Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A final Mike Antonucci comment:


How Austerity Works Inside the Teachers' Unions. These are not the best of times for teachers' unions. There are the significant policy differences with the Obama administration. There are a growing number of emboldened Democrats who no longer quake in fear when they hear the footsteps of the union's lobbyists. But worst of all, education employees are being laid off. And that means fewer union members.


Despite some creative reporting, NEA is facing membership losses unlike any in the last 30 years. It's time for some belt-tightening... of sorts.


Delegates to the national union's 2010 representative assembly will be asked to approve a $354.7 million budget - a budget 0.3 percent smaller than last year's. Set aside your concerns. NEA has already appropriated $5 million for its political operations during the 2010 campaign.


The union's state affiliates are implementing similar measures. The Indiana State Teachers Association, having already chalked up a $40 dues hike to help pay for its failed insurance trust, will boost them another $10 for the 2010-11 school year. The California Teachers Association, which claims to have lost 16,000 members, will increase dues by $18 to $639 for the coming year. This insures that the $15 per member for "advocacy," the $16 for the media advertising fund, the $17.97 for the union's PACs, and the $36 for the ballot initiative fund will not be adversely affected.


The latter fund will be tapped this month, to the tune of up to $1 million to defeat Proposition 14 in the June primary. The initiative would establish an open primary system in the state.


It isn't surprising that NEA affiliates would raise dues rather than reduce spending, but the union's dues formula also means such increases are likely to continue. NEA and many of its state affiliates set dues at a percentage of the average teacher salary. When many teachers are being hired, dues increases are small, since the new teachers are at the bottom of the salary scale and thus deflate the average salary.


But during a time of layoffs, the average salary is likely to increase out of proportion to increases in wages because the low end of the salary scale is removed. Those who keep their jobs due to seniority will find themselves paying higher dues for the privilege.

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