Earlier this week, following the announcement that the NEA national leadership had bowed to President Lily Eskelsen Garcia’s lobbying efforts and voted to give the union’s endorsement to Hillary Clinton, many of us received an email explanation from Illiinois’ Jim Grimes. Jim is an NEA Director.
I have printed it in its entirety at the bottom on this post.
I read it closely to try to figure out what we got for this endorsement. What kind of commitments did we get from Clinton? Were there any promises (even a politician’s promise) made to the members of our union?
I could find only this: “Secretary Clinton literally promised not to make education decisions without us, the NEA, at the table and in the room.”
I worry. Once we at least demanded to be at the table.
Now it may be enough that we are just in the room.
Ironically, this was nearly identical to the justification the NEA gave for their early no-strings endorsement of Obama in 2012.
“We should be working with you, not against you,” Joe Biden told the NEA RA delegates long after the NEA gave Obama its endorsement. “We should be listening to you, not lecturing to you. We should be embracing you, not pushing you aside. You are not the problem.”
With a straight face he said this.
Unless my memory is bad, mainly what we got from Arne Duncan and the Obama administration were lectures, blame and were we ever pushed aside.
Even taken at face value, having us sitting at the table is a politician’s promise. There is no there there. What decisions are we talking about? I ask the question once raised in a presidential election long ago, where’s the beef?
Yesterday Hillary switched sides on the Pacific Trade Partnership because Sanders has been pushing her hard for labor’s support.
The Hill reports:
Labor leaders are “playing hard to get” with Hillary Clinton in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Many of the nation’s top unions are sitting on the sidelines, content to let Clinton sweat it out while they withhold endorsements.
Some labor officials are frustrated with Clinton for not coming to their aid in the fight over trade legislation in Congress, while others are skeptical of her commitment to their issues.
The face of the labor movement, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, has not endorsed Clinton while seemingly courting her biggest rivals in the Democratic primaries: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Vice President Biden, who is weighing a run for president.
“Say you’re in love with a girl and want to marry her. She’s playing it cool. So you figure the best way to make her jealous is to flirt with someone else,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon.
“Trumka wants to marry Hillary, but until she’s willing to make stronger commitments to labor he’s going to flirt with Bernie and Biden,” Bannon added.
“That will get Hillary’s attention.”
The NEA and the AFT don’t play hard to get.
All Hillary has to promise is that we will be in the room.
It is not what I call tough bargaining.
October 3, 2015–A Message from the Illinois NEA Directors to the IEA Board of Directors and Grassroots Political Activists
Today, your NEA Board of Directors voted to recommend the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton for President of the United States in the Democratic Primary Election. Clinton received 75 percent of the vote from the 174-member NEA Board, which has voting representatives from all NEA constituents and affiliates. The NEA Board of Directors recommendation requires at least 58 percent support. The Board’s action came after the NEA Political Action Council had voted by an 85% majority to recommend Hillary Clinton for President in the Democratic Primary.
Your Illinois NEA Directors voted unanimously for the recommendation of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primary Elections.
Among the considerations raised during the recommendation discussions were the candidate’s history on education and union issues, electability, and support for the candidate from elected officials, minority and women’s organizations. During a town hall discussion with the NEA Board of Directors, Secretary Clinton literally promised not to make education decisions without us, the NEA, at the table and in the room.
The primary election decision followed discussions with members since our Representative Assembly in Orlando this summer, a discussion with NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia at the IEA September Board meeting, a sample national survey of NEA membership, and hours of debate online and in person in Washington, DC. Secretary Clinton also made herself available for a phone conference with NEA members in September and spent 90 minutes answering questions in person at the NEA Board meeting in Washington on Oct. 3rd.
According to IEA President Cinda Klickna, who also serves on the NEA Political Action Council, former Secretary of State Clinton, who received the NEA’s Friend of Education Award in 1999, is a lifelong supporter of public education, and of the collective bargaining rights of education employees.
“Hillary Clinton has always been on the right side of the key education issues. She supports reducing the role of standardized tests. She believes in equal opportunity for all students, regardless of their ZIP code. She opposes school vouchers and supports making college more affordable.
“She will fight to ensure all students have access to arts education, school nurses, librarians and counselors, and funding. Hillary Clinton will be a true champion for students and public education” Klickna said.
To be considered for a recommendation, candidates must complete a questionnaire and sit for an in-person, videotaped interview with NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. The videos were made available to NEA members via the Internet.
The NEA questionnaire was sent to all viable presidential candidates, including Republicans, Democrats and third-party candidates.
The only presidential candidates to complete this process were former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and U.S. Senator Bernard “Bernie” Sanders of Vermont. President Eskelsen-Garcia complimented all three of the Democratic candidates who participated in the NEA recommendation process and said that all three are true friends of public education.
This is the fourth time that NEA has made a recommendation for a primary election since the 1970s. Any recommendation for the General Election will come before the 2016 NEA Representative Assembly.
If you or your members have any questions please ask them to contact one of your NEA Directors.