Letter confirms that power is top issue for Ogden teachers union


Last month, I argued that the objection of the Ogden Education Association (OEA), the Ogden teachers union, to the district’s move toward performance pay for teachers was motivated by a fear of losing union power. Well, a new piece of evidence – in the form of a letter from OEA President Doug Stephens to the union membership (hat tip to Holly on the Hill for publishing the letter) – has surfaced to substantiate this claim.

In the letter, Mr. Stephens asks OEA members to do six things to help the union in its opposition to the school board’s decision. Here is a summarized list, but I recommend reading the full letter on the Holly on the Hill blog:

  1. Act professionally in order to maintain/increase public support for the upcoming year, which “will be primarily a political battle”
  2. Maintain OEA membership levels, which is what “has always made us strong”
  3. Attend a protest outside the school board’s September meeting to “get the issue back on the TV and the front page of the newspapers”
  4. Give at least $30 to the OEA’s political action committee so the OEA can replace current school board members with those more in line with union thinking – as Mr. Stephens put it, “to be able to give a candidate, that we select, for a school board race, thousands of dollars and hundreds of volunteers to help in a campaign is unbeatable in a local election”
  5. Send a personal email address to the union in order to maintain secure communications
  6. Include non-OEA members in activities and information sharing

Let’s think about this. If an organization were primarily concerned about getting a policy victory, what would a “call to action” to its members look like? Certainly, it would focus on the issue, not the organization itself. Most likely, as occurs regularly in politics, it would ask members to go out on a grassroots level and convince their neighbors and fellow voters to oppose the school district’s decision or proposed policy, and then communicate that opposition to the school board.

But instead, the OEA focuses its “call to action” on asking union members to help with those things that will make the union more powerful: more members, more media coverage, and more money. The union’s power-driven mentality is further revealed in how Mr. Stephens couches the OEA’s efforts to oppose the school district: “primarily a political battle.” Politics and political battles are, most often, driven by the desire to obtain and keep power.

The school board and the school district are pursuing bold education policy reforms that hold potential to help children in Ogden by attracting and rewarding great, high-performing teachers. But for the OEA, it’s all about one thing: preserving and protecting union power.