Ed Week’s Stephen Sawchuk has written a lengthy review of some of the big issues confronting the NEA in the face of the assault by Republicans and many Democrats on public sector unions. It comes in the form of a report on last weeks Representative Assembly in Washington, DC.
Go all the way down to the last four paragraphs of the article to a discussion of a debate and vote on New Business Item 4.
It concerns the role of the Uniserv staff. These are the paid folks that work with elected local presidents and teacher region leaders. They mainly assist in bargaining and contract enforcement.
In the IEA at least, the Uniserv staff do a pretty good job at this.
But when it comes to mobilizing membership around political issues, local leaders are too often left on their own. And too much of what the NEA and IEA consider politics is GOTV stuff.
Uniserv staff and the frequently unpaid local leaders with little or no release time from teaching receive diddly in the way of political training.
That is the problem that NBI 4 was addressing.
Sawchuk says that because NBI was rejected by the RA, members want to keep things status quo.
Vermont Education Association member Steve Owens sees it differently.
It is worth noting that the Illinois caucus at the NEA RA voted support for NBI 4.
I can recall a few years back following a coalition action for education funding in the Illinois capital. The IEA could mobilize only several thousand members as part of an crowd of 8,000 from various parent, community and union organizations. Remember that the IEA has over 100,000 members state-wide.
At a follow up Springfield meeting I asked the question, “Why can’t the IEA do as good a job at political training as they do at collective bargaining training?”
It’s good to see others are asking the question now too.