The National Education Association Assails Corporations While Making Money From Them

December 13, 2017

The National Education Association Assails Corporations While Making Money From Them. “For decades, corporate CEOs and the wealthy have fought to enrich themselves at the expense of the rights and pocketbooks of working people, and that harms families in communities across the country.” — Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association

This year the National Education Association took in more than $370 million in dues and agency fees, upon which it paid no taxes. Analysts, including myself, devote time and energy to ascertain where NEA spends its money. But the union routinely collects more than it spends. What does it do with the rest?

The NEA currently holds $108.5 million in investments. Its public disclosure reports require it to itemize only those investments that exceed 5 percent of the total in two categories: marketable securities and “other investments.” NEA has almost $73 million in “other investments,” no single one of which exceeds $3.65 million, so NEA is not required to itemize those transactions. Where that money goes is anyone’s guess.

However, we do know where almost all of NEA’s $35.7 million in marketable securities are invested. The marketable securities consist of various types of mutual funds — some that invest in bonds, some in stocks, and some that are indexed to exchanges. Here they are (rounded off):

Eaton Vance Atlanta Capital Small- to Mid-Cap Fund — $1.8 million

Federated Strategic Value Dividend Fund — $2.8 million

iShares Russell 1000 Growth Exchange-Traded Fund — $3.3 million

Loomis Sayles Bond Fund — $5 million

SPDR Standard & Poor’s Dividend Exchange-Traded Fund — $2.8 million

Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund — $5 million

Vanguard Growth Index Fund — $3.3 million

Vanguard Institutional Index Fund — $2.2 million

Western Asset Core Plus Bond Fund — $5 million

The bond funds spread their investments among all sectors of the bond market: U.S. Treasury bonds, mortgage-backed securities, and other government and corporate bonds.

The dividend and stock funds invest in many major U.S. corporations: AT&T, Verizon, Target, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, IBM, Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Comcast, Coca-Cola, Philip Morris, Microsoft, Boeing, JP Morgan Chase, Berkshire Hathaway, and Aramark. In fact, NEA invests in 9 of the 10 richest corporations in the United States.

The fund management firms themselves are enormously wealthy enterprises. BlackRock, which manages the iShares fund, handles almost $6 trillion in assets. Vanguard manages $4.2 trillion; State Street Global Advisors, almost $3 trillion.

Is Eskelsen García right? Have the people who handle all this money and run large corporations “fought to enrich themselves at the expense of the rights and pocketbooks of working people?” They certainly lobby the government and seek to elect friendly politicians. But they are ecumenical about it.

I haven’t added up all the contributions in this OpenSecrets list of the top individual political contributors in the 2016 cycle, but the eyeball test suggests that for every big-ticket Republican donor there is a big-ticket Democratic donor. I suppose it’s possible that NEA executive director John Stocks hates having billionaire hedge fund managers Thomas Steyer and Jonathan Soros in the Democracy Alliance — the network of wealthy progressive political donors — but I doubt it.

Railing against the rich is a popular pastime among teachers unions. Union activists use corporate products like computers, cell phones, and social media to remind us every day how awful corporations are. It works because union members are working class. But it also serves to disguise the fact that labor unions and their officers and staff have more in common with those corporations and their employees than the unions would like to let on.

Union Report will have more on that in a future column.

Recent Intercepts. EIA’s daily blog, Intercepts, covered these topics December 8-12:

* A Question Rarely Asked. How many teachers do we need?

Indiana State Teachers Association on Track to Fiscal Solvency… by 2027. Still on the hook to NEA for $10.5 million.

Quote of the Week. “Medical providers are now so familiar with problems with non-payment by the Teachers Health Trust that they are simply refusing service to patients. That’s an urgent crisis.” — Matthew Callister, attorney in class-action lawsuit against the Teachers Health Trust in Clark County, Nevada. (December 12 Las Vegas Review-Journal)

An Edutopian View of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

December 7, 2017

An Edutopian View of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Edutopia posted an article on December 1 about the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards headlined “National Board Aims to Certify 1 Million.” If it told the whole story, it might be headlined “National Board Aims to Pay Back $1 Million.”

