Sunday, September 18, 2011

'Every OEA member is a member of a labor union'

A report in today's Tulsa World informs us that the Oklahoma Education Association is, "technically," not a labor union.

Well, okaaaay. Of course, as education reporter Mike Antonucci points out, "it all depends on which technicality you want to emphasize and which you want to ignore. In Oklahoma, as in other non-collective bargaining states, OEA is not classified as a 501(c)(5) labor organization with the IRS; it's a 501(c)(6), which is, in fact, a "business league." This designation is used by chambers of commerce and trade associations. So, technically, OEA can claim it is not a union."

Antonucci says "the distinction is made merely to avoid negative PR" -- negative PR like this, for example, and (sing it with me!) this:

"The fact is, you can't belong to OEA without also joining NEA, which is a labor union by every definition," Antonucci says. "So every OEA member is a member of a labor union. OEA is a duly certified state affiliate of a labor union, subject to a labor union's constitution and by-laws. Additionally, OEA is highly subsidized (through UniServ) by a labor union. Its officers sit on the decisionmaking bodies of a labor union. The cash it spends on ballot initiatives such as SQ 744 comes almost exclusively from a labor union."

Technicalities notwithstanding, nearly everyone -- even liberal reporters and the past OEA president -- matter-of-factly refer to the OEA as a union.

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