Intercepts

A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Former Staffer Sues Georgia Association of Educators for Racial Discrimination

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jun• 16•15

Tracey-Ann Nelson, former director of government relations for the Georgia Association of Educators, sued the NEA state affiliate in federal court on grounds of racial and gender discrimination.

Nelson, an African-American female, claims she was discriminated against when GAE hired a white male – former SEIU lobbyist Chris Baumann – as executive director.

GAE denies the allegations and says it will vigorously defend itself in court. Nelson, meanwhile, was hired as the executive director of the Arkansas Education Association.

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California Teacher Retirements Down 8%

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jun• 15•15

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Drive-By Reporting in Alabama

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jun• 15•15

Six weeks after NEA established a trusteeship over the Alabama Education Association, a state newspaper finally got around to inquiring what was going on at AEA and found… nothing.

The Montgomery Adverstiser ran a story on Saturday headlined “AEA still looking for leader after Mabry’s departure.” It quotes an AEA spokeswoman saying, “We’re still in the same place we were in the early morning hours of Feb. 21.” That statement is – being generous here – inaccurate. The word “trusteeship” is never used and the identity of the trustee – Greg Burns – is never mentioned.

The rest of the article rehashes the situation leading up to the trusteeship, then concludes with:

Attempts to reach [AEA president] Gibson last week were unsuccessful. Gibson’s statement also announced a “partnership” with the National Education Association, its parent group, “to safeguard AEA and its members.” Marlowe said last week the NEA was sending staff down to look over the financial practices in the organization.

“They’re still working all of that out,” she said. “They’re going through and trying to make sense of the different accounting procedures, and trying to make sense of different things.”

Messages seeking comment from the NEA were not returned last week.

No timeframe has been set for the naming of a successor to Mabry. The AEA’s major meeting takes place in December, and Marlowe said the selection of a leader could take place at that meeting. Marlowe said in that absence, individual departments were working together collaboratively.

There is not just a difference in semantics between a “partnership” and a “trusteeship.” The latter is defined by the Landrum-Griffin Act as “any receivership, trusteeship, or other method of supervision or control whereby a labor organization suspends the autonomy otherwise available to a subordinate body under its constitution or bylaws.” (emphasis added)

Trusteeships can only be established “for the purpose of correcting corruption or financial malpractice, assuring the performance of collective bargaining agreements or other duties of a bargaining representative, restoring democratic procedures, or otherwise carrying out the legitimate objects of such labor organization.”

The NEA bylaws spell out the procedures for establishing a trusteeship over a state affiliate. Many of them have to do with the affiliate’s rights to object, but since AEA’s elected officers requested the trusteeship, they do not apply. The NEA board of directors must approve a trusteeship by a two-thirds majority. The vote to approve the AEA trusteeship was unanimous.

The trustee is appointed by the NEA Executive Committee with the powers to “(1) conduct the affairs of the state association, including supervisory control over its officers, employees and other representatives; (2) take possession of the books, records, funds, and other assets of the state association, to be held in trust for and used only in the proper conduct of its affairs; (3) remove officers and staff of the state association, and replace them if deemed appropriate for the duration of the trusteeship; and (4) take such other actions as in a trustee’s judgment are necessary for the preservation of the rights and interests of the National Education Association and the members of the state association.”

Of course, it is entirely up to the Trustee how much power he wishes to wield. Based on the situations in Indiana and South Carolina, it is likely that the AEA officers retain much of their previous freedom of movement. But the AEA officers and board of directors cannot hire a replacement for Mabry unless he or she is approved by the Trustee. And there would be no point in doing so because the new hire would have no authority.

The Advertiser somehow missed all of this and no other newspaper has picked up the slack.

I am awaiting more documents and will update this story as they arrive.

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AFT Set to Take Over Florida Local

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jun• 12•15

Back in February, the American Federation of Teachers sent a monitor to oversee the operations of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association in Florida due to “a serious state of dysfunction.”

Now the AFT executive council has reportedly voted unanimously to conduct a hearing into whether to establish a trusteeship over the troubled local.

The Florida Education Association believes local president Diana Moore and her supporters are “coalescing control of the union in themselves at the unfortunate cost of a democratic union.”

If that’s the standard then there will be an awful lot more trusteeships to come.

For her part, Moore is challenging the action, claiming it is based on “bias and defamation of my character.”

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Conniptions

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jun• 10•15

After Steve Conn was elected president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers we knew it was only a matter of time before the hilarity would ensue.

Conn is a militant’s militant. He was once suspended from the union for seven months for misconduct during a swearing-in ceremony.

Conn squeaked into office by 15 votes and he didn’t carry any of his slate with him, so the DFT executive board is filled with his opponents. He also isn’t making friends in the broader union movement.

Conn organized a rally today in Lansing to protest proposed reductions in health care benefits (Update: The rally draws 30 people). The Coalition of Detroit Public Schools Unions is working to negotiate a better deal and asked union members not to participate in the protest.

“They’re stupid, that’s all,” Conn said. “We’ve got to stop losing, which is all they stand for.”

But Conn has more to worry about than health insurance. A group of DFT members is gathering signatures for Conn’s recall. They need 1,000.

“It’s stupid what they’re trying to do,” said Conn, who knows what teachers need… him.

“Without me right now, without this fight, teachers are going to lose what they have left and that means pay, anything remaining in healthcare, any protections at all — and teachers don’t want that,” he said.

Conn’s a busy man, but he did have time to pen an 8-page manifesto to DFT members. In it, he refers to his opponents as “the forces of chaos” and a “state-enforced dictatorship to impose a New Jim Crow system.” He then compared the situation in Detroit to pre-Civil War America after the Dred Scott decision.

He accused other DFT officers by name of “outright sabotage” and the “work of a Benedict Arnold.” He called meetings of the union’s executive board “a circus of tantrum-throwing misfits and obstructionists.”

Considering his usual tactics, Conn then made an ironic call for civility.

“We are not required to agree on all things, but we are required to conduct ourselves such that disagreement can be resolved by democratic discussion and voting rather than by the imposition of the will of a small band of would-be tyrants. (More specifically in this case, has-been tyrants.),” he said.

I’m also reminded of historical analogy, but it isn’t Dred Scott. It’s 13 Vendémiaire. Those recall signature-gatherers should brace themselves for a whiff of grapeshot.

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Challengers Sweep in Hawaii Union Revote

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jun• 09•15

The Teachers for Change Caucus swept all three Hawaii State Teachers Association executive officer positions in a controversial revote.

Corey Rosenlee will be the next HSTA president, Justin Hughey the vice president, and Amy Perruso the secretary-treasurer. The vote counts were not made immediately available.

The revote came after the original election results were tossed out by the union’s incumbent board of directors, citing irregularities.

The challengers, who had won the disputed election, filed for a temporary injunction to stop the revote, but a judge denied the motion, claiming a lack of jurisdiction.

The new officers will begin their terms immediately after the NEA Representative Assembly next month. The results also allow Hawaii’s delegates to be seated at the national convention.

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Which States Took the Worst School Spending Beating During the Recession?

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jun• 08•15

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