Since the failed merger attempt in 1998 between the two national teachers’ unions, NEA has routinely had to revisit complications arising from the fact that some of its affiliates belong to two different organizations. Now-forgotten battles over Education Minnesota’s back dues, the NEAFT Partnership, and individual affiliate entry into the AFL-CIO arose.
Even recently, NEA dealt with the merger in North Dakota, the postponed merger in Wisconsin, and the removal of the six-affiliate cap on mergers. But each of these was resolved with little or no uproar.
At next year’s Representative Assembly in Orlando a proposal will be placed before the delegates that could revive the contentious emotions of the past. Delegates will vote via secret ballot on an amendment to the NEA constitution that would eliminate “proportional” representation at the convention for merged affiliates.
The current system works this way: Merged state affiliates send delegates in proportion to how many NEA members there were in the state before the merger, and essentially half of members picked up after the merger. The amendment would count all members equally, regardless of whom they belonged to before the merger, or how much they contribute in dues to NEA.
The greatest effect will be felt in New York, which is currently represented at the convention as if it had somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 members. If the constitutional amendment passes, its representation would increase almost tenfold. Florida and Minnesota would also pick up a significant number of new delegates.
I suspect this would have little effect on NEA’s policies in general, except for issues related to merger itself. All of the merged affiliates belong to the AFL-CIO. Increased representation might mean new business items like #44 would have a better chance of passing. It would also add a whole slew of pro-merger delegates to the assembly. Who knows what that might bring?