Connect with us

Louisiana

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished In Vermilion Parish Teacher Checks Tossed As Part Of Anti-A+PEL Policy

Published

on

No good deed goes unpunished, or at least that’s what officials at the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana (A+PEL) found when they tried to send early Christmas presents to teachers in Vermilion Parish Schools this week.

In the wake of catastrophic flooding in August, A+PEL raised over $220,000 for their Disaster Relief Fund to help educators rebuild. Over the past several months, the organization has sent hundreds of checks to teachers (members and non-members alike) and schools in impacted districts, including Vermilion Parish.

Vermilion Parish was one of many areas impacted by flooding in August.

When A+PEL officials found they had disaster relief funds left over, they decided to send a second, surprise check to each educator who had requested assistance. But after they began mailing the checks this week, the organization learned that at least one school in Vermilion Parish – Kaplan Elementary – intercepted them and threw them away. As it turns out, the school’s secretary put the letters in the trash simply because she saw A+PEL’s logo on the envelopes.

A+PEL executive director Keith Courville says this isn’t the first time his group’s communications to Vermilion teachers failed to reach their intended recipients. In fact, when he tried to email Kaplan’s principal about the checks, he discovered that Vermilion Parish Schools blocks messages from A+PEL email accounts.

Screenshot of the bounce-back email Keith Courville received from Vermilion’s email network.

What’s Vermilion’s beef with A+PEL? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Vermilion Parish is one of a handful of school districts in Louisiana with a collective bargaining agreement. In August 1988, the Vermilion Association of Educators – a local affiliate of the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) – went on strike, bringing things in the district to a halt for 11 days. The school board eventually caved, agreed to a contract, and ever since LAE has held considerable sway over affairs in the school system.1

A+PEL, on the other hand, was formed nearly 40 years ago when a group of disgruntled LAE members broke away from the union in Bossier Parish. It has since positioned itself as an alternative professional organization for teachers, providing professional development and other supports for educators without any of the messy political entanglements that come with unions. Thus, LAE and their counterparts at the Louisiana Federation of Teachers view A+PEL as competition.

One of many checks A+PEL sent to teachers and schools impacted by flooding.

In any case, the incident at Kaplan Elementary raises two important issues: Why are Vermilion Parish Schools employees trying to filter out A+PEL communications to teachers and why are district policies (whether formal or informal) being used to protect the power of the local teachers unions? The district owes both A+PEL and the Vermilion teachers it tried to help answers to these questions.


  1. N.B.: LAE president Debbie Meaux is from Vermilion Parish and is the former head of the Vermilion Association of Educators. 

Pete became involved in education reform as a 2002 Teach For America corps member in New Orleans Public Schools and has worked in various capacities at Teach For America, KIPP, TNTP, and the Recovery School District. As a consultant, he developed teacher evaluation systems and served as a strategic advisor to school district leaders in Cleveland, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. He now writes about education policy and politics and lives in New Orleans.

48 Comments

48
LEAVE A COMMENT

avatar
47 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
3 Comment authors
FilomenaChiefPreaux TeacherPeter C. CookCharles BaroneErika Sanzi Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
FilomenaChief

I have checked your blog and i’ve found some duplicate content, that’s why you don’t rank high in google,
but there is a tool that can help you to create 100% unique articles,
search for; Best article rewritwer Ercannou’s essential tools

Preaux Teacher

Wow. You’ve got to be kidding me. Basically stealing from teachers.


twitter.com/petercook/stat…


Peter C. Cook

Ha ha ha.

Charles Barone

😡

Charles Barone

Wow, this is sick, in the old-fashioned sense of the word.

Erika Sanzi
Erika Sanzi

This is insanity. And a huge shame.


twitter.com/petercook/stat…


Dr. Keith Leger

This Article was mentioned on brid-gy.appspot.com

MatthewWalton

tag:twitter.com,2013:809407768037851140_favorited_by_1194398761

MatthewWalton

https://twitter.com/petercook/status/809407768037851140#favorited-by-1194398761

MatthewWalton

Secretary should be prosecuted for tampering with mail. Thanks for bringing this to light. Typical #union behavior.

Louisiana

The Red River Ripoff Shreveport's AFT Affiliate Uses Bureaucratic Obstacles To Keep Dues Coming in

Published

on

Red River United (RRU), the American Federation of Teachers-affiliated union representing educators in Caddo, Bossier, and Red River Parishes, is using bureaucratic hurdles and subterfuge in an attempt to prevent members from leaving the organization.

A reader forwarded me a series of emails regarding three of the union’s current members who submitted a union drop request to Red River officials in October, indicating that they wished to end their affiliation with RRU and stop the monthly deduction of dues from their bank accounts.

The sign outside Red River United’s offices in Shreveport.

The receipt of those forms was acknowledged by the union. Nevertheless, when the three teachers checked with their banks at the end of the month, Red River United had once again deducted dues payments from their accounts. On November 1st, an email was sent to RRU officials notifying them of their mistake and requesting that the union refund those dues to the three individuals.

An emailed response from RRU’s in-house counsel, Elizabeth Gibson, flatly refused to refund those payments, explaining that the three teachers “executed a confidential agreement with Red River United (Membership Form), wherein the individuals authorized Red River United, or its designee, to draft their bank account each month for the amount indicated in the agreement for each billing period.”

