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December 19, 2014

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Email blast to teachers infuriates union, sparking threat of lawsuit

A local libertarian think tank’s recent email blast to 12,000 teachers encouraging them to drop their union membership has further inflamed tense relations between the Clark County School District and the local teachers union.

It all started when the Nevada Policy Research Institute launched a campaign last month to inform teachers of their right to opt out of the union between July 1 and 15.

The conservative group listed on its website five reasons why teachers should drop the union, and representatives came to a recent School Board meeting to speak and distribute dozens of pre-written opt-out letters and stamped envelopes.

Union officials representing the Clark County Education Association slammed NPRI’s campaign and accused School District officials of condoning the initiative. District officials denied encouraging teachers to terminate their union memberships.

On Friday, NPRI sent an email bulletin to 12,000 teachers through the district’s email system, Interact. The unsolicited email blast drew the ire of several teachers, who accused the district of providing their work email addresses to NPRI.

“It’s another in a long line of attempts by the district to intimidate union members to drop their membership,” said Daniel Barber, a social studies teacher at Durango High School who received NPRI’s email on Friday. “This is an example of divide and conquer.”

However, the School District did not disseminate a list of teacher emails, said spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson. District officials do not know how NPRI was able to gain access to teachers’ work email addresses, she added.

There are more than 40,000 employee email addresses in the district’s Interact communication system. Although the district’s four unions representing administrators, police, support staff and teachers are able to use the email system to contact their constituents, outside groups — such as vendors and non-union political groups — are not privy to this email database, Fulkerson said.

Groups such as NPRI and some education vendors have requested this email database citing public record laws, but the School District has been reluctant in previous years to release this information, Fulkerson said. The district has never provided a list of emails to outside groups, she maintained.

“It’s our position that we will not provide a roster of emails as a public record,” she said, adding that “emailgate” was still under investigation.

However, many teachers post their work email addresses on school websites and directories, Fulkerson said. District officials are surmising that NPRI scanned school websites and data-mined teachers’ email addresses using a computer program, she said.

NPRI Communications Director Victor Joecks did not say how his group accessed the district’s database of teacher email addresses.

“We have our sources,” Joecks said, seemingly coy. “CCSD did not give it to me.”

Because public schoolteachers are state employees, their work email addresses are of public record and should be made public for groups like NPRI to send bulletins to, Joecks said.

Regardless, Joecks was adamant NPRI’s intent with its email blast was solely to inform teachers of the two-week window of time they are contractually able to withdraw from the union. Any teacher who wishes to unsubscribe from NPRI’s email listserv may do so by clicking on the “unsubscribe” link on the bottom of the email, he added.

“It’s very important for teachers to know about their rights when it comes to their CCEA membership,” Joecks said. “We’re not interested in spamming people. We’re not in the business of harvesting emails online.”

Still, union officials saw NPRI’s email blast as a direct attack on the union, which draws the majority of its funding from union dues. Union membership has been on the decline since the recession.

CCEA Executive Director John Vellardita also pointed fingers at the School District, which he says has stoked the fires of discord between them by circulating NPRI literature among administrators. NPRI’s email blast was the first to directly target teachers, he said.

The union is now conducting its own investigation to see how NPRI was able to get teacher emails, Vellardita said. Pending the results of this investigation, the union may file an unfair labor practice lawsuit against the School District, he said.

“This administration is essentially anti-union and anti-teacher,” Vellardita said. “Contrary to what the superintendent and the School Board says, actions speak louder than words.”

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  1. I think the union might have a problem with the right of free speech.

  2. This is disgusting, dishonorable, and an abuse. Every teacher should ignore any action recommended in such an invasion.

    If someone did that to the Libertarians they would raise hell and more.

  3. I think it is strange that the union is worried that the teachers are reminded of their window to opt out. The extremely short opt-out period, during the middle of a vacation period was set up hoping that the teachers would forget or overlook this period.
    For any teacher on a budget, this is a good way to save some serious $$$.

  4. Not only are many teachers dropping the union, CCSD support staff are doing the same. Rumors have it that members who opt out are finding that union staff are tossing their forms into the trash. Those wishing to opt out should either demand a copy or use their cellphone camera to record a copy.

  5. The ironic thing is that NPRI is a libertarian think tank that just abused GOVERNMENT resources to spread its message.

    They have the right to say what they want, but they don't have the right to SPAM me. They are no better than Nigerian spammers.

  6. The union wants to keep its members in the dark. NPRI just told them what their rights are. I'll bet they had no idea. Drop this toxic union and save the Nevada educational system.

  7. Teachers like me pay dues to our union to collectively bargain on our behalf. CCEA negotiates my salary, benefits, and working conditions. The goal of NPRI (and CCSD apparently) is to destroy the teachers' union so that the government alone will determine such things. Poor Ayn Rand must be spinning in her grave!

  8. Having read through the email, it was interesting to learn that "John Jasonek, then-executive director of CCEA, took home over $625,000 -- $205,745 for running the union and $423,863 for simultaneously running two union-affiliated organizations."

