In our contemporary social media age, what a group posts on its Facebook page can tell you a lot about its priorities. That truth applies to the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA), a large affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA) and Colorado Education Association (CEA) that represents thousands of teachers in suburban Jefferson County Public Schools.
The ascension of a new reform-minded board majority in November 2013 has brought out a virulent union response. This past summer the CEA president warned NEA annual meeting attendees about “hostile” school board activity and summoned 48 national union operatives to target Jeffco teachers and community members. According to JCEA president John Ford, CEA and NEA each also has brought in a full-time organizer to help “beat the bas_ _ _ _ _ back.”
Early in the school year, a JCEA school rep was caught helping to organize a sickout for which the union later rewrote history. After sponsoring a large protest along one of the county’s main thoroughfares and fueling a media firestorm against the school board majority, Jeffco briefly quieted down.
During this respite, Ford released a 1-minute “solidarity” video in which he announced “the fight’s going to start in January.” While that video is nowhere to be found on the JCEA Facebook page, the union has posted 64 entries (excluding changes to the profile picture and cover photo) from the beginning of the current school year through January 15. Four of the posts directly pertain to learning, students, or education policy issues, as follows:
- Two paeans to classroom teachers during American Education Week
- One photo of Ford posing with food donations to a charity for homeless Jeffco students (with union political insignia clearly included)
- One link to a news story on Colorado K-12 per pupil funding
On the other hand, more than 90 percent (58) of the 64 entries focus on pro-labor rhetoric and images, union member solidarity, election activities, and direct attacks against the school board majority. A petition for three board members to resign is featured multiple times, but most remarkable is the repeated use of 22 pro-labor images, such as the raised fist.
Colorado Peak Politics noted the JCEA’s failure to pull off a stunt through Colorado Jobs with Justice at last night’s school board meeting, something they promoted to members through their Facebook page on December 2. A little over a week ago, JCEA put up this picture with a quote from the organization Jobs with Justice, contending that labor unions are a bulwark against private “corporate power,” which would be quite a feat for a union that negotiates with a democratically-elected local school board over public tax dollars.
But any distinction between the role of organized labor in government versus the private sector seems lost on the Jeffco teachers union. On January 9, JCEA posted the following image with a quote from former President and New Deal architect Franklin D. Roosevelt:
Strangely omitted were the following words written by President Roosevelt in 1937:
All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service…. Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of government employees.
Another image posted this past Tuesday suggests local union officials may not be inclined to heed FDR’s warning about “militant tactics”:
For the sake of student learning, rarely mentioned on JCEA’s Facebook page, citizens should hope the posting of this picture is not a veiled threat.