A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Madeloni’s Non-Job Could Soon Be at Non-Workplace

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 12•16

The Massachusetts Teachers Association web site describes president Barbara Madeloni as “on leave as a senior lecturer in the Labor Studies Department at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.” But as EIA reported last April, Madeloni has never worked in the Labor Studies Department, has no office or presence there, and according to the terms of her unique agreement with the university, will never work there.

Now it looks like the Labor Studies Program itself may fade away, as UMass Amherst administrators have begun cutting its budget. Why? It isn’t making any money.

“Problems at the center, which offers master’s degrees in labor studies that train students in collective bargaining, workers’ rights, and the history of organized labor, seem to boil down to money and declining enrollment,” reported the Boston Globe.

The center’s former director, Eve Weinbaum, claims she was ousted by the university. “There is a reality to the economic situation, but I think to deal with it by making short-term decisions about what’s generating revenue and what’s not is a real mistake,” she said.

UMass claims the program has two new students this year and 16 total, down from 30 total a decade ago.

Labor activists are up in arms, and Madeloni included a shot at UMass in a recent email to MTA members. “The UMass Labor Center is one of the most respected labor centers in the country and has graduated staff and organizers within the MTA and our coalitions,” she wrote. “Cuts are underway that will reduce the Labor Center to a shadow of itself. Cuts are being implemented because the Labor Center is not generating income. The corporate university – as opposed to the public university – demands that programs become revenue generators. Under this demand it is more and more difficult to support programs that welcome and support a diversity of students, and it is too easy to eliminate programs that do not fit the ideological parameters of corporatists.”

So the program is prestigious and respected but students don’t enroll. It’s lacking money but the unions don’t help. It employs people who don’t work there. It really is a labor studies program.


We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Table

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 09•16

When Hillary Clinton addressed the delegates at the National Education Association Representative Assembly last July she told them, “And if I’m fortunate enough to be elected president, educators will have a partner in the White House – and you’ll always have a seat at the table.”

Thanks to Mother Jones we now know how small that table is. The left-wing publication revealed the members of Clinton’s K-12 policy working group:

+ Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association

+ Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers

+ Carmel Martin, executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress

+ Catherine Brown, vice president of education policy at the Center for American Progress

+ Chris Edley Jr., president of the Opportunity Institute

+ Richard Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education under Bill Clinton

Two labor union presidents, two executives from a policy institute that receives money from those labor unions (plus a treasure trove of others), the president of a policy institute whose chair is a former hedge fund manager and the biggest contributor to SuperPACs, and a Friend of Bill who received NEA’s Friend of Education award.

I don’t believe any of these people has filled out a lesson plan in this millennium.


How NEA Came to Love Citizens United

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 08•16

Click here to read.


Record Holders

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 07•16

California’s educators launched the “Kids Not Profits” campaign today, calling for more accountability and transparency of California charter schools and exposing the coordinated agenda by a group of billionaires to divert money from California’s neighborhood public schools to privately-managed charter schools. These billionaires are spending record amounts of money to influence local legislative and school board elections across the state.

California Teachers Association press release, August 31, 2016

California Teachers Association expenditures on November 2016 ballot initiatives – $14 million

California Teachers Association media advertising fund – $7.9 million

California Teachers Association political allocation fund – $7.1 million

California Teachers Association advocacy fund – $14.2 million

California Teachers Association lobbying expenditures – $3.4 million

California Teachers Association PAC expenditures – $1.2 million

California Teachers Association political spending 2000-2010 – $212 million


The Limits of Poll Questions About Unions

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 06•16

With Labor Day in the rear-view mirror and the 2016 campaign approaching the final lap, it’s time to look at what information we have on unions and their effect on public opinion.

I would like to begin with what I believe, so you may judge my analysis accordingly.

1) Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States, winning by a substantial margin.

2) I find this preferable to a victory by Donald Trump, whom I like to compare with the drunk at the end of the bar who has a solution to all the world’s problems, and knowledge of none of them.

3) Trump will outperform his pre-election polling.

4) I will be voting for Gary Johnson, as I did in 2012.

The unions, of course, are all-in for Clinton, though Trump is said to have made some inroads among blue-collar workers. Polling suggests Trump’s support among union households is about the same as previous GOP nominees, while Clinton’s support is somewhat lower.

The Detroit Free Press reported “a poll conducted about a month ago by EPIC-MRA of Lansing revealed that about 30% of those who said there is a union member in their household plan to vote for Trump compared with 49% who plan to vote for Clinton. Another poll released last week by Suffolk University in Boston and provided to USA Today and the Free Press also showed Trump with the support of about 30% of union households compared with 57% for Clinton.