She continued:

“Further, they acknowledged that they must give at least 30 days written notice to Red River United to cancel future automated debits. Red River United did not receive written notice at least 30 days in advance personally from the individuals indicating they had chosen to cancel their automated debits/membership. They must physically come to the offices of Red River United to cancel the bank draft due to the confidential nature of the information contained therein. These individuals have not done so. Accordingly, they are not entitled to a refund of the monies they authorized to be withdrawn from their bank accounts.”

Gibson added that the teachers needed to physically go to the union’s offices to provide a so-called “wet signature” in the presence of a Red River United employee in order to officially withdraw from the union and stop the monthly bank withdrawals.

Gibson’s emailed response in which she refused to refund dues to the three teachers.

A ridiculous (and dishonest?) response

Gibson’s response is not only ridiculous, but possibly dishonest. It’s also clearly an attempt by Red River United to make it as difficult as possible for current members to dropout of the union.

To start, the union’s “confidential agreement” – i.e., RRU’s membership form – isn’t all that confidential (in fact, I’ve included a copy of it at the bottom of this post). Nowhere on the membership form does it say anything about the requirement to provide a “wet signature” in the presence of an RRU employee to leave the union and stop monthly payments.

The small print from Red River United’s membership form.

Moreover, Gibson’s contention that the three teachers needed to physically go to RRU’s offices to cancel the bank drafts “due to the confidential nature of the information contained therein” is laughable. Anyone who has ever had a subscription to a newspaper or magazine can tell you that you don’t need to go to their offices to cancel it. Plus, there’s nothing “confidential” about the process. All Red River United needs to do is notify their bank to stop the monthly automatic withdrawals for those three individuals. End of story.

So why is Red River United trying to make these three teachers jump through bureaucratic hoops when they clearly don’t want to be part of their organization anymore? I suspect the union is trying to force them to come to their offices so they can pressure them to remain members, which is the kind of behavior you might expect from a dodgy timeshare broker, not a teachers union.

Nevertheless, teachers unions in other states have increasingly employed similar tactics to stem the departure of their members. For example, after Michigan became a right-to-work state in 2012, the Michigan Education Association (MEA) changed their opt-out policy to mandate that teachers withdrawal in August and force them to send their resignation requests to an obscure P.O. box address hidden on their website. The union subsequently refused to honor opt-out requests that were sent directly to MEA headquarters or were received outside of the month of August.

The United States Supreme Court is set to decide Janus v. AFSCME this spring.

I expect that we’ll see even more of these sort of schemes in the coming months. In September, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Janus v. AFSCME, a case which argues that requiring public employees to pay agency fees to unions (including teachers unions) is unconstitutional. It is widely expected that the Court will end up striking down the laws in the 22 states that currently mandate agency fees, meaning that teachers unions across the country will soon be scrambling to come up with ways to keep their members from dropping out.

Because Louisiana has long been a right-to-work state, the Janus case should have little direct impact here. At the same time, that’s exactly why Red River United’s efforts to make it as difficult as possible for members to leave their organization needs to be called out. Louisiana’s public school teachers have the right to join a union or not. Therefore, they should be able to leave a union just as easily as they signed up. If Red River United wants to salvage some of its integrity, it should immediately accept the resignation of the three educators in question and refund their dues as soon as possible.


Read Red River United’s membership form:

Continue Reading

Louisiana

AFT On The Bayou Union Spends Less In Louisiana, But More On Charter Organizing in New Orleans

Published

on

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) spent less overall in Louisiana in the past fiscal year than it did in F.Y. 2016, but the union boosted its funding for charter school organizing efforts in New Orleans by more than forty percent.

An analysis of expenditure data from AFT’s 2017 annual report to U.S. Department of Labor shows that the union spent $2,326,573 in Louisiana during the fiscal year that ended June 30th, a slight decrease from the from $2.49 million it spent in the state in 2016.

About a quarter of AFT’s spending went to political activities, which included nearly $125,000 in payments to the political action committee of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, as well as a $15,000 contribution to Defend Louisiana, a super PAC behind Foster Campbell’s unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate last fall. In addition, AFT spent nearly $370,000 to influence last year’s Orleans Parish School Board elections, as I exposed in a previous blog post in January.

A diagram showing the distribution of AFT’s F.Y. 2017 spending in Louisiana.

AFT also invested heavily in organizing activities across the Bayou State. It gave nearly $192,000 to Red River United to support recruitment in Bossier, Caddo, and Red River Parishes. AFT spent another $184,000 on organizing in Monroe and $147,000 in Jefferson Parish.

Furthermore, AFT’s most recent annual report suggests that the union is stepping up its efforts to organize charter schools in the Big Easy. In F.Y 2017, AFT national poured $412,926 into its New Orleans Charter Organizing Project, a significant increase from the $292,000 it allocated in 2016. In all, AFT spent more than $850,000 on its New Orleans-based activities in the past year.

Although their recruitment efforts in the city have had mixed success, AFT’s willingness to spend substantial sums of money in New Orleans makes clear they still pose a serious threat. Over the past four years, AFT has steered more than $1.6 million to organize New Orleans charter schools and roll back the city’s reforms.

We need to remain vigilant to ensure that never happens.


Explore the data:


Read AFT’s 2017 annual report:

Continue Reading

Twitter

Subscribe

RSS Feed

Subscribe to my RSS feed to get updates in your news reader. Follow

Twitter

Peter C. Cook
Peter C. Cook @petercook
New Orleans, Louisiana peterccook.com
Education Reformer • New Orleanian • Progressive • Democrat • Proud TFA alum • Check out my new side project: @retortonline
  • 28213 Tweets
  • 3133 Followers
  • 2901 Following

Facebook

Trending

Send this to a friend