Few teachers drop union membership despite challenge

The union representing Clark County School District teachers has seen a relatively small number of instructors drop membership this school year compared with previous years, an indication that a challenge from the Teamsters has been unsuccessful, an official with the teachers union said Thursday.

Instructors who were members of the Clark County Education Association, or CCEA, had from July 1 to Sunday to drop their membership with the union.

Officials with Teamsters Local 14 announced on June 28 that they were challenging CCEA for the right to represent the district’s more than 18,000 teachers.

According to the CCEA, only 376 members opted to relinquish their memberships this summer.

John Jasonek, executive director of the CCEA, said the number is an estimate and an official figure won’t be known until Aug. 25 payroll figures are collected from the district.

"It’s not an exact figure, but it’s close," he said. "The number could be anywhere from 350 to 400."

Jasonek said the Teamsters probably had minimal impact on teachers who dropped their memberships.

"We’ve been dealing with the Teamsters’ public relation machine and all their fabrications," he said. "Considering that, we’re very happy with the numbers."

The Teamsters are eyeing November 2008 as the time to file a request for an election against CCEA.

Ron Taylor, a consultant with the Teamsters, said that any figures released by the CCEA need to be scrutinized.

"I’m reluctant to believe any figures that come from the Clark County School District or the CCEA," Taylor said. "There’s a collusion there."

The Teamsters have challenged CCEA’s claim of having about 13,000 members. According to records from the district’s Payroll Department, CCEA had 12,807 members as of Thursday.

According to state code, a challenging union has 30 days — in the period of 242 days and 212 days before the contract expires — to challenge the incumbent union in an election.

The CCEA’s contract expires June 30, 2009.

Until then, the Teamsters will gather pledge cards from teachers indicating support for an election.

The Teamsters need to file a request with the Employee-Management Relations Board and show that they have enough signatures — about 9,000 from the school system’s teachers — to justify an election.

State law requires the winner of an election to receive support from more than 50 percent of all eligible voters.

Although Jasonek said the Teamsters are not a threat, Taylor disagreed and said they are well on their way to collecting the pledges they need to establish an election.

Taylor said the Teamsters have collected 1,000 signatures since they began their campaign to oust the CCEA.

"Teachers are not in town right now. They are on vacation or doing other things," Taylor said.

"When school starts back up, that’s when we’ll kick into high gear."

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