NBPTS offers a voluntary national certification program for teachers that seeks to establish a higher standard than state licensure. The fees for certification total about $2,000, but some states and organizations provide financial assistance. The U.S. Department of Education has issued $10.4 million in grants to the organization through various established funds. Some school districts give nationally certified teachers additional pay.

The program has been generally well-received over the years. The Edutopia article explains that the board has certified 112,000 teachers in its 30-year existence. It does not mention that the original goal of NBPTS was 100,000 certified teachers by 2003 – a goal it did not reach until last year. Its new goal is 1 million nationally certified teachers by 2025.

This is an ambitious target, particularly since NBPTS has had trouble handling its money recently. The organization’s net assets since 2010 show a steady and troubling decline:

2010: $32.8 million

2011: $28.9 million

2012: $22.5 million

2013: $16.8 million

2014: $11.9 million

2015: $5 million

2016: $1.8 million

$1 million, no-interest loan from the National Education Association in 2016 hasn’t stemmed the decline.

Edutopia doesn’t address the financial health of NBPTS, but does note that “the board has introduced an online tool called Atlas, which contains videos of certified teachers at work to help guide the application process from afar.”

Let’s hope Atlas is valuable, since NBPTS used it as collateral to secure the NEA loan.

The loan’s term is five years, with $50,000 repayments to NEA for the first three years, followed by balloon payments of $250,000 and $600,000 in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Further help from the federal government or even the national teachers’ unions seems, at best, uncertain. Without a secure revenue stream, the organization’s lofty goals are unreachable, and its future is in doubt.

Recent Intercepts. EIA’s daily blog, Intercepts, covered these topics December 1-6:

* Winner of NEA PAC Giveaway Got Locked Away. How quickly one’s luck can turn.

Don’t Pass Laws You Can’t Enforce. Ridiculous.

* Knock, Knock. Janice?

Quote of the Week. “CCEA would like to reassure you that you will continue to have professional liability insurance and be provided legal services, as well as not lose insurance plans you may have purchased through NEA’s discount program. Though many of you will never utilize this benefit, it is nonetheless there for you.” – Vikki Courtney and Theo Small, president and vice president of the Clark County Education Association, responding to the state and national unions’ cutting off CCEA member benefits because of nonpayment of dues. The unions are litigating their disputes. (December 1 CCEA letter to members)

Five Half-Truths Teacher Unions Tell

November 30, 2017

Five Half-Truths Teacher Unions Tell. Teacher union officers and staff are professionals. They know how easy it is to get caught in a lie, particularly in the internet age. So they rarely lie.

They are also advocates, which means they know how to frame statements so that they are factually defensible but omit opposing arguments that are equally defensible. Critics sometimes deride such union statements as “myths,” but they are actually half-truths presented as whole truths.

Here are five half-truths teacher unions tell that appear impervious to any amount of counterpoint.

1. NEA and AFT affiliates in right-to-work states are not labor unions.

This statement is true insofar as the Internal Revenue Service defines a labor organization as “an association of workers who have combined to protect or promote their interests by bargaining collectively with their employers to secure better working conditions, wages, and similar benefits.” If you cannot bargain collectively you cannot be a union, the reasoning goes.

National Education Association affiliates in states like Georgia, Oklahoma and Tennessee refer to themselves as professional associations. They avoid the word “union” because unions are generally unpopular in those states.

In many right-to-work states, NEA and American Federation of Teachers’ affiliates have gained tax-exempt status by successfully applying as 501(c)(6) organizations, which primarily include business leagues, chambers of commerce, and “associations of persons having some common business interest.”

Claiming that affiliates aren’t unions is a half-truth because NEA and AFT both have unified dues structures. That is, you cannot join the Oklahoma Education Association without also joining NEA, which is without question a labor union, according to the IRS, the U.S. Department of Labor, and itself.

