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January 30, 2006

1)  NEA Steadily Becoming the Labor Movement. The press frequently refers to the National Education Association as the nation's largest teachers' union, which, while true, is less than helpful, there being only two national teachers' unions.

In fact, NEA is the nation's largest union of any kind, and with local government being one the last growing sectors of union membership, it is likely to gain a larger and larger share of organized labor as a whole. The following table contains data from 2004 (NEA state-by-state membership figures for 2005 are not yet publicly available). What it reveals is how large a presence NEA is in the labor movement. Indeed, in one state, North Carolina, there are more NEA members than members of all other unions combined.

I think we're heading for a reshaping of the labor movement that will make the Change to Win secession seem like small potatoes. I first floated this notion five years ago (see "Will AFL-CIO Face the Truth?"), and I still believe "we will have a private sector almost devoid of unions, being regulated by a large plurality of unionized government employees, whose unions' membership growth will be directly tied to the size of government itself. For organized labor, it will mean either dragging the NEA into its structure in order to bolster its failing numbers, or it will mean the education unions will engulf the AFL-CIO, effectively putting it out of business and replacing it with a new coalition dominated by the NEA (or, more likely, by a merged NEA/AFT). The time may come when teachers' unions may be the organized labor movement, which lends a whole new light to issues such as merger, new unionism, merit pay and professionalism."


State

Total Number of Union Members


NEA Active Members

NEA Share of Total Union Membership

NATIONAL

15,472,000

2,420,796

15.6%

Alabama

181,000

69,022

38.1%

Alaska

54,000

10,321

19.1%

Arizona

145,000

29,846

20.6%

Arkansas

51,000

13,623

26.7%

California

2,385,000

317,669

13.3%

Colorado

172,000

34,322

20.0%

Connecticut

235,000

36,376

15.5%

Delaware

46,000

9,998

21.7%

Florida

414,000

114,256

27.6%

Georgia

242,000

33,128

13.7%

Hawaii

126,000

15,639*

12.4%

Idaho

33,000

11,384

34.5%

Illinois

908,000

116,535

12.8%

Indiana

311,000

46,965

15.1%

Iowa

141,000

35,733

25.3%

Kansas

103,000

25,158

24.4%

Kentucky

164,000

30,120

18.4%

Louisiana

129,000

14,990

11.6%

Maine

64,000

20,698

32.3%

Maryland

272,000

56,849

20.9%

Massachusetts

393,000

90,800

23.1%

Michigan

930,000

133,135

14.3%

Minnesota

424,000

73,354

17.3%

Mississippi

53,000

5,640

10.6%

Missouri

315,000

27,588

8.8%

Montana

43,000

13,356

31.1%

Nebraska

69,000

21,538

31.2%

Nevada

126,000

21,108

16.8%

New Hampshire

61,000

14,385

23.6%

New Jersey

745,000

166,480

22.3%

New Mexico

49,000

7,038

14.4%

New York

1,996,000

34,497

1.7%

North Carolina

97,000

49,019

50.5%

North Dakota

22,000

7,067

32.1%

Ohio

759,000

121,083

16.0%

Oklahoma

86,000

23,475

27.3%

Oregon

224,000

37,754

16.9%

Pennsylvania

793,000

147,477

18.6%

Rhode Island

79,000

9,549

12.1%

South Carolina

54,000

10,295

19.1%

South Dakota

21,000

6,129

29.2%

Tennessee

164,000

45,895

28.0%

Texas

457,000

39,743

8.7%

Utah

58,000

17,863

30.8%

Vermont

29,000

9,837

33.9%

Virginia

176,000

54,634

31.0%

Washington

510,000

76,299

15.0%

West Virginia

99,000

13,687

13.8%

Wisconsin

414,000

86,941

21.0%

Wyoming

18,000

5,336

29.6%

 

 

 

 

*Includes members of University of Hawaii Professional Assembly.

2)  NEA Shoots for Two Percent Annual Growth. NEA's internal goals for the 2006-08 budget cycle are "a 2 percent net annual growth in membership, while retaining at least 90 percent of the current members who are eligible for membership and engaging at least 10 percent of the total membership." NEA had a relatively good membership year in 2004-05, largely due to disproportional teacher hiring, but its net growth was only 1.3 percent.

3)  How's That Portal Company Doing? Remember the NEA Portal Company? Created to run the now-defunct OWL.org, I'm not really sure what it's up to now, but NEA dropped $4,464,000 on it in 2003-04, and its interim CEO is now working for The Princeton Review.

4)  Take the Lead, and the Money. Next week the Washington Education Association (WEA) will launch its latest public relations campaign for more education funding with a member mailing. The campaign will feature the slogan "Take the lead. Restoring Washington's Commitment to Great Public Schools."

WEA distributed its rationale for the rather pedestrian campaign name. I've posted it as an Acrobat file, and was fascinated by the description of it as a "multi-year effort," that included member focus groups and polling. The result, WEA believes, is believable, aspirational, factual, empowering, positive, solution-oriented, etc.

In fact, the slogan does accomplish the most important thing: it doesn't mention money. EIA has also posted the union's talking points as an Acrobat file. They make it clear that "commitment" means money, and only money. But a media campaign with the slogan "We want more of your money!" isn't likely to have the desired effect.

5)  Last week's Intercepts. A smart reader suggested this method for bridging the gap between the communiqué and Intercepts, and I decided to put it into immediate practice. Here are direct links to some of the stories that appeared on Intercepts since the last communiqué was sent out. I include the headline and first sentence:

* Where Will Union Stand on This? The San Francisco Chronicle reports that five teachers at San Leandro High School in the Bay Area refused to hang a classroom poster designed by the school's Gay-Straight Alliance, defying a district mandate.

* Redefining Special Education. The number of public school students identified as having "specific learning disabilities" has nearly quadrupled in the last 30 years and constitutes nearly 43 percent of all students with disabilities.

* History Repeating Itself Wears Me Out. I can't say I subscribed to Santayana's often-misquoted statement, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," but recent events are leading me to rethink that position.

* The. Second. Best. Union. Story. Ever. Apparently unaffected by the negative publicity from The. Best. Union. Story. Ever., several industrial unions have taken to hiring the homeless to walk their picket lines.

* Teachers' Unions, Democracy and Reality. Over the weekend, the California Teachers Association's State Council voted overwhelmingly to recommend state Treasurer Phil Angelides in the Democratic primary for governor.

6)  Quote of the Week #1. "I heard yesterday that there was a flu going around, but that's all." – Stockton Teachers Association President Bonnie Boggs, when asked what she knew about 325 district teachers staging a sickout in protest of stalled contract negotiations. (January 25 Stockton Record)

Quote of the Week #2. "Lily's speech was very entertaining and very motivational. She spoke about the forces that attack public education. She divided them into two groups: those that want to make money privatizing public education and those who hate everything that begin with the word 'public.' She pointed out the deceptive arguments and half-truths in their attempts at clouding public understanding of what schools are doing. In one story she even mentioned that Bill O'Reilly (of all people) saw through some of the smokescreen noted NEA critic (and nutjob) Mike Antonucci was spewing in the 'No Spin Zone.' Of all people to defend the NEA." – Mesa Education Association activist Joe Thomas, in his Arizona blog, describing a speech by NEA Secretary-Treasurer Lily Eskelsen at NEA's Western Regional Leadership Conference last week.

 

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