As the nation’s biggest public-sector labor union pushes its members to endorse Hillary Clinton, one of its state affiliates said that deciding not to endorse Clinton was a “no-brainer.”
The National Education Association (NEA), a teachers union comprising between two and three million members, is seeing in-fighting in its own ranks during this election cycle.
“Each state is free to make up its own mind. It was a no-brainer for our board,” Vermont NEA spokesman Darren Allen told Breitbart News, noting that his organization recommended to the national union that Bernie Sanders should be the pick.
“The [national] NEA process is much different,” Allen said. “Our national PAC Council is made up of people all over the country” including state presidents.
“They make a recommendation to the NEA board of directors and then they [the board] make a decision about what to do.”
“The Vermont NEA board made its recommendation, and stands by its recommendation,” Allen added.
The national NEA campaign office recently sent out an internal email making clear that the national union is pulling for Clinton.
“After months of interactions with the three candidates who chose to participate in our process, certain things became clear,” according to the email. “Clinton is the best positioned candidate to win both the Democratic primary and general election. She has unmatched organizational strength, ground game, and fundraising ability to defeat the candidate of the Koch brothers.”
But some NEA members are not happy. In fact, the NEA is probably pushing for an early Clinton endorsement to make sure that it has a “seat at the table” in the Democratic Party going forward.
NEA member Heather Poland wrote on the blog “A Teacher’s Perspective” that she participated in a conference call with NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia. Poland revealed the true motivations behind the union’s “imminent primary endorsement of Hillary Clinton.”
“The first 15 minutes were Lily speaking, defending why she wants to early endorse Hillary,” Poland wrote. “The overall message I got from her was that she is scared. She mentioned many times that others had called the NEA irrelevant after the last presidential campaign because NEA did not endorse during the primary. Lily believes that a primary endorsement equals a seat at the “inner circle” table. Personally, I don’t believe this at all.”
Poland added that she thinks Clinton is already in the pocket of anti-union education reform advocates. She wrote:
The education reformers have money. They use their money to buy policy. Does Lily really think that endorsing during the primary will make the candidate listen and follow through with our recommendations? Money talks. Hillary is already influenced by Broad and Gates. Why would she suddenly change her views and do what is right for education when there is money pouring in from other places, and the dialogue now that so many civil rights groups also buy into is that of more testing and ed reform.
The Massachusetts union is also withholding Clinton support.
“In conversation with President Eskelsen García, I have expressed my concern that an early endorsement does not allow members to be active participants in the kinds of discussion and debate that are central to a democratic union,” Massachusetts NEA president Barbara Madeloni wrote in an email to her members.
“At the PAC Council meeting, Massachusetts will vote against an early candidate recommendation,” Madeloni said.