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1 comments | July 26, 2007 | 4:36 PM | posted by Ryan

In this video, one union boss oversees a picket line of homeless and transients the union hired to do work the union's members won't do themselves. When a reporter tries to ask the picketers questions, they say that they will be fired if they talked to him. The union boss remains tight lipped too.

A few notes to complement this video...

Shopfloor’s Carter Wood did some research on how old this story is and poses the question: “The federal minimum wage went up yesterday. Did the carpenters give their homeless picketers a raise?”

Other mentions:

  • Miami, Fla., October 2004: "When it comes to picketing, the Carpenters' Union has discovered it's smart to outsource. ...That's part of the strategy behind a flurry of protests outside a few Brickell Avenue towers in recent months. But complaints have filtered to Miami police regarding abusive language and use of the homeless to hold signs. "Maybe some are homeless, but not the majority," Kuzmik said.
  • Indianapolis, Ind., May 2005: "The labor group hires demonstrators--including many homeless and unemployed people who have little or no connection to the construction trades--to picket various projects, carrying giant fake rats on sticks or even wearing rat costumes."
  • Columbus, Ohio, August 2006: "Ohio and Vicinity Regional Council of Carpenters is upset that some contractors and property-management companies don't pay carpenters the $22.50-an-hour standard wage and, perhaps, don't pay for health insurance or pensions. So the union is picketing these companies. Well, sort of. The union itself is not doing the protesting. Rather, it has hired more than 160 nonunion people -- the jobless and the homeless -- to do its picketing."
  • Louisville, January 2005
  • Denver, January 2006
  • And as we noted yesterday, Street Sense, the self-help homeless tabloid, reported the story in August 2005.
Bret Jacobson at Laborpains.org also notes another newscase from back in August 2006. (Video here.)

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2 comments | July 20, 2007 | 10:13 AM | posted by Ryan

While Democrats want to increase the Department of Labor’s budget by nearly $1 billion, they are leaving the little agency that oversees union transparency out. Why? Because union bosses are call the shots on Capital Hill and they don't like that little agency.

The agency currently receives $47.7 million and President Bush wanted to increase the budget to $56 million. Instead, Democrats have set funding at $45.7 million.

  • Example One: Only the agencies unions can use to bully employers, such as those tasked with employer accountability and worker safety, are getting the increased funds. The singular subject on which Dem’s are exercising fiscal restraint is the agency that, from 2001 to 2006, “investigated more than 2,000 criminal cases that secured some 650 indictments of union officials who had engaged in everything from embezzlement to extortionate picketing. The [agency] has also implemented a 2004 rule requiring unions to file expanded disclosure reports, obliging them for the first time to disclose how much dues money they spend on politics and union salaries.”
  • Example Two: The Hill wrote yesterday, “In an op-ed e-mailed to reporters, Chao criticized Congress for being ‘all for boosting the Securities and Exchange Commission’s [SEC] budget so it can ride herd on businesses.’ In contrast, she said, Congress had singled out the one federal entity charged with protecting union members from corruption for budget cuts.”
  • Example Three: Democrats are succumbing to pressure to renege on promises to keep the free trade agreements with Panama and Peru alive. Charlie Rangel has been persuaded to visit the two countries and tell them that if they want the agreements to pass (i.e., Democratic support of the agreements.) to make their labor laws more union-friendly.

Predictably, unions take a “Who? Me?” approach, raised eyebrows and all. “The statistics are cooked,” associate general counsel to the AFL-CIO, Deborah Greenfield, said to The Hill. She said DoL double-counts convictions (If one union boss is convicted of 5 different crimes, the agency counts five convictions, not one.).

Greenfield also told The Hill that an AFI-CIO study on union bosses says that less than four-one hundredths (4/100 or .04) of 1 percent of union officials are guilty of crimes against their unions."

Also note: Democrats who voted for the Kline amendment were Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.), Bud Cramer (Ala.), Lincoln Davis (Tenn.), Brad Ellsworth (Ind.), Tim Mahoney (Fla.), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Harry Mitchell (Ariz.) and Heath Shuler (N.C.). Sixteen Republicans voted against the Kline amendment, including Reps. Mark Kirk (Ill.), Ray LaHood (Ill.) and Christopher Shays (Conn.).

