How Many Teacher Union Members Voted For Trump?

Harold Meyerson writes in The American Prospect that the union household vote in the 2016 Presidential election skewed toward Trump according to race.

“Whites from union households preferred Trump over Clinton, 52 percent to 40 percent,” wrote Meyerson, citing a “network exit poll” whose “cross-tabulations have not been previously published” but no further source.

Much of this margin can be ascribed to white, blue-collar union members, but we cannot ignore the possibility that teacher union members and their families accounted for more Trump votes than previously estimated.

The K-12 public school teaching force is 82 percent white, and teacher union members constitute more than 20 percent of all union members in America. If white teacher union households really went overwhelmingly for Clinton, it would require an overwhelming majority for Trump from all other white union households. Is that plausible? Or did a substantial number of teacher union members, particularly in those battleground states, secretly vote for Trump?

It was clear in the primaries that union households were not lining up strongly behind Clinton, and that her margins of victory were being provided by African-American voters. But it’s impossible to tell if these turned into Trump votes in any significant numbers.

I’m not even sure a survey of teacher union members would accurately answer this question. How many members would openly admit to a union pollster that they voted for Trump?

There is a lot we don’t know about the attitudes of the union rank-and-file, and surveys usually fail to distinguish between members and households, or by race, or by public- or private-sector, or even by size of their local.

In 2005 I did discover something extraordinary about local teacher union presidents: the larger the local, the more politically liberal the union president was.

Fewer than 50 members = local presidents 44% conservative, 49% liberal
50-149 members = local presidents 40% conservative, 54% liberal
150-499 members = local presidents 34% conservative, 63% liberal
500-999 members = local presidents 26% conservative, 70% liberal
1000+ members = local presidents 14% conservative, 82% liberal

Of course, we aggregate categories to avoid being overwhelmed by permutations, but in doing so we sacrifice some understanding of the motives, strengths and preferences of smaller groups. Was union membership trumped, so to speak, by race? We still don’t know for certain.


UPDATED: Activists Everywhere Discover the Existence of Nebraska

There’s a 50-50 tie in the Senate over the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, according to the information we have.

It will only take one more “no” vote to kill the nomination. The problem DeVos opponents are having is that they already exhausted the only two obvious GOP flippers – Sen. Collins of Maine and Sen. Murkowski of Alaska.

Activists, bloggers and reporters spent much of yesterday trying to identify that last potential swing vote, only to be denied time and again.

Flake of Arizona! Nope.

Gardner of Colorado! Nope.

Moran of Kansas! Nope.

Heller of Nevada! Nope.

Portman of Ohio! Nope.

Toomey of Pennsylvania! Nope.

Capito of West Virginia! Nope.

Barring a stunning reversal, all hope seems to rest on Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska.

Fischer won the open seat vacated by Ben Nelson, of Cornhusker Kickback fame. She has more public education experience than the nominee, having served on various commissions and boards, as well as president of the board of directors for the Nebraska Association of School Boards. But the list of 12 priority issues on her official website does not include education.

Fischer received a “C” on the National Education Association’s latest legislative report card, which is a high mark for a Republican. On the other hand, she got on the wrong side of Lady Gaga.

No doubt her office is being deluged as I write this, but if any of it is from within the state it is of very recent vintage. The last two issues of the Nebraska State Education Association newsletter don’t even mention DeVos, and there is no call to arms on the NSEA website.

The nomination is on the thinnest of thin ice, but betting the farm on Nebraska sounds like a longshot. Unless DeVos starts kicking puppies in the next two days, we will avoid having to go through all this again with Michelle Rhee.

UPDATE: Fischer shuts the barn door.


Act One Complete, No Intermission

The US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions sent the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education to the full Senate. It was a party line vote of 12-11.

There was some minor drama as GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska both hinted at keeping their options open during a floor vote. But that, like most of the hearing, was political theater. Collins and Murkowski will only vote no if DeVos is assured of winning anyway.

Then there was a parliamentary kerfuffle because Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah voted yes by proxy. The Democrats on the committee objected, and while Hatch was located and brought to the committee room to cast his vote in person, the Democrats claimed that the entire voting process had to begin again, which would require advance notice of the second vote, delaying action on DeVos perhaps for days.

