A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Wikileaks: NEA Was Ready to Call Off Hillary Endorsement Vote

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 11•16

The release by Wikileaks of the e-mails of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, revealed that the leaders of the National Education Association were determined to win an endorsement for Clinton well before determining the wishes of the union’s representative bodies.

Despite constant pressure from NEA’s leaders, and a positive recommendation from the union’s PAC Council (although I suspected some manipulation there as well), there was still serious doubt whether the proposed Clinton endorsement would meet the 58% threshold needed from the union’s board of directors.

NEA’s executive officers acted quickly, urging Clinton to appear in person before the board on October 3, 2015 to answer any questions and alleviate any concerns. This she did, and the board ultimately voted to endorse her.

But NEA was prepared to call off the vote and whitewash the setback if things had gone awry. A Podesta e-mail dated September 29, 2015 described the situation and NEA’s plan to Clinton:

here’s the status of things, which you may already have been briefed on. Executive Committee of 7 (3 officers and 4 others)) voted unanimously to endorse. Next step is the PAC Committee, which is weighted by PAC participation and the votes are there to endorse. Final step is a vote of the full 120 member Board where the threshold for endorsement is 58%.

Sanders forces are working furiously to put off an endorsement. We do not have certainty on hitting the 58% threshold despite the intense work of Lilly and John Stocks. You are scheduled to see the full Board on Saturday morning. John’s assessment is that your appearance is critical if they are going to get the endorsement this weekend. There is some risk though that you show up and they remain uncertain of a successful vote so that they put it off for further work by the leadership.

They will not call the vote unless they are certain that they will hit the threshold. Downside is that the Sanders people will spin that notwithstanding the PAC Committee recommendation, the Board delayed action. All here assess that it’s worth the risk and that you should show up and try to get the endorsement now. If the vote is delayed, Lily and John will say this is a multi-layered process and good progress was made by securing the PAC Committee recommendation. I wanted you to have a good sense of the state of play, because they have to let people know that you will be there no later than tomorrow early am. I and the rest of the team think you should confirm participation, but wanted to give you a chance to discuss if you have a different view.

Just wanted to note that NEA’s Executive Committee has 9 members, not 7, and that the board has 170 members, not 120.


Wikileaks Reveals NEA’s Efforts to “Manage the Activists at the RA” Re: Hillary Endorsement

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 11•16

Wikileaks is releasing a large number of hacked e-mails to and from John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. One of them should be interesting to readers of this blog, who include both those who follow the inner workings of teachers’ unions and those who are the inner workings of the teachers’ unions.

It’s a June 17, 2015 memo from Nikki Budzinski, the Clinton campaign’s labor outreach director. She describes various status updates with the unions the campaign is courting. It was written only four days after Clinton formally launched her campaign, and two weeks before the National Education Association Representative Assembly (RA) in Orlando. It suggests that Clinton declined an invitation to attend. Here is the relevant paragraph:

NEA. Today the formal decline for the RA was discussed internally and what steps would be needed next. The NEA (more then (sic) any other union) is more Democratically driven in process. They have requested several future commitments that I have noted in the spreadsheet. They are sincerely doing their best to manage the activists at the RA. It only takes 50 signatures to raise a resolution on the floor and I have been warned about a Northeastern Sanders contingent. I think it would be good to be organized on our own behalf with a few key folks in the room (NH and IA leaders) in case anything comes up. I am a little nervous about this event. That said, their steps are moving toward a October 2nd/3rd endorsement all going to plan. I would love to know any thoughts on this you might have.

Delegates to the RA and NEA’s many Sanders supporters may have thought they were participating in an open debate over which candidate to endorse in the Democratic primary. They did not know that NEA’s leaders already had a plan in place to endorse Clinton before she had even formally announced.

Sure, many of them suspected there was manipulation going on, but it’s quite another to find the cold evidence in a campaign memo. And, in fact, Hillary was endorsed at the NEA board meeting on October 3, after she was forced to make a last-minute personal appearance.


Happy Columbo’s Day!

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 10•16

Editor’s Note: This went over pretty well last year so I’m repeating it for new readers.

Tired of all the controversy about Columbus Day when all you really want is a day off? Is it too much to balance the competing interests of indigenous peoples and Italian-Americans? Want to keep everyone happy?

Here’s the solution: Columbo’s Day!

Columbo was Italian, genial and never harmed a Native American. Even better, in his version of Los Angeles, all the criminals were rich white people. He never carried a gun, and, fortunately, none of the murderers he apprehended ever pulled one on him. Heck, they never even tried to run, but went meekly into custody.

Oh, just one more thing, Daily Kos has been on board for a year.

So enjoy Columbo’s Day and don’t forget to take Dog for a walk.


Can You Ever Beat the House in Vegas?

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 07•16

Union representation is supposed to be the culmination of a democratic process. If you get 30% of a bargaining unit to sign a petition you can force an election, and from that point on the majority rules.

Unless you are a school support worker in Las Vegas.

Teamsters Local 14 defeated the incumbent NEA-affiliated Education Support Employees Association (ESEA) in a representation election in 2006, and is still on the outside looking in.

At that time, a union had to win a majority of the bargaining unit, not just a majority of the votes cast, so ESEA remained in power. The Teamsters challenged that rule, until the state labor relations board finally decided to make a change. Under the new rules, the Teamsters took 82 percent of a new vote last December.

But ESEA challenged the new rules in court, and the case still sits in the state supreme court docket, awaiting a decision.

In the meantime both sides have been busy. ESEA has been busy forcing out its executive director, convening a review board against its president, floating a disaffiliation (quickly quashed by NEA), and losing members in droves.

The Teamsters’ activity has a lot to do with that last item. Tired of waiting for legal action, the union has another avenue to gain exclusive representation: showing it has a majority of the bargaining unit as dues-paying members while ESEA has not.

The latter is easy to prove. The Clark County School District has a list of employees whose union dues are being deducted from their paychecks. Here are the results:


Only 34.8 percent of the unit belongs to ESEA. Even accounting for the handful of workers who pay their dues directly to ESEA it falls far short of a majority. So it is simply up to the Teamsters to sign up about 6,000 bargaining unit members to win exclusive representation without a court decision.

The Teamsters claim to be about 1,000 short of that goal. That’s a steep hill to climb, and it’s inevitable that ESEA would challenge the petition, so it all might end up in another trek through the Nevada legal system. This, evidently, is what democracy looks like.


Teachers’ Unions Spending Big in Oregon, Too

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 06•16

Oregon public employee unions placed Measure 97 on the November ballot, which would add a corporate gross annual sales tax. As you might imagine, companies that do business in the state are opposed, particularly because the measure doesn’t account for whether a corporation actually turns a profit on its gross sales.

NEA, AFT and their affiliates are the prime movers of the initiative, so far contributing in these amounts to two campaign committees:

NEA – $2 million

AFT – $510,000

Oregon Education Association – $1.8 million

AFT Oregon – $500,000

More money is on the way, at least from NEA. With all the focus on the presidential election, the unions’ activity at the state level is getting lost in the noise.


There Still Isn’t A Teacher Shortage Again

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 05•16

Click here to read.


NEA PAC Spends $500K on Missouri Governor’s Race

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Oct• 04•16

The National Education Association’s political action committee will add $250,000 to its previous contributions to the campaign of Democrat Chris Koster for governor of Missouri, bringing the national union’s total to $500,000.

Missouri NEA’s state PAC has also contributed $100,000 to Koster’s campaign.