Teachers union criticizes think tank for publicizing member drop period

The Nevada State Education Association describes it as “union busting at its finest,” but the conservative think tank that emailed 12,000 Clark County School District teachers Friday about the summer drop period for union members contends its purpose was simply informational.

“This is union busting at its finest?” asked Victor Joecks, communications director for the Nevada Policy Research Institute. “If you really care about teachers, why don’t you let them know what their choices are?”

The Clark County Education Association, which represents local teachers and is part of the NSEA, only allows members to drop out from July 1-15 when “most teachers are on vacation and school-related activities are the furthest things from their minds,” Joecks wrote in the email to teachers.

Teachers who choose to be union members pay $768 a year in dues.

Joecks said Tuesday that NPRI isn’t advocating that teachers drop their union memberships. It’s just publicizing the option. The institute also has posted a form drop letter on its website and made pre-stamped envelopes available to teachers interested in leaving the union.

“If you’re a teacher who dislikes CCEA union bosses lining their pockets with your dues while moving away from serving you, consider opting out,” the institute said in its mass email.

And some teachers don’t like that the politically charged message is coming to their work emails. While some teachers were thankful for the eye-opener, others asked Joecks to remove them from NPRI’s mailing list.

“Others have cussed at us,” he said.

And some wanted to know how NPRI obtained their in-house email addresses. That goes for both district and union officials.

Joecks said the district didn’t provide the email addresses. More than three weeks ago, the institute did send a formal information request for the work email addresses of 18,000 teachers. The district denied NPRI’s information request, Joecks said.

District spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson received the institute’s information request more than three weeks ago and confirmed that the district denied it, as it has done in the past with other organizations and businesses seeking to solicit teachers.

“We knew we were going to say no,” Fulkerson said.

John Vellardita, CCEA executive director, doesn’t believe her and has said the union may file an unfair labor practice against the district. Vellardita did not return a call for comment Tuesday.

As for the institute’s source, Joecks wouldn’t elaborate on how the email addresses were obtained.

“NPRI has its sources,” he said.

Figuring out teachers’ email addresses isn’t difficult. The names of district employees is public information, and email addresses are assigned using a simple system of first initial then last name followed by the district’s general email address.

Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at tmilliard@review journal.com or 702-383-0279.

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