NEA & Nevada Affiliate Cut Off Las Vegas Teachers Access to Union Benefits

The National Education Association and the Nevada State Education Association made their inevitable response to losing dues income from their local affiliate, the Clark County Education Association. CCEA represents public school teachers in the city of Las Vegas and has been at war with its state and national parent unions for the entire year.

CCEA placed state and national dues in an escrow account in an effort to reach an agreement that gives the local a larger share of the total. NEA and NSEA claim this violates their affiliation agreement. While the dispute works its way through the Nevada legal system, CCEA isn’t sending money to NEA and NSEA, and now NEA and NSEA won’t be providing benefits to CCEA members.

In a letter sent directly to CCEA members and posted on an NSEA web site, NSEA president Ruben Murillo and NEA president Lily Eskelsen-García warn of “an impending loss of benefits that will occur on Friday, December 1, 2017, unless action is taken to prevent this from happening.”

The benefits listed include “the $1 million professional liability insurance, legal services, member benefits such as discounted life, health, and disability insurance, reduced rates on automobile and homeowners insurance, and many other benefits.”

Not included in the list were Costco coupons and the NEA Pet Insurance Program.

Murillo and Eskelsen-García wrote that “these actions reflect a pattern of conduct by CCEA executive director John Vellardita who previously undertook a disaffiliation effort in California and was found by a federal court to have violated his fiduciary obligations.”

Vellardita’s “pattern of conduct” is enough to give anyone pause, particularly those tasked with hiring executive directors. So who hired Vellardita at CCEA? Ruben Murillo.

Murillo used to be president of CCEA. Asked why he hired Vellardita over 13 other candidates, Murillo said, “He has an issue back there. But we feel he did it for his members. They didn’t want to lose their local.”

Vellardita and CCEA’s elected officers might want to double-lock the doors at night and post a guard, because “in the upcoming weeks, NSEA and NEA will be holding meetings to discuss the actions taken by CCEA leadership.”

That might sound innocuous, but in the past affiliation disputes have led to midnight takeovers or the creation of competing locals.

I also find it interesting that the state and national teachers’ unions, which rail against the practice of direct dealing with members when it is used by school districts, are more than happy to resort to it when their own interests are at stake.