1) NEA Sends Older Employees Heading
for the Exit. Two weeks ago, EIA reported on the
financial difficulties faced by the National Education Association and
its state affiliates. Now we have details of the corrective measures the
union is taking at the national level to deal with persistent budget
NEA had already planned some cuts to
estimated $17 million deficit, but evidently the union finds itself
needing an additional $9.5 million to balance income with expenditures.
Unfortunately, the union's internal structure is not designed with swift and
abrupt cost-cutting in mind. NEA has first transferred $1.9 million from its
$3 million contingency fund into its general fund.
There is little relief to expect on the
revenue side. Dues levels are set according to formula that is based on the
average classroom teacher salary. Expected national dues for 2012-13 will be
$180, a $2 per member increase.
But even that amount may be reduced or
eliminated by continued membership losses.
Last December 19, EIA reported: "It may take some time, and will
probably happen under cover of darkness, but soon the claim that the
National Education Association represents 3.2 million members will be
adjusted downward, as the latest figures show the union's total membership
at well under 3.1 million."
That occurred last week. A
February 13 NEA press release claimed 3.2 million members. A
February 15 press release reads, "more than 3 million."
It is a measure of how serious the
situation is that NEA executives see severe staff reductions as their only
remaining option. NEA employees have been presented with an "exit program,"
which is essentially an early retirement incentive. About 124 NEA staffers
(out of about 580) are eligible to retire. The union is offering an
additional 10 weeks of severance pay if they submit their paperwork by March
15. Most NEA employees are already guaranteed one week of severance pay for
each year employed, up to 10.
The union is banking heavily on staffers
accepting the offer, as "immediate" reductions in force and layoffs are the
alternative. But there's a problem.
Union "management" and confidential
assistants may be dismissed right away, but most NEA employees are
themselves members of unions, known as staff unions. And NEA is unable to
lay off staff union members without 60 days of bargaining to come up with
alternative measures. If no agreement is reached and NEA decides to go ahead
with layoffs, the affected employees receive an additional 30 days notice.
That means the school year will be over before the payroll can be reduced.
NEA's financial troubles also have a
ripple effect. Approximately one-third of the national union's income is
returned to its state affiliates in the form of UniServ grants. These grants
help fund the cost of employing each state's UniServ directors, who assist
locals in contract negotiations, grievance processing and political action.
Essentially, each UniServ grant is meant to provide services to 1,200
members. NEA expects that each 2012-13 grant will have to be reduced from
the current $37,048 to $34,850 - almost a 6 percent cut. Affiliates will
have to make up the difference themselves or reduce their own staffs in
As I have warned before, all these black
clouds over NEA do not greatly affect its political action operations,
particularly at the state level. The national union's ballot
measure/legislative crises fund is a segregated account with $27 million
stashed away - of which only $6 million has already been awarded. The
remaining amount is more than enough to exert a great influence on political
campaigns in 2012.
2) Last Week's Intercepts.
Intercepts, covered these topics from February 14-21:
Remember Collaborpalooza? How soon we forget.
Completely Unrelated. Here's your truth, Truth Team.
NEA on the Prowl for Single Women. Any reason to believe unions have
special cachet with this voter group?
#IGoToASchool. "Where all the girls are 'bisexual' all of a sudden."
Acting Out. One-percenters on opposite sides of union merger.
George Washington on Education. In praise of "useful knowledge."
Quote of the Week. "Whaaaaat?" - Margaret Peņa, capitol director for
California Assembly Democrat Marty Block, upon being informed that the San
Diego Education Association would no longer support Block's bill to extend
the teacher layoff notification deadline by two months. SDEA president Bill
Freeman had called Block personally and pledged support for the bill. Why
the change? "My question was met with a blank stare." (February 16
Voice of San Diego)