The Ohio Education Association (OEA), Ohio’s largest labor union, spent the past six months promoting progressive candidates and policies and is now celebrating widespread success. Like its parent union the National Education Association (NEA), OEA is a business which relies on bigger government, higher taxes, and politicians who will deliver both.
NEA and OEA have been firm allies of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat identified by National Journal as the Senate’s “Most Liberal” in both 2009 and 2010. NEA published a statement from union president Dennis Van Roekel immediately following Brown’s November 6 reelection.
“His re-election is a victory for students and for public education. As educators, we are confident he will continue to make education a top priority in the Senate. He will fight for the middle class and will make sure everyone has a fair shot,” Van Roekel said.
Dennis Van Roekel was paid $460,060 in 2011, according to an NEA report to the U.S. Department of Labor.
“When the Buckeye state faced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression that threatened tens of thousands of education jobs, Sen. Brown voted to provide emergency relief to the states, saving nearly 8,000 education jobs—teachers, nurses, librarians and other critical school personnel,” the union boss added.
After voting for President Obama’s failed 2009 “stimulus” bill, which sent billions in federal funds to schools caught between plummeting tax revenues and unsustainable NEA demands, Brown proposed multiple other union bailouts over the past several years.
NEA derives power from portraying educators as a voting bloc uniformly in favor of such bailouts, and Ohio’s forced-union status means OEA is free to expend huge amounts of time and money pushing this narrative.
Critics of OEA – whose executives are paid six figures in member dues – are smeared as opponents of public education, while teachers who disagree with OEA’s progressive politics are demeaned or simply ignored.
In the months leading up to November 6, the official OEA Facebook and Twitter accounts resembled a progressive college student’s blog as the union repeated memes and talking points ridiculing any opponent of big government.
The November 2012 issue of the union’s Ohio Schools magazine featured OEA campaign volunteers in matching “Educators for Obama” shirts. The cover story of the magazine opened with a quote from OEA President Patricia Frost-Brooks, who said, “The decision is clear, however, when you consider the priorities of our supporters, President Obama and Senator Sherrod Brown, versus those who will never truly prioritize public education, educators and students.”
Unknown to teachers who rely on OEA for political news, the union defines a politician who will “prioritize public education” as one who will never upset the union apple cart of seniority-based pay and layoffs, and who will raise taxes without demanding accountability or promoting school choice.
NEA proudly announced in its November 6 release that “more than 9,795 NEA members in Ohio were active in the campaigns to support Sherrod Brown and President Obama.” The union also claimed it had campaign volunteers in all but one of Ohio’s 88 counties, and spent $1 million on a television ad promoting Brown.
As Media Trackers has reported, OEA promoted President Obama in cover stories on the August, September, and October issues of Ohio Schools in 2008 and 2012. Though the magazine is produced and distributed with dues taken from all members, photos of Obama were used for the October 2008 and October 2012 covers, and the August 2012 cover was a photo of OEA Educators for Obama volunteers.