IEA Communications Director Charlie McBarron (left).
About a year ago I got a call asking if I would serve on the editorial committee of the Illinois Education Association Retired’s web site, The Insider.
I support my IEA Retired organization, so when I am asked to do something for it, I try to say yes and do my best.
The job was simple enough. If I saw something on the internet that was of interest or useful to IEA Retired members I should send it in with a brief paragraph introducing it.
I sent in several items that were posted and linked to the original source.
On two occasions I was asked if it was okay to repost things from my blog. One was a tribute to a long-time IEA activist who had passed away. And recently I was asked if The Insider could reprint my blog post on the debate over the Confederate flag at the NEA RA. It was a post in which I applauded the IEA leadership for supporting the NBI.
In both cases, IEA Communications Director Charlie McBarron’s office copied the posts I had written, turned them into pdfs and then posted them into The Insider with no credit that they were reprints from this blog. And no link.
Charlie McBarron’s communications office doesn’t want a link to my blog on the IEA website.
Anyone reading these two posts would have thought I had written them for The Insider.
This violates the common internet practice of linking to and crediting original sources.
I asked that either my blog be credited and have a link to it or that the posts be taken down.
IEA Communications responded,
“Once the Insider is ‘out there’ it can’t be changed; it’s in people’s mailboxes. So there’s really nothing we can do.”
This is, of course, not true. It is a web site and can be edited at any time.
And so in spite of my objection to the misuse of something I produced, Charlie refuses to take down work that belongs to me and that he does not have my permission to use.
I no longer will volunteer my time to The Insider.
I got a sweet note from my retired colleague Curtis House.
First and foremost, thank you for your continued advocacy and representation of active and retired teachers. Your recent reflections remind me of the 20+ years that I was an IEA/NEA delegate and IPD chairperson under the Hais leadership. You and I sat often together and walked side by side for most of those years at the RA’s; even the year you voted for merger!
Seasoned delegates know that there is plenty time for delegates to network in and out of the hall amongst all the scheduled and impromptu distractions and the never ending onslaught of paperwork. Those who would criticize your dedication and representation of teachers attempt to spit in the ocean, for they know not of the depth of your advocacy and conviction.
You and I were once part of the new generation, then present generation, and now the retired generation. We’ve been there, we understand. And through it all one thing has remained constant, in all phases of your involvement, you have been an active advocate for “all teachers” retired and otherwise! I am a witness. I know leadership when I see it.
Truth is the IEA leadership has been weak and flawed for many years! Yes, I said it, and I’ll say it again… the IEA “elected officials” lack the leadership qualities needed to lead. They cave into politicians and their agendas while failing to develop effective opposition to the attacks on their members contractual benefits and constitutional rights.
Maybe next time you attend the RA you should stay in your seat for the whole time. Read the newspaper, grade papers, play video games, scrabble or just surf the net. Then it might look like you’re dedicated and on task…. to the untrained eye.
Or you could network with fellow delegates and discuss the business or lack of business at hand. Go to the mic to speak for or against, develop or amend NBIs etc. Now that’s representation and you can’t do all that while sitting on your assets.
I sat with you then and I stand with you now.
By a vote of 232 (I earlier erroneously reported 332) to 50 adjunct instructors who are members of the Part-time Faculty Association at Columbia College in Chicago voted to disaffiliate from the Illinois Education Association.
We followed the debate closely. In fact, our comment section became a primary location for debate over the issue.
Pfac’s Facebook page reported:
Thanks to the hard work of reps and member response, we have obtained an impressive number of votes to disaffiliate from the Illinois Education Association. Earlier today, members voted by a count of 232-50 to disaffiliate from the Illinois Education Association.
In the election, we received 286 ballots out of a total of 585 adjuncts who are full members and therefore eligible to vote. Your votes reflect a demand to control our union’s destiny and the further pursuit of a dignified work environment at Columbia College Chicago.
The disaffiliation was accomplished by constitutional amendment on a vote authorized in December by a 41-1 vote of the department representatives.
The ballot count was supervised by Mark Grba, former senior investigator from the Department of Labor. Tom Geoghegan, whose firm, Despres, Schwartz and Geoghegan, will be the new counsel for P-fac, was also present during the counting of the ballots.
We thank all of the members who voted, responded and showed up for this election. We are excited about our next steps as an independent union and look forward to your participation in developing P-fac’s future plans.
And this from the Chronicle of Higher Education:
The union representing Columbia College Chicago’s adjunct faculty members has voted to break off from the Illinois Education Association in response to the statewide association’s perceived failure to keep adjuncts’ classes from being poached by IEA-represented college staff members.
