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A+PEL Wants Me to Drop My Local Union. Nope.

April 12, 2023

I recently received in the mail an invitation to become a member of the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana (A+PEL).

Included in the A+PEL correspondence was this sternly-worded “union drop request” for my local union, the St. Tammany Federation of Teachers and School Employees (the Federation):

A+PEL is looking to increase its membership by decreasing membership in my local union. Of course, this effort is arguably one of union busting.

In A+PEL’s history, the organization notes that in 1976, when the Louisiana Teachers’ Association and the Louisiana Education Association merged to become the Louisiana Association of Educators, some members did not want to also be members of the LEA’s national affiliate, the National Education Association (NEA).

I get this. If I had my preference, I would have the Federation become completely independent of the national affiliate, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). A more realistic goal is to reduce the proportion of local dues paid to the national organization. I have recently had a conversation with Federation president, Brant Osborn, about this very issue.

However, I realize that cutting the local union to spite the national affiliate face would be folly, for I know that my local union officers work hard to advocate for St. Tammany school employees and that as one of those employees, I reap the benefits of their unrelenting advocacy.

Sure, I could pay less and become a memer of A+PEL (A+PEL’s mailing to me includes, “A+PEL does save Louisiana teachers around $300 per year on membership fees compared with union fees”). However, paying less would mean getting less, and I do believe that in this world one gets what one pays for.

Go cheap, get cheap.

On the other hand, consider this union effort by Federation president, Brant Osborn, from the September 09, 2022,

More than half of the district’s budget —approximately $273.9 million — is dedicated to salaries for the district’s 5,200 employees. The board and employees’ union, the St. Tammany Federation of Teachers and School Employees, agreed in May on the employee raises, which will average around 4.4%, school district and union officials have said. 

A+PEL did not lobby for this raise. As a labor union, the Federation is a 501c5 nonprofit and therefore “may further its exempt purposes through lobbying as its primary activity without jeopardizing its exempt status.” In contrast, A+PEL is a 501c3 nonprofit; it can lobby, but not devote a “substantial part” of its activites to seeking to influence political activities. Organizations with 501c3 status can also operate sister organizations that are 501c4 nonprofits, thereby being deemed “social welfare orgaizations” and able to lobby via the 501c4. A+PEL does not operate a 501c4, which makes sense given that its “Facts about A+PEL” literature indicates that it

  • “does not contribute to Political Parties or Political Action Committees (PACS)”
  • “does not endorse political candidates”
  • “does not tell members who to vote for or how to vote on political issues”

Meanwhile, the same literature vaguely states that A+PEL “does have a voice in educational issues on the state and national level.”

Also, on its benefits page, A+PEL states that it “actively solicits support from legislators concerning issues that affect its members and takes a position on various education bills in accordance with its mission,” which it can do as a 501c3 in limited fashion. There is no link to specifics, so I count this statement as fluff.

A+PEL lists district representatives and regional chapters, but I have Brant Osborn attending and speaking on my behalf like clockwork at local school board meetings.

The St. Tammany Federation actively negotiates for its members on the local level. From the February 22, 2022,

After weeks of tension with the school district’s bus drivers, the St. Tammany Parish School Board and the school district’s employees union have agreed on pay increases for the drivers that are four times the amount the district initially offered.

The board offered the pay increases during a special meeting Monday night. The St. Tammany Federation of Teachers and School Employees, after gathering the feelings of its members, accepted the increase after having rejected other proposals in recent weeks. …

Bus drivers will get a total of $4,100 — $400 per month for four months and a $2,500 emergency stipend for “operational pay.” The proposal also calls for drivers who cover routes for other drivers to get $20 for driving a extra morning route and $20 for an extra afternoon route not to exceed $40 per day. That pay will be retroactive to Aug. 6, 2021. …

Tiffany Hunt, a parent who spoke during Monday’s meeting, chided St. Tammany schools Superintendent Frank Jabbia for an automated call the school district sent to parents after the bus driver sickout. “Most parents are backing bus drivers 100%,” she said. “I wasn’t even alive when the last increase was given.”

A+PEL did not advocate for these St. Tammany pay increases, but the Federation did.

I won’t be dropping my local union for fluff.

Go cheap; get cheap.

No thanks, A+PEL. I choose to continue to invest in my local union’s advocacy on my behalf.


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  1. It’s not exactly fluff. It’s part of the anti-union movement, and they’d like nothing better than for us to have no power or leverage at all. Utterly despicable. I wonder where they got your contact info.

  2. G. H. Harris permalink

    Very interesting…

    As I’m new to the education field, I appreciate the insight you’ve shared here. I’ve seen the A+PEL logo on classroom stationary in the past, and now I understand a bit more about it. Thanks for the info!

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