NEA and AFSE need to settle this thing.

I left the NEA Representative Assembly in Denver with good feelings. We passed a strong statement on the misuse of testing. We called for the firing of Education Secretary Arne Duncan. We caused heartburn for union-hating centrist Democrats and public school-hating Republicans. We elected three strong women of color to head our union.

So, it is more than a little troubling that members of the NEA Staff Union – employees of the NEA – can’t get a contract.

I strongly believe that collective bargaining works. Regardless of the issues being bargained, an agreement can be reached if both sides want one.

Our new leadership should direct NEA Executive Director John Stocks to do whatever he can to reach a settlement that is fair and equitable to both sides.

This from the NFSE:

NEA Staff Union Urges Management to End the Hypocrisy

Bullying, intimidation and anti-union tactics used against employees

(Washington, D.C.)— Despite multiple attempts to reach a settlement with management, National Education Association (NEA) employees continue to work without a contract. Meanwhile, NEA executive director John Stocks hasn’t stopped his attacks on the very workers who have helped slow the membership decline over the last year. Contract negotiations, which began on May 13th, have stalled as managers refuse to include anti-bullying language and diminish workers’ rights. Association of Field Service Employees (AFSE) President Sue Chase, which represents NEA’s national field organizers, issued the following statement:

“Over the last year, we have done our best to work collaboratively with new management to meet the goals of the organization. Unfortunately, we cannot seem to break through the new culture—one that rewards secrecy and divisiveness, instead of respect and cooperation. Mr. Stocks’ management team issued their “last, best, and final offer” last week even while negotiators were making progress at the table.

We are no strangers to this type of hostility.  The truth is, we come across it every day when we’re on the front lines, supporting and fighting for NEA members.  What we have witnessed is shocking: just like “so-called” reformers who want to rid public schools of skilled and experienced educators, unfortunately it seems NEA has the same vision for its field staff.

“Never before has AFSE worked this long without a contract, or has management been so antagonistic.  When we entered this bargain we had hoped that Mr. Stocks—who was recently named chair of the Democracy Alliance—would support AFSE employees.  After all, we have travelled the country, working tirelessly over the years to help NEA empower its leaders and grow the organization.

“We are dismayed by the reality. We don’t think it’s too much to ask that a social justice champion like Mr. Stocks honor the employees and the members of the organization by encouraging his management team to end bullying and support basic union values.

It is our sincere desire that when we return to the bargaining table with the federal mediator on July 28th that we will be able to settle a contract which supports the staff who work to support the everyday working heroes in America’s schools, colleges, and universities. Labor-management collaboration is in the best interest of all concerned.”


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CONTACT: Valerie Wilk, (703) 598-0427,

Facebook: Association of Field Service Employees-AFSE

Twitter: @AfseNea



Since 1973, the Association of Field Service Employees (AFSE) union representing field service employees of the National Education Association has been working to protect the rights and improve the working conditions of those NEA staff who advocate for NEA members in the field.


NEA RA. The largest union in the United States has elected three women of color to lead it.


NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Vice President Becky Pringle and Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss.

Put aside for a moment all the debate (actually too little debate) about Common Core and high-stakes testing.

Or the other 100 New Business Items that will be considered before the NEA Representative Assembly wraps up on Sunday.

The 9,000 delegates did something quite remarkable this morning.

They elected three minority women as leaders of the 3 million member National Education Association, the largest labor union in the United States.

It is a historic event.

Monday. The SCOTUS and Harris v. Quinn.


We finished up the NEA Retired Conference this afternoon.

The three-day meeting addressed some issues that are of specific concern to retirees. Like Social Security offsets in states like Illinois.

But make no mistake about the interest that retired teachers have in current education and union issues.

The NEA Representative Assembly opens officially on Tuesday.

But the most important vote of the week may have already taken place by then.

Not here in Denver. But in Washington D.C.

Monday morning around 8 AM Denver time, the Supreme Court of the United States is scheduled to announce its decision in the Harris v. Quinn case.

And you know you’re in trouble when Antonin Scalia might be the deciding vote.

It is a case that started in Illinois and on the micro-level concerned a home healthcare worker and the requirement to pay fair share to a union.

The principal is simple. In the local that I was a member of for 30 years our union bargained a contract for all the certified teachers. No teacher was required to join our Association. But every teacher was required by state law to pay their fair share to the union that bargained their contract. Since they shared in the benefits and working conditions the union bargained, every teacher was required to pay a fee for the benefits they received.

The Court may rule narrowly only in the case of the healthcare worker.

They may rule more broadly about fair share fees nationally.

They may rule more broadly about collective bargaining rights.

The big money behind this effort is the same money that brought the tenure case before a California court and won.

A union loss in Harris V. Quinn would be a win right out of the ALEC playbook.

Heading for the NEA RA. Thinking back to past ones and the last Obama endorsement.


A Thank You at the 2011 NEA Representative Assembly.

I fly to Denver on Friday to attend the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly.

I’m a an IEA Retired Delegate, one of 9 elected statewide to represent the state’s 10,000 retired members.

I’ll be posting about it as I get ready to go. And even more when I get there.

As I always have.

Today my thoughts go back to the IEA RA in Chicago in 2011, two years before Obama’s re-election as President. NEA President Dennis Van Roekel called on us to endorse President Obama.

It was unprecedented for the NEA to endorse a presidential candidate two years before an election. And the endorsement  came with no demands on the campaign.. There were no strings attached.

