Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Union News

EIA (see blogroll at left) has an interesting post (May 8th communique) that contains info about unions in the Golden and Empire States.


Not many details available, but it seems the California Teachers Association is playing hardball with its staff unions in contract negotiations.

CTA has been altering its evaluation of the union's financial condition based on the audience. When CTA was trying to stop a court injunction against its special assessment last October, it claimed it was in danger of great financial harm. When word of this reached the members, CTA reversed course and assured everyone the union was not broke. Now union officials are claiming financial hardship while negotiating with both professional and support employees over contracts that expire August 31, 2006. EIA will be watching this closely.

New York:

NEA, NYSUT Approve New York Merger, Rumore Lays Out Options. You really have to admire NEA's ability to spin. By its own admission (see last paragraph here), NEA New York was in financial free-fall, losing members and locals to the AFT-affiliated New York State United Teachers (NYSUT). NEA New York finally threw in the towel last year. Now, representatives of NEA New York and NYSUT have agreed to a merger… which is a merger in the sense that Britain and India merged in 1757.

The NEA Executive Committee approved the merger, and sent out a press release over the weekend proclaiming itself "the largest union in U.S. history," with 3.2 million members. This is a pretty bold claim, since NYSUT's half-million members will pay no dues to NEA, and will have no representation in NEA.

Meanwhile Phil Rumore, merger opponent and president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation (BTF), has notified his members of the situation, and presented them with their choices.

According to a letter from Rumore to BTF members, the options are:

"1. We can join the new organization.

"2. We can become an independent local, as are the Buffalo Police and PCTEA, and work cooperatively with other unions, as we do now.

"3. We can join with other local unions who have approached us to start a new state organization.

"4. We can affiliate with another state and national union."

Rumore is at least convinced that BTF could make better use locally of the $1.7 million it sends annually to NEA New York and NEA.

I've said for a long time that the smartest move for any moderate-sized local teachers' union is to disaffiliate from the state/national organizations. All the money that is currently sent to those headquarters--let the members keep half of it, and use the other half to retain the best labor law firm in the county. Let them represent you in contract negotiations, not your fellow teachers. It's a win-win--people keep more of their own money, and you get better representation when it comes to legal and negotiation issues.

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