Last Friday I told you about some Maryland teachers standing up to the union machine and seeking the chance to represent themselves. According to the Education Intelligence Agency’s Mike Antonucci, the story about the Wicomico County Education Association (WCEA)’s attempted breakaway from the state and national union just grows more and more interesting:
Upset by the actions of WCEA’s board, Gary Hammer, a union site representative at Bennett Middle School, began circulating petitions to recall all the WCEA officers and members of the board, and to suspend them from office until the recall took place. Hammer and his supporters claim to have gathered 700 signatures, which would constitute a majority of the bargaining unit.
Last Tuesday, Hammer and others “entered the WCEA offices, changed the locks and codes, removed or altered office equipment and purported to illegally fire the Association’s only employee.”…
Does the rogue union rep have the support of a majority of local union members? I don’t know. But the behavior raises questions… and eyebrows. An election is scheduled for next week among the WCEA members to determine whether they secede from the Maryland State Teachers Association and the National Education Association. The local-only union option has precedents in several other states.
That would seem like the best venue to demonstrate democratic sentiment from rank-and-file teachers. The changing locks on office doors? Not so much. Antonucci says the existing WCEA leadership, rather than arguing from technicalities in the bylaws, needs to “fight fire with fire” to stay relevant in this process. He’s probably right about moving beyond niceties.
Beyond judging what different people’s behavior says about them, it’s hard for little old me to make a judgment about the WCEA’s best course of action. But I think the existing leadership has more than just its own relevance to consider — not to mention ensuring a free and fair election. The question lingers: Do they want to contribute inadvertently to the rise of another Hammer celebrity?
Maybe he “can’t touch” the rap star, receive a Valentine from the one-time professional wrestler, or solve any mysteries about a 1980s TV fictional detective. Then again, Greg “The Union” Hammer might become a legend all his own.
Just something to consider as a group of teachers have the chance to weigh in on their own professional membership options.