Intercepts

A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Former Union Officers Revolt Against NEA Trusteeship in Alabama

Written By: Mike Antonucci   – Jul• 29•15

After months of silence and a media blackout, the trusteeship NEA placed upon the Alabama Education Association erupted into public view in a big way.

A group of former AEA officers and staff calling itself The Steering Committee sent a memo to NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia demanding an end to the NEA “takeover.”

Noting that the AEA board of directors did not have the authority to petition NEA for a trusteeship, the Steering Committee concludes “there are no grounds for NEA to occupy AEA.” Details of that process are also included.

“The AEA Board was told by NEA representatives the night of a regular board meeting that NEA already had the authority to place AEA under Trusteeship; and if the Board did not vote to request Trusteeship, NEA would place AEA under Trusteeship without a vote. Some, not knowing and others misled, the AEA Board voted 17 to 14 to carry out the NEA MANDATE,” the memo reads.

Federal law has very specific statutes regarding the establishment of union trusteeships, but NEA has managed to avoid them because of interpretations of the relationship between parent unions in the public sector and their affiliates.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards contends that NEA is not bound by the Landrum-Griffin Act’s provision for union trusteeships because the law does not cover the Alabama affiliate. This is a highly debatable view, since trusteeship regulations are placed on the parent organization, not the affiliate, and NEA is covered by Landrum-Griffin.

With no clear regulatory oversight, NEA trusteeships in Indiana, South Carolina and Alabama operate as they please, ostensibly bound only by the relevant sections in the union’s bylaws. The Steering Committee alleges even these were violated by NEA.

“Unfortunately, the letter that has been circulated is inaccurate and was designed to divert attention from the positive direction AEA is taking to support educators and Alabama schools,” said current AEA President Sheila Hocutt Remington. NEA has not issued a statement.

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