1) NEA to "Reorganize" Amid
Unprecedented Membership Losses, Budget Shortfalls.
A year after declaring "we
are at war" the National Education Association appears to be setting up
camp in Valley Forge, with a long, hard winter ahead.
With five weeks to go before the union's
annual representative assembly, NEA is painting a financial and membership
picture that delegates could scarcely imagine just a few short years ago.
Last year, NEA secretary-treasurer Becky Pringle
warned the assemblage, "We have to assume we haven't hit bottom yet."
Having constructed the union's budget for the next two years, she will be
able to repeat that warning.
According to multiple sources within the
NEA leadership, the union is reporting a loss of 150,000 members over the
past two years, and is projecting a further loss of more than 200,000
members over the next two years. The total reduction in revenue to the
national union over the years 2010-2014 amounts to $65 million - about
one-sixth of its original budget.
NEA's dues level is set by a formula
tied to the average teacher salary, so additional revenues for the general
fund can only be raised through a change in the by-laws, which would require
approval by the representative assembly. To EIA's knowledge, no one has yet
suggested this remedy, so NEA must cover the budgetary shortfalls with the
small programmed increase in dues ($2 per member this year) and spending
The union's regional leadership
conferences will be canceled for 2012-13, and thereafter will be replaced by
two annual "summits." Additionally, the December board of directors meeting
will be eliminated, reducing the number of times the board meets annually to
four. Conferences for various constituency groups (retirees, ESPs,
minorities, et al.) will continue in 2012-13, but will be folded into the
Up until now, the union has managed to
avoid staff layoffs.
Fifty-six staffers accepted early retirement this year, bringing the
number of national employees down to 439, a reduction of more than 100 from
historic peaks. NEA froze executive pay, and eliminated its voluntary
matching 401(k) plan (the primary defined benefit pension plan is
Borrowing a page from the
Oregon Education Association, NEA presented these cuts in staff and
revenues in the form of a "reorganization," complete with a new set of
"strategic goals" and "core services." The key elements of the
reorganization are: 1) a greater percentage of NEA's funds will be passed
back down to its state affiliates; and 2) the creation of a Center for
There has already been pushback to the
proposed measures, with a number of attempts to restore funding to various
line-items voted down by the board of directors earlier this month. But the
biggest fly in the ointment may be that the budget makes assumptions about
the outcome of contract negotiations with NEA's staff union. The staff
contract expires midnight Thursday and there is no telling how that will
There will be opportunity in the coming
weeks to examine what these internal issues will mean for NEA's external
operations in the short term, but it would be an understatement to say that
events are not trending in the union's favor.
2) Last Week's Intercepts.
Intercepts, covered these topics from May 22-29:
Campaign Contribution Violators Include AFT Employee. He is currently in
charge of "running issues-based political and legislative workplace
Will Diane Ravitch's Head Explode? Who's being manipulated by corporate
Why Is There an Election in Wisconsin? I Can't Recall. More playing
Contract Disputes, He Can Call Himself Names. Maybe you can serve
History of Memorial Day. Better name than Decoration Day.
Contract Revotes in Miami and Hawaii. One reiteration, one reversal.
3) Quote of the Week #1.
"The office had a longstanding common practice of using profanity long
before he got there." - Josh Gruenberg, attorney for former San Diego
Education Association executive director Craig Leedham, who is suing the
union for wrongful dismissal. (May 21
Voice of San Diego)
Quote of the Week #2.
"I think people need reassurance that their tax dollars aren't getting
wasted, that something good is happening [at school] that can be measured. I
understand that ferocious need, coupled with falling test scores, with the
difficulty in removing teachers who aren't performing and the unions'
unwillingness for a long time to look at how to change things - all those
things made us ripe for the picking. Or the kicking." - Rebecca Mieliwocki,
2012 National Teacher of the Year. (May 16
Los Angeles Times)