Maryland Teachers Union Shop Steward Stages Coup

posted at 9:21 am on April 22, 2014 by Mike Antonucci

My apologies if this ends up sounding like a dispatch from some war-torn Third World country, but it really is a tale from southeastern Maryland.

The elected officers and members of the board of directors of the Wicomico County Education Association (WCEA) scheduled a rank-and-file vote for the 1,000-member local union to end its affiliation with the Maryland State Education Association and the National Education Association. The issues were the usual ones in such cases – the local officers felt an awful lot of dues money was going up the line to the parent unions in exchange for not much in services for the local. After last week’s events, that vote – scheduled for April 28 and 29 – is very much up in the air.

Upset by the actions of WCEA’s board, Gary Hammer, a union site representative at Bennett Middle School, began circulating petitions to recall all the WCEA officers and members of the board, and to suspend them from office until the recall took place. Hammer and his supporters claim to have gathered 700 signatures, which would constitute a majority of the bargaining unit.

Last Tuesday, Hammer and others “entered the WCEA offices, changed the locks and codes, removed or altered office equipment and purported to illegally fire the Association’s only employee.” According to WCEA president Kelly Stephenson, “These actions were not taken in accordance with the governing documents of WCEA or in accordance with the law.”

Stephenson insists the disaffiliation vote will go on as scheduled.

As any good coup plotters would, Hammer and his associates seized the radio station, er, union web page. They have posted this message while deleting much of the site’s previous content:

On April 15 a majority of the members of the Wicomico County Education Association stood together and took necessary steps to prevent a small minority of members from dismantling the union with attempts to disaffiliate from our state and national Associations. The members have spoken and have declared that we are stronger together, and the support we have from the Maryland State Education and National Education Association adds to that strength. We have collected the necessary signatures to recall the officers of WCEA and have put an interim board of managers in place, effective immediately. This board will assume day to day operations of the Association and will move to conduct an election of a new slate of officers. These actions clearly reflect the wishes of the majority of our members who are anxious to move forward and who remain committed to giving Wicomico County’s public school students the excellent instruction and service they deserve.

They haven’t yet gained control of the union’s Facebook page, although there have been no updates from Stephenson or the other elected officers since last Wednesday. The internecine battle has already descended into anonymous accusations and name-calling.

It seems almost beside the point to note that there is no provision in WCEA’s by-laws to remove the union’s entire elected leadership with a single petition whose signatures have not been verified by any independent authority. Nor is there any provision for the summary displacement of elected officers by an unelected “board of managers.” Nor have the charges contained in the recall petition been examined to see if they meet the recall requirements set out in the by-laws.

It is beside the point because the legality of such actions becomes secondary once you have succeeded in pulling them off. The American Federation of Teachers has turned into an art the recapture of rogue locals, with one such incident being declared illegal by the U.S. Department of Labor, and moot at the same time. A similar disaffiliation vote will take place next month in Modesto, California, though the California Teachers Association does seems to regard it as a legitimate election.

A legal battle will almost certainly arise out of this, but if the WCEA officers want to retain office, they had best respond to the coup’s tactics in like manner.


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I have a solution to the problem: Outlaw all public unions.

NotCoach on April 22, 2014 at 9:27 AM

MUST.
FIND.
MORE.
POPCORN.

powerpickle on April 22, 2014 at 9:27 AM

I vote for the Circular Firing Squad settlement.

vnvet on April 22, 2014 at 9:28 AM

My apologies if this ends up sounding like a dispatch from some war-torn Third World country, but it really is a tale from southeastern Maryland.

The fascist Left, tired of trying to turn war-torn Third World countries into peaceful First World countries, in the name of equality wants now to turn peaceful First World countries into war-torn Third World countries.

rbj on April 22, 2014 at 9:29 AM

Hammer is a domestic terrorist.

Kissmygrits on April 22, 2014 at 9:32 AM

Let them attack each other, just makes them weaker and now they will harbor hatred for each other. No downside that I can see.

