A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 13•14

A tip of the hat to the Auburn Teachers Association in New York. You may recall that the late former president of the 390-member union, Sally Jo Widmer, stole at least $800,000 in dues over a six-year period.

While the other union officers can be faulted for failing in their oversight responsibilities, the new regime is to be applauded for doing something uncommon – refunding overpaid dues to members. Each member received a lump sum payment for the excess amount they were charged under Widmer’s tenure from 2009 to 2013.

“I’m just so glad we came to a fair resolution and we can put this money back in the hands of the people from whom it was taken,” said Cheryl Miskell, the current ATA president.


Palm Beach Pickets

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 12•14

We thought that finally electing a new president (Kathi Gundlach) would ease the strife within the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association.


The union that represents the county’s 12,000-plus teachers met with a picket of its own Monday afternoon, from another union representing 11 employees in the Classroom Teachers Association’s administrative offices.

The Palm Beach Staff Organization, affiliated with the United Auto Workers union, handed out fliers as some of the two dozen CTA board members headed inside West Palm Beach headquarters for a budget meeting.

The staff union is alleging that the local CTA has violated its contract and committed “a number” of unfair labor practices, including moving to end one position and failing to advertise another position that has been filled, said the union’s representative, Tony Hernandez.

The local apparently fired a communications staffer, covered under the contract, with about 15 minutes notice, then hired former president Theo Harris as an assistant executive director without advertising the position. Gundlach was Harris’ vice president during his tenure. Harris currently sits on the local’s board of directors, representing retired members.

Not only did the new hire not sit well with the staff union, leading to the pickets, but it really didn’t sit well with executive director Lynn Cavall, who resigned immediately.

Amid all the infighting, the union is running a budget deficit. We’ll keep you posted as more details emerge.


Veterans Day: Remembering the Computer Age

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 11•14

Last year I introduced you to how I spend Veterans Day – pulling out the old cardboard box and digging through the materials I saved from my time in the Air Force. In order to make it marginally educational and minimally entertaining, I posted a celestial navigation precomp form. It was essential for those ancient days (the ’80s) when you still needed a sextant to direct a C-130 overwater.

This year I focused my attentions on flight planning. Of course these days everything is churned out by computer – waypoints, forecast winds, altitudes, fuel consumption, etc. In my day we had to fill out a MAC Form 28 by hand.


But I don’t want you to think we didn’t have computers in those days. We did and I’ve kept mine all these years. It was designated the MB-4A Air Navigation Computer. Here’s a photo:

Yes, it was completely wireless! With the front side you computed speed, distance and time. The flip side allowed you to “input” wind velocity and direction to compute drift and groundspeed.

You can get one for only $19.99 on eBay. (vintage!)

Next year in Ancient Navigation Techniques we’ll bring you… the Pastagram!


Happy Veterans Day, everyone. Now I feel like I’ve earned that free burger at Red Robin.


2014 Election: Not Waterloo, But Elba

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 10•14

Click here to read.


GOP Wave Reaches 170 Degrees West Longitude

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 10•14

Democrat Eni Faleomavaega was first elected to be American Samoa’s non-voting delegate to the U.S. Congress in 1988 and has been reelected every two years since. Until now.

Republican Aumua Amata Radewagen captured the seat last Tuesday in a nine-candidate race and will be the first woman from Samoa to serve in Congress.



Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 07•14

November 2010: Scott Walker is elected governor of Wisconsin. He captures 37 percent of the union household vote.

March 2011: Walker signs Act 10, severely restricting collective bargaining for public employees.

March 10, 2011: Washington Post  – Unions and their allies say the showdown in Wisconsin has galvanized and energized a liberal base that had been in a state of deep malaise after the beating that Democrats took in last year’s elections. Walker is “winning the battle through pure, uncompromising force, but he’s losing the war,” said Democratic pollster Mark Mellman.

March 11, 2011: New York Times headline – “Democrats See Wisconsin Loss as Galvanizing” “This is one of the uglier examples of the tyranny of a temporary majority, and I think it’s going to backfire badly,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

March 12, 2011: NEA Today headline – “‘This is the Beginning’ – Wisconsin Workers Still Galvanized” By signing his notorious budget repair bill into law on Friday, Gov. Scott Walker may have won a battle, but his political standing has taken a beating from which he most likely will not recover. Furthermore, the bill’s passage has done nothing to dampen the political activity that has engulfed Wisconsin over the past five weeks and in fact has united his opposition and even strengthened the hand of labor and working families everywhere.

March 2012: Recall of Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is certified. “The time is now. If you aren’t mobilized and galvanized now, I don’t know when the time will be,” said Democratic Lt. Gov. nominee and president of the state firefighters union Mahlon Mitchell.

June 5, 2012: Walker defeats the recall, capturing 38 percent of the union household vote.

June 10, 2012: Wisconsin State Journal – Walker’s win means Republicans in other states will be emboldened to curtail legal union rights, but labor’s future in Wisconsin is far from dim, said Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor research at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Despite the election setback, exit polls indicated 51 percent of voters favor public sector unions, and state union members appear to have been galvanized by the fight, Bronfenbrenner said.

September 22, 2014: Green Bay Press-Gazette headline – “National teachers’ union: beating Walker a top priority” AFSCME president Lee Saunders tells the Washington Post, “We have a score to settle with Scott Walker… We’ve lost 70% of our membership in the state. But let me tell you something: the members that remain are some of the most committed and dedicated members that we have all across this country.”

November 4, 2014: Walker wins reelection, capturing 34 percent of the union household vote.

November 4, 2014: Statement from Wisconsin Education Association Council president Betsy Kippers – “Today, we begin the next chapter of unionism in Wisconsin. Educators will be more engaged than ever before in shaping the future of public schools, and if state leaders turn their back on our students we’ll find different ways to advocate. We’ve shown over the last four years that we won’t back down – because children depend on us. This chapter features activism in each Wisconsin community, building on the grassroots energy that’s been planted and sown over the past four years.”


Long, Long Wait for Washington Class Size Initiative Results

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 06•14

Washington is an all vote-by-mail state, but ballots can be postmarked on Election Day and still count, so we don’t have a decision on Initiative 1351, the Washington Education Association’s class size reduction measure.

With about 59 percent of the vote counted, it couldn’t be much closer.

Last updated on 11/06/2014 8:03 AM

Measure Vote Vote %
692,394 49.59%
703,825 50.41%
Total Votes 1,396,219 100%

The geographic results so far suggest a correlation between support for the initiative and proximity to Puget Sound.