The state teachers union, in the aftermath of having their cash faucet turned off by the legislature, appears to be calling in the lawyers:
Leaders of the state’s largest teachers group said they will claim retaliation when they go to court to kill a law that could hurt membership in the influential organization.
Among the legal claims will be that the legislature targeted the N.C. Association of Educators for retribution, said Jack Nichols, the group’s lawyer. The legislature passed a law prohibiting NCAE members from having dues automatically deducted from their paychecks when House members voted at 1:12 a.m. Thursday to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto. The Senate voted in July to cancel her veto.
With the override, the legislature contributed to a national Republican effort to weaken labor groups that typically support Democrats.
The override vote had the teachers’ group steaming. The law is an attempt to bully NCAE into silence, President Sheri Strickland said, because it fought the state budget.
“The message from the legislature is clear,” she said at a news conference. “If you stand against cuts for public education, we will teach you a lesson.”
The Republican-controlled legislature had at least two measures aimed at NCAE, a group long aligned with Democrats.
In addition to the payroll law, the legislature put money in the state budget to establish a liability insurance policy for teachers as an alternative to the insurance that NCAE offers, hoping people would decide to drop their NCAE memberships or decide not to join.
Though Republican legislators and NCAE have their particular grievances, the friction between politicians and labor organizations is nationwide. From Wisconsin to Florida, politicians have tried to weaken teachers unions by prohibiting dues deductions from paychecks.
Republicans consider the power that unions wield as harmful to the general economy and their political activities a boon to Democrats, said Andrew Taylor, an N.C. State University political science professor.
Though the NCAE is not a union – it does not have collective bargaining power, for example – it has had significant influence over politics and policies that Republicans want to diminish.
The NCAE has an active lobbying force, it can mobilize teachers around the state, and it has money to pressure legislators with issue ads and mail to their constituents. The NCAE’s PAC contributions lean heavily Democratic, and Democrats running in statewide races covet its endorsement. The NCAE PAC spent $267,000 in the 2008 elections.
Membership dues cannot be used to make political contributions, but the money can be spent on issue ads.
“Having the automatic paycheck provision is obviously a default for many teachers,” Taylor said. “It will presumably have a sizable effect on revenues NCAE collects and will undermine its capacity to be a potent political actor that has been almost exclusively in favor of the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates. That’s at the heart of the political motivation.”
It sounds like the NCAE leadership needs to go back to school and learn a little bit about marketing, customer service, and business development. Those of us who don’t have a steady flow of state tax dollars flowing into our coffers spend a lot of time practicing THOSE THREE principles in the course of doing business each day.
Instead of shaking down teachers each month for a piece of their state-funded paychecks, the NCAE is going to have to actually sell itself to potential members. The NCAE will actually have to demonstrate the benefits of becoming a member. Absolutely horrifying. Isn’t this America?
The legislature has the right to do this. You have state funds being automatically siphoned off to an outside organization. One Raleigh-based legal expert puts forth a decent argument against Democrat complaints on the House’s tactics:
Jeanette Doran, executive director and chief legal counsel for the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law, disputed Perdue’s reasoning.
“The governor’s theory is, I think, wishful thinking,” she said. “Really, there isn’t anything that would prohibit the General Assembly from reconvening on their own accord pursuant to different constitutional provisions. They have the session called by the governor to reconsider the Racial Justice Act veto, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t reconvene the next day for something else.”
Note: the House adjourned the session Perdue called, and then called a NEW ONE after midnight — the next day.
Apparently, the NCAE joins Planned Parenthood in a belief that they are entitled to state money.
(I hate to break it to you, guys. But you’re not. Welcome to the real world.)