Union Omissions: Rest of the Story on CEA and JCEA Political Refunds

Last Friday, the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA) president sent an email through the chain to her members about their political refund option in anticipation of the Independence Institute informing them. We’d like to thank her for helping to spread the word, but need to provide a few clarifying comments about her message first:

1. JCEA’s Every Member Option (EMO) political money is $24 a year (or $2 a month) for each member. For those not willing or able to do the math, CEA’s EMO is $39 a year ($3.25 x 12).

2. “JCEA and CEA’s EMO is optional for all members.” Only if by “optional” you mean the union takes the money and promises to give it back if you fill out separate refund request letters to CEA and JCEA before December 15. Find out how here, or go directly to CEA’s online refund request form here.

3. “Contribution” is a funny word to use to describe the EMO. Insisting that “Members agree with the EMO contribution” because most of them don’t ask for it back before a deadline sets a pretty low standard. The point isn’t whether a majority of JCEA/CEA members agree with the EMO, but whether each member is well-informed enough to make his or her own decision and does so affirmatively.

4. The claim that my friends at the Independence Institute are “telling teachers to request a refund of their ‘political money’ and encourages members to drop their membership” is specious. Like the Independent Teachers website highlighted in the email, the messages themselves don’t encourage teachers to take action one way or the other. It just points out their options (including membership in CEA), something that appears quite threatening to the JCEA president.

5. Telling teachers exactly how to respond to emails that haven’t even arrived yet is both presumptuous and condescending. Apparently, the JCEA president has serious doubts about whether her members can think for themselves. Providing access to complete information about teachers’ money and membership options doesn’t sit so well with some.

6. If a member has questions about how his or her EMO is spent, the JCEA president insists that members make a phone call directly to her. She fails to point out that teachers can find the information on our website. Or they can go on the Colorado Secretary of State website themselves and search “JCEA” and “Public Education Committee” to see how the respective small donor committees dole out part of the money collected from their paychecks right along with general dues.

Read on for the actual text of the email sent to teachers from the JCEA president:

Election ’08 proved extremely successful for CEA’s recommended pro- public education candidates, both state and federal, and for the defeat of the anti-employee ballot initiatives. Our success is because of our great volunteers who worked hard walking and phoning. Our success is also because of CEA’s Every Member Option (“EMO”), a $3.25 monthly contribution that we collect from our members that allows CEA to help the campaigns of candidates who support our education issues. JCEA also has its own EMO to support candidates in Jeffco. JCEA and CEA’s EMO is optional for all members. We find that the overwhelming majority of our members understand the importance of electing pro public education candidates. Members agree with the EMO contribution and are happy with our successful election season.

Every year around this time the Independence Institute emails teachers statewide with their anti public education message. The Independence Institute directly targets our Association, telling teachers to request a refund of their “political money” and encourages members to drop their membership. Their agenda is set by their president, Jon Caldara, a “Too Extreme for Colorado” player who supports anti employee/anti- labor bills in the Colorado legislature. They were behind the Triple Threat of amendments 47-49-54 this fall.

This year, when the Independence Institute contacts you BE READY. Hit the Reply button and tell them to: “Remove me immediately from your email list. I did not solicit your information and I do not want it.”

If members have questions about the use of their EMO dollars in Election ’08, we encourage them to contact President Kerrie Dallman at JCEA.