Johnnyreb on April 22, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Get unions out of the education system and out of the public sector.

Now.

Good Lt on April 22, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Next we’ll hear that this is all FOR THE CHILDREN!!!11!!!!!

Good Lt on April 22, 2014 at 9:37 AM

My apologies if this ends up sounding like a dispatch from some war-torn Third World country, but it really is a tale from southeastern Maryland.

Meh! Until the Department of Education sends MREs as a demonstration of support, then it really isn’t all that much of a coup.

Happy Nomad on April 22, 2014 at 9:41 AM

From each according to their ability. To each according to their alacrity.

Roy Rogers on April 22, 2014 at 9:41 AM

I have a solution to the problem: Outlaw all public unions.

NotCoach on April 22, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Seconded… now we just need 698 more votes and we can do it, right?

Effay5 on April 22, 2014 at 9:47 AM

The only thing missing from this story is the BLM…

PatriotRider on April 22, 2014 at 9:50 AM

The only thing missing from this story is the BLM…

PatriotRider on April 22, 2014 at 9:50 AM

.
. . . : )

listens2glenn on April 22, 2014 at 9:55 AM

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. But add cheating. Yeah, definitely add cheating.

Isn’t this the way of the leftist? We are dealing with totalitarians. As their worldview crumbles before them, more and more are showing their true colors.

When laws or voting don’t suit them, they just decide what they want is what’s really needed, smash the board of checkers, and claim victory — which is really just control.

By the way, this Mike Antonucci guy is a good writer. Can we see more of his stuff? Thank you.

brentspolemics on April 22, 2014 at 9:58 AM

I have a solution to the problem: Outlaw all public unions.

NotCoach on April 22, 2014 at 9:27 AM

.
Seconded… now we just need 698 more votes and we can do it, right?

Effay5 on April 22, 2014 at 9:47 AM

.
The motion has been made, and ‘seconded’ … now moves to the floor for a vote; all those in favor, say ‘aye’.
.
A Y E ! ! !
.
.
.
(Hey … if I don’t have a photo ID for my other aliases, can I vote more than once?)

listens2glenn on April 22, 2014 at 9:59 AM

If there isn’t anything in the bylaws for Hammer to do what he did, then why don’t/didn’t the local officers report it as a burglary to the police? Hammer had no authorization to do this.

They could add vandalism for mucking up the webpage and theft for changing the locks.

Dusty on April 22, 2014 at 10:01 AM

It is beside the point because the legality of such actions becomes secondary once you have succeeded in pulling them off.

They’ve been watching and learning from Obama and Holder et al.

forest on April 22, 2014 at 10:04 AM

They’ve been watching and learning from Obama and Holder et al.

forest on April 22, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Two guys who watch Game of Thrones and think, “Hmm, I bet we could do that”.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on April 22, 2014 at 10:20 AM

So, with politicians, the majority of the electorate and the law on your side you don’t really need a national union?

Wait until that gets out.

FineasFinn on April 22, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Sounds like some of Cliven Bundy’s supporters need to come to the rescue.

Tater Salad on April 22, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Quit paying union due and the thugs will be less inclined to stay without a pay check.

Tater Salad on April 22, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Frankly this reminds me a lot of that woman crying after the vote to divest from Israeli companies failed at her school in California recently. What exactly was the point of this coup? If they had a majority of votes against the disaffiliation vote why not just wait for the vote which is sure to fail? It’s 6 days away.

Rocks on April 22, 2014 at 10:39 AM

I have a solution to the problem: Outlaw all public unions.

NotCoach on April 22, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Seconded… now we just need 698 more votes and we can do it, right?

Effay5 on April 22, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Actually, all thats needed is a President with enough courage to rescind Kennedy’s executive order allowing them. I’m pretty sure that a future president can undo a past presidents EO.