Every working teacher and education employee who belongs to an NEA or AFT affiliate belongs to a labor union. Their dues money goes to a labor union. They elect their union representatives, who elect the leadership. A labor union provides them with money and staff for services. Their state affiliate may call itself a business league or a professional association, but that’s a distinction without a difference.

2. Without agency fees, people who don’t join the union are freeloaders.

With the Janus case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, teacher union representatives constantly remind us that without agency fees teachers who do not join the union will benefit from a contract without paying for it.

This is true, and there are a number of states where it is already the case. It’s a consequence of exclusive representation: Federal law states that if unions want to be the only representative of workers in a bargaining unit, it must represent everyone, regardless of whether they become union members. This can come with a financial cost to the union.

But the government doesn’t force unions to be exclusive representatives. In fact, many industrialized nations have multiple unions representing workers in the same unit. America’s public employee unions treat the idea with disdain, calling it “unworkable,” and that it would “undermine morale.”

The teacher unions also assume that a union contract is a benefit for everyone, and that certainly is not the case. Science and math teachers, low-seniority teachers, high-performing teachers, and teachers who might simply want a different insurance provider are just some of the employees who may be sacrificing individual benefits under a union contract. Unions collect dues from these folks even though the contract may be a detriment to their personal interests. So it is just as accurate to say the union is freeloading on their money.

3. The amount teacher union officers are paid.

Whether union officers are overpaid, underpaid or paid just the right amount is a judgment call, but it is hard to make that call when you can’t easily determine what they are paid.

It is not enough to grab a source document and run with the number listed. For example, NEA’s filing with the IRS states that union president Lily Eskelsen-García made $361,003 in 2016. The union’s filing with the U.S. Department of Labor says $332,944, and NEA’s budget document says $289,286.

The difference is what each source includes, or excludes, from the computation. The IRS naturally wants to know the taxable income, while NEA lists only the salary line for the president’s position. Eskelsen-García also receives an additional 20 percent of that amount as a cash allowance because NEA doesn’t have a pension plan for elected officers, and another 20 percent as a living allowance to maintain a residence in Washington, D.C., during the maximum six years an NEA president serves.

However, union officers also often defer income for tax purposes, so that their pay while in office may appear smaller. They then receive that deferred income after they leave office, sometimes years later.

4. Al Shanker “envisioned” charter schools.

The late Al Shanker, president of both the United Federation of Teachers in New York City, and the American Federation of Teachers, can rightly be called a visionary. His championing of the charter school concept that sprung from the brow of University of Massachusetts professor Ray Budde in 1974 brought the idea out of academic obscurity into the mainstream of education policy. There is also truth in the assertion that the charter concept quickly broke away from Shanker’s vision of what it should be.

But let’s not go nuts. Shanker championed a lot of things during his 33 years in union office, including A Nation At Risk. He did not put the power of his union behind his vision for charter schools, and every charter school law in every state with charters was enacted over the objections and opposition of that state’s teacher union.

Shanker’s flirtation with charters is mostly used today by AFT to paint charter schools as some sort of Frankenstein’s monster, a terrible deviation from the innovation of their creator.

5. Union dues are not used for politics.

This is the most persistent half-truth of all. Just as with officer salaries, the misinformation stems from definitions and categorization.

If you narrowly define “politics” as financial contributions to candidates for public office, then it is true, union dues are not used for politics. It is illegal to take dues money and give it to a candidate or political party.

Teacher unions often have FAQs on their web sites or literature for new members like the ones for the Lane County Education Association in Oregon:

Q: Do member dues go toward supporting political candidates?

A: No, your dues pay staff salaries and provide funds for the various services (the Oregon Education Association) offers to members.

You will note that the question is very specific, allowing for a definitive answer, while the language about how dues are spent is vague.

The problem is that most people broadly define politics to include lobbying, independent expenditures, issue advertising, ballot initiative campaigns, rallies, protests, and endorsements. All of those things are paid for with dues money, which every union member, regardless of his or her political views, contributes. Virtually every other type of political spending other than direct contributions to candidates and parties is made with dues money.

