A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

The Trouble with Democratic Governors

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 07•14

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.


Declassified: California Teachers Association Strategy Documents

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 06•14

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 Happened: We Finally Have “Teachsters”

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 05•14

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.

The eighty educators voted to become members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 170.

“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.


When It Comes to Union Legal Services, Read the Fine Print

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 04•14

Click here to read.


Washington Class Size Initiative Qualifies for Ballot

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 04•14

In terms of financing, the Washington Education Association couldn’t have picked a better year to float this balloon. Since there aren’t many other big-ticket ballot initiatives to concern the union elsewhere across the country, I expect NEA will devote an oversized amount of resources to this November campaign, even more than it has already.


Merely a Coincidence

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 01•14

I said I wasn’t expecting an early settlement, but the California Teachers Association and the California Staff Organization reached a tentative agreement on a new contract a few short hours after this blog post.

This year’s last internal labor brush fire for NEA remains in Oregon.


CTA Staff Threatens to Strike if Contract Not Settled by September 1

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 31•14

NEA got its labor strife out of the way, but the California Teachers Association is still under the gun with its professional employees. CTA’s collective bargaining agreement with the California Staff Organization (CSO) expires at midnight, August 31. The staffers have pledged not to work without a contract.

There is still a month to go before the deadline, but CSO is ramping up the pressure, organizing a “virtual picket line” at CTA buildings across the state, and even posting photos and placards at CTA headquarters in Burlingame.

Money appears to be a major issue. The staff union claims management has offered a salary increase of only 0.75 percent. I don’t expect an early settlement, but as we saw with NEA, these things tend to get worked out before they get really serious. No one at CTA wants to have to explain to the media why there is a picket line in front of the headquarters building, or who crossed it to get to work.