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A Special Bulletin for Leaders of
Concerned Educators Against Forced Unionism
Dear CEAFU Supporters:
I am devoting this entire issue of my quarterly report to an extraordinary interview with John Lloyd, former NEA-union official. The information and insight Mr. Lloyd provides will not only fascinate you, but I believe will confirm your resolve to work for change in your state and national.
John Lloyd was one of the NEA's "golden boys." As the president of the local NEA-union affiliate in Wayland, Massachusetts, in the early '70's, Mr. Lloyd was recognized as "being what the NEA wanted at that time -- a very vocal, if not aggressive, bargainer/spokesperson on teachers' rights." He moved swiftly from UniServ director to executive director of the Kansas NEA -- the youngest state executive director in the NEA-union ranks at the age of 36.
While in Kansas, Mr. Lloyd attempted to make fundamental changes within the union by developing training programs to give teacher leaders the skills to manage change in a constructive and nonthreatening manner. He soon realized that the NEA-union's hierarchy would not tolerate such reforms, however, and left to form ED-TREND. With his colleague and co-director, former NEA negotiations organization specialist Bill Boynton, John Lloyd hopes to confront and offer solutions for the problems of education with cooperative rather than adversarial relationships.
I am pleased to bring you this exclusive interview.
INSIDERS: What brought about the change in your thinking about the NEA? Why did you leave the union after the fabulous start you had?
LLOYD: It was a very gradual thing. I went into it with the idea that what we were doing was going to improve both the welfare of teachers and certainly the status of public education. I saw, very gradually, that that was not happening and that, in fact, the opposite was happening. The most rude awakening came about as a result of the "Nation At Risk" report. I saw that as a unique opportunity as far as improving the quality of education. Recognizing that indeed there were deficiencies and that the NEA was largely responsible for some of those deficiencies, I saw at the same time that the NEA was not about to accept any of the blame. I also saw a gradual takeover of the NEA by its own internal staff. The staff is the key factor in understanding the NEA. The NEA is two things: an organization of teachers and an organization of a very, very well-organized staff that really controls the organization.
INSIDERS: So who is it that really runs it? How does the network work?
LLOYD: Well, it's a very simple and a somewhat amusing story, because once the NEA chose to become a union itself, it was a natural feeding ground for the staff to become unionized. And, there were very few arguments that the teacher leaders could use against the unionization of their own people when they were intent on unionizing every teacher in the country.
INSIDERS: So it's the central staff?
LLOYD: Oh, no question about it. You see, very few people understand that there's an invisible union here. And that is the staff. There are 6,000 people who work for the NEA in one capacity or another throughout the country. Of course, not all those are what we'll call professional staff -- UniServ people. Still you have several thousand people who, in essence, have taken control of the organization. They have the money, they have the information, they control that information, they certainly control the money. As a matter of fact, they consume most of the money -- the staff salaries and expenses are extremely high.
INSIDERS: So what you're saying is that even the state and local education associations take their orders from the national union -- from the NEA?
LLOYD: It's not really accurate to say that all states take their orders from the NEA.
A lot of the state affiliates are adamantly opposed to stands taken by the NEA; however, there is a feeling that the unity must be maintained because if it is not, the threat of the AFT, which is a horrifying thought to the NEA, is going to emerge immediately.
And there are also political ramifications. The best example of that kind of issue is, for example, the Mondale endorsement. There were several states that were adamantly opposed. Not only to the early support, the early endorsement, but the endorsement concept itself. In final analysis, it was perceived that we must do this, that we now have no choice. So through NEA's manipulation of that whole issue there was really no alternative left to most of the state affiliates.
But it must be understood that we're talking about an issue that's broader than politics here. We're talking about an association, in the public's mind at least, of a teachers union manipulating public education. I think it's very, very difficult for the public to distinguish between the antics of the NEA and what is happening in public education as a whole. I think, if anything, that is the most dangerous thing we have to address as far as what NEA has done. The consequences of that are extremely dangerous.