If you are a Republican union member, you have paid, do pay, and will pay to help elect Democrats to office. If you are a New Jersey Education Association member who supports state Senate President Steve Sweeney, you paid a lot in an unsuccessful attempt to remove him. If you are a National Education Association member who supported Bernie Sanders, well, you were paying for Hillary Clinton before you even realized it.

As you can see, explaining these issues takes time and space. In politics, you usually lose an argument if your opponent makes straight, simple claims and you are the one doing the explaining. That’s why teacher unions like to reach for half-truths from their communications toolbox.

Recent Intercepts. EIA’s daily blog, Intercepts, covered these topics November 27-29:

*  NEA & Nevada Affiliate Cut Off Las Vegas Teachers Access to Union Benefits. They’ll have to get their pet insurance elsewhere.

*  “Well, I Have a Job to Do!” School bullying.

* Montana Merger Vote Set For January 20. New union would represent about 90% of all government employees in the state.

Quote of the Week. “Many legal experts have criticized the rigid inflexibility of the union’s position, pointing out that it is contrary to contract clause principles, inconsistent with general contract and economic theory, and effectively depresses the salaries and benefits of new generations of public employees.” – attorneys for California Gov. Jerry Brown, in a brief filed in response to a union lawsuit against his 2012 pension reform law.  (November 22 Sacramento Bee)

NYSUT’s Secretary-Treasurer Resigns

November 21, 2017

NYSUT’s Secretary-Treasurer Resigns. A top official in New York state’s teachers union who also taught full time in local schools resigned his management position, effective immediately, at the union’s board of directors meeting on Saturday.

Teachers who serve as union officers are typically granted a leave from their school positions because of the hours required to teach effectively.

Martin Messner had served as secretary-treasurer for New York State United Teachers since April 2014, but his leave of absence from the Schoharie Central School District was not renewed this year. Messner returned to teaching health and physical education full time in September while conducting his union duties on nights and weekends with a reduced salary from NYSUT, a move that generated buzz on teacher blogs.

Messner tweeted this statement:

“Yesterday the NYSUT (Board of Directors) and AFT offered me a different way to serve our members and I accepted. As of today I’m resigning as the NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer. I will be helping out with the transition to prevent any gaps while we restructure.”

There was no immediate word on what Messner’s new position is, or whether he will continue to work for NYSUT or for the American Federation of Teachers. His severance package, however, is generous: 3.5 months of salary, a two-year pension credit, and $25,000 for a 529 benefit plan or a tax-deferred annuity. He will also be paid $5,000 a month as a consultant by the AFT and NYSUT from March-August in 2018.

“I actually made the decision to return to the classroom (absent change in my leave situation) back in late August,” Messner told Union Report. “If my leave had been extended I wouldn’t have left (the NYSUT position). My intent in working crazy hours was to finish up some projects that I was working on and then leave while providing an adequate transition. At the Board meeting I was offered a new role that would address my concerns about transition and allow me to see my kids at night. It was appealing to me and I took it.”

Messner added that he was “very proud of what we accomplished and I leave NYSUT’s operational budget in a strong position. I’m hopeful that the next secretary-treasurer can build on what I did.”

The NYSUT board of directors has the authority to fill the secretary-treasurer vacancy until the union’s next representative assembly in April 2018. However, it appears Messner’s duties will be divided among the other executive officers, with first vice president J. Philippe Abraham handling much of the load.

Recent Intercepts. EIA’s daily blog, Intercepts, covered these topics November 17-20:

* Using Union Dues to Purchase Twitter Eggs? Sock puppets, trolls, name your epithet.

* Updates from Florida and Nevada. As expected, Clark County school district off the hook in union dispute.

