NEA Concedes Memphis Secession, Immediately Affiliates Competing Local

December 21, 2015

NEA Concedes Memphis Secession, Immediately Affiliates Competing Local. The 4,500-member Memphis-Shelby County Education Association (MSCEA) recently departed the loving embrace of the Tennessee Education Association and NEA and went its own way. The size of the local and margin of victory for disaffiliation kept it safe from a national or state takeover. If Tennessee were an agency fee state, that would be the end of the story. Memphis teachers would be able to remain in or join NEA, but they would still be obligated to financially support MSCEA, the exclusive representative. A separate organization would be out of the question, which is why you never see NEA and AFT locals in the same school district in agency fee states.

Fortunately for NEA and TEA, that isn’t the case. It was a relatively simple matter to set up a rival local, elect (?) officers for it, rent office space, put up a web site, and begin raiding the incumbent local for members.

NEA lent organizing support and had its general counsel send a cease-and-desist letter to MSCEA, claiming only NEA affiliates may use the designation “education association.” This will be news to groups like the Akron Education Association or the National Indian Education Association.

Only one member of the United Education Association of Shelby County (UEA) is identified on its web site, president Tikeila Rucker. There is no list of officers, and no contact information other than an email address for TEA.

On paper, however, UEA is claiming the majority of Memphis teachers as its own. That’s because all dues – local, state and national – are automatically taken from the paychecks of teachers who chose that option. This means MSCEA automatically gets the local dues, but TEA and NEA still get their share. UEA’s officers then pulled some membership legerdemain.

“One of their first acts was to extend UEA membership to all current TEA members, and because most members are still paying dues through payroll deduction the UEA is now the largest local in Tennessee,” the web site states, adding “The provisional officers voted to assess no local dues this school year.”

They could hardly do otherwise, since MSCEA is already receiving the local portion of each teacher’s dues.

NEA and TEA are cynically battling MSCEA with the cry that “members have the right to choose professional representation,” even as they head to the U.S. Supreme Court next month to deny that right to teachers and school employees in 20 other states.

A free and open market for representation is the best option for teachers and school employees no matter where they work. It’s educational to see NEA endorse the idea when it is to the union’s advantage to do so.

Recent Intercepts. EIA’s daily blog, Intercepts, covered these topics December 15-21:

*  Not With a Bang, Or Even a Whimper. Edwize – RIP.

*  Room for Adequate Yearly Progress. Someone had to be 18th.

*  Capt. Obvious’ Headline of the Week. Something we’ll all need in 2016.

Scheduling Note. The next communiqué will appear on January 4, 2016. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, dear readers!

Quote of the Week. “NBI 1 would give such dual-national affiliate the option of paying full membership dues to NEA and thus be entitled to a larger share of representation at the national level. NBI 1 passed unanimously.” – from a report about the New Jersey Education Association delegate assembly regarding the question of national representation for merged NEA/AFT state affiliates. Merged affiliates are unlikely to support this idea.(December 2015 NJEA Review)