A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Randi Weingarten Has Some Advice for Charter School Teachers

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jun• 29•16

Today’s Wall Street Journal has a lengthy piece on the efforts of AFT president Randi Weingarten to persuade union pension fund managers to divest from hedge funds run by those who support charter schools. I’m not sure she’s having much success, but I was struck by this Weingarten quote in the story:

“Why would you put your money with someone who wants to destroy you?”

That’s a very good question, and one that should be asked by charter school teachers who are approached by AFT representatives to join the union.

The entire purpose of the AFT campaign is to deny funding to charter schools it doesn’t like. Why would charter school employees want to contribute to an organization devoted to reducing the resources available for their salaries, benefits and working conditions – perhaps even putting them out of work?

Oh, but AFT isn’t trying to destroy charter schools… not any more than contributing to charter schools is trying to destroy AFT.


Coverage of the NEA Representative Assembly Begins July 4

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jun• 27•16

Click here to read.


Getting Grisly in Memphis

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jun• 27•16

The Memphis-Shelby County Education Association voted to disaffiliate from the Tennessee Education Association and NEA last December. Here’s MSCEA executive director Keith Williams to explain why.

The loss of Memphis was a big blow to TEA, but its difficulties extend elsewhere into the state. The union fell to 31,000 active members in 2014-15, and is budgeting for only 28,200 (full-time equivalents) in 2016-17.


Federal Education Association’s Finances

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jun• 24•16

The Federal Education Association is an NEA affiliate representing employees in U.S. Department of Defense schools both here and abroad.

Total membership – 6,174, down 180 members

Total revenue – $2.6 million (89.7% came from member dues), down $34,000

Surplus – $130,000

Net assets – $1.9 million

Total staff – 8

Staff salaries and benefits – $744,000

Highest paid employee – Connie Shanaghan, director of administration  – $131,852 base salary

Highest paid contractor – None received more than $100,000

That concludes the review of NEA state affiliate finances for 2014. I will do the same for 2015 once the figures for all affiliates are available.


Hillary Scheduled to Address NEA Delegates on July 4

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jun• 23•16

That’s the opening day of the NEA Representative Assembly, which means security hassles and delays – and less opportunity for Sanders supporters to organize any demonstration of their sentiments.

NEA has already rescheduled the start of the convention for 10 am – thirty minutes earlier than usual – in an attempt to head off TSA-like bottlenecks.

These things can get out of hand, however. Here’s a photo of delegates in 2011 waiting to hear Joe Biden speak.


Michigan NEA & AFT Talk Merger

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jun• 22•16

The Michigan Education Association and AFT Michigan have been discussing a possible merger for more than a year, reports Crain’s Detroit Business.

“AFT Michigan and the Michigan Education Association are working more closely together now than at any time in our history to mutually address the challenges facing our members,” MEA President Steven Cook and AFT Michigan President David Hecker said in a joint statement to Crain’s. “As a part of that work, a group has been meeting for more than a year to discuss what a merger between our organizations would look like, but those discussions are preliminary and exploratory in nature.

“No decisions have been made by MEA or AFT Michigan members regarding whether or not a merger would or could happen, nor any of the many details that such an action would need to address.”

A merger in Michigan would be a big deal because MEA was instrumental in helping defeat the proposed national merger of NEA and AFT in 1998. Though national merger is a dead issue these days, over time the dilution of opposition could make revival of talks a viable option.

Despite their history, it isn’t very surprising that the Michigan unions would explore merger. The state’s right-to-work legislation greatly reduced their ranks, and one shrinking organization is apparently preferable to two smaller shrinking organizations.

Still, I wouldn’t start buying “Education Michigan” or “Michigan United” t-shirts just yet. You may recall that under similar circumstances the Wisconsin Education Association Council and AFT Wisconsin actually crafted a merger proposal and scheduled a vote in April 2014. The vote was postponed amid concerns about the unions’ differing dues structures. A joint committee was formed to address those issues, and it ultimately recommended that the idea be dropped. In an April 2016 interview, new WEAC president Ron Martin told that merger was “off the table.”

The Michigan unions are nowhere close to the place Wisconsin reached, and I expect any proposed merger would meet significant organized opposition within both unions.


Official NEA State Affiliate Membership Numbers for 2015

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jun• 21•16

Click here to read.