UPDATED: Nevada Infighting Escalates

When we last checked in, the warring Nevada State Education Association and its largest local affiliate, the Clark County Education Association, took to the Internet while their dueling lawsuits awaited movement through the courts.

NSEA built the NVUnity web site, now adorned with counterpoints to CCEA’s claims. CCEA replied with its “Unity With Fairness” campaign, but NSEA stole a march by registering the domain name unitywithfairness.org, which redirects you to the NSEA page. (UPDATE: I failed to notice that CCEA had already created unitywithfairness.com.)

Expect more from the bag of tricks as this proceeds. It doesn’t take a labor attorney to see that the dispute isn’t about unity or fairness, but the age-old battle between the status quo and more money, a staple of labor relations since unions were first formed.

While money is the overarching issue, there is a structural reason the two unions have reached this impasse. Current membership numbers are hard to come by, but it appears CCEA members constitute about 49 percent of NSEA’s total membership. Why then can’t CCEA use its numbers to change NSEA policy?

The reason is CCEA holds only one-third of the seats on the NSEA board of directors, due to seats being held by NSEA’s executive officers and the heads of the retiree and student programs. Seven seats are held by the Education Support Employees Association, which could muster only nine percent support of its bargaining unit in a representation election against the Teamsters.

So CCEA’s financial complaint is at its heart a representation complaint, which is much harder to settle.

One last side note: The NSEA/NEA suit against CCEA also included the Clark County School District, because the district is the entity that actually deducts dues from teachers’ paychecks. The district has filed a motion to dismiss. It is likely to succeed since all dues are still being deducted and transmitted to CCEA, per provisions in the collective bargaining agreement. CCEA has placed the state and national dues in escrow.