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Union document that turned up in Strongsville is the very same document EAGnews discovered five years ago

Apr 27, 2013 by

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio – A group of Strongsville citizens had a press conference yesterday to draw attention to a document titled “NEA Strategy Directives to Field Representatives for Difficult Negotiations.”

They say the document was published by the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, and is serving as a “field guide” for striking teachers in their school district.

Among other things, the document calls for local union members to picket outside the homes and workplaces of school board members, and to “cloud” the real bargaining issues with complaints about poor educational programs and working conditions “to get the board to offer more money and benefits in order to avoid bad publicity.”

It all sounds oddly like the strategy being followed by the Strongsville Education Association, which has been on strike for eight weeks.

Strongsville teachers gained a lot of negative publicity in recent months for protesting outside the homes and workplaces of Strongsville school board members. Did they come up with that nasty strategy by themselves?

The union has also tried to “cloud the issues” by criticizing the amount of money the district has spent to hire replacement teachers, and criticizing the quality of instruction students have been receiving.

Tad Colback, a consultant for the Ohio Education Association (a state affiliate of the NEA) claimed the document is “forged.”

“That is not a document put out by the NEA,” he told the media. “It’s not consistent with the way the NEA serves its members.”

Strongsville union using strategy from the document

We think Colback is full of baloney.

If the document is a forgery, it’s an old one. The listed publication year is 2006.

We came across the very same document online in 2008, at a time when we were focusing our work on education labor issues in Indiana. The reason the document caught our attention is because it clearly references the ISTA (the Indiana State Teachers Association, another NEA state affiliate) on page 2.

Not surprisingly, the document is stamped “confidential.”

A copy of the same document was also reportedly posted on the website of a school board member in California, according to the Strongsville Community Action Committee.

Here are a few more entries from the document, and how they strangely seem to fit the Strongsville situation:

“Charge the board with refusal to bargain in good faith or file some grievance.” The Strongsville union has filed three such complaints with state labor officials.

“Institute a ‘work to rule’ job action. Tell teachers to do nothing beyond the letter of the contract. No meetings, no volunteering, no special help to students.” The Strongsville union instituted this strategy in February.

“Leaflets are to be prepared and distributed whenever possible.” The Strongsville union reportedly handed out leaflets in the neighborhoods of replacement teachers, informing residents they were living near “scabs.”

“Publically call for binding arbitration.” The Strongsville union has been doing that for several weeks.

We’ve seen other advice offered in the document put to use in many other school districts across the nation, including “attack the chief school administratot” (typically union votes of no confidence), “rent storefront in visible area” (union “crisis centers” opened in communities with school labor disputes), and “have teachers and their supporters boycott the business of any school board member (or anyone opposing the unions – this happened in Wisconsin in 2011).

Union creates these types of documents

We also suspect the document is a genuine NEA publication because that’s the type of document the union consistently offers local members engaged in difficult labor negotiations.

A few years ago local NEA affiliates in Michigan were using the state’s recall law to remove anti-union school board members from office. We sent someone to a Michigan Education Association workshop in Lansing, where they picked up a copy of a union “field guide” on waging successful recall campaigns.

The Michigan Education Association is another state affiliate of the NEA.

The union’s recall document had a bunch of pointers for local union officials, including “Do not take the lead on a school board recall campaign. Let a community person chair the campaign committee which should be made up primarily of community members. Otherwise, we look self-serving.”

Teachers unions self-serving? Who would think such a thing?

The document also advised local union officials to “make sure your members are kept notified of the association’s involvement in the campaign and what they can do to help behind the scenes” and “involve MEA in your behind-the-scenes involvement. We can provide support to your members and the community committee.”

Another entry said “know who the various audiences are and what will appeal to them. The key question is – how have board actions negatively impacted this audience?”

The document also includes a sample “letter to the editor” for local officials to send to community publications.

We don’t know if this document was written by NEA or MEA staff, but they all work for the same organization. And this organization is clearly interested in helping their local affiliates plot strategy to gain attention and public sympathy to get what they want at the bargaining table.

If they have to get nasty to accomplish their goals, so be it.

Union document that turned up in Strongsville is the very same document EAGnews discovered five years ago – :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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