OpinionUnion Report

Antonucci: Why Do So Many Union Members Enjoy Reading Coverage That’s Critical of Their Leadership?

By Mike Antonucci | September 21, 2017

Mike Antonucci’s Union Report appears Wednesdays; see the full archive

It’s no secret that I am critical of teachers unions. One would expect that my views would draw the unanimous ire of National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers officers and employees, and I get my share. One state affiliate president referred to me as “a card-carrying member of the dark evil forces.” An AFT activist once accused me of running guns to the Contras in the 1980s. (I was a U.S. Air Force C-130 navigator in Japan at the time so, for him, it was a logical conclusion.)

But from a former NEA president on down, there have been many teachers union staffers and elected officials who have braved the potential embarrassment to let me know that they enjoy and/or appreciate my work. Here are some of them, anonymized to keep them from experiencing any ill effects from their colleagues.

  • State affiliate president: “You want to know anything that’s going on in NEA, you talk to Antonucci. No one’s ever told me he got something wrong.”
  • State affiliate executive director: “I’m a huge fan. I read your stuff all the time. We’re sure you have bugs at NEA headquarters.”
  • AFT national staffer: “We don’t agree a lot of the time, but I appreciate your skills as a reporter, and I think a lot of AFT members feel the same way. You’re getting stuff and publishing it before we get it.”
  • State affiliate board member: “I can’t wait to read your next item that I’ll love and piss me off. Good organizations pay close attention to news that is both uncomplimentary and accurate.”
  • NEA headquarters staffer: “Your name was mentioned in a staff meeting today in order to chill blood and strike fear into hearts.”
  • State affiliate vice president: “Please know that I shall continue to depend on you as the best and most reliable source of information about what’s going on in NEA and AFT — but don’t quote me on that!”
  • State affiliate board member: “Our state president was annoyed that Antonucci gets all the information from our board meeting almost verbatim.”
  • State affiliate staffer: “I’m very impressed with your stuff. As someone who is intimately involved in a lot of the things you write about, I’m even more impressed that you’re right as often as you are.”
  • State affiliate staffer: “As an employee of an NEA state affiliate, I get more credible information from you than from my employer. I am thinking about circulating your stuff either immediately prior to or immediately after staff meetings just to liven things up!”
  • Local affiliate vice president: “I’ve always been impressed with your ability to report on events taking place in rooms where you’re not allowed.”
  • State affiliate staffer: “I have worked for the [teachers’ union] for almost 10 years. Your reporting on the day-to-day issues I run into are unmatched by any other source.”
  • State affiliate staffer: “They [sic] must have contacts all over the country. The speed with which they find out what is going on is amazing and frightening.”
  • NEA headquarters staffer: “I don’t want to be tarred and feathered by my colleagues, but I want to tell you that you continually and consistently get it right.”

So if you are a union official or employee who hates what you read in Union Report or on my blog, you are in the majority. But if you enjoy it and maybe even occasionally find yourself nodding your head in agreement, know that you are not alone.

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