Clark County Education Association Fires on Fort Sumter

The Clark County Education Association has been in a war of words and a war of litigation with its parent unions, the Nevada State Education Association and National Education Association, primarily over the distribution of dues money. CCEA comprises about half of NSEA’s entire membership, and the Clark County officers feel they are not getting their money’s worth from the state and national unions.

NSEA has responded by posting its IRS filings and a short video. The state union also released its 2017 budget report, printed with the disclaimer, “Confidential information: Do not copy or distribute without prior NSEA BOD or MGMT approval.”

NSEA states that CCEA officers must “immediately answer questions about transparency, accounting, and fiscal responsibility” and raises the specter of a forensic audit of the local union’s troubled health trust.

While the unions’ dueling lawsuits meander through the courts and the communications professionals trade salvos, CCEA raised the stakes considerably yesterday with an e-mail to its members.

Headlined “You Spoke, We Listened. Now We’re Asking, How About a Reduction in Dues?” the bulletin proposes local control:

We heard you loud and clear. Over 5,000 members recently participated in a survey and over 96% said that out of the $810 annual union dues you pay half should stay with the Local.

…Here’s how it would work. Currently, you pay $810 a year. CCEA only keeps $243.84 of that money. The rest goes to the State (NSEA) and the National (NEA). We can lower your dues in half to $405 and provide better benefits and services to you than you currently receive.

…NEA’s primary benefit was professional liability insurance and they just cut that off with only three days’ notice. However, Members need not worry, CCEA will make sure that no MEMBER will be left without protection. CCEA will provide better professional liability insurance at the same cost you now pay to NEA ($189/year). CCEA will provide more professional liability insurance at half the cost you pay in union dues to NEA which are $189 a year).

Ed. note: I think one of those last two sentences needs to be deleted.

CCEA has been in a de facto state of disaffiliation for some time now. It is not sending dues up the chain to NSEA and NEA, and the state and national unions are not providing services and benefits. The only remaining question is whether the two sides can reach an accommodation, or will CCEA make its disaffiliation official.

I can’t see CCEA backing away from this, particularly after floating a 50% dues cut and badmouthing NEA’s liability insurance.

NSEA is in a bit of a bind. It has now lost about $3.6 million in annual dues (out of $6.5 million total) and since it went to court to resolve the dispute it would be problematic to attempt the time-tested tactic of a midnight takeover and establishment of a trusteeship over the local. A judge might see such a move as an attempt to preempt a court ruling.

I have no information that a formal proposal will be presented to CCEA’s representative bodies for a vote. But if CCEA’s officers have the rank-and-file support they claim, a disaffiliation could occur as quickly as it did in Memphis.