1) Union Members Pay $2.1 Million
for Dropped CTA Initiative. Who benefits the most
from teachers' unions? Depending on whom you ask, the answers will be the
schools, the teachers, the members, the union officers, the Democrats, et
al. But surprisingly, the true answer to that question is Fred Kimball.
Who is Fred Kimball? He's the president
of Kimball Petition Management in California, and every night he must say a
prayer for the continued existence of the California Teachers Association.
CTA keeps paying Kimball's firm to go out and gather signatures for the same
ballot initiative, which it then drops once the signatures are gathered.
For the second time in 16 months, CTA
spent millions in member money for signatures on a petition to place a
commercial property tax hike on the state ballot – this time for June 2006 –
only to ditch the idea with a lame cover story.
CTA President Barbara Kerr appeared at a
news conference with representatives of the California Business Properties
Association (CBPA) and the California Manufacturers and Technology
Association, who were opponents of the tax initiative. Kerr said these
associations would work with CTA to lobby for more school funding, making
the ballot initiative unnecessary.
Leave aside for a moment the fact that
CBPA represents, among others, a little company known as Wal-Mart.
In April 2004, CTA dropped the same
after spending $3.4 million to qualify it for the ballot -- $1 million
of which came from NEA's ballot initiative fund to which every NEA member in
the country contributes. Most of that money went to 13 signature-gathering
firms, with Kimball receiving the most -- $741,000.
This time, CTA spent $2.1 million to
gather signatures, plus the contributions of the correctional officers'
union and others. Kimball ended up with $2.3 million. How much of this came
from NEA is an impossible question to answer. NEA donated $2.5 million to
CTA's initiative fund, and CTA paid for signatures out of the same fund. But
CTA also has its campaign against the governor's initiatives and the
paycheck protection measure, so it's all mixed together.
The end result is that NEA members in
California and across the nation have spent $5.5 million for signatures on
petitions which were then thrown in the trash (state law does not allow the
signatures on ballot initiatives to be used for any other purpose). And the
stated reasons for doing so were a) the ballot was too crowded; and b) the
representative of the Big Box companies promised to lobby the legislature
for more school money.
If CTA wants to cut deals with CBPA and
redistribute teachers' dues money to Fred Kimball, that's its business. The
rest of us, however, can now feel free to ignore union talking points on the
evils of Wal-Mart and the shame of underpaid teachers.
2) AFT Loses First Two Skirmishes in
Puerto Rico. AFT's first efforts to enforce its
administratorship over the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) were
dealt a double blow last week. Federal magistrate Gustavo Gelpi ruled that
FMPR is no longer subject to the National Labor Relations Act and so AFT
cannot sue under the act's provisions. FMPR hailed the decision, while AFT's
response was to refer to Gelpi as “the equivalent of a judge's assistant,"
noting the final decision belongs to U.S. District Court Judge Jay
Garcia-Gregory. Both sides will submit their replies today to Gelpi's
ruling, and Judge Garcia-Gregory is expected to make his own ruling on
Meanwhile, AFT Administrator Felix
Rodriguez met with the Puerto Rico Secretary of Education Rafael Aragunde,
in an effort to have the agency recognize the AFT administratorship as the
true representative of Puerto Rico's teachers. However, Aragunde said he
will follow a neutral line in the dispute and that FMPR remains empowered
"until a court says the opposite."
3) AFT Sends a Message Via Different
Carrier. I never thought I would find an
interesting national scoop in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier, but
here it is:
The Iowa paper reports that the American
Federation of Teachers has instructed its national and regional offices to
use the U.S. Postal Service for delivery services and not the United Parcel
Service. Why? Because the postal workers union remains in the AFL-CIO and
the UPS workers belong to the Teamsters, who left the labor federation last
month. The Courier quotes Teamster spokeswoman Leigh Strope calling
AFT's decision "a cheap shot at thousands of hard-working Americans." She
also said the Teamsters have not decided what action to take in return.
Well, they could try to take their kids
out of AFT schools and put them in NEA schools, but they would soon learn
that even that simple choice is unavailable to most parents without
uprooting their entire family. It must be nice for AFT officials to take
advantage of a market system that allows them to take their business
elsewhere simply by issuing a memo, even if their choice is based on
4) EIA Supports Beleaguered Union
Against Evil Management Practices. Thanks to the
Working Life web site, EIA has become aware of a besieged group of
workers who are being laid off en masse regardless of their seniority and
being forced to reapply for "new" staff positions. The union views this as a
management attempt to circumvent the seniority system and get rid of
higher-paid workers in favor of lower-paid ones.
In response, the union has disseminated
a bill of rights for those who are interviewing for those "new" jobs. The
bill of rights includes a call for respect and dignity, consistent
standards, relevant questioning, reasonable requests, and union
representation during the process. Apparently the union is concerned that
the employer is failing to meet the basic threshold of fairness and respect
regarding the workers.
Oh, I almost forgot. The workers are
field staffers and their employer is the AFL-CIO.
5) California District Opens Release
Time Can of Worms. The Vista Unified School
District in California is asking questions about its collective bargaining
agreement that could cause some serious discomfort in teachers' union
offices around the country.
North County Times reports
that district lawyers believe the contract's release time provision for the
president of the Vista Teachers Association (VTA) may be illegal. The VTA
president receives full salary and benefits while conducting union business
100 percent of the time. The union reimburses the district only for "the
salary of a near entry-level employee."
The district's legal counsel opined that
a reasonable amount of release time may be used for collective bargaining or
grievance processing, but, "To the extent that it can be determined that the
VTA president is using his time for internal union business, it would be a
violation (of state law) were the district to subsidize such activities."
The counsel's reading of the law may be
entirely wrong, but there isn't a shadow of a doubt that most, if not all,
release time teacher union officials are spending time on internal union
business, and that many of them are being subsidized (to various extents) to
do so by the taxpayers.
6) EIA Web Site Refurbishment and
Scheduling Note. Over the next few weeks, EIA will
be conducting an overhaul of its web site. When completed, it will contain
some new features and will hopefully improve your experience while
maintaining the simplicity of the current site. In the meantime, you may
encounter brief periods when the site is inaccessible or missing pages. EIA
asks for your patience during this transition.
The most immediate change may require
some of you to update your bookmarks or web links to EIA. If they point to
http://www.eiaonline.com you need do nothing. If, however, you are
http://members.aol.com/educationintel/ you need to update that link. AOL
will no longer be the host of the site, though visitors to that link will
soon find a page redirecting them to
Additionally, putting on my tech hat
will require me to remove my writer hat. So there will be no newsletter next
week. The EIA Communiqué will return on Monday, August 22.
7) Quote of
"Informáte, no te dejes confundir, lee para que no te cuenten...."
– roughly translated "Get informed, don't let yourself be tricked, read what
they don't tell you." Ironic advice from AFT in Puerto Rico about the claims
of FMPR. AFT has yet to inform its members or the American public of its
actions in Puerto Rico.