As an aside, the IEA will decide about a recommendation for the Illinois governor’s race in early July. Some of us wonder whether if there is an endorsement of Pat Quinn, will it come with any demands or strings attached. Although with Quinn the damage to teachers has already been done – big time.

At that time, as an elected teacher delegate from the Park Ridge Education Association, I opposed that early no-strings endorsement of Obama. But I was in the minority. I blogged back then:

As for the Obama vote. Many activists I spoke with were dismayed. The 72% of the delegates that voted support are well short of the 80% that Obama received in 2008. But it is too many.

The difference is that in 2008, the vote of support was given with optimism and enthusiasm. Today’s vote was given with noses held.

In Denver there will be more debates over Obama’s education policies. There will be debates bout testing, Common Core and Arne Duncan at the Department of Education. This administration has not been good for teachers, students and public schools. Rank-and-file NEA members are not happy.

Lookin back it is even more difficult to see how anything was gained by the groveling to Democrats at the 2011 RA.

Today Politico reports that a new teacher-bashing group has been set up by former members of Obama’s inner circle.

Teachers unions are girding for a tough fight to defend tenure laws against a coming blitz of lawsuits — and an all-out public relations campaign led by former aides to President Barack Obama.

The Incite Agency, founded by former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs and former Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, will lead a national public relations drive to support a series of lawsuits aimed at challenging tenure, seniority and other job protections that teachers unions have defended ferociously. LaBolt and another former Obama aide, Jon Jones — the first digital strategist of the 2008 campaign — will take the lead role in the public relations initiative.

Among Democrats that’s what is called a thank you.

I want to be in Atlanta in July. Who doesn’t?


The NEA Representative Assembly is in Atlanta the week of July 4th.

The IEA Representative Assembly is in April. I have gone to every one of those as a delegate for twenty years. But this year, I somehow didn’t receive the nominating form in the mail to run as a retired delegate.

I’m not suggesting anything.

It is just interesting that I didn’t get it.

In the mail.

From the state leadership.

They were also the ones who assigned me to the IEA Retired chapter in Skokie.

There is no IEA Retired chapter in Skokie.

A retired pal got an electronic copy of the IEA Advocate which had the NEA RA delegate nominating form and forwarded it to me.

And yesterday I sent it to IEA President Cinda Klickna, certified mail.

I’ll remind you when the ballots go out.

I would appreciate the votes of IEA Retired members.

Off to DC. But the coo coo birds may have gotten there ahead of me.

I’m not leaving for the NEA RA until tomorrow.

But apparently the coo coo birds have beaten me there.

If you read this blog regularly you know that I stand for many things. And I don’t stand quietly.

I spent my professional career fighting the obsession with standardized testing.

I have fought for the right to collectively bargain for every private sector and public sector worker.

I have my differences with my union leadership and nobody can accuse me of being shy about bringing them up. I’ve brought it up for thirty years.

So, when I got this in my email today from a group called United Opt Out National, I was taken aback.

We issue this challenge with the optimism that the NEA is still an organization that cares more about the unique needs of students than back-room partnerships. And should Mr. Van Roekel fail to live up to his responsibility and make such a statement, we encourage each and every representative attending the NEA Representative Assembly to stand up and insist that these issues be brought forward, discussed, and voted on by the entire assembly.   We remind every representative that they, too, have a mission, a voice, and a right to be heard. Please, this week, put integrity and the needs of students first.  Bring a resolution denouncing high stakes testing and common core to the floor of the assembly.  Do it now, for next year may be too late.

Should the NEA, its members, leadership, and President choose to remain silent on these issues, we will be forced to advocate for the erosion of support for the NEA and its mission, ultimately leading to its unfortunate, yet deserved, dissolution.  Thus, the NEA’s eventual eradication as a legitimate organization in support of public education will be met with a bittersweet jubilation.  Make no mistake: we do not negotiate with children’s lives. We hope you don’t either.


If the NEA RA doesn’t take the stand that this group demands they will advocate for the eradication of my union with (bittersweet?) jubilation?

I hope they’re planning on coming with some troops. I don’t stand quietly when Scott Walker and Rahm Emanuel talk that talk. I certainly won’t be quiet if I run into these people.

These folks are crazy.

No time to let up. Fire Duncan.

A reader sent me a comment yesterday. She had been on one of the conference calls with NEA President Dennis Van Roekel that lead up to the NEA Representative Assembly. The NEA RA starts June 30 in Washington D.C.

The reader reports that one of the participants in the conference call asked DVR why the NEA hasn’t been pressuring the Obama administration to fire Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

You may remember that at last year’s NEA RA, in spite of an unusual early endorsement of Obama by our national Association, delegates (of which I was one) passed a multi-point indictment of Duncan and the policies he promoted as Education Secretary.

I wasn’t part of the conference call, but my reader paraphrased DVR as saying, “We aren’t going to tell Obama what to do anymore than he would tell us what to do.”

Remarkable. Apparently DVR thinks Obama elected us.

Obama’s decision today to bypass Congress and enact the policies of the Dream Act show that this is no time to let up on the President.

In fact the time has never been better.

Obama needs Latino votes more than ever. So he enacts the policies of the Dream Act.

And if you have talked to a teacher lately, you know there is not a lot of excitement around his candidacy.

DVR is wrong.

Now is the time to tell Obama what to do about education.

DVR can start by telling him to fire Arne Duncan.