    It also suggested that they switch unions which seems to be the main offense here but did not suggest they drop union representation.

    Otherwise it seemed as inocuous as an email asking to switch from Coke to Pepsi.

  9. Unions don't belong in our schools.

  10. So, for arguement's sake, let's say there was an amazing outcry to drop out of the CCEA, and we have 16,500 now without representation. As we all know, something would have to take its place---so what would YOU SUGGEST such a replacement be????

    Let's hear it from those who know the best plan of action, those who have long awaited such a day and circumstance. What do you suggest?

    Blessings and Peace,

  11. While it appears that NPRI probably got the email addresses from somebody within the district, it is public information. I think it is funny that CCEA is calling them evil over this. The pot is definitely calling the kettle black on this one. Let's see CCEA, you take close to a $1,000 from each of your members so that you can afford to pay your president over $600K. Where are the ethics there? You put a clause in your contract that only gives 15 days to opt out of your union, and as somebody already pointed out, those 15 days fall right in the middle of the summer. Where are the ethics there? This was probably a dirty move by NPRI, but what's more dirty, are the things being done by CCEA, and all in the name of "our children's future." Quit using my kids as your pawn CCEA, and listen to the people of Clark County. We want you gone so our teachers can return to what they are supposed to do, teach, rather than spend their time worrying about making you happy! Unions do not belong in government!!!

  12. it would not be difficult to glean these e-mail addresses from perfectly legitimate sources. myteacherpages and both have teacher email addresses in plain sight. furthermore, many individual school websites post links to teacher email addresses. even working manually it wouldn't be very difficult or time consuming to get that many email addresses.
    not that i agree with what nrpi did but this action was perfectly capable of being carried out legally and legitimately.

  13. The goal of Dwight Jones and the CCSD is to turn teachers against themselves, resulting in the end of the Teachers Association. Wake up teachers, it is YOU against THEM. Whether a teacher chooses to belong to the Association or not, you need to stay UNITED. NPRI, the CCSD and Dwight Jones are your enemy. The goal is to eliminate the Middle Class in America. Keep fighting with yourselves and you help them accomplish that goal.

    And Vegas Native, it is not the CCEA that doesn't let the teachers TEACH, it is the CCSD.

  14. Seems like a no brainier - opt out and you get $1000+, or stay in and get nothing!


  15. The Billionaire Koch Brothers fund NPRI. In fact the Koch Foundation offers internships at NPRI. All you have to do is push their anti-union agenda and you'll get an out of state paycheck. It's probably good to mention where NPRI gets their funding when you print an article on NPRI's shenanigans. Some people like myself don't appreciate 'out of state' jerks, like the Koch's, messing with the workers in my state. And double shame on the paid jerks who take their money and who work at NPRI.

  16. First amendment rights include "libertarians." No reason those trying to end unionization can't do as much or say as much as those who try to unionize.

  17. What exactly are the pro-union people so afraid of? Could it be that if their members realize that they have a choice; that they not have to align with the heavy handed thuggery that dominates union policy and negotiations, they may simply want out?
    Even the most short sighted person has to realize that the escalating costs for public servants could not go on forever.

  18. Time to start over... The school system is top heavy with admin... resources are wasted and unions have no place in operations that feed from the public trough.. The future teachers will be web based and the sooner this is done the better.. teachers could not only teach US kids but kids around the World who want to learn.

  19. To those who want to bust unions:

    Unions are small potatoes compared to the abuses of those who we elected to represent us. Focus your eyes on the Senate and Congress -- on politicians. How much abuse would you have to witness before you raise your collective ire on THEM? Union abuses are not even close to the abuses the politicians, senators, and congressmen are doing to our country and to us! What are you doing to protect US from THEM?

    Compare their salary and benefits to those of us in the 'middle class.' Look at their offices and look at employee lounges. Do you see any difference? Look at executive dining halls and look at employees' lunch areas. Look at parking spaces for executives and look at employees' parking areas. Look at the cars the bosses drive and look at the employees' cars. Look at the CEOs' houses and look at the rank-and-files' houses.

    I don't need to go any further. You hypocrites who think that peons should not even think of getting a fraction of the wealth they help create, look inside yourself. Do you really think that the people you are helping to bust unions will choose you over money? Do you really think that without the Unions, the bosses will decide out of the goodness of their hearts to give you what you deserve - a living wage and benefits? When was the last time they did it on their own?

    Hitler made people's own family turn on each other. You are attacking THE ONLY VOICE people have against the power who wants to control everything. You are turning against the very freedom and rights our forefathers died for.

    What are you fighting for?

  20. First off many of you pro-union people are making our points for us. You are proving the teachers union is just out for the good of itself and not the kids.

    That's what this is all about, it's about our kids getting a good education but the union and the school admins are just in it for themselves first the kids being at best a secondary concern. Heaven forfend the NPRI bring more light on that.

