Ohio Union Honors Leftist Blog with “Friend of Education” Award

Ohio Education Association (OEA) recently recognized Plunderbund, a leftist blog close to the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP), with the union’s annual Friend of Education Award.

Plunderbund was founded by Eric Vessels, who briefly left the blog to help Brian Rothenberg launch “progressive” activist group ProgressOhio. Rothenberg, who is still ProgressOhio’s executive director, was ODP communications director when he was selected for the job.

Left-wing attorney Brian Hester’s work for Plunderbund landed him his current position as deputy communications director for ODP.

“The OEA Friend of Education Award is awarded to an individual or organization whose leadership actions and support have contributed to the improvement of public education on a statewide or national level,” an announcement in the June issue of OEA’s magazine explained.

Plunderbund’s receipt of the Friend of Education Award is one small example of the huge amount of energy — and member dues — OEA spends promoting “progressive” politicians and big-government policies while claiming to speak for all Ohio teachers.

Last year, hard-left union shill and MSNBC host Ed Schultz was recognized as OEA’s “Friend of Education.” OEA staff frequently promote vitriol from Schultz, Plunderbund, and union-friendly leftist sources through OEA’s official social media accounts.

In 2012, the union’s Ohio Schools magazine included a note that annual publication costs were $6.51 per member. At the time, OEA had 124,000 members — which means the union spent over $800,000 on Ohio Schools that year.

Like everything else OEA does, the magazine pushes the idea that supporting public education means supporting politicians who will expand government.

The June 2014 issue of Ohio Schools, for example, included a two-page story promoting Democrat gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald and a full-page story encouraging readers to donate to OEA’s Fund for Children and Public Education political action committee.

Recent issues of Ohio Schools no longer bear any indication of the magazine’s cost to members.

The OEA Fund for Children and Public Education is routinely at or near the top of ODP’s donor list in campaign finance reports. OEA topped the list this spring, contributing $150,000 to the party.

The largest labor union in the state, OEA takes around $700 per year from teachers in school districts across Ohio regardless of whether those teachers want to join the union. Employees of OEA are paid an average of $100,000 per year with money taken from teachers.

The union had 119,818 members as of August 31, 2013, a decrease of 2,286 from the previous year. Despite updating the first page of Ohio Schools to list new officers, OEA still describes the magazine as “The professional publication of more than 121,000 members of the Ohio Education Association.”

OEA is currently in the process of settling a class-action suit filed by current and former Ohio teachers who accuse the union of charging excessive “fair share” fees to nonmembers.