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October 2, 2006

1)  CleverSpin's Bill for AFT: $481,000. The U.S. Department of Labor has posted on its public disclosure web site the Labor Organization Annual Report (LM-2) of the American Federation of Teachers for 2005-06. Before delving into some details of the report, EIA will perform a public service by directing you to the source material, despite the Labor Department's decidedly not-user-friendly web structure.

a) Use this link for the LM-2 access page: http://erds.dol-esa.gov/query/getOrgQry.do

(If, for some reason, the direct link doesn't work, go to http://union-reports.dol.gov/ and click on the Union Form LM-2 Search link)

b) On the "Union or Trust Search" page, go to the box next to "File Number" and type in

000-012 then click the Submit button.

c) When the page comes up, click on the 2006 Report link, then wait, because it's large.

d) Knock yourself out.

AFT spent a total of $214 million in the last fiscal year, of which it categorized $14 million as political activities and lobbying. Rather than bore you again with a discussion of the various ways of measuring AFT membership (see Item #2 here), let's just state that in 2004-05, AFT reported 828,500 members on its LM-2, and in 2005-06 reported 822,504. I'm sure the union has an explanation for why this isn't a membership loss, but I'll let their communications people do their own thing without trying to anticipate their spin.

AFT President Edward McElroy was the highest paid officer, earning $282,800 in salary, plus $33,150 in taxable allowances, for a total of $315,950. The union's highest paid employees were Chief of Staff Ronald Krouse and organizing director Philip Kugler, both at $194,960. Bella Rosenberg, assistant to the AFT president, earned $210,243, but that amount probably includes previously deferred income.

The LM-2 details all of AFT's spending. Of particular interest to EIA was the amount spent on the AFT communications audit conducted by the design firm CleverSpin, which caused a ruckus when EIA revealed its contents in an August 7 communiqué. For all of its services during the 2005-06 period, including the audit, branding assistance and consulting fees, CleverSpin received $481,000 from AFT. CleverSpin's Kris Kemmerer, who directed the audit, was hired in August as AFT's assistant to the president for communications.

The LM-2 also reveals AFT spent nearly $1.9 million on its Puerto Rico project (see Item #2 below), an attempt to defeat an effort by its Puerto Rico affiliate to leave AFT. An additional $211,000 was disbursed to individuals in Puerto Rico engaged in organizing activities on AFT's behalf.

Other spending of note:

* $160,000 to the Economic Policy Institute.

* $5,000 to the United Federation of Teachers Elementary Charter School.

* $21,750 to the Peter D. Hart Research Association, Inc. to conduct focus groups on charter schools.

* $349,348 to the United Teachers of New Orleans to keep that local in operation.

* $15,000 to the Sweeney Solidarity Team, the slate of candidates vying for reelection to the leadership of the AFL-CIO last year.

* $6,387 to Jonathan Tasini, president of the Economic Future Group, former president of the National Writers Union, blogger of WorkingLife, and candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in New York who was crushed by Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.

2)  Teacher Union Wars in Puerto Rico Not Done Yet. When AFT cut its losses and surrendered in Puerto Rico, there was good reason to believe that the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) would return to obscurity, as far as the U.S. national labor movement was concerned. But apparently that isn't the case.

Without AFT backing, local opponents of FMPR President Rafael Feliciano and his caucus have looked elsewhere for support, and appear to have found it in two places, if the scuttlebutt is to be believed: the formerly NEA-affiliated Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (ASOMA) and the United Auto Workers.

ASOMA left NEA and collapsed as a viable organization soon after FMPR won exclusive representation rights in a 1999 election. Now it's back, allegedly bolstered by FMPR dissidents and seed money from the United Auto Workers, which has a significant presence on the island.

ASOMA is seeking a new representation election for some 40,000 teachers in Puerto Rico, which we can expect FMPR to fight with all the verve it displayed in the AFT disaffiliation battle.

3)  Cash, Staff and Autonomy Brought Buffalo into NYSUT Fold. Buffalo Teachers Federation (BTF) President Phil Rumore revealed the details of his local's affiliation agreement with New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), and it appears he got most of what he wanted.

BTF received what amounts to an additional UniServ director, and all three of these labor relations specialist will operate out of BTF headquarters, rather than NYSUT's regional office. BTF will also receive an attorney and an assistant, guaranteed reimbursements for certain workshops and office space, and a two-year, $80,000 transition grant from NEA. BTF's concerns about the independence of its local PAC were also assuaged by NYSUT.

Rumore refers to the arrangement as a trial affiliation, but it's clear that it would be a much more difficult move to disaffiliate from NYSUT than not to affiliate in the first place. For all intents and purposes, NYSUT is, and will continue to be, the one and only parent affiliate for New York's teachers' unions.

4)  Union Vote Hits the Van in Fort Wayne. Last week, EIA reported on the battle between the Teamsters and the Indiana State Teachers Association in Fort Wayne to represent the district's bus drivers. The magic number was 112 votes – a simple majority of the bargaining unit. But the vote held last Friday ended with a 96-94 result in favor of ISTA. A revote has not yet been scheduled.

ISTA officials told the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette that bus drivers "have found feces smeared on bus seats, vandalism to the buses and items taken from the buses."

Teamster officials deny having anything to do with the vandalism, and accuse ISTA of lying about whether it will institute agency fees if elected.

Since both sides now know how close the vote is, expect an escalated series of incidents and accusations.

5)  Last Week's Intercepts. EIA's blog, Intercepts, covered these topics from September 25-October 2:

* The Law of Averages. Union officers complain about average teacher salary. Not the amount, but the use of averages.

* Most of Connecticut NCLB Lawsuit Dismissed. We're fortunate that it's a lot harder win a lawsuit than to file one.

* CTA, UTLA on Opposite Sides of Campaign Finance Initiative. Who's trying to silence the voice of working people? Maybe we all are.

6)  Quote of the Week. "The struggle in which we are engaged is as vital to our future today as was the outcome of the Civil War to our nation in 1860. The goal of these locusts is to impose their will on state after state until they have completely demolished government as we know it. There is a time for every generation to rise to the call – when the very existence of our nation, our state, our values, our culture and our public schools are threatened with extinction." – Nebraska State Education Association Executive Director Jim Griess on Initiative 423. (October 2006 The NSEA Voice)

Editor's Note: The Civil War was a violent armed struggle in which more than 600,000 Americans died, and was fought over questions like slavery vs. freedom.

Initiative 423 is a Nebraska ballot measure that would limit state government spending to previous years' amounts, with allowed increases for inflation and population growth.

 

© 2006 Education Intelligence Agency. All rights reserved.