  21. I'm still waiting to see someone justify the union heads salary as compared to the teachers he represents.

    I guess the union is saying that running a union is an incredibly important and high-paying job, whereas being a teacher isn't comparable.

    Makes no sense to me (I think teachers should be better paid than the union reps).

    The right to bargain collectively should be preserved for those who desire it. The right to fleece those who do so should be prevented.

  22. Why is CCSD currently hiring teachers since they were forced to lay off teachers a month ago. The laid off teachers should gather a lawsuit against CCSD for them being laid off without cause.

  23. This is exactly why I proudly contribute each month to NPRI.

  24. Comparing abuses is pointless. One crime is OK if it's not as bad as another crime? Gee, what a lack of logic from teachers.

  25. Members of the Teacher's Union & All Union Members: Contact the US Dept. of Labor in regards to the LMRADA-Griffin Act. Inquire about the LM10 & LM21 forms for the employer claiming they are broke. They must disclose "Persuader activity" on these forms. Then check the LM20 form of the "persuader" listed. Solidarity & exposure is key to ending union busting.Also, there are videos on You Tube that give more info on this under "union busting".

  26. Ms. Anderson:

    I normally ignore you because your logic does not make sense to me. Today, I am going to humor you in hopes that you understand.

    The politicians enrich themselves under the guise of the law - they are the ones making laws - and they answer to no one. They give themselves raises and benefits and a lifetime of sucking government money.

    The unions negotiate contracts and everything is agreed upon by both management and the union. A contract is a contract and is legally binding.

    Now which one is committing the crime? Your logic still is amazing to me.

    For the others, yes, what the Union is doing is also for the children - the ones who do not have a voice. Money is being spent on things other than the classroom. Big class sizes are not good for children. Slashing budget for materials is not good for children. Fighting for teachers salary and benefits is only one of the Union's goal. The Union also is fighting for fiscal responsibility and that includes money for classrooms and for children.

    Look at the CCSD administrative office list of employees. Here's the link: Look at positions in each department then look at their salaries at Transparent Count how many there are and remember these positions ARE NOT in schools - not teaching.

    I hope you take the time to do this, after which, I would like to request that you post your comments. Until you do so, your comments are irrelevant.

    I sincerely hope your advocacy will make you happy. One day, when they come for you and your voice is silenced, I hope you will have someone to speak for you.

  27. Vidi: Not sure where you think I'm referring to housing fraud--I made reference to the freedom of speech and it should be obvious I don't agree with many posters--but they get to say what they want to, even when it makes no sense at all. Looks like we (Vidi and I) agree that if we don't enforce (and regulate) our laws, we don't have any. Deregulation and allowing industries to self police have given us these results. I'm not for big government but we must be realistic. We must enforce all essential laws. Starting with the federal government and their enumerated powers--high on that list is to secure our borders and protect us from enemies foreign and within. So if the federal government thinks they have the power to regulate the mortgage industry they had better enforce those requirements and preclude a repeat of the mortgage fraud. Vidi, maybe it's just that you are jumping to a conclusion about me, thinking I might be of a particular political party. Anyone who reads what I post figures out, I'm not affiliated. I want all our soldiers brought home--and sent out only when it is an issue of American soil. I'd consider defending allies on a case-by-case basis but not bases and hundreds of thousands of troops. I am against big government and high taxes. We've taxed our economy into dysfunction. People, from the time they are small children, must figure out that they must do for self and not depend upon government. But oh the caring taxpayers of Nevada--we spend excessively on K-12 while literally all we do for the disabled, aged, blind is assist with a Medicaid part b premium--that's it. We do nothing for single adults and seniors with modest incomes--they can get FEDERAL food stamp assistance if they are almost destitute. No medical care, no housing assistance--unless they were the career parents who lived off welfare for kids until they could no longer have kids--and couldn't find grandkids or stepkids to "adopt" and claim assistance for. So let's get after the fraudsters in welfare, illegals, and cut the costs of K-12 and the rest of government SO OUR ECONOMY can FUNCTION and we can pursue our constitutional freedoms.

  28. Comment removed by moderator. Personal Attack

  29. Insults and calling people names logical?

    I rest my case.

  30. Thanks Vidi.

    I could never understand how these people think. Or, do they at all?

    Anyway. It's okay. Their insults don't affect me at all. I know it's a losing proposition. As a teacher, I always think there is hope that people will understand. It's a wasted life for anyone to be that angry.

    Thanks again and good luck also on your efforts to make others understand.

  31. Resident:

    I am fighting to have a voice and that voice to be heard. I am fighting for what I believe is right. I vote for whom I know will carry my voice.

    Insults and calling people names are not really good form. Sorry you diminish yourself when you do that. You have become irrelevant to me.

    Who are you really fighting for?

  32. Yes. I am a teacher. I am sorry you have a limited grasp of the English language.

    In argumentation and debate, as soon as you use insults and name-calling, you become irrelevant.

    Sorry. You lose.