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New union accuses rival of bullying Clark County teachers

The new Clark County affiliate of the Nevada State Education Association is accusing its rival union of bullying and intimidating teachers to prevent them from dropping their membership.

The National Education Association of Southern Nevada (NEA-SN), which is fighting to represent Clark County School District educators, claims in a flyer posted on its website this week that the “failing” Clark County Education Association (CCEA) is resorting to “illegal tactics” to keep its members. It advises educators not to be deceived by the “desperate attempt to spread misinformation and falsehoods.”

The state affiliate was formed after the Clark County Education Association voted to separate from its parent Nevada State Education Association — and simultaneously the federal National Education Association — over concerns that those groups don’t represent Clark County educators adequately.

The battle between the two unions is heating up during the so-called drop period from July 1-15, when teachers can choose to end their membership in the CCEA.

NEA-SN claims that CCEA has tried to pose additional requirements — such as the need for addresses, Social Security numbers and driver’s license information — in order for teachers to drop their membership.

Brian Lee, executive director of the Nevada State Education Association, argued that none of those requirements are included in the CCEA contract.

“We’re receiving numerous reports about CCEA attempting to restrain the rights of members to choose the union for them, or to choose to not be a member of a union,” he said. “Upon receiving those reports, we decided to advise the members of their rights to withdraw from a union if they so choose.”

He said he did not know the exact number of complaints received but that it was in the dozens.

CCEA Executive Director John Vellardita said the accusations are not true.

“I’m telling you, we haven’t done anything different than we have in the last 20 years,” he said. “I’m not going to feed a story that’s manufactured; it’s a manufactured story on their part.”

Every local government employee has a right to join or refrain from joining a union, according to state law. State law also forbids employee organizations from restraining or coercing any employee in their use of that right.

While CCEA is the recognized bargaining agent with the district, a new union can steal that title if membership drops below 50 percent of its employee group.

The Supreme Court, however, is still deciding whether a new union must win representation through a vote by the supermajority — the majority of all employees in the group — or the majority of those who vote.

District data shows that 10,823 educators had dues deducted from their paycheck as of June 25. That’s roughly 58 percent of the 18,674 employees certified as of June 19.

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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