A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Florida State Union Takes Over Palm Beach Local

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 08•14

After months of disputes over election results, the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association found itself without a president after the term of incumbent Debra Wilhelm expired. With a lawsuit by one challenger pending, and a runoff not scheduled until school is back in session, the Florida Education Association (FEA) stepped in and assumed control of the large local. FEA president Andy Ford will act as Palm Beach president until the runoff results are known.

In an open letter to members, Ford explained the timeline and his plans for the local.

FEA will help in these ways:

* Assuming all roles of Chief Executive Officer, including staff supervision and the assurance of all membership services including, the oversight of the final run-off election.

* Assuring that the run-off election is completed in a fair, transparent and legal manner.

* Identifying and attempting to fix those issues that fragment the CTA and detract from its operational needs and responsibilities to the membership.

* Assist in the development of the CTA 2014-2015 budget.

* Guide CTA through the process of electing pro-public education candidates for School Board, Legislature and Governor in the August primary and the November general election. We believe this election will significantly impact public education in Florida, not to mention the continued viability of the FEA and our affiliates. So it is critically important that CTA and its members be fully involved in this election cycle.

* Begin the negotiations process with District.

* Provide leadership training for the new Board of Directors and establish an ongoing leader-training program.

This is a short-term solution for an unusual circumstance. FEA will act as administrator for the shortest possible amount of time to ensure the stability of the local. It is my hope to have this process completed by the end of September 2014.

That list looks like a lot more than a series of interim caretaking functions. The next Palm Beach president may be in charge of a very different local.


Arne’s Riposte

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 07•14

Back home and glad for it. I’m posting this item for those who might believe that NEA’s call for the resignation of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan “sends a message.”

Kimberly Hefling of the Associated Press asked Duncan about NEA’s action, and he refused to comment, other than to say:

I always try to stay out of local union politics. I think most teachers do, too.


NEA Convention 2014: You Might Just Be a Member

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 06•14

The 2014 National Education Association Representative Assembly was gaveled to a close at 6:29 p.m. Here a few of the actions the delegates took on the final day of the convention.

* A new business item to “oppose sectarian conflicts and civil wars in the Middle East” was not considered.

* A new business item to “promote legislation requiring persons who circulate initiative petitions be registered voters of that state” was ruled out of order. I didn’t hear this mentioned, but such legislation might have put a crimp in the signature-gathering of NEA’s own affiliates.

* The delegates approved a measure to draft model state legislative language that would place several new requirements on the operations and reporting requirements of charter schools.

* A new business item that called for a ban on any new charter schools and the conversion of existing ones into traditional schools was ruled out of order since it conflicted with NEA’s current policy statement on charters. Had it been presented and adopted, NEA would have held two mutually contradictory positions on charters.

* Delegates voted down a measure that would have required the union’s board to provide written justification to the delegates whenever NEA’s executive officers received an increase in salary or benefits. Debate was closed after only one speaker.

* Delegates approved a pseudo-boycott of Staples, in solidarity with the American Postal Workers Union, which doesn’t want non-APWU workers handling the mail. It’s a pseudo-boycott because it will only involve a press release encouraging members to shop at other stores for supplies, but doesn’t bind NEA itself. I hear Walmart sells school supplies.

* The union’s policy statement on teacher evaluation and accountability was amended with the sentence “Standardized tests, even if deemed valid and reliable, may not be used to support any employment actions against a teacher.”

* The actions taken by the delegates over the past four days will require about $826,000 in new spending by NEA.

* Delegates contributed an average of $195 each to NEA’s political action committee during the convention, or about $1.4 million. The union’s PAC has raised almost $3.8 million this year.

There is a lot more to tell about what happened, and what will happen, but I’ll provide all of that information gradually over the summer. For now, I’m signing off and heading home. Here’s a little musical accompaniment for my exit. Back with you late tomorrow.


NEA Convention 2014: You Had to Be There

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 05•14

It’s the ultimate in in-jokes, mostly featuring stuff that only people inside the hall will get, but I have to give a shout-out to RA memes, a Twitter account poking fun at those taking this a bit too seriously.

So if you’ve ever SMH during an NBI, you’ll appreciate these thoughts…


NEA Convention 2014: The World Will Little Note, Nor Long Remember What We Say Here…

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 05•14

…but it will still be a fact that George Sheridan of California edged out Shelly Moore of Wisconsin for the last seat on the NEA Executive Committee by 76 votes out of 6,616 cast.

Sheridan seems tailor-made to hold high office… in the 19th century. This is an actual photo of him.


NEA Convention 2014: Laboring

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 05•14

Two items concerning strict labor issues arose in the last two days and both had interesting outcomes.

The delegates defeated NBI 44, which directed the NEA president to investigate the idea of NEA joining the AFL-CIO. Unfortunately I wasn’t present for the debate, but it seems the effects of the failed 1998 merger with AFT still linger, at least with a majority of delegates.

NBI 49 concerned the Association of Field Service Employees (AFSE), the union of NEA employees which has been holding informational picketing outside the convention center all week. The proposed item read:

The NEA RA calls upon the NEA and AFSE to continue to bargain in good faith — exemplifying the behavior we advocate for in negotiations — to reach a successor agreement.

That hardly seems a controversial stance for labor union delegates to take. It didn’t choose a side, and the use of the word “continue” implies that bargaining has been in good faith. But the item was defeated, apparently because the delegates felt it wasn’t any of their business.

I’ve often wondered why when contracts expire, they don’t actually expire, but remain in effect – sometimes for years – until a new agreement is reached. While acting as management in a labor dispute, NEA officers haven’t been afraid to decide which of the expired provisions they will abide by, and which they won’t.


NEA Convention 2014: Headline I Hope to See

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jul• 05•14

NEA Wants Nation’s Top Education Employee Fired for Poor Performance

Angry That He Seems to Have Insurmountable Job Protections