Today Rod Paige, Dubya’s Ed chief, called the National Education Association a terrorist organization, and charged that its leadership doesn’t represent the rank-and-file. (The NEA is a federation of local and state public-school teachers’ unions, usually described as itself the nation’s largest teachers’ union.)

There are two problems with his remarks and also his retraction. The first and obvious one is likening the NEA to Al-Qaeda when the former has never bombed the Twin Towers or the Pentagon. Arguably the Republican Party and the (illegitimate) Bush Administration were more responsible for 9/11 than the NEA, and thus warrant the label more. Furthermore, associating a union with terrorism subconsciously takes hearers back to the bad-old days of strike-related violence – even though, of course, more violence was done in those strikes and lockouts by management and government than by workers.

The second problem with Paige’s remarks is that they interfere in the internal affairs of a labor union. If he were a School District Superintendant, they would earn him an Unfair Labor Practice charge before the National Labor Relations Board. But his reprehensible statements will certainly inspire misconduct by actual Superintendants and other school management. No manager is allowed to involve himself in internal union business. Despite Paige’s attempt to divide leadership from members, the NEA is arguably more democratic than the White House these days, so if teachers don’t like their leadership, they can vote ’em out! The only person who can get rid of Rod, on the other hand, is Dumbass himself!

If we had a Parliament, we could vote no-confidence in the Education Minister. If we had a Monarch, his/her Ed minister might be more service-minded – a minister – rather than playing one of the masters of Plantation America. (I swear I didn’t say that because he’s African-American, either. Check my archives to see my analyses of our current system!)


Want a union in your workplace?: Visit the AFL-CIO!