Although competition over classroom assignments has been a frequent source of tension between part-time and full-time faculty members represented by unions, Columbia College Chicago is unusual in being the site of such a bitter dispute over work between its part-time faculty and staff.
Members of the private college’s Part-Time Faculty Association, a union also known as P-Fac, voted 232 to 50 in elections conducted by mail this month to disaffiliate from the Illinois Education Association, P-Fac said on Wednesday.
“This historic vote is really a vote for part-time and contingent faculty to control their own destiny,” Diana Vallera, the union’s president, said in a statement announcing the election’s results.
“We look forward,” Ms. Vallera said, “to continuing to fight for the rights of these talented faculty on the issues that matter most, like course assignments.”
The Illinois Education Association responded with a written statement saying it planned to investigate the election for potential improprieties. It alleged that members of P-Fac had “raised significant questions and complaints” about the conduct of the election, dealing with issues such as potential voter disenfranchisement or the squelching of union members who opposed disaffiliation.
Union leaders squelching debate?
Well, that wouldn’t be right.
I received notice a few minutes ago from IEA Retired Chair Janet Kilgus that Sallie Clark passed away late last night.
Sallie retired from teaching last August. She was an IEA member from downstate Edwardsville.
Over her long years of activism in the IEA Sallie served as IEA and NEA Director.
I first met Sallie on a shuttle bus.
We were both in New Orleans for an NEA RA. This was back in 1998 when the NEA was debating merger with the AFT.
I think I may have been the one delegate from Illinois that supported the merger.
Sallie sat down next to me on the shuttle bus that took us between our hotel and the convention center.
We argued over merger, of course.
Sallie opposed it big time.
But every morning for the duration of the convention Sallie sought me out on the shuttle bus to argue some more.
Eventually her position carried the day.
Even though we never agreed.
Over the years we agreed and disagreed about a lot of union stuff.
But when Sallie went to the microphone to speak she spoke from her heart and from her head as a teacher and as an African American woman.
And every year at every IEA and NEA meeting, including the last one we were both at, whenever Sallie and I met up we would give each other a warm hug and a big smile. She would ask about health and family. I would do the same.
We were teachers and union brother and sister.
And I will miss her.
This is from IEA UniServ Director Bill Silver:
Subject: Response to P-fac’s Disaffiliation Vote
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2014
A Response to the P-fac leadership
Why Vote “No” on IEA Disaffiliation
The current leadership of P-fac has embarked on a fast-track, under-the-radar election in an attempt to break away from the Illinois Education Association and go independent. Before you vote — or contemplate whether to vote — consider this:
BACKGROUND: Last year, P-fac’s President argued strenuously against a Region 67 vote that overlapped spring break because P-fac members were not at school.
FACT: This year, P-fac leaders have scheduled a critical election during a nearly month-long winter holiday shutdown when P-fac members are neither on campus or engaged in work.
BACKGROUND: Last year, P-fac’s president appealed to the Department of Labor (DOL) to ensure that the Region election was properly conducted.
FACT: This year, P-fac leaders are failing to follow even the most basic Department of Labor principles and recommendations for ensuring the fairness of members’ votes. There is no independent election committee identified on the ballot, no contact information for members who have questions about the election, and no clear list of who are the eligible voters–only a vague reference to “fully-paid” members. There is no provision for requesting a replacement ballot for those who didn’t receive one, there is no announced time and place for the vote count, and no opportunity for witnesses to observe the election.
BACKGROUND: Back in 1997, the founders of P-fac spent over a month selecting the right union for Columbia part-time faculty. They interviewed three different unions, and selected IEA because of its expertise in higher education issues, because IEA was the only union which allowed new bargaining units to have their own independent local, and because IEA’s dues rate for part-time adjuncts was significantly lower than any other of the unions.
FACT: Today, P-fac leaders are refusing to engage in that same democratic process without debate or discussion among the membership. If current leadership were interested in a democratic process, such a vote would be scheduled during the school year after members had engaged in debate and have all their questions answered. Is this the type of leadership that you can trust running an independent, unaffiliated local?
BACKGROUND: The P-fac President claims that the Illinois Education Association is diverting dues from the local without providing corresponding services.
FACT: This is a total misrepresentation. Over the past 3 years alone, IEA has spent enormous sums of money on legal fees and representation for P-fac. For a three-year between July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2014, IEA provided legal support for P-fac of more than a quarter of a million dollars — $266,440 to be exact. This amount does NOT account for all the additional hours spent since June 30, 2014 assisting P-fac nor the hours spent by IEA’s Legal Department trying to settle the issues between P-fac with full-time staff who teach. During this time, IEA also assigned two additional IEA staff reps to assist P-fac with their many outstanding grievances and continuing bargaining issues.
