Well, the first day is done in Spokane at the WEA Rep Assembly, and generally things were quiet. Oh, except for one new bylaw. Both sides spoke with fervor; the passion was apparent.
A motion was brought to the floor to not allow any dues money to be used for political campaigns, either “directly or indirectly.” While at first glance this may seem like a good idea (only allowing WEA-PAC monies to be used for political action), this would severely tie the hands of the union to transfer funds if a situation of extreme need arose (for example, an education budget slayer running for office like Dino Rossi). Plus, our WEA-PAC dollars would have to fund all positions associated with political action among other expenses associated with political action. This would deplete the WEA-PAC funds and render WEA-PAC monies essentially useless.
According to two Uniserv Presidents with whom I spoke, this type of transfer has occurred only three times. This is not a regular practice and is avoided whenever possible. On a side note, one of our biggest obstacles is the decrease in WEA-PAC membership, which we need for any play at the bargaining table.
My take on the reasons for such passion to support this bylaw comes mainly from a lack of information dissemination. Some members felt as if they had been lied to because they believed that (and may have been told that) regular dues monies could not be used for political action. But it can. Separating emotion from the debate, I believe the supporters of this amendment actually want to have it publicly said that regular dues can be transferred for some political action and that they may not have been provided all of the information they should have.
But this amendment is not the way.
I hope that the delegates here at RA do not severely hamstring the union’s ability to lobby by passing this bylaw amendment. I believe this amendment, while sincere in its intent, could be devastating if passed.
However, from an entertainment standpoint, this was the highlight of day one. I love fireworks, even small ones!
P.S. We went to a diner afterwards because we missed dinner, and a young, inebriated woman shouted down a young man, slapped him, stormed out, came back, and was escorted back out. More fireworks! 🙂