Committee chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee ruled against them, and was upheld by a majority vote of the committee.

I knew all those years of following Robert’s Rules of Order at NEA conventions would someday have a practical application.

There will be no respite as Collins and Murkowski will be deluged with union e-mails and phone calls. Other potential GOP swing votes will be targeted, but the HELP committee was the best opportunity to derail DeVos.

This might all seem fruitless if you’re a union supporter, particularly since it’s highly unlikely to result in a more agreeable Secretary of Education. But it keeps the troops focused on fighting Trump, instead of contemplating how he got elected in the first place. Besides, the teachers’ unions now have a stack of e-mail addresses they didn’t have before, so get your spam filter ready.

“We now have more activists that we can activate on a moment’s notice when we need them,” said NEA president Lily Eskelsen García. “They’ve told us, ‘This is vital to us, this is important to us, we are passionate for this.’ And they will want to hold people accountable, from Donald Trump to Betsy DeVos to the senators who made it possible for her to have that kind of power.”


Alexander the Not-So-Great

July 7, 2016:

For their leadership and significant contributions to public education, today, the National Education Association bestowed its highest honor the Friend of Education Award upon Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican, and Washington Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat, before more than 7,000 educators gathered at the NEA 95th Representative Assembly (RA) in Washington.

“The hard work and bipartisan cooperation of Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray to pass ESSA will ensure that all students regardless of ZIP code will have equal opportunity to a high-quality public education for years to come”, said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “They were instrumental not only in the passing of the critical K-12 federal education law, but they listened, they set the tone of bipartisan cooperation, and they got the job done on behalf of the nations students and educators. Their bold leadership ushered a new chapter in public education, one in which educators have a seat at the table to make decisions that affect their students and classrooms. We are honored and grateful to call them an NEA Friend of Education.”

January 26, 2017:

The National Education Association today issued its Legislative Report Card for the 114th Congress, which assesses votes and other relevant legislative actions from January 2015 through December 2016. The Report Card tracks individual members of Congress overall support for public education, students and educators, with each member receiving a letter grade of A through F.

(Senator Alexander received an A.)

January 27, 2017:

Some teachers in Middle Tennessee are angry and frustrated with Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., because they say the lawmaker hasn’t listened to their concerns about his support for Betsy DeVos as the country’s education secretary.

More than 150 people protested outside Alexander’s Nashville office Friday evening ahead of DeVos’ confirmation vote, which is scheduled for Tuesday.

…”I tried to call Sen. Alexander’s office five times over the past week. It was busy every single time,” said Mary Holden, member of education advocacy group TREE and a former high school teacher. “I did send an email and got his standard response, which isn’t helpful.”

“And I’m here today — I don’t know how else to reach him other than to keep trying,” Holden said. “But I don’t think it will make a difference with him. He seems really adamant that she’s qualified.”

Representatives from the Tennessee Education Association, Metro Nashville Education Association, Statewide Organizing for Community Empowerment, the Middle Tennessee Coalition Advocating for Public Education and Tennessee Citizen Action, as well as Rep. Bo Mitchell, D- Nashville, and Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, also attended the protest.


Hawaii Teachers Union Targets Airbnb for Tax Revenue

Having failed last year to raise the state’s general excise tax, the Hawaii State Teachers Association plans to raise the property tax instead.

The proposal would place a surcharge on residential investment properties and a $3-$5 per day surcharge on stays in hotel rooms, timeshares and Airbnb.

HSTA is a tax-exempt organization.

Here is the video report from Hawaii News Now.


Unionization Rate Drops to 10.7%

I’ll have much more on this next week, but the headlines on the annual union membership report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are these:

  • The percentage of wage and salary employees who belong to unions is 10.7%, down from 11.1% in 2015.
  • In the private sector only 6.4% of workers belong to unions, down from 6.7%.
  • 40.3% of local government employees, which includes public school teachers, firefighters and police officers, were unionized, down from 41.3%.
  • Though there were about 2.4 million more workers in 2016, there were 240,000 fewer union members.
  • The states with the largest drops in union share of the workforce were Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, Nevada and Oregon.