FACT: Without IEA’s considerable legal and representational support, dues may have to increase and without IEA, there will be no limit on how much members’ dues can be raised by P-fac. Absent affiliation with the IEA, members’ dues may be spent for any purposes without being subject to an outside audit. This could include providing payments to P-fac leaders, or other payments for consultants, staff representatives, or attorneys –all of which is now provided by the IEA without regard to cost.
FACT: After the signing of the most recent P-fac contract, the P-fac President praised the IEA for providing critical legal and bargaining assistance that helped enable P-fac to obtain a new contract and resolve multiple charges filed by the IEA at the Labor Board. Now, all this IEA support is being ignored and denigrated to serve P-fac leaders’ attempt to “go it alone.” Has P-fac even disclosed to the membership who is now providing this advice to the local?
BACKGROUND: Certain P-fac leaders claim there is an inherent conflict of interest for IEA to represent two locals at the same school.
FACT: A strong and supportive relationship between the staff union and P-fac has existed for many years. Original P-Fac members supported the staff’s organizing efforts. Part-time staff are currently members of P-Fac. Many full-time staff who teach were dues-paying members of P-Fac until the College took away their membership rights. IEA’s Legal and Field Departments tried for 8 months to mediate a settlement that would resolve the issue of class assignments between P-Fac and full-time staff who teach. The settlement proposal was accepted by the full-time staff who teach, but rejected by P-fac leaders just hours before announcing the disaffiliation effort –a certain indication that P-fac leaders were more interested in leaving the IEA than trying to resolve this issue.
A union is not the property of any one individual or group of individuals– no matter what official position he or she may occupy. A union “belongs” to the entire membership. As such, it is incumbent on local leaders to act in good faith, have full and open debate, and to fully map out its vision of the local’s future. None of this has happened. Without its affiliation with the IEA, there will be no checks and balances on the local – including the local’s financial dealings. There will be even less accountability for the members.
What can be done to prevent a disaffiliation?VOTE NO TO STOP THIS RUSH TO JUDGEMENT! Scrounge through your old mail for a ballot (it should have arrived around Christmas-time) and Vote “NO” against disaffiliation. If you can’t locate a ballot, or didn’t receive one, contact P-fac in writing. Ballots are due back by January 21, 2015.
VOTE NO ON FAST-TRACK DECISIONS.
VOTE NO ON DISAFFILIATION.
This is the response from the Part-time Faculty Association at Columbia College:
Part-time Faculty Association at Columbia College
December 31. 2014
Ballots for the emergency election should have arrived. Only full members will receive ballots to vote. Please vote yes to disaffiliate from IEA. Here are the reasons why:
FACT: The Department Representatives voted 41-1 in favor of disaffiliation.
FACT: For six months, IEA pressured PFAC to give courses and seniority to full time staff. This was to cover for IEA’s own failure to negotiate a raise for those staff.
IEA wants to make you compete with 250 full-time staff for precious course assignments.
If we stay affiliated with IEA on its terms, or if IEA takes PFAC over, PFAC members will lose course assignments!
FACT: IEA forced the timing of this election. Immediately after PFAC rejected a “deal” offered by IEA that would give courses to full time staff instead of PFAC members, IEA issued an “audit letter” which is often the first thing a parent union does before taking over a local.
FACT: PFAC wants this election to be run with the highest level of integrity. We are hiring a former Department of Labor official to independently count the votes.
FACT: We will keep our contract if we disaffiliate. It is PFAC’s contract — not IEA’s.
FACT: IEA wants to keep our dues from disaffiliating. IEA has told you it has provided almost $250k in legal services over the last three years. That is roughly one-third what they have collected! What is it doing with the rest of the money?
FACT: IEA has put in writing that it will represent the staff union against PFAC in order to give full time staff PFAC work. We cannot be paying dues to fund people who are suing us to take our work!
FACT: This was not an easy choice. PFAC appreciates our past with IEA, but we will not stay married to IEA if it harms our members. The bottom line is that IEA does not “get” our interests, wants to give our work to full time staff, and will sue us if we don’t capitulate. We think that is grounds for “divorce.”
