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In Nevada, A Tale of Two Different Teachers’ Unions

By Michele McNeil — January 14, 2008 1 min read

The teachers’ unions are very busy in Nevada, which will host a presidential primary on Jan. 19. But the political strategies of the two powerful, rival unions — the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association — are very different.

To make sure their teachers are heard, one union has filed a lawsuit seeking to drown out another union’s voice, while the other teachers’ union is using the grassroots method.

The Nevada State Teachers Association, an affiliate of the NEA, is suing the state Democratic Party for making it easier for culinary workers in the Las Vegas casinos to vote. The state’s largest union, which represents the casino and culinary workers, has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. Although the Nevada teachers’ union hasn’t endorsed in the race, some of its top officials are supporting Clinton. On Meet the Press on Sunday, Clinton was asked if she supports the lawsuit, filed on Friday. She said she hadn’t even read the lawsuit, which she maintained was not coming from her camp.

Meanwhile, the AFT (which has endorsed Clinton), is taking the winning strategy from New Hampshire to Nevada, where today union leaders will help organize retired teachers and other union workers, according to an AFT press release announcing events. Though Nevada isn’t an AFT state, the union is nonetheless going to work on drumming up support among teachers, retirees, women, and other union members who are seen as key to Clinton’s success.

Below, listen to Sen. Clinton on Sunday’s Meet the Press. Her response to the teachers’ union lawsuit is near the end of the 50-minute interview.

Update: Read Mike Atonucci’s post about the NEA’s “acceptable” candidates.

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