Is the Virginia Education Association Running Its Own “Wildcat” Group?

I came across this story in Payday Report telling us, “On January 28th, teachers from various school districts across the state of Virginia are intending to go on strike.”

It goes on to say that the strike is for one day, organized by “a rank-and-file group called Virginia Educators United,” and that it “has not yet been formally sanctioned by the Virginia Education Association.”

The Virginia Educators United web site states the group is a grassroots organization and “Our structure does not report to other organizations.”

That may be true, but VEU has enough links to VEA to make you wonder whether it matters who’s reporting to whom.

The one-day “strike” just happens to coincide with VEA’s lobby day at the state Capitol. VEA doesn’t mention anything about VEU, and VEU doesn’t mention anything about VEA, which is odd since they must have coordinated the date. Plus the VEU march ends at the Capitol just as the VEA rally is set to begin.

It bears mentioning that VEU says nothing about a strike or a walkout, and VEA advises members to “secure leave” for the event.

Some digging turned up four people who are deeply involved in running VEU. At least three of them are office-holders in a VEA affiliate. At least one of them recruits members for a VEA local.

Oh, and the January 28 rally ends with an open house at VEA headquarters.

VEU can be whatever it wants to be, but if it’s an elaborate membership drive for VEA, maybe teachers should know.


Staff Authorizes Strike Against Kentucky Education Association

Employees of the Kentucky Education Association voted Friday to authorize a strike against the teacher union if agreement on a new contract is not reached.

KEA has been unable to negotiate a new deal with staffers since they rejected a tentative agreement last September. The staff union filed several unfair labor practice complaints against KEA managers with the National Labor Relations Board.

The staffers also approved a vote of no confidence in the management bargaining team, which includes KEA’s executive director, Mary Ruble.

In a letter to the KEA board of directors, the staff union accused the management bargaining team of unspecified retaliation against the staff bargaining team. The employees expressed concern with “management’s ability to fulfill their job descriptions, manage staff and carry out the mission and goals of the organization.” KEA employees claim the teacher union has not held a staff meeting since December 2017.

If KEA employees go on strike, it will be their first one since a six-day strike in January 2000.


Kentucky Education Association Employees Set Strike Vote for Friday

Contract negotiations between the Kentucky Education Association and its own employees have hit a brick wall, prompting the staff union to schedule a strike authorization vote for Friday, December 14.

The two sides had reached a tentative agreement last September, but the deal was rejected in a vote of the staff rank-and-file. Union management and workers returned to the bargaining table without success so far. The staff union claims the sticking point is KEA’s proposed take-backs on benefits.

The staff union filed an unfair labor practice complaint against KEA last week, accusing management of bad faith bargaining.

Negotiations continue and the authorization vote does not guarantee a strike will take place.

If KEA employees go on strike, it will be their first one since a six-day strike in January 2000.


UPDATED: Group of Oakland Teachers Organize Wildcat Sickout

While our attention has been focused on the impending teacher strike in Los Angeles, public school employees in Oakland are also in the fact-finding stage of collective bargaining and could hit the picket lines in January as well.

Unlike LA, however, rifts have developed between the leaders of the Oakland Education Association and factions of the rank-and-file.

Today teachers at Oakland High School organized a sickout that was not sanctioned by the union. One source reports at least four other schools are involved.

“People were sick of the very slow moving and uninspiring actions being proposed by the union itself,” teacher Miles Murray told the Bay City News Service.

“Now is the time for this movement to happen, and the union is moving too slow,” teacher Alex Webster-Guiney told KQED. “They need to be supporting the grassroots movement of their members.”

OEA has issued no statement about the sickout.

Although the union’s contract demands are similar to those in Los Angeles, the district has always been a cautionary tale of financial mismanagement. The state took over Oakland Unified in 2003 and didn’t return local control until 2009.

UPDATE: The teachers call themselves “The Wildcat Underground” and have their own web site.