If you don’t believe us, call IEA general counsel Mitch Roth and ask him if he thinks full time staff have seniority in our union and should get our work. Ask him why some of our most senior members have zero course assignments. Ask him to share his emails with US of CC UniServ Director Bill Silver about giving our courses to full time staff. Ask him if he supports the grievance PFAC filed with Columbia challenging the assignment of courses to full-time staff instead of PFAC members.
PFAC is fighting for you. Who is IEA fighting for?
P-fac Steeering Committee
My friend and blogger Glen Brown has written about the terrible conditions facing adjunct faculty at colleges and universities.
Adjunct faculty would seem to be fertile soil for the Illinois Education Association to expand its membership and influence and an area to expand collective bargaining rights.
The question then is what is going on at Columbia College in Chicago where 600 members of the IEA local Part-time Faculty at Colombia (P-fac) are poised to disaffiliate from the IEA and NEA?
To disaffiliate will not mean losing their collective bargaining rights or their union representation. It will mean leaving the IEA.
There are two IEA locals at Columbia College. One represents the full-time staff (not the full-time faculty) and an older local represents the part-time adjuncts.
Early in 2014 the P-fac leadership sent out the following announcement:
Full-time staff work full-time at the job they were hired to do. Teaching is in addition to their full-time job. Part-time faculty teach as their only job. As the letter indicates, full-time staff took their staff jobs because they wanted full-time jobs at Columbia college. With full-time salary and benefits, such as health insurance, pensions and tuition waivers for all of their dependents. They have been allowed to also teach in addition to their full-time jobs, some as many as three classes a semester, especially when the college was trying to break the union and in violation, we believe, of a one-class limit that was imposed by the past administration, not by P-fac.
The negotiated P-fac contract protects the teaching rights and responsibilities of its members, the part-time faculty. Full-time staff who have teaching as part of their job description are reflected in the P-fac contract.
For years, P-fac requested clarity on whether the full-time staff can be part of our bargaining unit. We were always discouraged and even last summer at bargaining when we asked if full-time staff who teach could join our unit, our Illinois Education Association (IEA) representative told our bargaining committee “No.” Even if the answer had been yes, it is up the local union to assess if this would strengthen our unit and have a community of interests at that time. Because the full-time staff did continue to moonlight as part-time teachers in addition to their full-time job, P-fac requested that IEA look at a charge where non-bargaining unit members where taking away our work.
The full-time staff have their own contract and union because their interests, protections and benefits are significantly different from P-fac members’. The IEA recognized that the two unions had these differences and separate bargaining units were created.
It is still unclear whether the full-time staff represent a community of common interests; in fact, there may be a community of dissimilar interests in direct conflict with the part-time teachers at Columbia College Chicago. We are reviewing this issue and awaiting a full legal analysis and are consulting labor experts.
Our leadership has tried to reach out and establish a workable solution in the best interests of all parties, not to give one group an advantage over the other.
There are some serious legal concerns that have arisen out of this petition. For example, Diana Vallera was accused of having authority to allow administrators, deans and VP’s to join P-fac. Moreover, administrators, deans, VP’s, and chairs have signed the petition, which is in conflict to labor law. It is not possible under labor law to allow managers into our bargaining unit.
We believe with proper education and leaderships working together these issues can be resolved.
In the nearly one year since that letter was sent out the tension between the staff local and the adjunct local seems to only have deteriorated.
As has the relationship between the adjunct faculty and the IEA.
So much so that the adjuncts have scheduled a vote to disaffiliate from the IEA and the NEA.
|This is not a situation that sends a message to yet-to-be-organized adjunct faculty in higher education that the IEA is a union home for them.
How did we allow it to reach this point?
I usually don’t pay much attention to the recent rantings of the former IEA President, Bob Haisman.
It was only a few years ago that he loved me. We were comrades-in-arms.
If there were legislators who waffled on pension theft, Haisman was on their case.
He swore that if they stole his pension they would not get his vote and he urged all of us to follow his lead.
Strangely, after following his call to arms, he turned on me.
For doing exactly what he said we should do.
He wrote scathing emails and comments to this blog claiming I was anti-union.
Can anyone read this blog and think that I am anti-union?
He sent me so many tirades, that I finally cut him off.
Last week the results of the state-wide election for IEA RA Retired delegates were announced and the former IEA President Bob Haisman came in first. As he always does.
But a number of us who ran as a slate on a platform of what we considered reforms were also elected.
One of our folks came in second to the former IEA President and two of us did pretty well.
Clearly we represent the views of many loyal IEA/NEA Retired members.
In announcing his win, the former IEA President promised to keep an eye on us at the Representative Assembly.
“I will watch out for those attacks on our Union from inside our organization as well as outside!” he promised his followers on Facebook.