INSIDERS: The NEA originally chartered by Congress was "to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching and to promote the cause of education in the United States." What, in your judgement, is their goal now?
LLOYD: Well, first of all, I think that charter should be revoked. I think it's obviously failed in that mission. I sincerely believe that if you asked the average staff person to cite for you what the meaning of the charter of the NEA is or was, they probably couldn't tell you. But there are also people within the organization who believe it.
NEA's primary goal is to become an active arm of the Democratic Party to the extent that the NEA can eventually determine who the next President of the United States will be. And the second goal is certainly of equal priority -- to eliminate, and what I mean by eliminate is to eradicate, the AFT. It is the goal of the NEA to become the single teachers union in the United States.
Now there are sub-goals. Some of them are directly related to education, but when you are a participant in the NEA's staff meetings in which these things are being discussed I can assure you, I can absolutely guarantee you, that the welfare of education is not mentioned, it's not even surfaced as an issue.
INSIDERS: So if their main goal is to become the single teachers union of the United States, what is it they intend to do with that once they get it? Is that it basically, just the political power, period?
LLOYD: I think there's a na´ve belief on the part of a number of the people within the organization that quality education will follow as a consequence of that.
I think the track record, however, proves that that's erroneous. If you take a look at what has happened as a result of the attempt to unionize teachers, what we have is a polarization of attitudes within the education community. We have teachers turning against school boards, school boards, in some cases, pitted against administrators, and even the community pitted against the entire educational enterprise. I'm not anti-union and certainly not anti-labor, but I really believe that that's not the question. The question is, "Does the unionization of teachers work for the benefit of them -- meaning teachers -- and the welfare of public education." And the answer is, "No."
INSIDERS: You mentioned the problem with industrial-type bargaining in the education system. Isn't it true that the real key to their power is the exclusive representation and monopoly bargaining legislation they've been able to pass?
LLOYD: I think it's one of the keys to their power, certainly. It's certainly one of the instruments that leads to the power of any union. But it's a mistake to distinguish between NEA and any other union. For some reason there's an inclination in our country to look at the NEA as being somehow different from any other union. It is not. It's a very large union. They're now boasting that they're the largest independent union in America, larger now than the Teamsters. But, the point is that any union, in order to obtain what NEA wants to obtain, has to focus on the solidarity of its membership.
It's important to understand that there is a very, very strong cult mentality that permeates the NEA. I really empathize with your members who request or need or desire to fight to make the public understand that what the NEA is saying is not at all necessarily what teachers in America believe or want.
INSIDERS: Of course, many of our members are forced dues payers. They're people who are being required to support this kind of activity absolutely against their will. Do you think that has made a difference in their so-called power at the table, to be able to force teachers to support them or join them?
LLOYD: Sure, that was one of the original goals they started out to obtain when the whole concept of unionization of teachers became the primary goal of the organization -- to obtain agency fees from teachers. That's true of every union in America, every labor union -- NEA's no different. It started out, I think, most certainly, as a worthy organization and it's overreacted to the AFT's attempt to obtain bargaining rights for teachers in New York in the 1960's. And, from that overreaction we have a consequence of events that led to an attempt to unionize American teachers. In my opinion, it was a bad decision. It was a wrong way to go.
INSIDERS: So then part of the answer is at the legislative level in the several states where they have coercive unionism laws.
LLOYD: I think that there's no question to the fact that politics is a legitimate avenue for remedy of education problems. So don't misunderstand my previous comment. What I'm saying is partisan politics is not the key. It can't be. That's of course what led to the ruination of NEA's reputation as a viable educational entity. So, it's not partisan political issues, but it is a political issue. It's a legitimate political issue and it can be addressed that way and certainly that's where the remedy is.
INSIDERS: We talked about what their ultimate goal is. What do you think is in their immediate future? What can we expect from them in the next few years? More of the same?
