our tripartite structure and and the strength within the local, state and national organization. Together, we can accomplish so much more and be a strong, collective voice for the dental hygiene profession."
The delegates voted in support of a CDHA that would have the “structure, resources, and leadership” for guiding dental hygienists practicing in California.
Several delegates spoke of a lack of “trust” that the ADHA would negotiate from its position to achieve uniform agreements with all constituent societies in the United States.
The decision by the CDHA board to terminate the agreement first became public after a Facebook announcement on April 27. The state association later said the announcement was prompted by a letter from ADHA president Jill Rethman that was distributed to California dental hygienists. During the past week after the house of delegates meeting, the CDHA was posting about recruting new members to the association.
In previous weeks, two RDH magazine columnists wrote articles in support of terminating the charter agreement—Lory Laughter and Noel Kelsch. Cathy Draper, who has spoken at RDH Under One Roof (co-sponsored by RDH magazine), wrote an article in opposition to the CDHA's decision. Laughter, Kelsch, and Draper are all California dental hygienists.
The ADHA hosted an online town hall on May 24 to offer its perspective on the controversy.