A controversial program operates in Tennessee through the state’s largest teachers’ union, taking in nearly $70 million a year, according to a National Education Association-affiliated website.
Known as the Unified Staff Service Program, or UniServ for short, it’s the NEA’s largest program. A recipient of harsh criticism, the program uses inflammatory Saul Alinksy tactics to help members get their way,
Union members fund the program, with more than 20 percent of their money taken from union dues, the same website said.
UniServ workers conduct collective bargaining and other negotiations on behalf of union members, according to a job advertisement on the Pennsylvania State Education Association’s website. The ad says UniServ members “train locals in political activism” and community organizing.
The Tennessee Education Association is affiliated with the NEA.
The TEA has 21 UniServ agents spread around 19 regions throughout Tennessee, according to the TEA’s website.
No one from the TEA or the NEA returned repeated requests for comment this week.
In the book “Power Grab: How the National Education Association is Betraying Our Children,” author G. Gregory Moo says the NEA uses UniServ members to intimidate school administrators and control school board members.
UniServ operatives teach Alinksy tactics that heighten conflict as a way to achieve their goals, Moo wrote.
“In practice and by design UniServ operatives are specifically chosen, specially-trained, highly-paid shock troops,” Moo wrote, adding even principals and parents fear them.
“They are like the Communist Party’s zampolits who were attached to every Soviet military unit to keep troops and officers in compliance with party objectives.”
The Wall Street Journal called UniServ operatives “an army of paid political organizers and lobbyists.”
The Washington Times, meanwhile, said UniServ officers have tremendous clout over Democratic Party politics.
Moo wrote his book about UniServ in 1999.
UniServ operatives made between $60,000 to $100,000 a year with a benefits package of about 35 percent, Moo wrote at the time he published the book.
Quoting from a 1995 National Institute for Labor Relations Research report, 22 percent of the NEA’s dues — $92 at the time — went to UniServ.
No one at the NILRR returned Tennessee Watchdog’s request for current numbers.
UniServ members, Moo wrote, make it a “high priority to get contract language that maximizes the union’s income stream.”
That money comes from taxpayers, Moo said.
According to one NEA-affiliated website, UniServ was created in 1970 and has 1,953 staff members nationwide. The money that pays for UniServ operatives doesn’t come from the NEA’s general fund, the website says.
As reported, other groups in Tennessee involved in public education use Alinksy tactics.
The website Williamson Strong, say the people behind it, delivers only news about the Williamson County School System. Others say it’s a front for unions, who use the site to smear and slander local conservatives.
Williamson Strong, some say, has bullied several critics into silence, as it rails against vouchers and refers to people who disapprove of the way the school teaches about Islam as bigoted and small-minded.
Williamson County businessman Don Beehler said the movement is straight out of the Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals playbook.
The Strong Schools movement also exists in Sumner County, and one local journalist who covered them, Neil Siders, said group members created a website to ridicule him and his family with what he called “nasty, sexual things.”
That same year, the Tennessean newspaper credited Strong Schools with influencing county commissioners to raise property taxes an additional 23 percent.
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