Quote of the Week. “Bargaining and filing grievances have become opaque processes that are divorced from workers’ lives, and removed from any kind of collective struggle. Rather than workers feeling like they run their union together, the model of service unionism creates a transactional relationship between two separate entities, the worker and the union.” – Mindy Isser, an SEIU organizer in Philadelphia, who thinks “we need our unions to be more left-wing and we need rank-and-file members to be politicized.” (November 16 The Nation)

The New Jersey Education Association Doesn’t Care What You Think

November 16, 2017

The New Jersey Education Association Doesn’t Care What You Think. By any objective measure the New Jersey Education Association had a very good Election Day. Its chosen candidate, Democrat Phil Murphy, was elected governor. Murphy spoke to attendees at the union’s convention last Friday and soon after named NJEA president Marie Blistan to his transition team.

Twenty-four of the 32 state Senate candidates NJEA endorsed won their races, but one losing race may have attracted more attention than all the other contests combined.

The union endorsed Fran Grenier, a pro-Trump Republican, over Democrat and state Senate President Steve Sweeney. Sweeney is one of the most powerful politicians in New Jersey and an officer of the ironworkers union. But he often locked horns with NJEA over pension reform.

The union spent an estimated $5.3 million trying to defeat Sweeney, an astonishing amount considering his district is home to fewer than 54,000 voters. Despite its best efforts, Sweeney cruised to a 17-point victory.

Some members and quite a few Democratic legislators are angry that the union spent so much money that could have been put to better use in more competitive districts. But NJEA officers are having none of it. In a statement released after the election, they claimed Grenier’s “insurgent campaign electrified New Jersey politics and energized NJEA members.”

Both Blistan and NJEA executive director Ed Richardson have taken to op-ed pages to justify their actions, using the same theme.

“Fortunately, I answer only to the members who elected me to lead our union,” wrote Blistan in the Newark Star-Ledger.

“We are an extremely democratic, member-led advocacy organization,” wrote Richardson in the Cherry Hill Courier Post, adding that members “deserve a union that answers only to them, not to any pundit or politician…. So we don’t owe an explanation to anyone who isn’t an NJEA member.”

They are both correct: union leaders do not answer to outsiders. Despite its enormous influence on state politics, NJEA is a private organization that can conduct its internal operations pretty much any way it wants. Whether NJEA is “extremely democratic,” “member-led,” or even answerable to the rank-and-file is a matter for debate, however.

To get a better read on how members actually felt about the campaign against Sweeney, Kelly Heyboer of NJ Advance Media went to the union’s convention. It’s not much of a leap to believe that teachers attending a union convention are more likely to be in touch with what the union is up to, rather than less. But here is what Heyboer found in a random, unscientific sampling of 100 NJEA attendees.

Twenty-eight thought it was a good idea for NJEA to spend the money to defeat Sweeney. Another 28 thought it was a waste of cash. But a sizable plurality of 44 members “didn’t hear anything about it or didn’t care how the NJEA spent its money.”

Carly Sitrin of NJ Spotlight also covered the convention. She didn’t take a poll, but her observations were similar. She reported that few NJEA members seemed aware of the battle with Sweeney and that most “expressed their disconnect or disinterest in dealing with politics.”

That might be a small sample size, but it is still significant. Blistan was elected president of NJEA in a statewide vote that drew — I am reliably informed — about a 10 percent turnout. When she says she is answerable only to the members who elected her, she’s referring to only a fraction of the membership.

NJEA is like most unions in that they are democratically run — but by, and for, those who are most active in the union. They don’t go out of their way to determine the views of members who are less engaged in union activities, and they certainly don’t seek out those who might oppose the union’s stances. The people who show up to conventions already support what the union is doing and its judgment in how it spends dues.

Both Blistan and Richardson noted that NJEA-endorsed candidates were screened by 125 members. Who are these 125 members? “NJEA’s officers, the NJEA Executive Committee, the county association presidents, the NJEA Government Relations Committee, the Congressional Contact Committee, the president of New Jersey Preservice Education Association, the NJREA [retirees association] legislative chairperson, and two NJREA regional legislative chairs.”

All these folks are members, but the most accurate way to describe them is as a small group of elected officers and representatives that made the decision leading to an outlay of more than $5 million on a quixotic campaign. It appears most members — even active ones — knew nothing or cared nothing about it.

