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January 8, 2007

1)  NEA to Spend $1 Million on NCLB Reauthorization Agenda. Expect a lot of paid media, lobbying, and other assorted activities from the National Education Association concerning the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. The NEA board of directors approved a $1 million expenditure from the union’s contingency fund in support of implementing “NEA’s Positive Agenda.”

2)  Only Seven Percent of NEA Members Contribute to Union’s PAC. NEA took in more than $343 million last year, so it has ample funds to spend whatever it likes on lobbying and independent political expenditures espousing its issues. However, its political action committee – the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education – is bound by the same rules and restrictions as any other PAC. The union has to solicit contributions one at a time from its members. Recent information suggests this is a tough job.

NEA ranked only 12th in top PAC contributors to Democrats in the last election cycle at $1.6 million, even though it is by far the largest union in the United States. By comparison, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, with one-quarter of NEA’s membership, contributed nearly $2.5 million to Democrats.

NEA is now urging its state leaders to urge more members to contribute to the national PAC. The union admits to only 7% member participation – many of these contribute in person during NEA’s annual convention.

3)  UniServ Reform? NEA has a task force to study and make recommendations for changes in the UniServ program. Established in 1970, the UniServ system is the means by which national NEA and its state affiliates are able to hire labor professionals to cover even the smallest locals and districts, providing them with someone to work on contract negotiations, grievances, political action, and any other problems beyond the capabilities of locals. In exchange for the UniServ funding, states and locals agree to support national “program priorities.”

It’s doubtful that the task force will make any sweeping changes to the program, but the recommendations will be substantial enough that they will be submitted to the union’s Representative Assembly in July for approval.

4)  LM-2 Easy (?) Use Guide. EIA gets LOTS of requests for union financial information that is now widely available through the U.S. Department of Labor’s public disclosure web page. The problem is accessing it without help from the Oracle at Delphi.

You can sail uncharted waters like Jason and the Argonauts, or you can print out this handy reference guide whenever you feel the urge to find out what your union spent on coffee services last year:

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. If it still doesn’t work, it’s screwed up on their end. Try again later.)

b) On the "Union or Trust Search" page, go to the box next to "File Number" and type in the corresponding number for any one of the following education labor unions:

          American Federation of Teachers (national): 000-012

          National Education Association (national): 000-342

          Michigan Education Association: 512-840

          Ohio Education Association: 512-490

          NEA Rhode Island: 512-667

          New York State United Teachers: 070-581

          Illinois Education Association: 512-892

          Pennsylvania State Education Association: 512-989

          Florida Education Association: 542-234

          Maine Education Association: 512-668

          United Federation of Teachers (NYC): 063-924

          AFT Pennsylvania: 530-716

          Texas Federation of Teachers: 515-619

          AFT Michigan: 516-183

then click the Submit button. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it includes the largest affiliates. If the union you’re interested in isn’t listed, it probably does not have to file an LM-2. Only unions with one or more private sector members have to file an LM-2 (that may change, but the interpretation is a current court battle between NEA and the Labor Department).

c) When the page comes up, the first line will contain the most recent report. Click on the link just below “Fiscal Year,” which will read 2006 Report, or 2005 Report, depending on whether the union has submitted its report on time.

d) Wait, because chances are it’s a big file.

Let’s use a sample so you get an idea of how to look for what. Clicking on the link in step a) gets us to the Union or Trust Search page. We’ll input 063-924 in the file number box and click submit. The result set comes up for Local 2, which is UFT. Its last submitted LM-2 is 2005. Click on 2005 Report.

A gigantic file comes up, and we can see on the first page that it was submitted on December 22, 2006 – which is a little late to be sending out your 2004-05 report, but never mind.

You can look through anything that interests you, but there is some basic stuff is in Statement B (Receipts and Disbursements). Line 36 shows UFT took in almost $97 million in dues and agency fees that year. Lines 50-65 show the broad categories of union spending. Some of these can be accepted at face value (benefits, per capita tax), others are more open to interpretation (political activities and lobbying, union administration).

Scrolling down to Schedule 11, we can see the payments to officers. UFT President Randi Weingarten received $223,656 in gross salary (the NYSUT report indicates an additional $18,593 from them). Column F is disbursements for official business. Those are mostly travel and other similar expenses. A few other UFT elected officers receive pay, but most receive nothing from the union.

Schedule 12 lists payments to employees of UFT. They are all listed in alphabetical order. The bottom of Schedule 12 totals these payments up, so we can see that the UFT payroll was $27.5 million.

Schedule 13 shows membership counts and sub-categories. UFT has almost 105,000 active members, 48,000 retired, and 5,500 agency fee payers.

The remaining schedules itemize receipts and expenditures from the broad categories listed in Statement B. This is where you can find out who received what.

That’s it. Happy hunting.

5)  The Internet Trembles. NEA is ready to launch yet another web-based initiative, this one called the NEA Academy, through which it plans to offer “on-line professional development and Association related training via on-demand, live, and collaborative technologies.” The prototype is posted here.

NEA certainly has the resources and access to the expertise to construct a viable Internet education service, but its track record on such things is not a good one.

6)  Call for Substitutes! The communiqué will be on a short hiatus beginning in mid-February, but EIA is looking to fill the gap on the daily blog, Intercepts, during my absence. Last time I tried this, I solicited essays from a handful of loyal union readers, and it worked out great (check out the entries for March 21-24, 2006 in the blog archives).

This time I need a lot more material, and I’m throwing it open to everyone! Here are the only ground rules:

* One essay per writer.

* No more than 250 words. I mean it. If it’s 251, it’s out.

* No profanity or anything I judge to be defamatory or actionable in a strict legal sense.

Otherwise, you’re free to be as creative as you like. Be pro-union, anti-union, or agnostic. Use your name or not. Of course, I need to know who you are. Consider writing about something that won’t be overtaken by events, since it won’t appear in print for another 4-6 weeks.

This is what we libertarians call a mutually beneficial exchange. I get quality content for my blog while away, and you get to deliver your story/pitch/whatever to an audience on all sides of every education and labor issue imaginable.

Oh, one more thing: If you submit something, note somewhere that it’s a “substitute” essay. I get 250-word essays from people everyday, and I don’t want to end up publishing private correspondence by mistake. Send it to mike@eiaonline.com. Thanks for your help.

7)  Scheduling Note. The next communiqué will appear Tuesday, January 16.

8)  Last Week's Intercepts. EIA's blog, Intercepts, covered these topics from December 18-January 8:

*  UTD Gives Sturrup the Boot. Justice is swift when the union prosecutes, as opposed to when it defends.

*  Will NEA/AFT Lay Siege to Washington Post? Intercepts a top ten education blog? In the Washington Post?! Repent! The end is near!

*  Taking the Skin Off the 3-D Onion.
The rest of us get a resource the unions have had for years.

An English Professor Defends Algebra.
Richard Cohen, call your office.

*  Alexander Russo Gets It Right (I Think). Politicians (and policy people) are from Mars. Educators (and their unions) are from Venus. Education reporters (with notable exceptions) only understand Jovian. Result: a world of pain
.

9)  Quote of the Week.* "People take money every day for things I would not do… there are people that are paid to be assassins. Sometimes it’s just not worth the sacrifice you would have to make for the money." – Metro Nashville Education Association President Jamye Merritt, explaining why her union opposes performance pay. (January 7 Tennessean)

*The quote gets a qualifying asterisk because of the ellipsis in the original news story. No telling what Merritt said in the missing portion.

 

© 2006 Education Intelligence Agency. All rights reserved.