Mimzey on April 22, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Last Tuesday, Hammer and others “entered the WCEA offices, changed the locks and codes, removed or altered office equipment and purported to illegally fire the Association’s only employee.”

.
Hammer seems to be an ideological tool. I wonder if he stood over fellow teachers in a threatening manner until they signed, under duress, as they say. Bet he did.

ExpressoBold on April 22, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Quit paying union due and the thugs will be less inclined to stay without a pay check.

Tater Salad on April 22, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Calling Scot Walker…Scot Walker pick the red phone…
It’s hard to refuse to pay union dues when they are taken out of your check before you get it.

That is another parallel to government tactics and union tactics. They just take your money and you have no choice.

Mimzey on April 22, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Funny thing about Wicomico Co is that they, like the rest of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, are heavy ‘Red’ voters. They’re like most of us (read: Conservative) and see that their Union dues going toward the National union(s) is not money well spent and they want to keep most of their dues as local as possible. That’s understandable.

ManWithNoName on April 22, 2014 at 10:51 AM

I don’t care.

chuckh on April 22, 2014 at 10:53 AM

Does this involve sniper rifles?

Galtian on April 22, 2014 at 10:59 AM

I have a solution to the problem: Outlaw all public unions.

NotCoach on April 22, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Completely sweeping generalization. Most Fire and Police * union members and officers are quite conservative and vote accordingly (For context, our current membership is probably 20-30% Dem/left leaning). As someone who is in the IAFF (Nationally) but a member of a local, we endorsed a Republican for our county executive. We also pay a good portion of our salary towards our pension/retirement system and our County doesn’t “touch” it for “needed” monies due to higher than estimated budgets. We have a great relationship with our county and we’ve been quite “fair” when negotiations come up. We aren’t a problem and never will be one for our state or local county taxpayers.

*- Suburban/rural unions

ManWithNoName on April 22, 2014 at 11:01 AM

What exactly was the point of this coup? If they had a majority of votes against the disaffiliation vote why not just wait for the vote which is sure to fail? It’s 6 days away.

Rocks on April 22, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Its not about winning the vote, it’s about punishing those who would dare question their masters and sending a message to the rest of the Locals. It also tells me that there is a good chance that the names on the petition are not exactly on the up and up, but that’s just me speculating (duh).

Raymer on April 22, 2014 at 11:09 AM

Per chance, is Hammer’s second in command called Sickle?

Rix on April 22, 2014 at 11:12 AM

ManWithNoName on April 22, 2014 at 11:01 AM

I could perfectly do without police or fire unions, regardless of their political inclination. If their salaries represent a fair market value, why do they need a union? And if they don’t, why won’t they work elsewhere and leave the field to volunteers and private services?

Rix on April 22, 2014 at 11:16 AM

Hacking into a computer to take over a website can land you in jail. Oh wait, these are union guys, never mind.

Fenris on April 22, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Take the reins back? I’m sure they are already cleaning out the garage to keep their second car safely inside and driving their kids to and from school. Court-approved union violence, doncha know.

winoceros on April 22, 2014 at 11:25 AM

If they had a majority of votes against the disaffiliation vote why not just wait for the vote which is sure to fail? It’s 6 days away.

Rocks on April 22, 2014 at 10:39 AM

That ‘petition’ was probably found in the trunk of somebody’s car.

trigon on April 22, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Next we’ll hear that this is all FOR THE CHILDREN!!!11!!!!!

Good Lt on April 22, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Saw a clip of the Chicagoland episode on schools, one of the school administrators discussing absenteeism remarked we have to get these kids to attend or we will start losing positions. It’s never about the children.

agmartin on April 22, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Go back in and seize control

jake49 on April 22, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Abort public unions….pimps for themselves and democrats, who cares about the kids….

crosshugger on April 22, 2014 at 11:43 AM

Well there’s obviously a lot of corruption and oppression happening in this Union hierarchy.

The only way to stop this abuse is to Unionize!