NJEA’s officers feel comfortable saying they are answerable only to members because they know it’s not really true. No one will lose his or her job over the Sweeney debacle. There will be no reform, or even review, of the PAC endorsement process. Rank-and-file members will not get a greater say in union affairs because they don’t seem to want one.

Their lack of a bond to the union works nicely for those in charge, but it will be a double-edged sword if and when teachers no longer have to join, or pay. Maybe then NJEA officers will be answerable to members, but there will be a lot fewer of them.

Recent Intercepts. EIA’s daily blog, Intercepts, covered these topics November 9-15:

* Former “Teachers Union Gone Wild” Target Turns Up in the Middle of Addiction Treatment Scam of Union Members. “Brokers and consultants are also often paid to send union members to particular centers; and some treatment centers hire family members of union workers to ensure referrals.”

* Nevada State Education Association Says It Has No Obligation to Provide Financial Information to Affiliates. Or even respond to requests.

* Just Say It: Dues Money Is Used for Political Activities. A lot of members are misinformed about this, and the union wants it that way.

* Veterans Day: My Students Could Have Killed Me. My only teaching experience wasn’t quite like yours.

Quote of the Week. “[Problems that predate the election of Donald Trump include] a fractured mass media which allow people to create news silos that tell them only what they want to hear.” – Mark Gruenberg, reporting for the Press Associates Union News Service, a service of the International Labor Communications Association, on the remarks of Becky Pringle, the vice president of the National Education Association, who was speaking to attendees of a Common Cause conference, held in the auditorium at NEA headquarters. (November 8 Workday Minnesota)

Why Millennials Can’t Save Unions

November 9, 2017

Why Millennials Can’t Save Unions. The decline in union membership has been going on so long it is as certain as the sunrise. The percentage of American workers who belong to unions is about half of what it was 35 years ago. The only thing that has kept organized labor from fading into obscurity is the public sector, whose unionization rates have been relatively steady over the same period.

Observers see both crisis and opportunity in the new generation of workers. Some note that millennials tend to support group effort, are more politically liberal, and have a generally positive attitude about unions. Others point to age group figures that show unions have almost three times as many members over 35 as under.

Consideration of both points of view together yields a three-dimensional picture, but when we add a fourth dimension — time — we discover something unexpected about how union membership and age interact.

Using Bureau of Labor Statistics historical data, we find that the unionization rate of all employees under 35 is 7.4 percent. For those 35 to 64, it is 12.9 percent. But ten-year trends show that the unionization rate of the younger cohort has barely changed. It was 7.8 percent in 2006. It is the older group that has dropped significantly, down from 14.8 percent in 2006.

Raw numbers make the difference plainer. There were 16,000 fewer young union members in 2016 than in 2006, but there were 1.1 million fewer older union members.

So while many commentators and union leaders have emphasized the need for outreach to younger workers (myself included), unions have generally maintained their membership levels. The unions’ loss of so large a share of the older workforce, however, comes as a shock.

The available statistics cannot tell us if the trend holds for both public sector and private sector employees, or if teacher unions alone have had this experience. But should the U.S. Supreme Court ban agency fees, a tidal wave of millennials would have to join the labor movement to offset old losses and new. The problem for unions is larger than any combination of charter school teachersgraduate teaching assistants and digital media reporters can solve.

Recent Intercepts. EIA’s daily blog, Intercepts, covered these topics November 2-8:

* IRS Auditing NEA. Right now, that’s all I know.

* What’s Going On at the Chicago Teachers Union? Couldn’t muster a quorum to vote on “a necessary step for the future of public education.”

* Washington Education Association’s School Funding Campaign Is Being Funded by NEA. $400,000 grant includes money for opposition research.

* A Good Election Day for Teacher Unions, Marred Only by Wasted $5.3 Million. The full dues of 6,000 members failed to elect a pro-Trump Republican.

