How Alabama is on the verge of breaking one of the nation’s most powerful teachers’ unions

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For much of the last four decades, the Alabama Education Association has risen to become one of the most powerful teachers’ unions in the country. As odd as it may seem in a dark red state, over the years long-time AEA executive director Paul Hubbert, oftentimes described as the “shadow governor” of Alabama, has earned his union the distinction of being one of the most politically involved organizations of its type in the country.

Hubbert and the AEA won one of their first major battles in 1971, when they were able to keep then-Democratic Gov. George Wallace from directing funds meant for education and diverting them to the state retirement system. Since that victory, Hubbert has been able to wield his power and influence in ways that are almost unfathomable to an outsider.

Under Hubbert, the teachers’ union head has employed such tactics as installing his own un-elected assistant in state legislature budget committee hearings to be called upon by the committee chairman and essentially re-writing the state’s budget with little or no regard for what the governor had submitted to the state legislature.

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