Read the Wall Street Journal editorial here: Congress's Union Dues
Read The Hill’s news report here: Sec. Chao criticizes House for cutting union oversight funds

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0 comments | July 17, 2007 | 4:58 PM | posted by Derek Archer

The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) is a division of the U.S. Department of Labor and stands as a champion of justice. One of its primary roles is to investigate and report the fiscal documents of labor organizations. Perhaps it should come as no great surprise then that this is the only government office from which the Democratic Congress is seeking to cut funds.

Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao wrote an op-ed on this topic. Read it here.

The Office believes that union workers have a right to know how their union dues are spent—especially if such dues are being embezzled. It may be important to some to know that the NEA gave about $65 million to Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition and other liberal organizations—organizations that do not relate to education at all.

Furthermore, the OLMS prosecutes embezzlement and corruption within unions. For example, an OLMS investigation of Alan Raines, former Financial Secretary of Steelworkers Local 1358, accused him of embezzling over $274,000 in union funds and of bank fraud. This is one example of many where the OLMS has curbed corruption (click here for criminal prosecutions and here for accounts of civil violations).

Unlike some arguably useless government agencies, the OLMS deserves our support. If funding must be cut from a government agency, Congress should know what cuts to make rather than being blown about by the winds of political expediency. For example, which of the following is more important: the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission or the OLMS? Your Representatives in the U.S. House need to know where you stand on this issue.

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0 comments | July 16, 2007 | 1:32 PM | posted by Ryan

Mount Vernon teacher Jeff Leer hit the papers again. In a letter-to-the-editor, Mr. Leer describes the WEA's summer vacation to date: a prolonged session behind the woodshed.

Justice Scalia said that the only thing that makes this complicated is the fact that the WEA chooses to commingle funds that doesn’t belong to it. The union tried to claim it was actually the WEA’s money. Laughter broke out in the court. I was there.

The Seattle Times, hardly a part of the right-wing conspiracy the WEA has used as a scapegoat for years, called its practice a money-laundering scheme.

Leer concluded:

When students get into trouble, I respect them more if they own up to their mistakes and take responsibility for their actions. The WEA will yet again face monetary penalties for its law-breaking. Who will pay? Every hardworking teacher, while the union bosses continue to make excuses and collect huge salaries. How sad.

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0 comments | July 13, 2007 | 5:03 PM | posted by Ryan

On July 10, David Ammons, the AP's state political writer and has covered the statehouse since 1971, interviewed outgoing Washington Education Association President Charles Hasse and incoming President Mary Lindquist. The video can be viewed HERE at minute 26:55.

Ammons asked Hasse and Lindquist about Davenport at minute 26:55 and evokes a number of interesting comments all by Hasse (Lindquist was silent throughout the discussion of Davenport.).
  • Ammons opened by lofting a softball at Hasse and Lindquist. He indicated the legislature was responsible for of HB 2079 saying, “realizing that [the U.S. Supreme Court decision] was afoot, [the legislature] passed a law saying, essentially defining the way you do things as fine.”

    While the question was not factually accurate—it ran contrary to information published in the Seattle Times, “Teachers union pushes political spending bill”—the question may be understandable if Ammons had to be nice to the WEA’s top officials to get them to talk.

  • Hasse describes how Davenport was in the works at the time he became WEA president in 2000. The WEA had a “good case” and “bad case” (better known as best case and worst case scenarios.) scenarios laid out but Hasse admitted that the trial court ruling was “worse than anything we had imagined in a worst case scenario because the judge said we had deliberately violated campaign finance law.”

  • Hasse revealed the WEA’s next steps in Davenport at 30:20:

    “The U.S. Supreme Court said ‘no, the state can in fact regulate labor unions in this way. It is a constitutional law.’ But they didn’t say it is a good law, they didn’t say that we had violated it, nor yet did they say that we had deliberately done so, so those issues now go back to the state court.”
  • Ammons asks at minute 31 what Hasse thinks of EFF.

    Hasse begins graciously, but then reverts to old worn out attack on EFF members and donors.

    The response is simple: Unlike the WEA, which forces teachers to pay the union to keep their job, EFF accepts only voluntary contributions.

  • The final point I’ll make here, Ammons asks Hasse whether the WEA is glad, in a way, EFF is out there. Naturally, Hasse replied that he would say he is glad we are out there, but he doesn’t expect EFF to go away and that we have had no impact on the WEA’s membership levels.

