NEA Representative Assembly 2015: Rebel Yell

The delegates spent almost two hours debating NBI 11, which called on NEA to support efforts “to remove the Confederate flag and other symbols of the Confederacy from public schools and public spaces.”

It took that long because the “other symbols of the Confederacy” were a little too vague and widespread for the delegates. Ultimately they approved language that simply called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from public schools and spaces.

It might seem an unusually excessive amount of time to spend on the issue, but I seem to recall last year’s debate over the Washington Redskins name taking quite a while, too.

The delegates also spent a long time on Constitutional Amendment 1, which would grant full RA representation to states where NEA and AFT affiliates have merged. I don’t want to lose you in the complexities of it, but New York will serve as a quick example.

When NEA New York merged with New York State United Teachers, it was only about one-twelfth the size of NYSUT. Merger guidelines required that the national dues be split proportionately between NEA and AFT – 8 percent to NEA, 92 percent to AFT. NEA delegate representation was limited to that percentage. So while NYSUT has over 375,000 active members, it sends only 8 percent of the delegates to which it would otherwise be entitled.

The amendment, voted on by secret ballot tomorrow, would give NYSUT and the other four merged affiliates 100 percent of their allotment, thereby greatly increasing their relative power in the assembly.

There wasn’t much debate, but an awful lot of questions. All the arguments in favor seemed to come from the merged affiliates, which doesn’t bode well for a two-thirds majority needed to pass. The New Jersey delegation in particular was determined to defeat it.

Constitutional Amendment 2, which would have changed the RA to biennial, was withdrawn. Bylaw Amendment B, which would make permanent the $20 assessment each NEA member pays to the Ballot Measure/Legislative Crises and Media funds, was introduced, but not debated at all. It, too, will be voted on by secret ballot tomorrow.

Unfortunately the delegates have completed action only through NBI 11, and there are evidently 122 NBIs in total. At this rate it promises to be a very, very late night on Monday.