From signs inside the Des Moines airport…
…to billboards outside the airport…
…to t-shirts and stickers…
…and placards for photo ops before the Katy Perry concert…
…money from NEA members keeps the gears of capitalism grinding by lubricating the corporate machinery of the political campaign industry.
Earlier this week I passed along a quote from Donald Tinney, a member of the NEA Board of Directors from Vermont, made as he sought to delay an endorsement vote for Hillary Clinton. “I say we let this process play out longer, that we listen to our fellow members more closely (a poll showing that more than half of our members don’t support Hillary should be a reason to pause), and that we learn from the debates,” he said.
I now have the results of that poll. It was a telephone survey (both cell and landline) using a random sample of 2,000 NEA members during the week of August 6-12. The reported margin of error was plus or minus 2 percent.
Hillary Clinton was supported by 46 percent of respondents. Bernie Sanders received 22 percent support and Joe Biden 10 percent. The remainder chose others or expressed no preference.
Clinton’s large plurality and substantial lead over Sanders emboldened NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia to place her recommendation in front of the PAC Council, but there was no rank-and-file groundswell demanding such an early endorsement.
Within the union universe, however, executive action can affect opinions. It would be interesting to know if NEA’s endorsement (and the non-candidacy of Biden) prompts members to bow to the inevitable and change their support to Clinton. They are paying for it regardless.
Information is suddenly spilling out of Memphis about the split between the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association (MSCEA) and the Tennessee Education Association.
Although it has already declared itself disaffiliated, the MSCEA board of directors voted to follow its constitutional procedures and place the question before its representative assembly, which consists of approximately 138 school site reps. No date has yet been set, but it is to happen “in approximately 30 days.” It should require a two-thirds majority, although that has not been announced.
The dispute arose over whether MSCEA would be a “state option” or “local option” for UniServ staffing. Rather than burden you with the arcane details, I’ll just tell you it involves who funds the staff, and by implication, who ultimately controls their activities. It is similar to what almost led to a disaffiliation in Modesto, California.
MSCEA posted a timeline of events, including the July 31 entry of “M-SCEA’S email hacked and a false email sent to NEA alleging a request from M-SCEA for a TEA audit.”
In Tennessee, education employees can support any association, multiple ones, or none. MSCEA seems to be in a race with TEA West to sign up members, but to baffle even the most knowledgeable unionist, it has a space on its membership form for national dues (but not state). I don’t know what national organization will receive those dues, but it won’t be NEA, since its unified dues structure requires membership at all levels of the union.
Confused Memphis teachers might want to bow out of this mess and seek other alternatives.
But we were pulled apart because her mom did not agree
And tore apart our happy home in Memphis, Tennessee
– Chuck Berry, “Memphis, Tennessee” 1959
The Memphis-Shelby County Education Association (MSCEA) held a representative assembly last evening, and it appears there will be no backing down from its de facto disaffiliation from the Tennessee Education Association and NEA.
This is significant because MSCEA constitutes somewhere between 10-15% of TEA’s total membership. Rather than attempt to impose a trusteeship over the local, TEA has opted to form a competing local, TEA West, and is hard at work signing up MSCEA members. It already hired away two MSCEA UniServ directors.
On its web site, MSCEA is advising members:
DO NOT be persuaded to sign membership applications with other organizations.
DO NOT sign up to have your dues payments taken via bank draft.
YOUR M-SCEA BENEFITS: Reduction in Dues, Strong UniServ Unit, Same Liability Coverage, Legislative & Legal Victories
But TEA West has its own web site now, and it is telling Memphis teachers, “We don’t have to see our unity be destroyed. Call or email to learn what you can do!”
What you can do, naturally, is send them money, because MSCEA is no longer transmitting dues to TEA or NEA. And if the situation weren’t complicated enough, both sides distributed their own sets of “facts” to the members.
TEA West’s facts claim the MSCEA can no longer operate as the Memphis Shelby County Education Association because its affiliation agreement states that should it ever disaffiliate “it would relinquish all rights thereafter to use in its name ‘education association, teachers association, education support association, faculty association’ or any equivalent phrase.” It also claims MSCEA is dodging a financial review from NEA.
MSCEA presented to its representative assembly a clean audit from Banks, Finley, White & Co. dated September 28, 2015, and its own fact sheet claiming TEA has failed its obligation to fully fund its UniServ grant. The document also states, “In a recent TEA Board Meeting, TEA discussed renting out its third floor in Nashville, selling its parking lot and possibly selling its building.”
Two years ago, NEA discovered the delegates to its convention were, on average, 51 years old. Even worse, only 10 percent of them were under 35 years of age. This led to much handwringing and vows to create outreach programs to attract and train new union leaders.
This year, the average age of a convention delegate was 50, and a whopping 2.7 percent of the assembly were under the age of 35.
I don’t have any suggestions on how to attract young public education employees to participate in the union, but I think that whatever NEA officers have been doing the last two years, they should consider doing the opposite.