LLOYD: I think a great deal of expediency within the organization. I don't think you're going to see any real change and I believe that firmly. I think you'll see reaction to political pressure, you'll see some cosmetic change, you'll see no substantive change within the NEA. I think, yes, you're right, you'll see more of the same. Even the teacher leaders, even the Mary Hatwood Futrells of the world are not in charge of that organization. And it comes back to the point I began with and that is when you have allowed the organization to be controlled by nonteachers, by a group of paid elite staff, you can expect that they will want to maintain the status quo. It's to their best interest. When those people meet, they talk abut their salaries, what luxurious location the next meeting will be held in, how much more money they can make from increasing teachers' dues to enhance their salaries. They're not even talking about education.
INSIDERS: Is the "democratically-elected" president, then, more a figurehead than anything?
LLOYD: Oh, no question about it. It's a very costly position, there's a lot of prestige, and it pays very, very well. Mary Hatwood Futrell can stand up and say, "Ain't it awful the way teachers are paid?" Well, she's paid approximately $80,000 a year to say that. It's a very comfortable position to be in. Of course, to obtain one of those positions with NEA, I mean the elected executive committee positions, it's a very, very costly process. These teachers will spend up to $35,000 to $45,000 to become elected to that position. Most people don't even know that. But, yes, of course, they're very much figureheads. They're not all puppets, believe me. There's an internal constant struggle to get that control back. There are some very, very good people, teacher leaders at the top of NEA who want that power back. I don't believe they'll ever obtain it because they have to bust their own union to obtain the goal and if they do that the AFT is going to run in there and pick up all the marbles and that fear is greater than the other fear.
INSIDERS: You mentioned Mary Hatwood Futrell's salary. How do NEA staff salaries, in general, compare to teachers' salaries?
LLOYD: There's no comparison between teachers' salaries and staff salaries. The average would be three to four times greater than teacher salaries. We figured through the basic NEA field staff contract (the field staff are the people who work for NEA headquarters out of Washington), it costs in excess of $100,000 per person, per year, to keep one of those staff people up and running. And that's a very conservative figure. In some cases it exceeds $120,000. That includes, of course, the salary and benefits. You're talking about a real contrast to teachers' salaries. We also figured, through our knowledge of the budget and through our experience, that approximately 65% of the NEA budget itself goes toward staff salaries and benefits. That's where the money is going.
INSIDERS: What do you think the individual teacher, for example, can do to oppose, not only the goals of the NEA, but the methods in which they're trying to reach their goal? Is there something that an individual teacher can do?
LLOYD: I think the first thing they can do is simply not join, not support them. You're talking about an organization that takes in somewhere in the vicinity of $400 million a year in teachers' dues. That's the national, state, and locals all combined. That's a very large sum of money. And, any organization whose power must be fueled by dollars -- it's a question of stopping that lifeline, that support mechanism is the key. Second thing, is to absolutely demand accountability for those dollars. Where are they going? What are the dollars being spent on? There should be an independent audit of each one of those budgets. There's a great deal of suspicion with regard to the handling of those monies within the NEA. And I think the teachers ignore that and they can't afford to ignore that. The real answer is to seek viable alternatives.
INSIDERS: The NEA does squelch dissent in the ranks of the teachers and that's obvious to us. Is there a particular way or method they have of doing that? How do they deal with the person who is just the average person, who doesn't agree with what's going on?
LLOYD: That's one of the reasons I think NEA has been accused of having so many agenda that "take over the hearts and minds of the students in America." One of the ways is they placate everyone. They are infamous for placating whatever sub-group within the larger group has an issue. They squelch it by confirming it as being legitimate, and eventually they have so many issues that you lose sight of primary issues.
The other thing is to wait people out. Especially teacher leaders who are elected who are dissenters. They're short-term people. They're not going to be there more than a couple of terms, so they wait them out. The staff isn't going anywhere; they're career people.
