Friday, May 13, 2005

NEA Versus The Governator

The struggle between California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Barbara Kerr of The California Teachers Association has become nasty. Now we have learned that Kerr's ally and soul mate, Reg Weaver of The National Education Association, is sending a little help to CTA.

This assistance is coming in the form of a grant of $2.5 million dollars to CTA in order to help with CTA's campaign to oppose Schwarzenegger's ballot initiatives. The monies are generated from dues paid by NEA's rank-and-file membership.

The 2.5 million dollar gift was approved by NEA's executive board of directors.

It would have been nice if NEA had bothered to ask us dues paying members what we thought of using our hard-earned money for this purpose.

This isn't about whether or not I support or oppose Schwarzenegger's proposals. My concern is that these unions don't consult their rank-and-file membership before committing vast sums of cash to this or that cause or candidate.

I don't believe that either CTA nor NEA really care what the rank-and-file think. At no time has the rank-and-file ever been polled as to their level of support for "official" CTA/NEA political positions or candidate endorsements.

The monies are doled out through an archaic, and awkward system of committees that was more suited to the 19th or 20th centuries. Under such a system, there is no accountability to the membership.

Because of the "closed shop" laws of the State of California, I (like nearly all California public school teachers) am forced to pay dues to NEA whether or not I wish to support this organization's politics. (Though it is true that one can be an "agency fee payer," but that "fee" is about 85% of the combined dues.)

One way or the other, the union will get my money.

It should not come as a surprise that since neither
CTA nor NEA will permit its rank-and-file membership to directly elect their own union's officers, that members' monies are spent in such an arbitrary and cavalier fashion.

Whatever their public posturing, choice seems to be against the credos of both organizations.

A truly democratic organization need never fear its own membership.

Mortarboard Tip:
Education Intelligence Agency

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