A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Split Decision in Staff Lawsuit Vs. Oregon Education Association

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 21•14

Refer to this blog post from July for the background on the lawsuit filed against the Oregon Education Association by its own employees. In short, the staff contract requires OEA to maintain a certain staffing ratio in its field offices. It failed to do this, as it was in the midst of closing and consolidating five offices in an effort to reduce costs.

The contract calls for binding arbitration in such disputes, and last January an arbitrator ruled in favor of the staff union. When OEA failed to fully comply with the arbitatror’s decision, the staff union filed suit in U.S. District Court.

Judge Paul Papak ruled last week that of the five field offices involved, one was in compliance with the arbitrator’s ruling (Chintimini) and that it was in the realm of OEA’s authority to close the Eastern Oregon and Roseburg offices, thus eliminating any staffing requirements for those offices.

However, OEA’s offices in Klamath and North Bend have remained open and short of the proper staffing ratio, so Judge Papak ruled in favor of the staff in those instances.

It appears that rather than rehire staff for those offices, OEA is closing them down, making the judge’s decision a bit of a pyrrhic victory for the staff union.

Contract grievances around related issues still abound at OEA, which has a history of labor strife with its staff.


Post-Election Union Analysis on the Left

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 20•14

Commentators on the left side of the aisle examined the results of the 2014 election and are now explaining to us what happened and what it all means for the labor movement.

To begin with, we have the provocative “Let Old Labor Die” from the pages of In These Times. It quotes labor lawyer Tom Geoghegan: “In the century to come, new labor has to step back, give up its control over the old labor law remedies and let workers do things for themselves.” His thesis is the political and legal systems that unions helped create are standing in the way of workplace democracy.

Thomas B. Edsall of the New York Times thinks the problem is the Democratic Party for distancing itself from organized labor. “Democrats are happy to get labor’s votes and money, but they have done little to revitalize the besieged movement,” he writes.

The Washington Post spent time with Gregg Johnson, president of AFSCME Local 46 in Illinois. They try on a few answers for size, then settle on the culprits – young members.

“If they were more active over the last 10 years, maybe we wouldn’t be in the situation we are now,” Johnson said. “Our employees have always taken for granted what we’ve got. And I don’t think they realize the lives that have been lost, and I don’t think they show enough respect for what those who went before us did to get us where we are. ”

I’ll have more on that sentiment in Monday’s communiqué because I hear it a lot.

All of this analysis is welcome – mainly because it’s better than pretending that nothing happened – but its effect on those in charge will be very close to zero. Their focus in 2016 and beyond will be on how to do the same things better, not whether they should do something else entirely.


Let’s Review

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 19•14

Here are three things we previously learned that were reinforced for us this week:

1) Most people know nothing, or very little, about Common Core. (February 2014 and last Monday, about a poll of California voters)

2) Compiling teacher union campaign spending is tricky, since “member communications” is a gray area. (October 2010, last Friday, and yesterday, about a Pennsylvania State Education Association election mailer sent to the spouse of a PSEA member)

3) Despite the establishment of “new financial safeguards,” embezzlement by local union officers continues to occur. (March 2014, last Friday in New Jersey, and today in New York)

Be ready for a pop quiz.


Have a Coke and a Smile

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 18•14

Thanks to this press release from Corporate Campaign, Inc. and the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, I learned that the American Federation of Teachers banned all Coca-Cola products from its facilities and events because of Coke’s “dismal human rights record and long-standing allegations of violence against union leaders in Colombia and Guatemala.”

“AFT’s actions to hold The Coca-Cola Company accountable for what we see as its reprehensible practices worldwide, can only have a positive impact on society and the daily lives of countless endangered children and workers, who are now trapped in poverty and despair,” said Ray Rogers, director of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke. “I hope and expect that the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) will take similar action to protect the well-being of children and advance human rights everywhere.”

The AFT resolution also encourages union affiliates “to participate in campaigns to remove Coca-Cola products from their schools, colleges, hospitals and other places in which they work.”

Fair enough. I’m sure AFT simply switched to Pepsi products. But wait.

What about Pepsi’s anti-union actions in India? What about the list of abuses on the “Pepsi Smash” Facebook page? And then there are the land grabs for sugar by both Coke and Pepsi.

Drat! I guess that leaves the Dr Pepper Snapple Group. But Coke distributes Dr Pepper products in parts of the world, the company was once cited for 12 violations of the Clean Water Act, has a poor record on post-consumer packaging, had a low score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, and has had its own battles with labor unions.

What’s a socially conscious union to do? I guess AFT will have to stick to tap water… as long as there is no fracking nearby.


Former High-Ranking NEA Staffer Speaks Out on Union’s Direction

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 17•14

Click here to read.



Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 17•14

Mike Gipson, local politician and former organizer for United Teachers Los Angeles, just won a seat in the state Assembly. Here’s one of his mailers:

A couple of problems with the photos: Gipson PhotoShopped his face onto the body of a police officer, and his opponent’s face onto the body of an armed, hooded thug.

“Putting a young black man in a hoodie with a gun in your face is about the most stereotypically racist move I’ve ever seen from any campaign,” said SEIU spokesman Mike Roth. SEIU backed Walker.

Other Gipson material classified Walker as “Ex-con. Education Extremist.” Here’s Walker getting set to mug Chelsea Clinton.


And here is his education platform. Read through it and see if you can identify the sentence that brands him as an extremist.


Good News! NEA Says It Wasted Only $40 Million

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 14•14

Politico reports:

The National Education Association is still tallying its campaign spending but it’s safe to say the union didn’t come close to the $60 million figure that officials floated as an upper limit. The union estimates its expenditures on the midterms at $34 million to $40 million. About a third of that went to support field efforts in battleground states nationwide.

As I’ve explained to quite a few people through e-mail and over the phone, this means nothing and the original estimate meant nothing, because we don’t know what NEA categorizes as “campaign spending.” We don’t know what the affiliates spent. We don’t know how much was spent on “member communications” and “community outreach.” We don’t know how much money contributed by the union to like-minded advocacy groups ended up as campaign spending, etc.

I direct you to this 2010 communiqué on the enigma of NEA political spending.

There is another problem. Prior to the election, the union wants to show off its strength, so it might exaggerate the amount of money it is spending. In the wake of dramatic losses across the board, its motivation is to minimize the amount it spent.

So I’m afraid we can only be certain about certain spending. We know what the NEA PAC contributed to candidates. We know what the NEA Advocacy Fund used for independent expenditures in specific races. But we can’t reliably add it all up, tie it in a nice bow, and present it as total campaign spending.