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If You Want Something Done Right: CEA Steps into Thompson’s Union Negotiations

After observing many of them on the playground, I can say that bullies are interesting creatures. Usually, they figure they can just push you around without any resistance. But stand up to them just a little, and they have to reevaluate.

That reevaluation usually involves a two-step process. First, they try out nasty underhanded tactics like those used by the Jefferson County Mean Girlz. If that doesn’t work, or they meet more resistance (as the Mean Girlz certainly did), they often run off to find bigger, meaner friends to back them up.

It appears that the Thompson Education Association has been paying attention to the Jeffco edu-blob’s failures on step one of the bullying handbook. The district’s union and its supporters have skipped straight to step two and called in reinforcements from the Colorado Education Association, our state’s powerful and extremely political teachers union.

Sherrie Peif, Complete Colorado’s amazing new ed reporter, reports that a new petition asking board members to back away from a potential redraft of the district’s outdated and unfair collective bargaining agreement is being directly backed by the CEA mothership.

From the report:

Nancy Rumfelt, founder of Liberty Watch-Colorado, a nonprofit citizens group that according to its website “advocate(s) for the Principles of Liberty,” called the tech department at Salsa, the company paid to run the petition. They told Rumfelt the account used for the petition belongs to CEA, she said. Opening a URL on Salsa Lab’s website containing the account number used in the petition URL directs users to CEA’s main website.

More research done by the Independence Institute to break down the signatures on the petition shows that at least eight of the signatures are from high-level CEA officials in other districts (if these signatures are to be believed). These include:

Fran Docherty, Poudre R-1 School District and Two Rivers Uniserv Director

Nancy McCanless, Jefferson County and CEA Board of Directors

John Ford, president of the Jefferson County Education Association and CEA Board of Directors

Lori Goldstein, Adams County and CEA Board of Directors

Dolly Handel, Colorado Springs and CEA Board of Directors

Tom List, Poudre and CEA Board of Directors

Kevin LaDuke, Mesa County and CEA Board of Directors

As you can see… Hey, wait a minute! Is that John Ford? The president of the Jefferson County Education Association? The same guy behind JCEA’s enormously entertaining battleflop a few months ago?

It sure is. Now I know what my dad meant when he said “If at first you don’t succeed, go play on a different field.” Or maybe this is just the continuation of Ford’s effort to “beat these bas***** back.” (I still don’t know what that word is, and my best guess remains an egregious misspelling of the word “baskets.”)

Either way, maybe JCEA’s battleflop is part of the reason CEA president Kerrie Dallman took a break from protesting in front of Mcdonald’s and hopped into Thompson’s negotiations so quickly. With their current track record, the local unions clearly need all the help they can get. And with Thompson in “danger” of putting forward for negotiation a more sensible, fair, and modern collective bargaining contract, there simply isn’t much room for error on the union side.

Maybe that’s why CEA chose to use an explicitly biased company to create and host the petition. My Independence Institute friend Ross Izard explains in a follow-up column on Complete Colorado:

As of publication, more than 10 percent of the petition’s signatures are anonymous. Some of the anonymous signers have left overtly insulting or threatening comments on the petition (though these appear to have been deleted). Many other signatures are duplicates, some of which reflect single individuals signing the petition multiple times over different days. An unknown number of the signatures have come from outside of Thompson … There is no way of knowing how many signatures are legitimate, given the petition’s poor quality controls. Perhaps that’s the point.

While petitions are generally designed to offer a snapshot of a community’s voice, this petition seems to have been designed as a political weapon. One shouldn’t be surprised. Salsa, the company pushing the petition, exclusively partners with “left-leaning or progressive” organizations, and CEA is perhaps the state’s largest and most powerful education-related political player. Despite claims of nonpartisanship, the organization’s one-sided campaign contributions make clear where its political allegiances lie.

There’s just no room for objectivity when you’re building a political weapon, I guess. Coercion requires a very different game plan than representation.

As Ross points out in the column, CEA’s entrance into Thompson’s negotiations marks a serious—and ugly—shift in the district’s conversation over its collective bargaining contract. I think it also means the board’s reform-minded majority is on the right path.

Here’s hoping they stand firm in the face of CEA’s powerful war machine. With bullies, standing your ground is often all it takes to win.