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November 30 2014

Teachers Union Membership Tanks, and the Boss Gets a Huge Raise

Vicki E. Alger

The National Education Association (NEA), the country’s largest teacher’s union, is apparently basing its compensation strategy on Common Core math.

This summer NEA president Dennis Van Roekel retired, and under his leadership the NEA lost some 40,000 members this past year alone. At around $180 each in annual membership dues, that works out to a $7.2 million revenue loss. But instead of keeping Van Roekel’s salary constant, or even docking it, the NEA gave him a $130,000 raise. As Watchdog.org’s Jason Hart reports:

Van Roekel, who retired this summer, was paid $541,632 during NEA’s fiscal year ending Aug. 31 — a $130,000 increase from last year, driven by a gross salary hike from $306,286 to $429,509. NEA membership dropped from 3,003,885 last August to 2,963,121 this August.

NEA, the nation’s largest labor union, has lost 272,014 members since 2009. The union paid Van Roekel $2.2 million from 2010-2014.

Losing more than a quarter of a million members didn’t keep Van Roekel from getting a huge raise this year. …

Despite the union’s sinking membership, Van Roekel was not the only NEA leader taking home a huge salary plus expenses this year. Executive Director John Stocks was paid $412,398, vice president Lily Eskelsen Garcia was paid $345,728, and secretary-treasurer Becky Pringle was paid $337,618. NEA paid 45 officers and employees more than $200,000.

Eskelsen Garcia is now president of NEA, elected by union delegates to serve as Van Roekel’s replacement.

In 21 states and the District of Columbia, teachers and others covered by NEA contracts can still be forced to pay union bosses as a condition of employment. While NEA membership has declined by 8.4 percent, the number of people paying mandatory NEA “agency fees” increased from 86,746 in 2009 to 90,255 this year.

If teachers had the right to choose to pay for this sort of performance, and they opted to do so, this story wouldn’t make headlines. The reason the NEA is getting so much media scrutiny is because most NEA teachers don’t have a choice over whether or not to join. The relatively few who do have to jump through all kinds of hoops to leave. Even then, they’re not completely out and must continue paying a part of their salaries to their union.

The good news is that more than 82 percent of Americans support employees’ right to work without having to be forced to join a union. And nearly 30 percent (28.7 percent) of current union members would leave their union as long as their benefits and pay weren’t negatively impacted.

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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