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0 comments | July 12, 2007 | 5:11 PM | posted by Derek Archer

The National Education Association has posted a legislative action call, asking its members to support the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill that should come up for a vote in the U.S. House next week. This bill would increase the gargantuan amount of money that the United States spends on public education already.

The Department of Education reports that the United States already spends $62.7 billion dollars per year on education. While this number sounds large, let me give you an example of just how HUGE this number really is. If I gave you all of this $62.7 billion and told you to spend $1,000 a day, it would take you over 171,780 YEARS to spend it all.

Consider also that the federal government only pays for a fraction of the nation’s $500 billion education costs overall, and you may begin to think again before allowing the government to pour more of your money into education spending.

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0 comments | July 11, 2007 | 4:32 PM | posted by Derek Archer

Hillary Clinton: Better Curriculum Needed--More Field Trips!

Sure, tests do not tell the whole story. Hillary called for more learning and less memorizing and testing in the classroom. This is great, but there still should be some evaluative standard for the children. If “Little Johnny” has gone on thirty field trips during his elementary education years, he is automatically ready for high school, right?

Former South Carolina Senator John Edwards: Empower Teachers! Not Tests!

Edwards joined the brigade of standardized-test-bashers when he gave his speech in front of the NEA convention in Philadelphia. He argued that Americans need to empower teachers to make education a success. Good point, Mr. Edwards, but even empowered teachers need some feedback.

Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd: More Funding—More Ways of Evaluation

Senator Chris Dodd said that he would make it his number one priority fully to fund No Child Left Behind (NCLB) once he became president. He also believes that NCLB should evaluate children on more than one plane—there should be more than just tests. The only problem is that the other evaluation methods he mentioned—drop-out rates, overall improvement rates, and participation in advanced placement courses—are test related evaluations as well. How do we know when kids show marked improvements or succeed in advanced placement courses? It is largely through their test scores.

Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich: Fully-fund Public Education from Pre-K to College

Dennis Kucinich throws the old answer down an ever-gaping drain—schools need full funding to be a success. He proposes total government funding for public education for every child from pre-kindergarten to a two-four year college degree. How much money can we throw at the public school system, Rep. Kucinich, without seeing many returns?

Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico: Improve No Child Left Behind

“When I am elected, the No Child Left Behind program will be improved, or it will be abolished!” said Bill Richardson to the Representative Assembly of the National Education Association. He also called for the abolishment of the AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) reports from the NCLB program, calling for more than one test score assessment. While this sounds reasonable, perhaps the problem goes deeper than test scores.

Illinois Senator Barack Obama: Teach More!

Teachers should be allowed to teach as they need, not teach for a test. The No Child Left Behind Act aims at noble goals, but it is not reaching those goals, argued Obama. More funding and better teachers are the answer. Let the teachers teach!

This is a swell aspiration, Senator Obama, but allowing great teachers to teach well is only half the battle. Students spend about half their day in school and half at home. If parents do not join with teachers to emphasize the importance of a student’s classroom experience, the battle is only half won.

Former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee: Prepare for the Next Generation

Mike Huckabee argued before the Representative Assembly of the National Education Association in Philadelphia that teachers should be compensated for the ongoing education they need while performing their teaching duties. There is merit to this argument, but where should the government draw the line? What and how much should the government actually fund with your tax dollars? Just remember that the more money the government spends, the more money it will need to take from you.

Delaware Senator Joe Biden: The Record Goes On

Senator Joe Biden reiterated some of the same statements that had been made by his fellow presidential candidates at the convention. He called for better paid teachers, smaller classrooms, pre-kindergarten education, college possibilities for the qualified, and different testing methods. Joe Biden and the rest of the presidential candidates at the NEA convention sound like a broken track record. They all point out problems with our education system, but where are the substantive plans to address these problems? Since all the candidates seem so similar, how will the NEA know whom to endorse as the next President of the United States?


American lags behind such countries as Japan and Korea in its educational accomplishments. Why is this? Americans have tried to bring better qualified teachers into the classrooms, shrink classroom size, give more money to the schools, change textbooks, create more fieldtrips, build better school buildings, etc., etc. Where are the results? Perhaps the reason that our education system lags behind the education systems of other nations is because the battle to educate our children is only half fought in the classroom. Teachers must have the support and help of parents in order to effectively educate their students. Unless teacher-parent relationships improve, it is likely that Americans will continue to see our education system lag behind those of other nations.


