After some prompting from the SPCNJ and others, the NJEA has announced that Ed Richardson is out and Steve Swetsky is in. The NJEA says Richardson is retiring, which is an ordinary reason for leaving a position, so it’s still a little odd that the NJEA was caught so flat-footed. Without the prompting, one wonders when dues-paying teachers and New Jersey citizens would have found out. But, in any event, the cloak of silence is now lifted.
In Swetsky, the NJEA gets another political operator as ED. Previous SPCNJ reports have shown that during Richardson’s tenure, the NJEA was transformed into a thoroughly political organization. In 2013 – Richardson’s first year as ED – the NJEA Executive Office was taken over by political organizers from UniServ, and in 2016 the NJEA shifted its style of unionism from a “services model” to an “organizing model” – that is, political organizing. Thanks to Richardson, the NJEA is now a taxpayer-funded political machine.
The NJEA makes clear that Swetsky will be more of the same. Swetsky was a political organizer for UniServ from 2000 to 2013, when he became Assistant ED. Fittingly, NJEA President Blistan highlights Swetsky’s “belief in the power of member organizing” as a key attribute. Richardson agrees: “From the first time we met, his focus on member organizing and empowerment has never wavered.”
So, we New Jersey citizens can expect a continuation of the NJEA’s “all politics, all the time” – style of unionism. That means millions for “dark money” groups and the kind of outsized political influence that has our governor acting as TV spokesman for the NJEA’s agenda. Needed reform will be virtually impossible.
Under Swetsky, the NJEA will strive to continue its leading position in New Jersey’s special-interest-dominated status quo. That may benefit the NJEA and its allies. New Jersey citizens not so much.
Read the full NJEA announcement here.