Friday, August 19, 2011

Who's calling the shots?

In recent weeks it has become clear the NFT has a new ally in the battle to protect the status quo as the Washington, DC-based American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has brought their considerable resources to Neshaminy. NFT press releases and media updates now filter through the AFT, and even last week’s infamous town hall style telecon with Louise Boyd originated from the 202 area code. This leaves residents wondering who is in charge of the NFT’s reinvigorated PR strategy.

If you are not familiar with the AFT, here are some eye-opening numbers for you . . .

According to AFT’s financial filings for 2010, they had net assets of just under $116 million, and they don’t mind putting that money to use either. Among their 2010 expenditures are:

Communications - $11.5 million
Organizing - $39 million
Strategic Support - $19.9 million
State federations’ solidarity funds - $5.2 million

According to, the AFT and its affiliates doled out nearly $5.28 million in federal campaign donations and PAC money during the 2010 election cycle. In fact, since 1990 the AFT has written checks for more than $31 million in campaign donations and PAC contributions.

The Wall Street Journal reported that AFT president Randi Weingarten’s compensation in 2010 exceeded $600,000, which includes money from other sources beyond the AFT. Filings from the Department of Labor reveal that the American Federation of Teachers disbursed $428,284 to Weingarten last year. Her gross salary is $342,552, but benefits and other disbursements raise that number to almost half a million dollars.

The fact that Weingarten commands such a hefty salary doesn’t really concern me since she is free to make as much money as teachers unions are will to pay her. And to be fair to the AFT prez, I have read a number of positive comments about some of the humanitarian causes she supports. However those causes aren’t the reason for her coming to Neshaminy. Let’s face it, all Randi Weingarten knows about our community is that she drives through it when she travels the I-95 corridor from her NYC home down to the AFT offices in DC. She and the AFT are outsiders who were invited into our community by Louise Boyd and the NFT, and they’ve brought their powerful influence along for the ride.

Harrisburg has made sure that school boards have one hand tied behind their backs when it comes to dealing with teachers unions. Now our other hand must fend off a very powerful combination of adversaries. It’s impossible to know just how much control, if any, the AFT is exerting over the NFT. All we know is that they are here now, and the change is noticeable.


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