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0 comments | July 10, 2007 | 4:30 PM | posted by Ryan

EIA’s Mike Antonucci provides a wrap-up of the NEA Convention’s final day during which Sen. Barack Obama, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Sen. Joe Biden spoke.

Obama’s speech included some statements supporting merit pay, but not based solely on test scores. He wants to work with teachers to find a spectrum of ways in which to measure teachers’ success.

Mike Huckabee was greeted with a roar of applause when he opened by equating his appearance at the NEA convention as out of place as Michael Moore going to the National Rifle Association’s convention. I couldn’t tell whether the crowd was cheering Huckabee or just cheered at the mention of Michael Moore. (video at 1:51)

All-in-all, entertaining, but Antonucci adds some good insight into the content of the speeches in his Communiqué for the Week of July 9, 2007.

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0 comments | July 09, 2007 | 2:44 PM | posted by Ryan

Here are some WEA press releases on its activities at the NEA convention in Philadelphia last week. According to the reports, only one WEA member was permitted to speak to delegates from the platform.

Could this cold shoulder be a consequence of the WEA’s loss at the U.S. Supreme Court in Davenport? The NEA has viciously fought against paycheck protection policies in California, Ohio, Colorado, Utah and many other states where it has been introduced. Now, thanks to WEA officials bungling their positions and strategies in Davenport, the NEA must overcome the weight of the High Court, which legitimized the policy, in future campaigns. Any fallout between the affiliates is certain to be kept under wraps, but the WEA’s showing at the convention may be one small window for our observation.

Also at the RA, WEA President Charles Hasse was officially replaced by president-elect Mary Lindquist. WEA Vice President Dave Scott was also replaced by Mike Ragan.

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0 comments | July 06, 2007 | 10:26 AM | posted by Ryan

The Pacific Research Institute, a coalition partner and signatory of an amicus brief, just published this commentary on what Davenport means to Californians titled, "Protecting Paychecks and First Amendment Rights."

California voters have faced paycheck protection initiatives twice in the past decade, Proposition 226 in 1998 and Proposition 75 in 2005.

In 1998, the $6 million campaign in favor of Prop 226 was dwarfed by more than $22 million in the union campaign war chest to defeat the measure.

In 2005, Governor Schwarzenegger backed Prop 75—along with 4 other “reform” measures which included tenure and pension reform—with approximately $32 million, but just as with Prop 226, unions reported outspending the campaign by more than 3-to-1 (not counting undocumented spending). The behind-the-scenes numbers are even more startling. The 500 pound gorilla of California’s political scene, the California Teaches Association, pulled out $100 million to spend against Schwarzenegger’s measures. Their sidekick, the state correctional officer’s union pulled out another huge sum. In total, EFF estimated unions spent more than $200 million (As much as the Democratic party spent trying to put John Kerry in the White House in 2004.) against the Schwarzenegger measures, including Prop 75.

The PRI article explains why unions are so deathly afraid of paycheck protection and concludes with the suggestion that voters “should look beyond expensive advertising campaigns funded by union war chests to the real issue of First Amendment rights.”

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0 comments | July 05, 2007 | 2:08 PM | posted by Ryan

Derek Archer compiled a summary of some of the RA resolutions I talked about earlier. Below are his findings. Also check out the reports by the Education Intelligence Agency on the NEA's convention.

Legislative Amendment 1: Adopted
Crashed Bus Drivers Get the Crack with Drug and Alcohol Testing

It should be no big surprise to you and me that bus drivers should be subject to the same criminal investigations as everyone else. Hooray for the NEA on getting this one right.

Legislative Amendment 5: Adopted
Mandatory Kindergarten for All

For those of us like myself, this legislation may be a blessing. You see, I never received a kindergarten graduation diploma, so for all I know my college studies could be seriously impeded by this small predicament. I feel so left behind . . . this legislation would make sure that all children receive that special diploma.

Legislative Amendment 7: Defeated
African-American Family Tree Research Cut Down

It is true that many people enjoy researching their family tree and ancestors back to the dark ages, but it does not seem necessary for the government to fund such research. While I’m as mongrel an American as there ever was, my past does not dictate my future. In fact, for everyone, the past gives birth to the present, and the choices we make in the present give birth to the future.

Legislative Amendment 10: Defeated
No Bill to Be Added to the Bill of Rights This Time

The NEA rejected the proposition to give every child "the basic right to a high-quality, free, and appropriate public education." The most probable reason for this is that the NEA does not want any of its strings tied by federal judges in case laws.