Tsar of Earth on April 22, 2014 at 11:48 AM

Conservatives need to fix this. The legal process for a group to leave a greedy union must be just as easy as that to join a greedy union.

ALL greedy unions should legally have to hold binding membership votes on a revolving basis, like maybe every two years.

slickwillie2001 on April 22, 2014 at 12:11 PM

I could perfectly do without police or fire unions, regardless of their political inclination. If their salaries represent a fair market value, why do they need a union? And if they don’t, why won’t they work elsewhere and leave the field to volunteers and private services?

Rix on April 22, 2014 at 11:16 AM

Overzealous and/or conduct unbecoming from officers within the union towards subordinates from the same union (saving the county litigation as its usually handled ‘in house’ before it gets worse) or when someone from the Department itself (outside the Union) or the County acts irresponsibly/illegally towards members of the union. My union acts as a sort-of middle man and they try to stay as neutral as possible, leaning as much on the side of the members as possible, but sometimes they let things “play out” based on whats happened.

Basically, they’ll go to bat for you if you’ve been screwed or were wronged but they’ll do as little as possible if you’ve screwed up and let the chips fall as they may. Our County, even though its Dem, is kind-of “purple” vote wise and they’ve got a AAA Bond rating because they’re “cheap” with their capital budgets and expenditures. They’re quite responsible fiscally and the county never really took a hit during the most recent recession as they “banked” monies in the early through mid-2000′s . We enjoy a good rapport with them and we carry a mutually beneficial relationship that benefits the taxpayers of our county and those that pass through by providing well above average services to our residents.

As I said before, our Union will never be a concern for the local or state taxpayers which is why I said making sweeping generalized statements is wrong. Obviously, I’m not oblivious to the status of many unions throughout the country with their local and/or state governments but each situation should be taken on a case-by-case basis.

ManWithNoName on April 22, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Get unions out of the education system and out of the public sector.
Now.

Good Lt on April 22, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Gangster union teachers need to be dealt with harshly.

Jaibones on April 22, 2014 at 12:55 PM

“Never Interfere With an Enemy While He’s in the Process of Destroying Himself.”

Attributable to _________?

Closet Optimist on April 22, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Btw way there’s an update from the “managers”:

The interim managers have been hard at work the last week to assess the Association’s current status and to determine the best way to move forward, together, as a stronger, unified Association.

Dr. Fredericksen contacted me Wednesday morning to suggest that we meet; Mr. Pavic then emailed me updates regarding negotiations. It’s clear that the administration has recognized the interim managers of WCEA, which is a big step in the right direction! We are in the process of identifying the negotiating team so that the discussions may resume, and this time with the support and expertise of MSEA.

I like the wording of this. If they were recognized as the legal negotiators they would need no updates as they would have been at the negotiations.

Rocks on April 22, 2014 at 1:42 PM

If these rogues have been “recognized” by the administration or anybody else, they may all be breaking the law and be in violation of the Brown act or something even more exciting. Where are the grown-ups?

Nana on April 22, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Funny thing about Wicomico Co is that they, like the rest of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, are heavy ‘Red’ voters. They’re like most of us (read: Conservative) and see that their Union dues going toward the National union(s) is not money well spent and they want to keep most of their dues as local as possible. That’s understandable.

ManWithNoName on April 22, 2014 at 10:51 AM

If they are not willing to go medieval on Hammer & Co., then they deserve to be slaves of the NEA.

You have to show you are willing to meet up, organize and fight to the end.

You don’t, and you deserve to be a slave.

Same with the Ukraine and Russia.

KirknBurker on April 22, 2014 at 6:21 PM

I hope they kill each other. Do it for the children.

earlgrey on April 22, 2014 at 7:49 PM

You can’t secede from the union.

That would be kind of like rebelling against the Emperor.

“Now you will pay the price for you lack of vision!”

s1im on April 22, 2014 at 9:16 PM