* Updates on Nevada/Clark County Union Dispute. This is going to take some time.

Quote of the Week. “The labor movement might have disappeared entirely were it not for the postwar rise of government employee unions.” – Timothy Noah, employment and immigration editor at Politico. (November 7 Politico Magazine)

This throwaway line is one of the most underappreciated facts of American politics and economics.

AFT Says Loss of Agency Fees May Reduce the “Progressive Agenda”

November 1, 2017

AFT Says Loss of Agency Fees May Reduce the “Progressive Agenda.” Last week Union Report reported on a directive sent by the National Education Association listing “8 essentials” that should shape local collective bargaining agreements if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns agency fee laws in the coming Janus case. Such laws allow unions to collect payments from non-members, ostensibly to cover the costs of contract negotiation.

Oral arguments in the case may occur as early as January. Plaintiffs will argue that agency fees levied by public-sector unions are unconstitutional because bargaining with the government is a form of political advocacy with which they may not agree.

The unions will argue that engagements with the government as an employer are fundamentally different from those with the government as sovereign, and that workplace “coherence” makes it necessary for non-members to subsidize the majority position. They will claim that fee-payers are not supporting unions’ political speech in any meaningful way.

Which makes the information being disseminated by the American Federation of Teachers to local activists all the more curious. Last week AFT sent Rob Weil, its director of field programs for educational issues, to speak to the Baltimore Teachers Union. In a presentation titled “Janus, Unions, and the Rest,” Weil explained the basics of the Janus case, listed some remedies in the event of an adverse decision, and warned of the implications to AFT and its partners and affiliates.

Among the remedies was one that unions believe will be the next point of contention in a post-Janus world: maintenance of dues agreements. Inserting these agreements in new contracts is one of NEA’s “8 essentials,” and they are also promoted more generally among public-sector unions. The idea is to create “a narrow and individual time frame when a member is permitted to quit the union, usually a year after signing.” Although courts frequently overturn efforts to limit when members can resign, AFT suggests maintenance of dues language can still extend the time they would have to pay.

Even with this planned circumvention, Weil warned that public-sector unions will see an immediate loss of income. In a series of PowerPoint bullets, he predicted an additional ideological effect on union affiliates and partners:

  • “Some unions will be unable to stay afloat. This ruling will make it hard for them to exist.
  • “The weakening of unions weakens the ability of unions and their social partners to fight for working people.
  • “Unions will be forced to spend larger amounts of time and money on membership maintenance instead of other more progressive union activities.
  • “The progressive moment [sic] as a whole, and many specific groups, will lose resources (both $$ and people) which will lessen their impact. Some social partners may, unfortunately, no longer exist.
  • “The progressive agenda may have to be reduced in reaction to the new rules regarding dues collection.”

It is hard to square the unions’ argument that agency fees are not subsidizing political speech with the claim that their loss will lead to a reduction in the progressive agenda. Even staunch unionists might feel that AFT would benefit from spending more time and money on membership maintenance.

Although their overall numbers will be reduced, it is conceivable that unions will become more progressive organizations. Those who pay dues out of personal choice, rather than mandated obligation, are more likely to support their unions’ political goals as well. There will be less union, but it could be union concentrate.

Given that progressive elements within the unions are already dissatisfied with the status quo, significant changes to the ideological composition of membership because of Janus may lead to more internal problems for NEA and AFT than external problems for their education policy aims.

Recent Intercepts. EIA’s daily blog, Intercepts, covered these topics October 27-31:

* Iowa State Education Association Having No Problems Winning Recertification. Only four of 220 teacher union locals are disbanded.

* Florida Staff Union Is Keeping the NLRB Busy. Coercive actions and statements.

Quote of the Week. “Charter educators joining our ranks would add 1,000 members, increase our collective resources and remove the threat of multiple, competing education unions. A merger would also prepare us for future battles and limit charter proliferation….” – Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, urging CTU representatives to vote in favor of absorbing the local affiliate for charter schools into CTU. (October 2017 Chicago Union Teacher)