New teacher union chief will fight fire with fire

To the editor:

In response to the controversy over the new executive director of the Clark County Education Association:

I was a Clark County School District teacher for more than 32 years. I grew up in Las Vegas and attended several schools during the ’60s in the district. In 1968, the teachers lost their right to strike due to the district’s strong-armed tactics and the Nevada Legislature. The district scared the teachers — who had threatened to strike — that they would lose their jobs if they walked out. The teachers, who had no voice, buckled under the stress and settled with the provision that teachers cannot strike in the state of Nevada — ever.

There is no teachers union. It is an association. An association is like a HOA — no power really, just a mouthpiece. A union has force, a strong voice. And when its members talk, they get the attention of those who need to hear.

Teachers have always been on the low end of the pay scale. They take cuts in salary and benefits and more and more is expected of them. The public has no idea that teachers spend more than their contracted time working their jobs.

I learned to fly below the radar. I did my job. I found time in the day to get things done and I had a family life. I didn’t bring attention to myself and showed up on time and left on time as well. My time was mine, however. So many colleagues spent weekends at school, untold money of their own on class projects, after-school time helping that one student who just didn’t get it — all gratis on their own time.

I applaud the association for hiring John Vellardita. Finally, a strong-armed man who knows how to fight fire with fire. School district officials are scared of him, and know they cannot own him, as they have other directors.

He will be the Jimmy Hoffa of the CCEA and, for once, the teachers will have a voice to be heard. Mr. Vellardita will take names and get things done. He is a no-nonsense man and will not be underestimated. Remember, Mr. Hoffa wasn’t anything until the Kennedys came after him. Then he became a powerhouse to be dealt with. And so did his workers.

Mr. Vellardita will keep the playing field even. He has all the moxie that old-time Las Vegans had. They weren’t anybody until their tactics of persuasion were proved, and Mr. Vellardita has proved himself by his actions in California. Remember, there are two sides to every story.

Kim L. Chesley

Las Vegas

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