Legislative Amendment 12: Passed
Evaluative Tests Do Not Accurately Reflect Student Workplace Performance

While it is true that a young adult can be book smart and practically clueless in the actual workplace, it is also true that a young adult can be a star employee in the workplace but a dropout from school. Does this mean that test scores should be completely overlooked in the evaluation process of any student seeking a job? America is your country. You decide.

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0 comments | 12:36 PM | posted by Ryan

The Independence Institute (I2I) was a coalition partner with EFF in Davenport. I2I Education Policy Analyst Ben DeGrow and AG Suthers will join I2I president John Caldara to Discuss Supreme Court Victory on Friday's episode of Independent Thinking. The show will dissect the legal victory for the free speech rights of workers.

The episode airs on KBDI Channel 12 in Denver (Channel 32 in Colorado Springs) TOMORROW (Friday) at 8:30 PM, and on Sunday, July 8, at 11:30 AM.

"All 9 members of the U.S. Supreme Court agreed that states may give extra protections to public-sector workers who haven’t joined the union and want to be asked first before the union can spend their mandatory fees on politics. The Court’s decision strengthens the case for an Ask First policy in Colorado that would protect the rights of teachers and all public-sector workers to decide which political candidates and causes they would like to support."

Here are some related I2I links:
- Listen to Ben DeGrow host a podcast on the Supreme Court decision with Mike Reitz, director of labor policy at the Evergreen Freedom Foundation in Olympia, Wash.
- Read the Independence Institute’s press release hailing the Davenport decision victory
- See Colorado teachers explain their views on unions and the issues in the Davenport case in an Evergreen Freedom Foundation video production recorded last December
- Read Ben’s Rocky Mountain News Speakout column on the topic, published last September

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0 comments | July 03, 2007 | 4:58 PM | posted by Ryan


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0 comments | 3:35 PM | posted by Ryan

A few comments on some issues up for vote at the NEA Convention. All these documents can be found HERE.

Legislative Amendment 1 - Drug Testing Bus Drivers

More than 50 delegates submitted a measure to list the NEA as supporting "Federal legislation mandating a test for drugs and alcohol that is admissible in a criminal prosecution of a driver involved in an accident while transporting students."

If union bosses oppose school districts who try to fire teachers who should be registered sexual offenders for fondling, groping and threatening little girls with pieces of broken glass, I don’t think union bosses will support anything that will aid in the conviction of bus drivers driving under the influence.

Legislative Amendment 5 - Mandatory Kindergarten

This measure would make the NEA an official supporter of mandatory kindergarten. While this is understandable given the union’s dependence on the growth of the teacher workforce for its own growth, the stated rational is somewhat suspect.

Supposedly, mandatory kindergarten is necessary because “Kindergarten provides an essential bridge between prekindergarten and the primary grades.”

Let’s think this through out loud. Kindergarten should be mandatory because it bridges prekindergarten and first grade? We all know first grade is mandatory, but this logic could only be correct if prekindergarten were mandatory too.

Legislative Amendment 7 - Government Funded Family Tree Research

Some delegates want the NEA to support "legislation providing funding of DNA testing for African-Americans so they can trace their ancestry and their country of origin."

I want some input on this. While DNA testing may be important to some individuals, is it a proper role for government to play? What are your thoughts?

The union rational says, “Researching one's family tree is worthwhile and at times medically necessary. Most African-Americans cannot trace their ancestry to their country of origin. DNA testing would allow them to make that identification.”

Legislative Amendment 10 - Adds Tenure and Teacher Salaries to Bill of Rights

The final measure I’ll comment on is just another indication of the union’s arrogance. It is becoming clearer that union officials view this nation’s government and even its founding documents as the embodiment of their job security.

Some union officials want the NEA to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that “guarantees that every child has the basic right to a high-quality, free, and appropriate public education."

This is only one part of the movement by NEA officials to turn the Bill of Rights into their own union organizing and personal job security document. The union’s arguments in Davenport alleged that the First Amendment’s Free Speech guarantee applied to it at the expense of individuals. Now NEA officials reveal that they want to add job security for its 3 million members to the Bill of Rights and guarantee they are paid lavish salaries (“Congress must provide adequate funding”) (of which the NEA gets $245 per person).

