A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Florida, Unions and Friedrichs

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 12•15

The unions are stepping up their public barrage against Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which could end the collection of agency fees by public sector unions nationwide. NEA, AFT, SEIU and AFSCME will formally complain to Senate Democrat staffers today, and we can expect more tales of woe like this one, claiming Friedrichs “threatens to make it even harder for working people to negotiate for wages, benefits and public services.”

Both sides seem to think the case will turn the rest of America into Wisconsin, where public sector union membership fell off a cliff. But they forget that Act 10 also restricted the scope of collective bargaining and required recertification of bargaining agents every year. Friedrichs would do none of that. The model for the short-term future is Florida.

Florida allows public sector collective bargaining and exclusive representation, but not agency fees. The Florida Education Association is, to my knowledge, the only union representing K-12 teachers and education support employees in the state. It lobbies, negotiates contracts, files grievances and practices political advocacy in a way indistinguishable from NEA and AFT affiliates in New York, Illinois or California.

In fact, the only way you would know that Florida’s law was different is by examining FEA’s membership “market share.”

Rounding numbers that were current as of August 31, 2015, there were 175,000 Florida K-12 teachers and 65,000 support employees eligible to become FEA members. Of these, 93,000 teachers and 23,000 support employees chose to do so. That’s slightly more than 48 percent. An examination of several FEA locals indicates that very few have a majority of the bargaining unit as members.

How can a union continue in such an environment? Simple. Exclusive representation is far more valuable than agency fees. Maybe 52 percent of K-12 education employees aren’t contributing financially to the union, but they are quiescent. Were they to organize, they have the numbers to replace FEA with another union, do without, or create some other means to interact with district management. In Nevada, the Education Support Employees Association is desperately hanging onto exclusive status even though it could muster only 1,500 votes in a bargaining unit of almost 11,000.

Imagine if there were competition in the teacher representation market. Maybe unions would be forced to improve productivity, cut waste, and provide better services than a rival. Wouldn’t that be terrible for working people.


Veterans Day: How to Throw People and Things Out of Airplanes

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 11•15

In what has become my Veterans Day tradition, I go through my box of old Military Airlift Command stuff and revisit my days as a C-130 navigator. The day-to-day work involved hauling cargo from one Pacific destination to another, but the primary mission of the aircraft is to drop people and equipment far above the earth to land (fingers crossed) safely.

As with most things military, airdrop requires exquisite planning and mounds of paperwork – most of which gets ditched in wartime in the name of concentrating on keeping yourself alive. I never faced combat, but you can get shot at – accidentally or not – in peacetime if you happen to stray into the wrong airspace. I found these handouts in my old checklist pages.

AAA card

SAM card

Whenever I meet another veteran I usually ask if they were Airborne. If they are, I apologize if I ever inadvertently tossed them from my aircraft into the trees, or a bog, or a swiftly moving stream. The forces of nature are sufficient to mess up any plans for where you wanted them to land – doubly so in those days without global positioning satellites to tell you within a few feet where you were when you let them go.

So the key is to direct the aircraft to a spot where the wind and the residual forward motion carry the paratrooper or supplies or vehicle to the point of impact (PI) on the ground you’re aiming at. That’s called the CARP, or computed air release point. Here’s the problem illustrated from the side and above.


The difficulty is magnified with a high-altitude, low-opening (HALO) jump, which you’ve probably seen many times in the movies. The amount of free fall and drift effect required a pre-flight computation with 62 steps.


We were evaluated on how close to the target the first jumper or piece of equipment landed. Anything within 25 yards was considered a bullseye. More than 300 yards and you failed.

I assume a computer does all this stuff now, and if I’m not mistaken, Air Force navigators have all but disappeared, having been transitioned into combat systems officers.

To all our military members, and to all those who came before them, Happy Veterans Day. See you at Red Robin.


Chicago Teachers Union Poll Shows 97% of Members Support Something They Weren’t Asked About

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 10•15

Here’s the ballot for the Chicago Teachers Union “practice strike vote.”

CTU needs to be congratulated because it has united a divided city by baffling everyone equally.

The Chicago Tribune reported, “CTU officials said an analysis of responses from the Nov. 5 vote led them to conclude that ’97 percent of CTU’s members say they will vote to authorize a strike, if needed’.”

The word “strike” does not appear on the page.

CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said the polling strategy was the same one used in the runup to the 2012 teachers’ strike.

“In a nutshell, our legal counsel advised us to stay away from the word ‘strike’ in the practice poll, which is why we called it a ‘practice,’ ” Sharkey said.

Political reporter Rich Miller at asked, “Anybody ever seen a push poll that blatant?”

The pro-union Substance News reported the poll had the effect of “confusing voters and angering many in the high schools.”

A more pertinent question might be “How many paydays are you willing to miss to achieve these goals?” That would be useful information.


Agency Fees Secure Federalism, Economic Stability & “Harmonious Relationships,” Unions Say

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 09•15

Click here.


“The NEA Is Deceiving Us”

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 09•15

Joe L. Reed was the associate executive secretary of the Alabama Education Association for 42 years and one of the most powerful people in the state Democratic Party. He has become the leading opponent of the trusteeship NEA placed on its Alabama affiliate last May.

The Montgomery Advertiser got hold of a letter Reed sent to AEA members on October 30. In it, Reed calls on representatives to the union’s delegate assembly to vote down proposed constitutional changes next month.

“The NEA is deceiving us and has taken over AEA,” Reed wrote. “They have sent a man from Minnesota (ed. note: North Dakota, actually), called him a Trustee, and claim that he alone runs the day-to-day operations of the AEA.”

Reed claims NEA is trying to impose a “union model” and will force “a merger with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).”

“The best thing for AEA is for NEA to send the Trustee back to Minnesota and stop trying to run AEA from Washington and forcing NEA’s policies and views on AEA,” Reed wrote. “None of you asked that the Constitution be changed; that is a demand from NEA.”


Balloting Underway to Choose NEA or Teamsters in Vegas

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 06•15

Judging by the scope of activity, the relative enthusiasm of the two competing unions, the demonstrated level of support from the national union hierarchy, and the margin of the last vote, it looks like the end is near for the NEA-affiliated Education Support Employees Association in Clark County, Nevada.

Mail-in balloting began this week and the vote count will be conducted on December 5. Unless ESEA can pull a court injunction rabbit out of its hat, Teamsters Local 14 will be the new bargaining representative for custodians, bus drivers and cafeteria workers in the Las Vegas schools and NEA will be out about 5,000 members – almost one-quarter of its active membership in the state.


Imponderable Question of the Day

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Nov• 05•15

The Chicago Tribune reported that the Chicago Teachers Union “continued to encourage members to save at least 25 percent of their pay in preparation for a possible strike.”

If you were able to save at least 25 percent of your pay, why would you need to go out on strike?