Another question for the blogger.

A teacher writes:

Do you think that with so many NEA members complaining about the endorsement to the fact that some have threatened to “quit” the union it gives ammo to those that are currently doing their best to bust the unions? I can see them spinning it now: largest union’s own members say unions are no good!

This is not aimed at you in any way…I respect your viewpoints and know you’re a huge union supporter; you just disagree with some of the decisions that are made up top, and lots of the time I agree with you. I’m talking about the people who spout off about it who you know are many of the same people who never attended a union meeting in their lives, never even tried to make a difference in their union.

Just thought you’d have a good take on this, and I respect that you’re always honest when you write and are always willing to look at the big picture.

Thanks Fred–I look forward to hearing your opinion!

Thanks for the kind words.

Not only am I a union supporter, I do the work. Some of the folks who spout off in defense of what are in my opinion, the worst positions that the leadership has imposed on us, also actually do very little. I’ll ask them, “How many folks did you bring to Lobby Day.” Zip. Nada.

Year after year we fill busses to Springfield. No boast. It’s just what we do. I was local prez for ten years. Negotiated at least 7 contracts. Led a successful strike. No boast. It’s just what I do.

As for those people who say they will quit over the endorsement, I have already spent time arguing and tweeting (check it out. see for yourself) the error in their thinking.

I understand their frustration. But they’re wrong.

But it’s not “so many” who have threatened to quit.  I find it is very few.

It does do service to the enemies of unions, however.

Some who took the floor of the RA and spoke out against the leadership were NEA leaders themselves. They’re not going any where. And I’m not (except retirement in a year!).

Look. Not only do I strongly disagree with leaving, 12 years ago I was the only Illinois delegate to the NEA RA (let me say that again. I was the ONLY Illinois delegate to the NEA RA) that voted in favor of merger with the AFT. Even though I disagreed with many positions of the AFT, I thought it was crazy to have two national teacher unions, one with a large number of minority teachers and based in urban districts and another one, mainly white, based in rural and suburban districts. Incidentally, Illinois led the fight against merger.

My history is one of union solidarity and labor unity.

I recall that I was asked a few years back to write something about the merger debate for some so-called union activist group. They censored it, wouldn’t  publish it because I refused to emphasize differences between the AFT and the NEA.

So, yes. I try and look at the big picture and I have been around long enough to know you win some and lose some. I engage in the debate openly and frankly. Some in leadership don’t like it. But I’m too old to care.

I think any attempts to split the union by encouraging people to leave is to work in the interest of our enemies.

But any attempt by the leadership to shut people out who disagree with them has the same effect.

3 thoughts on “Another question for the blogger.

  1. What makes this a particularly heinous schism is this: the current acts of the NEA are doing more to declaw our union than anything the anti-union folks could have managed.

    I suspect that if you look at the history of those of us members screaming at the NEA’s recent moves, you will very strong support for union activities. Capitulation will kill us. If we’re going to fail as a union, let’s fail as a union. ‘

    A union is not a union because it calls itself a union, or because it collects dues. A union is a union because it acts as a union. I hope, for the union’s leaders’ (and our) sakes, that some quid pro quo backroom stuff eventually comes to light, justifying the recent NEA moves.

    Encouraging anyone to leave the NEA would, of course, be in the interest of our enemies. What the NEA did this past week also works in the interests of our enemies. I think this week will mark the sad turning point of a very good run.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  2. Fred!

    Great post, blog and tweets.

    I am a Michigan delegate and I decided to attend as many open hearings, etc. as I could this year.

    The open hearing on the policy statement chaired by Becky Pringle ended with five speakers left. Michigan had a late caucus and most of the final five were opposed to the policy statement. We listed MI on the sheet. I didn’t get the chance to speak. Apparently, we couldn’t wait ten minutes more to hear from everyone?

    I also attended the school reform session during the day of learning. At the beginning, the chair asked why we were there. I said I was from Michigan, felt that “school reform” meant many different things and I wanted to see what was going on. At the end the chair opened the floor for questions. Two people spoke before me. I was at the mike when the chair saw me and said that we were running out of time at :40 past the hour and closed up the meeting with me standing there and everyone in the room staring at me waiting to see how I would react.

    It was frustrating. However, I realize that elections have consequences and most of our NEA leadership comes from outside the traditional union/bargaining states. They control the mike and have that right. And I understand that we lost and it wasn’t that close.

    I am proud of my state and we certainly will need that state unity to fight our governor and state legislature in a more effective fashion. And we have some great young board members/directors like Dan Quinn, so we will be around for a while.

    At the end of the day, I still love my union.

    Mike Ingels

  3. Note: I found the turn in emphasis on the last day to be disturbing. During the policy statement debate, supporters argued that no tests currently exist that meet NEA standards in terms of proper teacher evaluation. And supporters also argued that NEA still stands opposed to using student test scores to evaluate teachers.

    But that was not the message from Becky Pringle and other speakers on the last day when they said that we had made a dramatic and historic turn as a union. And if delegates really read between the lines of the rhetoric and scheduled events at this RA, it was clear that we are now full force behind testing-as-evaluation.

    What’s the over-under on the Obama/Van Roekel photo-op introducing a major new national testing/evaluation program?

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