Still Not Waterloo For Teachers’ Unions

“It’s clear that many believe this country is on the wrong track and voted for change,” said American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten after Election Day.

After Election Day 2014.

You might recall that the teacher’s unions and their chosen Democratic candidates took an expensive beating in that election. If Weingarten can recycle her post-election comments so can I. Here’s an excerpt from my November 10, 2014 communiqué headlined, “Not Waterloo, But Elba.”

Some of the post-election analysis suggested that the teachers’ unions will rethink their strategy, or regroup. Ridiculous.

Usually if you spend $60 million with such paltry results there isn’t a new pot of cash waiting to be handed to the same people who engineered the debacle. Teachers’ unions aren’t usual. No one at NEA or AFT will lose a job or be demoted. And there will be at least $60 million – probably more – in their war chests in 2016.

When the union hammer doesn’t work, they don’t find another tool. They go out and buy a bigger hammer.

Common sense suggests that this is a losing strategy in the long term. But the alternatives require an admission of error, and I don’t see that level of introspection from NEA or AFT.

…NEA and AFT would like California to be the model for the future, where union-loyal candidates win against all comers. They are tired of supporting wobbly Democrats as the lesser of two evils, mainly because they can’t be trusted once elected.

Unfortunately for them, the trend lines aren’t bending that way. Let me go back to the Napoleon analogy in the headline.

The teachers’ unions suffered a bitter defeat, but their ability to fight was not touched at all. So for the next two years, they are in exile, waiting for 2016 in order to return in force and resume power.

It won’t be Waterloo until the time comes when they can no longer raise another $60 million after a loss.

This election was a shocker to NEA and AFT, and the rest of us, without a doubt. But nothing happened that will affect their activities in 2018 or 2020. There is now a constituency within both unions – mostly supporters of Bernie Sanders – who might push for change in internal political processes, but they will have to organize. We’ll see.