I can only assume that the inside folks he will be watching are us.
Here is the platform we ran on:
We are running as candidates to represent the IEA Retired at the 2015 IEA Representative Assembly. We share the following beliefs. (This is not a criticism of others who are running as delegates. We strongly believe in a diversity of views).
1. We believe the IEA leadership needs to improve communication with its membership.
2. We believe the IEA leadership should be more transparent in its decision-making process.
3. We believe retirees should have a stronger voice (more representation) in the decision-making process of the Association.
4. We believe our Association should take a more significant and active role in defending our schools, our members, and our students from corporate school reform schemes such as charter schools, vouchers, Common Core, Race to the Top and teacher evaluations based on student test scores.
5. We believe in defending our contractual and constitutional pension benefits and rights without apologies, concessions or compromise.
– Jack Tucker, Mary Richie, Glen Brown, John Dillon and Fred Klonsky
Does this sound anti-union to you?
Does it sound like an attack on our union?
Bob has a hard time distinguishing between differences and disloyalty.
I’m old enough to remember the McCarthy era when those critical of official government policy were considered disloyal and put on black-lists.
And the sixties when civil rights activists and anti-war activiists were put on the FBI’s watch lists.
When Nixon had his enemies list.
And people were watched.
But here is my message to IEA Retired members, particularly those who voted for us as delegates. You watch. If we don’t follow through on what we stood for and for what we ran on, you can give us hell.
I received this email from IEA this afternoon.
From: Reed, Jim
Sent: Monday, November 17, 2014 3:23 PM
Subject: SB 16; No Action anticipated this week
On Tuesday, November 18th, the House Elementary & Secondary Education Committee is having a subject matter hearing on SB 16. SB 16, sponsored by Senator Andy Manar, is a proposal to revise the current education funding formula. The bill aims to shrink the disparity between per-pupil spending in districts with rich and poor property tax bases by requiring schools to demonstrate need before receiving almost all state funding. This would reduce the amount of state aid that goes to wealthier districts, which mainly rely on local property tax revenue to fund their schools.
As this is “subject matter hearing, “ it is intended to allow proponents and opponents to testify on a series of panels. The IEA intends to testify.
No vote is expected to be taken by the committee at the hearing.
When SB 16 was introduced in the Senate last year, IEA signed on in support of the bill. As the bill worked its way through the Senate, various amendments were added, some of which we opposed. Since then, the State Board of Education has analyzed the impact of SB 16 on school districts throughout the state and found that the southern districts would see the greatest benefit while suburban school districts would see a reduction in state funding. Additionally, areas that are already in dire financial straits would see a reduction in state funding.
The version of the bill which is currently in the House has not yet been amended to remedy some of those issues. That being said, if the current version of the bill were to be called for a vote, the IEA would have to be opposed. Redistributing inadequate revenue is not the answer. The House sponsor of the bill, Rep. Chapa Linda Chapa La Via, has stated publicly that the bill will not be called during the veto session. We will keep you abreast of any changes to the proposal.
Please let me know if you have any questions about this.
Jim Reed, Jr.
Director of Government Relations
IEA’s Government Relations chief, Jim Reed.
I had a conversation with IEA’s Government Relations director Jim Reed about the upcoming lame duck Illinois General Assembly session and SB16.
When I spoke with Jim earlier in the summer he told me that the first version of the bill that was introduced by Democratic Senator Andy Manar had IEA support.
“We have an interest that poor kids in Springfield get the same funding as poor kids in Chicago.”
But the version that got passed out of the state senate did not get IEA support. I wrote at the time that Jim said the IEA was neutral.
“Neutral because we have no position? Or neutral because we don’t know what the bill will look like when it comes to the House?”
“Because we don’t know,” Jim said.
“We oppose the bill,” Jim told me this morning.
“It hurts our suburban districts and it creates winners and losers,” he said.
“What about the attempt by Manar and others to separate the issue of equity and adequacy,” I asked.
“We have always said that adequate funding has to be part of any change in the funding formula,” replied Reed.
I asked him about what he thought of the suggestion that Madigan might try and come up with something that combines the funding formula of SB16 with Madigan’s expressed desire to do a pension cost shift. That would have the state no longer responsible for making pension payments, placing that responsibility on local districts.
“It seems to me that this would create a larger coalition, combining those opposed to the pension cost shift with those opposed to SB16,” I said.
Reed expressed doubts that much would happen in the lame duck session.
“They’ve reduced it from six to four days,” he said.
We both agreed that even with four days, nobody should drop their guard.