The Countdown Begins: Janus Files For Supreme Court Cert

Everyone and his brother in the education policy world seems to be watching U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos testify before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee. But while that is going on, attorneys for the plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME made it official and filed for review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

If, as widely expected, the Court rules in favor of Janus, it would put an end to the practice of public sector unions charging agency fees to non-members.

Since only four Justices are required to grant a writ of certiorari, it is virtually certain the case will be accepted for the Court’s next session, beginning in October. Barring unforeseen delays, oral arguments would be heard in the winter and a ruling issued by June 2018.


California Teachers Association Employees Say CTA “Buries Union Values”

The California Teachers Association held a regularly scheduled meeting of its State Council this weekend, and the California Staff Organization, the union representing CTA’s professional employees, decided to draw the attention of the elected delegates to the status of contract negotiations with CTA management.

Wearing t-shirts reading “No Contract, No Work,” a group of staffers were led into the hall by a bagpiper. They carried a casket. Interrupting the proceedings, one staffer read a statement to the assembly.

“CTA buries union values when they ask for takebacks, offer low salary increases, refuse to settle the pension trust even after CSO gives up permanent benefits, refuses to address workload issues, requesting in advance a loss of staff as we face life without agency fee,” the staffer said.

CTA staffer Andrew Oman posted video of the funeral on his Facebook page.

CTA and CSO have scheduled a bargaining session for tomorrow.


Congratulation Complications

There was much ado after our story about the Massachusetts Teachers Association’s refusal to congratulate National Teacher of the Year Sydney Chaffee, who teaches at a charter school. So much ado that MTA president Barbara Madeloni felt the need to respond.

“One might think this was a good idea or a bad idea, but the decision resulted from a democratic debate and discussion,” she wrote, adding that the vote “unleashed a torrent of attacks on the MTA – on you and me, on all of us – first from a leader of the Yes on 2 campaign, on to a blogger who regularly writes against unions, and next to The Boston Globe, which stood firmly in the Yes on 2 camp last fall. The fury and outrage are startlingly disproportionate to the perceived offense. Unless, I suppose, the offense goes back to winning the No on 2 campaign last fall.”

Well, she got the story timeline wrong, and fails to mention any No on 2 people who criticized MTA, or that NEA will honor Chaffee, or that the Boston Teachers Union will honor Chaffee, or exactly how democratic that debate was, a topic I will expand upon another time.

The answer to any question at MTA is “No on 2.” Thinking an electoral victory excuses any subsequent behavior is, well, Trumpian.

Strangely enough, we had a similar occurrence this morning. NEA congratulated 12-year-old Ananya Vinay, winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, by sending out this tweet:

As you can see, the union tagged the California Teachers Association (@WeAreCTA) to alert them, and CTA retweeted it. But while Vinay is a public school student, her school district, Clovis Unified, is the largest district in the state without a teachers’ union. CTA has never had a presence at Vinay’s school.

Neither union felt this was an obstacle to congratulating Vinay.

MTA put itself out on an island with its vote. That makes it news, not a vendetta.


You Had One Job

The constitution of the Utah Education Association designates the union’s board of directors as being “responsible for the financial affairs of the Association, and shall submit a financial report to the membership.”

I’m not sure what the board has been up to all these years, but last week the UEA House of Delegates passed a new business item calling on the board to “examine how the UEA spends money and how that money grows membership.”

The delegates then proceeded to approve the 2017-18 budget, which I assume must have had some information about how the UEA spends money.

UEA’s bylaws also require the union to publish its annual audit of the books in its newsletter, UEA Action, in the first issue of each calendar year. “This publication shall include the salary schedule of the Association staff, together with the salary and fringe benefits of the executive director and the president,” it reads.

I’ve rummaged through a lot of back issues of UEA Action and I can’t find anything like that, but I assume the delegates must have access to it, and the audit surely explains how the UEA spends money.

So the first question is: How does the UEA spend money?

The second question is: Why don’t the union’s elected representatives already know the answer to the first question?


Large Indiana Local Leaves NEA

Teachers in the Carmel Clay school district in Indiana voted overwhelmingly in favor of decertifying their NEA-affiliated union in favor of the independent Carmel Teachers Association.

In a remarkably high turnout for a union election, more than 75% of the district’s 955 eligible educators returned ballots. CTA received 83% of the vote.

The vote was the culmination of a long battle not only between the competing locals, but between the teachers of Carmel Clay and the Indiana State Teachers Association. The decisive factor is illustrated by this CTA graphic:

Because Indiana doesn’t allow agency fees, teachers who choose to remain NEA members can do so, and won’t have to support CTA financially. Considering CTA’s margin of victory, it’s likely most teachers will support their local union for $99 and keep the other $650.

Unlike other places where locals have seceded, the leaders of Carmel Clay’s NEA affiliate appear to be accepting their defeat with magnanimity. They posted a congratulatory message on their Facebook page.

“Moving forward, effort will be put into making the transition as smooth as possible, and our leadership has offered to assist if needed,” they wrote.