Andrew Napolitano used a deceptively cropped portion of a July 2009 speech given by former NEA General Counsel Bob Chanin to claim that unions are solely interested in attaining power, not advocating for workers. In fact, Chanin said in that very speech that “what unions do first and foremost is represent their members.”
Napolitano: Video Shows Union Official Admitting That They Are For “Power” And Not “The Workers”
Napolitano Airs Cropped Video And Claims Union Official “Admitted” That “They Say They Are For The Workers, But It Really All Boils Down To Power.” From Fox News' Glenn Beck:
NAPOLITANO: If the Wisconsin fourteen keep playing hide-and-seek instead of getting back to work, it's going to cost them. Today, Republicans in the State Senate voted to approve a resolution that fines the missing Democrats $100 for each session day that they miss. The lawmakers are avoiding voting on a bill that would take power away from public worker unions. And you know what power means to unions.
They say they are for the workers, but it really all boils down to power, doesn't it? And I'm not just saying that. Even union leaders have admitted to it. Listen to what former General Counsel of the NEA -- the National Education Association, which is the largest union in the United States -- once said about putting power before children.
CHANIN (video clip): Despite what some among us would like to believe, it is not because we care about children, and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year.
NAPOLITANO: Unbelievable. That is the lawyer for the largest union in the United States. You can't make this stuff up. If you put that in a script, in a movie, no one would find it believable. Joining us now with more facts about unions you might not know about is Tim Phillips, President of Americans for Prosperity. Tim, it's a pleasure. Welcome back to The Glenn Beck Program. I mean, this guy that we just listened to is really unbelievable.
It's about the millions of dollars in dues and it's about our power. It's not about what we do for the kids. Question: Is that typical of labor union leadership of public sector unions in the United States of America today, Tim? [Fox News, The Glenn Beck Program, 3/09/11]
Union Official: “What Unions Do First And Foremost Is Represent Their Members”
Chanin: “Creative Ideas” And “The Merit Of Our Positions” Are Not Enough To Make NEA An “Effective Advocate.” In his farewell address, former NEA General Counsel Bob Chanin said the NEA's “creative ideas,” “vision,” and care for children were not enough to ensure that NEA is an “effective advocate.” Rather, he said that ensuring the power of the NEA would “enable us to achieve our vision of a great public school for every child.” Chanin also said, “When all is said and done, NEA and its affiliates must never lose sight of the fact that they are unions, and what unions do first and foremost is represent their members.”
From Chanin's speech (the portions in bold show the deceptively cropped quote used by Napolitano):
And that brings me to my final and most important point. Which is why, at least in my opinion, NEA and its affiliates are such effective advocates. Despite what some among us would like to believe, it is not because of our creative ideas. It is not because of the merit of our positions. It is not because we care about children. And it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them, the unions that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees.
This is not to say that the concern of NEA and its affiliates with closing achievement gaps, reducing dropout rates, improving teacher quality, and the like are unimportant or inappropriate. To the contrary, these are the goals that guide the work we do. But they need not and must not be achieved at the expense of due process, employee rights, and collective bargaining. That simply is too high a price to pay.
When all is said and done, NEA and its affiliates must never lose sight of the fact that they are unions, and what unions do first and foremost is represent their members. If we do that. If we do that and if we do it well, the rest will fall into place. NEA and its affiliates will remain powerful and that power will in turn enable us to achieve our vision of a great public school for every child.
Today, NEA has thanked me for some of the things that I have done. But this is in a sense, backwards. It is I who should thank NEA for giving me the opportunity to spend almost 50 years of my working life for causes that I truly believe in and to be part of an organization that has made a difference in the lives of children and education employees and has led the defense of public education. [NEA, 7/6/09]