And the third way is to intimidate them. Say, "If word gets out of what you're saying, the AFT is going to come in here and take us over," or, "The New Right's going to come in," or, "You have CEAFU in here and you give our enemies more power." You intimidate people and you strike fear in their hearts and all of a sudden dissent is squelched. There are all kinds of ways to do that. And the staff are masters at that. That's what they're trained to do, that's what they're best at doing, and they perpetuate that cult mentality.
INSIDERS: They really do have quite a training program, don't they?
LLOYD: Oh sure. To understand NEA -- to understand the union -- read Saul Alinsky. If you read "Rules for Radicals," (Saul Alinsky's bible of radical organizations) you will understand NEA more profoundly than reading anything else. Because the whole organization was modeled on that kind of behavior which was really begun when NEA used Saul Alinsky as a consultant to train their own staff. That's a very important thing to understand. You cannot possibly understand NEA without understanding Saul Alinsky. If you want to understand NEA, go to the library and get "Rules for Radicals," by Saul Alinsky. Then you will understand the NEA.
INSIDERS: If the NEA is to be stopped in this drive of theirs, then you're actually saying that teachers and citizens have to become more aware and better informed.
LLOYD: Well, certainly more aware and certainly more conscious of the reality. I am opposed to the logic of beating up on the NEA. I think that there needs to be a conscious effort to create an organization that addresses the needs of teachers in public education. NEA had its chance at that. It has definitely struck out. I think it's important to understand that we need to go on to other things, to build other organizations. If the truth about NEA, if people like me can help that happen, then great! Then we served a role, served a function. But I'm not going to spend my time or my energy becoming "anti-NEA." I'll spend my time and energy looking for alternatives. If to get to those alternatives we need to understand the NEA, then I'll play that role. I'll help people understand NEA, because the one thing that frustrates NEA with regard to me is I'm not the "new right, far right," or any other kind of "right" and I'm not one of those people you can label. I'm just telling the truth. I'm telling the simple fact of what the NEA is like from within. They don't argue with me, they don't claim that I'm lying, because I'm not; they can't fight or debate me, because I have the truth. I am the first, indeed the only one, to come out and just say it. We need to look for alternatives because we're not going to change the NEA. It's a total waste of time to think we can.
Mr. Lloyd's frank and revealing statements underscore the NEA-union's official policy -- to gain control of the American education system through monopoly power and forced dues, and to manipulate the resources gained from those extraordinary privileges.
We must not lose sight, however, of the role being played by Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT/AFL-CIO). Mr. Shanker's motives are just as clear: "The Right to Work is a misnomer. It really means the right to work without union protection. . ." (Instructor, March, 1978)
As John Lloyd has stated so simply, "(monopoly bargaining) is certainly one of the instruments that leads to the power of any union . . . But it's a mistake to distinguish between NEA and any other union. . . (Forced dues) was one of the original goals they started out to obtain when the whole concept of unionization of teachers became the primary goal of the organization -- to obtain agency fees from teachers. That's true of every union in America . . ."
The problem of coercive unionism -- whether in the form of monopoly bargaining, forced dues, or organizational manipulation -- is critical to the future of our education system. CEAFU has been monitoring teacher union official statements and activities for 10 years and has devoted its resources to exposing this problem. And now the nation's citizens, parents, taxpayers, legislators, and teachers are awakening to the realization that they not only can, but must be involved in the education changes now going forward.
"In the 1960's, yes, we did concentrate on the trade union aspects. The emphasis was on building a powerful organization. But that's been done. . . Teachers need to develop a system of peer assistance, peer decision-making, and peer review on a series of issues -- the selection of textbooks, changing the school structure, assisting new teachers, and deciding which of them should stay and not stay. . ."
"Collective bargaining is probably the most viable vehicle that teachers have in influencing the decision-making process. . . So we're not going to diminish the emphasis on bargaining and political action. . . We need to have more of an opportunity to come together and talk abut the mission of education, about who comes in and who stays in the profession. . ."
The real freedom of America lies in the freedom of every individual "to make a difference," and we can turn back the forces of compulsion with the work we do. That's why I'm so grateful for your dedicated support and continuing activity.