Intercepts

A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Union’s “Fight For $15” Organizers Are, Of Course, Non-Union

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 24•16

Organizers working on SEIU’s Fight for $15 minimum wage campaign are themselves non-union. They want to join SEIU’s staff union, called the Union for Union Representatives (UUR). Ned Resnikoff of the International Business Times reports that “many labor organizations have found themselves struggling to make the most of dwindling resources. This can put union leadership at odds with their staff, especially if that staff demand the same protections and working standards that union members enjoy.”

UUR says the minimum wage organizers are effectively SEIU employees and should be covered by a union contract.

“It’s an awkward question for the SEIU and Fight for $15, which often accuse other companies of misclassifying workers in order to shirk their responsibility for fair pay and working conditions,” Resnikoff writes.

One organizer said she is “overworked, underpaid and precariously employed.” She said she was hired by SEIU and her supervisor is from SEIU.

“The only thing that keeps me from being an SEIU staffer myself is that my paycheck has another name on it,” she said.

You might think this is an anomaly, but union exploitation of low-paid, non-union employees goes way back. But at least these folks have homes to live in.

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Put a Stake in Stakeholders

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 23•16

Click here to read.

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Hillary to Attend NEA Convention; How Will That Go?

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 23•16

Hillary Clinton will keep a promise she made to the National Education Association last October and attend the union’s annual convention in Washington DC in July. This is not unusual, since all NEA-endorsed Presidential candidates have either attended the event or addressed the delegates electronically. What will be different is there will still be a large number of Bernie Sanders supporters in the audience when she appears, and I don’t expect they will be in the mood for kumbayas.

The delegates will vote on whether to endorse Hillary in the general election – a foregone conclusion, of course – but it’s always the margin of this up-or-down vote that bears watching. The early endorsement of President Obama’s re-election in 2011 garnered 72 percent of the delegate vote, which is the lowest level of enthusiasm any endorsed Presidential candidate has ever received.

It remains to be seen whether the Sanders supporters will mount any sort of effort to protest, but even the worst-case scenario for NEA involves a historically weak endorsement of Hillary, followed by the release of millions of dollars in independent expenditures on her behalf, so there really isn’t much to worry about.

Hillary would do well to target her remarks to the Sanders supporters in a meaningful way, but I expect we’ll get the same standard education speech she has delivered for at least 17 years – minus the positive reference to charter schools.

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Texas State Teachers Association’s Finances

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 20•16

Everything is bigger in Texas… except the Texas State Teachers Association, which is 22 percent smaller than it was 20 years ago. TSTA is $5.6 million in the red, and was reliant on a $3.3 million project grant from NEA to supplement its dues collections from members.

Total membership – 46,707, down 1,060 members

Total revenue – $12.7 million (69.7% came from member dues), up $227,000

Deficit – $47,000

Net assets – negative $5.6 million

Total staff – 76

Staff salaries and benefits – $8 million

Highest paid employee – Richard Kouri, executive director  – $152,602 base salary

Highest paid contractor – None received more than $100,000

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AFT Gets Charter Union in Cleveland, Loses One in New Orleans

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 19•16

All 22 employees of the Cleveland College Preparatory School voted to join the American Federation of Teachers, making it the third unionized charter school in the area. However, teachers rejected unionization at the Lusher Charter School in New Orleans, in an election held after AFT sought to have the union automatically recognized through card check.

In other organizing news, 170 employees of the Calhoun County School District in Florida became the last in the state to unionize. They chose representation by the Florida Education Association by a vote of 61 to 55.

Union exclusive representation elections receive almost no attention outside of the people involved, but that result illustrates how determinative they are to a district’s future operations. It is very likely that Calhoun County schools will now remain unionized forever, due to the votes of six employees in 2016, and the failure to vote of 54 more.

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Union Exposes Vast Right-Wing, Moderate & Center-Left Conspiracy

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 18•16

In 2013 a Massachusetts Teachers Association task force created “Threat from the Right,” a document designed to alert members to the evil forces arrayed against them. Today the union updated that report with “Threat to Public Education Now Centers on Massachusetts,” indicating the threat has expanded beyond the right-wing and even includes some foundations and organizations that have dealings with teachers’ unions. I have made the 101-page report available on EIA’s Declassified page.

The introduction begins:

The threats aligned against public education and unions today are broad, deep and substantial. More and more, they are focused on Massachusetts, where proponents of charter school expansion are preparing to spend millions of dollars as they test just how far they can go in privatizing public education and profiting off the public good. The outcome of this assault is vital to the future of our Commonwealth — and to the future of public schools, colleges and universities across the nation.

For MTA members and students, this is nothing short of an existential struggle.

If this is the sort of thing that gets your blood boiling – on either side – slog your way through it. For me, it brings back tiresome memories of similar past efforts, like NEA’s 1998 “Anatomy of the Far Right.” Now that MTA has more than $9 million to spend on such activities, perhaps they can add the standard conspiracy flow chart we’re accustomed to seeing.

MTA is clearly concerned about the “blurring of ideologies” that has occurred among its opponents since those days. As this report shows, it has not led to much introspection.

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How Green Is My SuperPAC?

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 17•16

We also have to address the unaccountable dark money in politics. I think the Supreme Court made a grave error with its Citizens United decision. And I will do everything I can do to appoint Supreme Court Justices who will protect the right to vote and not the right of billionaires to buy elections.

– Hillary Clinton, responding to an American Federation of Teachers candidate questionnaire

We… are hopeful of a day when the Building Trades and its members are afforded greater labor family consideration for their economic well-being before we attempt to repackage ourselves for newfound activist billionaire friends who have an agenda which is far different than ours.

– from a May 16 letter to AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka signed by the executives of the federation’s building trade unions

We object to the political agenda of the AFL-CIO being sold to a job-killing hedge fund manager with a bag of cash.

– from a May 16 letter to AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka from Laborers International Union of North American general president Terry O’Sullivan

The letters were written in response to the formation of a SuperPAC called For Our Future financed by the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, NEA, AFT, and environmental activist Thomas Steyer, who made his billions as a hedge fund manager. SuperPACs are political action committees whose existence and proliferation are largely due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision. As reported by Politico, “All the unions involved in the new venture have endorsed Hillary Clinton.”

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