Mike Antonucci reports on frightening incidents of violence by a Florida NEA union steward. Like Mike, we will concentrate on his role as a union “attack dog”. Wendell Nibbs makes Pat Tornillo look like a puppy dog in comparison. His actions are right up there with some of the worst violent incidents perpetrated by the United Mine Workers, The United Auto Workers and The Teamsters.
That story needs as much attention as possible, and I encourage you to read it in full. But because of my particular beat, I wanted to highlight a portion of it that isn’t really related to Nibbs’ alleged crimes. Mike quotes from Colleen Wright’s Miami Herald article, which is repeated here.
It has to do with Nibbs’ behavior as an elected representative of the United Teacher of Dade.
Nibbs was elected as a UTD building steward by his peers at Brownsville. Several stewards said UTD leadership used Nibbs to intimidate other stewards who would question leadership at meetings.
Josh Paolino, a former steward of six years at South Miami Middle, said he knew Nibbs as the guy who would approach or stand behind stewards who got up to speak. If a steward raised concerns about the executive board, Nibbs would tell them, “You need to stop your bitching and moaning.”
“The way I thought it was, it was a form of intimidation,” Paolino said. “He was a pretty large dude.”
…Mary A. Milan, who spent seven years as a steward at G. Holmes Braddock Senior High, described Nibbs as UTD’s “bloodhound.”
“He was their attack dog,” she said. “Any time someone opposed the leadership, stood up and said something. He was one of the loudest voices who said, ‘Shut up, you don’t know what you’re talking about.’ ”
I have seen similar tactics firsthand at union meetings elsewhere. While one steward quoted here implies he was physically intimidated, there is never any danger or threat of violence. Instead, it is simply the notification that your views will not be heard or treated with respect.
Nibbs will be far away from classrooms and union halls for a long time. But I doubt he was the only “bloodhound” in UTD’s kennel.