IS  ANYONE THINKING AT NEA?

 

  In recent years, Iíve had to struggle real hard to think of why our union should remain with the National Education Association (NEA).  Ossified as it has become with essentially only opposition to the No Child Left Behind Act as its vision, itís been difficult to locate the interest of the PCT in an organization that seeks to decide policy issues with focus groups and can be thrown into a tizzy by some technical violation of one of its sacred by-laws while it remains silent about issues like the re-enslavement of teachers in the name of professionalism or the carnage in Iraq.  How different todayís NEA is from that organization that opposed the war in Viet Nam and helped bring it to a close, an organization that played a leading role in the struggle for civil rights for all citizens of our country.  

  That which has hardened the heart of the NEA has now attacked its brain.  Instead of joyously endorsing the work of  the leadership of NEA/New York and the New York State United Teachers for overcoming years of mutual enmity and fashioning principles of merger that will unite just about all educators and support personnel in New York, instead of getting behind a document that was crafted with the aid and support of NEA staff, the leadership of the NEA has clearly chosen to jeopardize a merger in New York by announcing that the New York agreement fails to satisfy one of its affiliation requirements.  While the agreement permits all locals who want to vote for officers by secret ballot to do so, the merger agreement doesnít guarantee that every local will choose to do so.  

  But donít worry New York .  While your agreement with NYSUT violates one of our sacred principles, we are going to craft a by-law amendment to be submitted to the Representative Assembly in July that will carve out an exception for the New York arrangement.  Principle indeed!  

   Itís not a matter of principle at all.  Itís the NEA meddling with the rights of New York to determine their own fate.  Most members of NEA/ New York know they will be better off in one powerful union.  Most members in NEA/ New York are tired of their dues dollars going to fight the rival union instead of the enemies of public education.  Most members of NEA/ New York know that if the merger should fail, NEA/ New York will bleed so much membership that it will be impossible to finance the organization without massive infusions of cash from the NEA, an NEA that is having its own financial and membership problems.  

  There will be a merger in New York .  Either it will yield a membership that belongs to both the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers and NYSUT or the NEA will become irrelevant in this state, its presence limited to the Buffalo Teachers Federation and a few others similarly mired in the past.

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