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.


Montana Merger Vote Set For January 20

MEA-MFT is the result of a merger between NEA and AFT affiliates in Montana, and a long negotiation process will finally culminate in a vote to merge with yet another public employees union, the 7,000-member Montana Public Employees Association.

The representative assemblies of both organizations will meet in Helena on January 20 to approve the merger and new constitution.

If approved, another meeting will be held in April to elect officers, set dues and approve a budget. The new organization, to be called the Montana Federation of Public Employees, would begin operations in September 2018.

The vote will take place in the Great Northern Hotel, so if you’re staying overnight, ask for Room 315. I’m pretty sure the previous occupant has checked out.


“Well, I Have a Job to Do!”

Dateline – Chelmsford, Massachusetts:

The head of Chelmsford’s teachers’ union has been placed on paid administrative leave following an altercation between a state-level union official and Superintendent of Schools Jay Lang on Wednesday.

Police escorted Jennifer Salmon, Chelmsford Federation of Teachers president, and Eric Blanchet, field representative for the American Federation of Teachers, out of Harrington School following the incident.

Excerpted from police report:

Blanchet told me that he had come to the school early this morning to have a meeting with (school principal) Tobin regarding ongoing issues in the teachers union. When he was told the meeting would not be happening he grew upset, and began to ask the principal why. When I told him that his actions were unacceptable in a public school during school hours, he replied with “Well, I have a job to do!”

Police interview with Principal Tobin:

Blanchet came into her office and demanded a meeting, and when she told him she would not entertain this today, he grew enraged and began to shout at Tobin. As Tobin continued to deny Eric his meeting he walked very close to her and began to point his index finger at her face while shouting; Tobin told me that she felt threatened during this time.

Detective observed altercation with superintendent on school security camera:

He told me that it appeared that during Blanchet’s “discussion” with Lang, he put his hands on Lang 2-3 times.

When police attempted to explain to Blanchet “the ridiculousness of his actions on an active school day,” he continuously replied that he had “a job to do.” Police told him he could have been charged with assault and battery on Lang and assault on Tobin.

Superintendent Lang told police that the Blanchet’s hands on him were “incidental” and then he did not wish to press charges.

AFT Massachusetts did not comment, and there is no word on what action, if any, was taken regarding Blanchet.


Happy Thanksgiving Prep Day!

Today I don’t want to write about teacher unions and you don’t want to read about them, so get the last of your shopping done and start that turkey work.

I’m making my world-famous turkey with chiles recado. The National Turkey Federation (the folks who supply the White House turkeys) has a recipe, but I substitute red Fresnos and habañeros for chilacas.

It makes for an excellent Thanksgiving meal, but the best part is what you can do with the leftovers. Turkey burritos and turkey chili have a built-in blast of heat that only gets more powerful with time. Fortunately I have a six-pack of liquid aloha to wash it all down.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your holiday. I know I will.


Using Union Dues to Purchase Twitter Eggs?

The dispute between the Nevada State Education Association and its Clark County affiliate is a serious matter, with consequences not just for Nevada teachers but the continued coherence of the National Education Association, which has had an affiliate in every state for more than 40 years.

But it has a comedic side as well. Earlier this month a Twitter account appeared called Support Teachers, with a banner headline referring to the Clark County Education Association, “It’s Time for a Change; CCEA Leadership Is Going Down the Wrong Path, Tearing Down Everything Teachers Built.”

The account has only four tweets, all of them critical of CCEA, but an impressive 7,712 followers. Alas, almost all of them are “eggs,” purchased fake followers that apparently can be had for the low, low price of about $20 per 1,000.

CCEA caught on right away and discovered something else. If you scroll all the way through those 7,712 followers – a task I completed but do not recommend – you’ll find the very first follower was Lisa Guzman, the assistant executive director of the Nevada State Education Association.

My search was exhaustive, but I could find only two other legitimate followers: The Badass Teachers Association and the Nevada School Choice Coalition. Unless of course the battle between NSEA and CCEA has become a hot topic in Indonesia.

Let’s hope this was just an amateurish attempt to win some social media points against CCEA, because as an official communications strategy it leaves a lot to be desired.