MN Teachers’ Union Calls Attention to Center’s Employee Freedom Project and Billboards

Education Minnesota President Denise Specht uses her column in the union’s publication Minnesota Educator to smear organizations in favor of employee freedom.

In her piece titled, “Educators are too smart to let dark money snuff out our union,” Specht calls out the Center’s EducatedTeachersMN project and its electronic billboards that welcomed union officials and delegates to the National Education Association’s annual convention held in Minneapolis June 30-July 5.

The billboards celebrated teachers’ independence from forced union fees thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Janus v. AFSCME.

Specht’s criticism of the signage? The blackboard background.

Educators who attended the NEA’s national convention in Minneapolis this summer may have seen that group’s billboards. They feature an image of chalk letters on a blackboard, telling teachers drop their union [inaccurate, the billboard text was not a call to action]. Never mind that schools haven’t used blackboards in 20 years or what educators wrote on them was directed at students. The billboards show this group is clueless and their leaders think we’re children.

Specht uses the rest of her piece as a diatribe against “billionaires” and their “dark money,” but is silent on labor unions’ own history of political spending and nondisclosure.

Education Minnesota’s PAC took in nearly $1.8 million in 2016 and $1.4 million in 2017, primarily supporting Democratic candidates and liberal organizations. The union charges teachers $25 for its PAC and requires teachers to request a refund of this money—which is not an easy process—if they do not want to fund the PAC’s political activity.

But outside the reimbursable PAC contribution, additional dues money is spent to fuel Education Minnesota’s political agenda—and union members have no say on how their money is spent and often remain in the dark on what their money supports.

Education Minnesota’s “Political Activities and Lobbying” expenditures (as defined by Education Minnesota) increased just over $1.3 million between its 2015-2016 report and its 2016-2017 report. Spending on “Representational Activities” increased roughly $193,000.

According to the union’s 2016-2017 LM-2 report, Education Minnesota spent $2,663,526 on “Political Activities and Lobbying.” The PAC received $725,570; a communications firm received $924,447 for “media advertising;” Women Winning (a women’s advocacy organization focused on electing pro-choice women to public office in Minnesota) received a $5,000 annual event sponsorship. What was the other $1 million spent on? Unknown.

Let he who is without sin…