New York State United Teachers is upset that the state has a testing contract with Education Axis of Evil charter member Pearson Education. Tonight union activists will stage a protest in Albany during which they will “feed the symbolic Pearson contract into paper shredders.”
They are late to the party, but I am glad to see NYSUT has come to the realization that some duly negotiated and binding contracts are detrimental to students’ education and should properly be fed into a paper shredder. Let’s hope the NYSUT effort leads to a national movement of contract-shredding in school districts all across the land.
Last November a last-minute ad supporting Marty Walsh for mayor of Boston appeared on the city’s TV screens. The ad was financed by the previously unknown super PAC called One Boston, created two weeks before the election, headed by the previously unknown Jocelyn Hutt.
Walsh won the election and One Boston dissolved two months later, having collected a single $500,000 donation which it spent entirely on that ad. It was subsequently revealed that the contribution originated with the American Federation of Teachers, funneled through One New Jersey, a previously unrelated advocacy group.
As far as the state of Massachusetts goes, that’s the end of it. But questions still remain, such as who is actually paying the fine, and who is paying the attorneys who negotiated this settlement? One Boston was just a shell to begin with, and no longer exists at all. One New Jersey is treated as the culprit in the settlement but obviously had no inherent interest in the Boston mayoral race. Are we to believe they are on the financial hook for doing a favor for AFT?
AFT believed $500K was a good investment to get Walsh elected. Another $30K or so might just be considered a gratuity.
There have been numerous instances in the past of teachers’ unions having uneasy relationships with Democratic governors. But I have never seen the list as long as it is now.
To varying degrees, NEA and AFT affiliates have been at odds with John Hickenlooper in Colorado, Dannel Malloy in Connecticut, Pat Quinn in Illinois and, of course, Andrew Cuomo in New York.
More recent additions are Neil Abercrombie in Hawaii and John Kitzhaber in Oregon.
In an election year, the dilemma for unions is whether or not to endorse a mostly unfriendly Democratic incumbent. Different affiliates are handling it in different ways. For example, the Illinois Education Association and Illinois Federation of Teachers endorsed Quinn, but only because they really despise his Republican opponent. The Hawaii State Teachers Association endorsed Abercrombie’s Democratic primary opponent, state Sen. David Ige, who seems poised to unseat Abercrombie on Saturday. The Oregon Education Association appears to be sitting out the gubernatorial race.
Among the possible strategies for the union, two can lead to positive outcomes. The first is low risk, but probably low reward. Support the incumbent. If he wins, you might be rewarded. You might not be, but at least you will be no worse off than before. The second is high risk, high reward. If Ige wins on Saturday, then goes on to win the general election in November, it is very likely he will be grateful to HSTA and his other supporters. The risk is that you could end up in the wilderness if the challenger loses, as the United Federation of Teachers learned in 2001.
Refusing to participate may be gratifying, and may save some money, but if the incumbent wins, he is not beholden to you. If he loses, it will only be small consolation that you might have been able to affect that result had you joined in.
Keeping the candidate on the reservation after he wins is a different problem, but you have little chance of getting what you want if you never backed him.
Here are a few internal California Teachers Association documents that outline the union’s plans for the near future. I’ve put direct links here and on the EIA Declassified page. All are posted as Adobe Acrobat (*.pdf) files.
* California Teachers Association Strategic Plan. This 28-page booklet lists all of CTA’s goals between now and 2018, ranging from the small (“Send list of organizations with which CTA has a relationship, including contact names and financial contributions, to local leadership”) to the large (“Educate, organize and get support from members and local leaders to organize unrepresented education workers in California”).
* California Teachers Association External Messaging Tactics. PowerPoint presentation on how the union crafts its message to the outside world. “How to choose the right bad guy” and why you don’t hear union reps say, “We work hard, we deserve a raise, and we’re not going to put up with class size increases.”
* California Teachers Association’s plans for changes to agency fee laws. Titled “Not if, but when,” this presentation details the union’s contingency plan in case the U.S. Supreme Court overturns agency fee laws.
It is rare for charter school teachers to seek out a union, but the teachers at the Advanced Math & Science Academy Charter School in Marlborough, Massachusetts boldly went where no one has gone before.
“We looked at other unions, but decided the Teamsters was the best union for us,” said teacher Lino Alvarez.
The Teamsters made past attempts to organize teachers, but this is the union’s first success.
People on either side of the issue should accept this calmly, as previous excitement over charter school unionization in Massachusetts didn’t exactly pan out into anything.