Polling requires lumping together groups of people who might not really belong in the same category. For example, citing a candidate’s polling numbers among Catholics makes the implicit assumption that an Irish Catholic male from Boston has the same voting concerns as a Catholic Filipina from Los Angeles. This is also true of the category of “union households.” It shouldn’t be shocking to learn that union members sometimes have political opinions different from their spouses and other members of their family.

“Are you a member of a union?” without reference to households will require more work by pollsters to get a proper sample size, but it will also give us a more accurate picture of the effect of unions on their members’ political views. But we shouldn’t stop there, especially in 2016.

Gallup’s annual Labor Day poll showed “a slim majority of Americans, 52%, say labor unions mostly help the U.S. economy, while 41% believe unions mostly hurt it,” which is “essentially back to what it was before the recession.”

But if you are going to ask about labor unions and their effect on the economy, why wouldn’t you differentiate between public-sector and private-sector unions? We all just had a three-day bombardment reminding us of all the things unions gave us – weekends, vacations, 40-hour work week, etc. How many of those things were the result of having government worker unions?

Perhaps Americans would say that public- and private-sector unions have an equal effect on the U.S. economy, for good or for ill. But maybe their answer would differ depending on which was discussed. Gallup also published a historical graph charting support for unions since 1936.

Looks to me like unions were riding pretty high until about 1965, then declined precipitously, hitting bottom in 1980. What happened during those years? Oh yeah, membership in public-sector unions more than quadrupled.

If polling the public about both public- and private-sector unions might yield interesting results, polling union members themselves about other unions might be even more fascinating. What does your average Teamster or United Auto Worker think about AFSCME or NEA? And vice versa. Considering the amount of money being thrown around on campaigns, it would be nice to know.


Labor Resurgence Just a Little Overdue

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 05•16

A reaction appears to have set in and it is probable that for some time to come the power of organized labor will decrease; but a change will again come, and the unions and various associations will once more report an increasing membership. The progress of the labor movement may be compared to the incoming tide. Each wave advances a little further than the previous one; and he is the merest tyro in social science, and an ignoramus in the history of his country, who imagines that a permanent decline has overtaken organized labor, whatever his talents or acquisitions may be in other respects.

Richard T. Ely, economist and Progressive leader, in “The Labor Movement in America,” July 1886.


Something for Teachers’ Unions to Ponder Over Labor Day Weekend

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 02•16

Teachers’ unions were very excited by two National Labor Relations Board rulings last month. The board concluded in both cases that charter schools were not “political subdivisions” and were thus subject to the National Labor Relations Act. In plain English, it means that unions and unionization efforts in charter schools are regulated by the federal law that oversees private-sector unions, and not the state laws that govern unions in the public sector.

These rulings weren’t necessarily to the unions’ advantage when it comes to organizing charter school employees, but they did fit well with their current public relations stance that charters are “private corporations, not public schools.” However, a short-term PR victory might lead to long-term administrative headaches for the teachers’ unions, NEA in particular.

You see, if charter schools are private entities and subject to the NLRA, then any charter school employees represented by a union would make that union a labor organization “engaged in an industry affecting commerce.” Those unions would then be subject to the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act.

Simply put, any union that represents only public-sector workers is not regulated by LMRDA. If it represents even one private-sector worker, then it must file annually a financial disclosure report called an LM-2 and abide by the law’s other provisions. Currently only about 10 NEA state affiliates are covered by LMRDA, and since the members in those affiliates are also NEA members, NEA national headquarters is also covered by the law, which is how members and the public are able to track NEA expenditures. (AFT also files an LM-2.)

If charter school teachers are private-sector employees, then the California Teachers Association, the New Jersey Education Association and a host of other NEA state affiliates would have to start disclosing their expenditures to the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition, NEA trusteeships – like the ones the national union placed in recent years over its affiliates in Indiana, South Carolina and Alabama – might be subject to more stringent LMRDA regulation and reporting, rather than the unregulated trusteeships the union instituted.

If you think this would be a small price to pay, remember that when the Bush Administration’s Labor Department tried to reinterpret the LMRDA to include 32 NEA state affiliates, the union filed suit, calling the revision “unfair” and “motivated by an ill-will toward unions in general, and NEA and its affiliates in particular.” (See item #3, here.) The ruling was held up in court until the results of the 2008 presidential election made it go away entirely.

So if the unions insist that charter schools are private schools, let’s run with it and demand detailed financial disclosures from the unions representing charter school teachers. It’s the law.