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0 comments | 12:23 PM | posted by Ryan

Bylaw Amendment 2-A has been submitted to the RA to increase mandatory contributions to the Ballot Measure/Legislative Crisis and Media Campaign Funds. These funds are not a registered PAC, but are spent similarly.

Currently, every NEA member is forced to give $7 to the fund which is disbursed throughout the country as needed to fund offensive drives (imposing taxes on radioactive waste in Utah to increase education funding and lobbying against school choice legislation), fund defensive efforts to protect union turf (defeating California initiatives to reform tenure laws, onerous pension plans and campaign finance reform), and media drives to influence the publics’ perception of unions.

The amendment would increase dues to $10 a year. While the sum may not seem like much, many teachers do not agree with the way the union spends it. The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Davenport ruled that states can limit the use of these dues to purely non-political issues related to collective bargaining.

Also, because the Ballot Fund is not a PAC, contributions are illegal in some states. To compensate for this problem, the amendment says that the union can change the way it says it accounts for the money.

“Where necessary to avoid legal problems under state law, the Association and a state affiliate may, at the request of the state affiliate, enter into a written agreement providing that the money collected from members of that state affiliate shall not be used to deal with ballot measures, but shall be used only to deal with legislative crises and/or to fund national and state media campaigns. The Executive Committee shall develop guidelines to implement this Bylaw.”
Accordingly, when the Washington state campaign finance agency asked the NEA where the money came from, the union said it came from only in-state teachers. When the Nevada campaign finance agency asked where the money came from, the union said only from out-of-state teachers.

This sounds fishy to me if all the $10 “donations” are dumped into the same pot. How can the union say it is both ways? Does the NEA have a set of books for each state?

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0 comments | 11:16 AM | posted by Ryan

Constitutional Amendment 1 has been submitted to the NEA’s Representative Assembly and would expand NEA membership “to persons interested in advancing the cause of public education, who shall agree to subscribe to the goals and objectives of the Association and to abide by its Constitution and Bylaws.”

This amendment is proof that some NEA officials are not as interested in teachers as they are in expanding their political influence. A startling statement, yes, but bear with me.

Only NEA members can contribute to the NEA’s Political Action Committee. Therefore, if the union wants to expand its grassroots political funding base, it must grow its membership. This predicament forces NEA officials to make a choice:

  • Stay true to representing teachers by limiting membership to only education employees (this limits the union’s political clout by limiting those who can contribute to the PAC and thus, its political funding.), or
  • Open membership to the general public (providing they agree with the NEA’s agenda) and rake in hundreds of thousands in dues and political contributions.
I have heard from other sources that some NEA officials have been pushing this amendment hard for the past few years. While these officials obviously believe they can best represent teachers by working by walking the halls of Congress they do not understand, or care about, the true needs of teachers.

Is this the beginning of the end of the National Education Association? Maybe not, so long as the term “Education” in National Education Association can be construed to mean something other than education employees. But the union would certainly be straying from its roots.

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1 comments | 10:02 AM | posted by Ryan

The NEA's presidential campaign is in full swing as it parades Democratic nominees across the platform at its convention. As you can see from the grid I've posted below though, the rank and file are in a tough spot. Every Democratic candidate running seems to be in lock-step with the union.

NEA members, along with the entire nation, are waiting with baited breath to see which candidate NEA top bosses endorse. Don't expect the verdict anytime soon though. Last time around, 2004, a major union suffered a major embarrassment when it endorsed Wesley Clark, who didn't survive the primary. As you can imagine, John Kerry didn't take kindly to the union, severely limiting its sphere of influence.

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0 comments | 9:55 AM | posted by Ryan

Check out Hillary's comments at the NEA Convention.

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0 comments | 9:00 AM | posted by Ryan

The Philadelphia Bulletin published an op-ed by EFF's Labor Policy Center Director Mike Reitz yesterday, "The NEA Can't Force Political Spending."

The article starts:

"This week the National Education Association descends upon Philadelphia for its annual convention. With 9,000 delegates attending, the nation's largest union will debate issues, elect officers and set policy for the year ahead. They might even talk about education.

"But don't expect the union to discuss the dirty little secret to its survival."

Mike then discusses the union's use of dues on politics mentioning that while only 7 percent of NEA members will contribute to the union's Political Action Committee (PAC), the NEA will spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the campaign, much of this in in-kind and get-out-the-vote expenditures targeted at Democratic leaning voters.

