Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Empire Strike Back - NEA Battles to Regain Control of Memphis Teacher Union - EIA Report

NEA Concedes Memphis Secession, Immediately Affiliates Competing Local. The 4,500-member Memphis-Shelby County Education Association (MSCEA) recently departed the loving embrace of the Tennessee Education Association and NEA and went its own way.... Intercepts, Dec• 21•15
When locals try to leave nationals it ain't over till it's over.
Mike Antonucci has a report on the Memphis Teacher Association which voted to disaffiliate from the national NEA, with the NEA empire striking back by setting up a competing union. [The AFT can never come in and try to swipe a former NEA local as there is an agreement over turf wars.]

(Mike's comments indented and in red).
The size of the local and margin of victory for disaffiliation kept it safe from a national or state takeover.
Size matters
A reference to the tendency of the NEA and especially the AFT to try to stop people from leaving by declaring the disaffiliation vote invalid, invading their offices with thugs and taking over the local. [See Randi Invades Detroit]. Size matters I guess.
It was a relatively simple matter to set up a rival local, elect (?) officers for it, rent office space, put up a web site, and begin raiding the incumbent local for members. NEA lent organizing support and had its general counsel send a cease-and-desist letter to MSCEA, claiming only NEA affiliates may use the designation “education association.”
Ahhh, if they leave just set up a competing union down the block. Imagine the Teamsters came into NYC and tried to get people to sign disaffiliation cards from the UFT. And imagine if UFT members voted against the Unity leadership and tried to make the Teamsters their bargaining agent.

I'm not advocating for this though I hear a hell of a lot of disgusted pro-union/anti Unity people doing a lot of thinking about that given the total lock on the door to even a share of power in the UFT.

Now this point Mike makes is interesting:
If Tennessee were an agency fee state, that would be the end of the story. Memphis teachers would be able to remain in or join NEA, but they would still be obligated to financially support MSCEA, the exclusive representative. A separate organization would be out of the question, which is why you never see NEA and AFT locals in the same school district in agency fee states.
In other words, a rebel union wanting to disaffiliate, if in an agency fee state like NY, would still get the fees even if someone left and joined another union, which of course we all might face if Friedrichs wins. I can't even begin to predict what might happen here in NYC if that happens.

Mike says not being in an agency fee state actually favors the nationals in cases where a rebel leaves because they can just go in and raid the rebels for  members - maybe offer pizza parties like E4E - and each union would get only their portion of the fees.

There is irony for you -- Friedrichs would work in the favor of the nationals in NY State in cases of disaffiliation.

Here's the rest of Mike's piece which is worth reading:

NEA Concedes Memphis Secession, Immediately Affiliates Competing Local

And here are some old pieces on other cases of disaffiliation and how the AFT responded:

If At First You Don’t Secede…

I wonder if anyone has researched the history of unions leaving unions. There are some meaty stories, from Change to Win leaving the AFL-CIO, to FMPR in Puerto Rico, to more recent instances like UHPA in Hawaii, and failed attempts in places like Dearborn, Wicomico County, Modesto and Oregon. We have a couple of new […]
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AFT Troops Topple Another Local Affiliate

Let’s face it, the National Education Association is a bunch of amateurs when it comes to dropping the hammer on an uppity affiliate. The national office of the American Federation of Teachers simply won’t tolerate any talk of local affiliates abandoning the reservation and making their own way. AFT has a long tradition of staging […]
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