Intercepts

A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Transparent

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Mar• 27•15

NEA president: It’s time for education companies to be transparent” – headline, Washington Post, March 26

Missouri Officials Block Efforts to Track Time Teachers Spend on Union Business; Officials: Union activities exempt from transparency laws” – headline, Washington Free Beacon, March 26

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NEA Shows It’s Serious About 2016 By Sending Letter to John Bolton

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Mar• 26•15

So we got a media blitz yesterday and this morning, informing us that the National Education Association is already planning for the 2016 Presidential campaign.

“We have 3 million members who want desperately to know what the candidates have to say to really, seriously improve public education,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García told reporters. “We intend to activate those 3 million members, the parents, even the students.”

(How about activating the students to learn math?)

Activation will involve the cutting edge tactic of placing billboards at the Des Moines and Manchester airports. NEA tried billboards in 2004, coupled with a basket of apples for a debate moderator, to no discernible effect.

The Post reminded Eskelsen Garcia that the Gates and Broad Foundations spent $25 million on “Ed in ’08,” to no discernible effect.

“Even though Gates has lots and lots of money, we have something they don’t – 3 million members,” she said. Except that NEA has spent more than $25 million each Presidential election year, and it used to have 3.2 million members, to no discernible effect.

The union also sent questionnaires to 20 people it thinks might run for President. Fifteen of them are Republicans, including John Bolton and Ben Carson. One is independent Bernie Sanders.

That makes 16 wasted stamps.

The four Democrats are Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb.

That’s two more wasted stamps and one necessary only as a courtesy to the sitting Vice President.

It will be Hillary, and if she wins we will have at least four more years of union complaints about the cozy relationship between establishment Democrats and corporate education reform. If she loses, the billboards for 2020 will go up soon after.

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Craps

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Mar• 25•15

I spent so much time watching what the Teamsters were doing in Las Vegas that I forgot to look at how the folks at the Nevada State Education Association (NSEA) were taking it.

Not well.

First came the resignation of Brian Christensen, the executive director of the embattled Education Support Employees Association. Then came the departure, under undisclosed circumstances, of NSEA executive director Gary Peck.

The union benefited from a pre-recession teacher hiring boom, but has since been losing members steadily, currently at about 24,000 total membership. The impending loss of 5,000 ESEA members would force the affiliate to become yet another NEA protectorate. The number of state affiliates unable to support their own weight will be a drag on the national union for years to come.

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Rock the Union

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Mar• 23•15

Click here to read.

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If At First You Don’t Secede…

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Mar• 23•15

I wonder if anyone has researched the history of unions leaving unions. There are some meaty stories, from Change to Win leaving the AFL-CIO, to FMPR in Puerto Rico, to more recent instances like UHPA in Hawaii, and failed attempts in places like Dearborn, Wicomico County, Modesto and Oregon.

We have a couple of new divorce cases on the docket. The Grand Rapids Community College Alliance of Support Professionals voted to disaffiliate from the Michigan Education Association, and will continue as a local-only union.

And the Yakima Education Association extended its years-long battle with the Washington Education Association over its desire to withdraw from the regional UniServ, WEA MidState. Some NEA state affiliates have an additional layer of governance between local and state. Yakima’s complaint is that the services it receives from the region are not worth what it costs in dues money.

What is unusual about this case is that WEA is threatening to disaffiliate Yakima, not the other way around. I wonder if Yakima’s officers responded with “Please don’t throw us into the briar patch.”

Back in 2013, the WEA board ruled Yakima “out of compliance with the minimum standards of affiliation” and later banned its delegates from participating in the state union’s representative assembly. But WEA doesn’t have any useful intermediate measures to use against Yakima. It can ineffectually complain, or it can kick Yakima out… and lose almost 1,000 members.

Unfortunately for Yakima, WEA does have one tool: the big hammer. A state takeover is the preferred method of dealing with recalcitrant locals, so don’t be surprised if it happens again.

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NEA Leadership Summit Sessions

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Mar• 20•15

NEA held one of its Leadership Summits in Anaheim a couple of weeks ago, and since you are dying to know what was discussed, I have posted a description of the breakout sessions on EIA’s Declassifed page.

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Shot Across the Bow

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Mar• 19•15

Barring some unforeseen legal reversal, it is very likely that Teamsters Local 14 will succeed in acquiring representation rights for support workers in Las Vegas’ school district. It will unseat the Education Support Employees Association, which is affiliated with NEA and the Nevada State Education Association.

Despite the daunting correlation of forces, NEA and NSEA will not meekly allow the Teamsters to appropriate thousands of their members. The Teamsters must know this, and they have moved preemptively.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the Teamsters “recently filed a public records request for the names, job classification and work location for members of the Clark County Education Association, the union representing the district’s 17,000 teachers.” This is usually done in preparation for an organizing drive.

There is little chance of the Teamsters making headway with the teachers (though they do have one success story), but I think the move is an effort to send a message to NEA and NSEA. It looks like a diversionary tactic, in order to prevent the teachers’ union from concentrating its substantial resources on the support employee battle. Let the custodians go quietly, and we will leave the teachers alone.

I don’t think it will have an effect, because even if it loses the bus drivers of Las Vegas, NEA still has more than 300,000 education support employees across the country to think about. It can’t allow a clean blueprint for exiting NEA. So it will fight.

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