He concludes by calling on the NEA and the presidential candidates courting the union's favor this week to respect the individual choices of teachers and accept only voluntary contributions:

"It's time for the National Education Association to give members a choice about its political spending. And the Democratic presidential contenders who are courting the union's endorsement should pledge to accept only voluntary contributions from the union."

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1 comments | July 02, 2007 | 3:33 PM | posted by Ryan

Following the Davenport victory, the Seattle Times unleashed two editorials on the union ravaging its credibility (Slapdown of WEA and WEA ducks and weaves after Supreme Court loss). WEA President Charles Hasse probably tried to reply by submitting an op-ed of its own (that's the way responses are usually attempted), but evidently, he had to resort to writing a letter-to-the-editor. The letter was published in today's paper.

Hasse's letter is full of the same old stuff:
  • He says the union's willful illegal activity was done with the best interests of the children in mind.
  • He belittles the effect of the USSC ruling. Of course, he didn't say that the WEA was so scared of it that it ramed through HB 2079 giving all politicians involved a black eye.
  • He believes that "detractors"are out there to bash the union when in reality, the union is bashing teachers rights.
  • Hasse confidently concludes that "...the WEA trusts the courts will ultimately clarify Washington's murky campaign spending and reporting requirements..." Of course, if I were the WEA, had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get loyal public officials elected who would pass favorable policies and appoint empathetic judges, and had spent another $580,000 in lobbying to get them to say and vote what I want, I think I could safely "trust" them too.
WEA acted in good faith

Under inflammatory headlines, but without an underlying basis of factual support, two recent editorials attacked the Washington Education Association after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the union ["Slapdown of WEA," Times, Opinion, June 15, and "WEA ducks and weaves after Supreme Court loss," Times, Opinion, June 19].

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0 comments | 8:35 AM | posted by Booker T.

After a red-eye flight and some unexpected mechanical malfunctions, I have finally arrived here in Philadelphia, site of the National Education Association Annual Convention. I am joined here by several teachers who oppose the union's use of mandatory dues for politics. Over the next couple of days, we will be talking with members of the media, reporting from inside the convention, and answering questions about our recent victory before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Another group of teachers has already had a major impact on the convention. Christian Newswire reports:

Seventy-five pro-life teachers, parents/taxpayers and children/students successfully picketed the NEA convention in Philadelphia on Sunday, July 1. Aged eight to eighty, they took positions on all four corners of Arch & 11th Streets, displaying high-visibility signs and posters easily seen by thousands of NEA Delegates disembarking from shuttle buses or entering and leaving the Convention center's doorways.

Pro-lifers and delegates were interviewed by reporters and photojournalists from FOX, Philadelphia Bulletin, Washington Times, Catholic Standard & Times, etc. Many delegates openly expressed disbelief, skepticism, and even shock, at the revelation that NEA was involved in abortion at all – much less in an advocacy role – much less pro-abortion.

They were totally unaware of NEA's long-standing "Family Planning Resolution" supporting "reproductive freedom" and "all methods of family planning" – including abortion. Some refused to accept the well-documented fact that NEA is one of Planned Parenthood's primary advocates and actually co-sponsored huge pro-abortion rallies in Washington in April 2004, April 1992, and November 1989.

A few belligerent delegates verbally berated the pro-lifers, accusing them of "lying". Others thanked pro-lifers for bringing NEA's abortion activism into sharp focus. Some said they would raise the issue on the Convention Floor and attempt to have NEA totally abandon its pro-abortion agenda and activism.

Bob Pawson, National Coordinator of PLEAS and NJEA member, said, "We joined NEA for collective bargaining representation; not to be misrepresented on socio-political or moral issues like abortion, homosexuality, or who to vote for. Respect the diversity of 3.2 million members. Totally disengage NEA from the abortion issue. Become truly neutral and completely non-involved."

"The NEA leadership's pro-abortion agenda is a perverse way of supposedly protecting our jobs. Babies are our business; our only business. For NEA to condone, much less promote, killing babies in their wombs is not only a moral outrage; it's economic suicide. Abortion costs us our jobs. NEA wants us unified for contract negotiations every few years, yet simultaneously divides us with radical, far left, extremist positions on issues like abortion. News flash: We don't feel unified. We feel betrayed. We resent having our dues monies used to subvert our personal moral values, and then being offered "thirty pieces of silver."

"I urge pro-life NEA members across America to run for union offices at all levels, including Convention Delegate. Take back our union. Join the NEA Reform Revolution."

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