Are Teacher Unions Gouging Teachers?
How much money do teachers unions really need to collect from their members to represent their interests with their employers?
One way we can find out is to see how much money the various branches of the national and state teachers unions have left over after paying the people who work directly for the unions themselves, whose jobs are to represent the member teachers at their school districts and perhaps also to represent their interests at the state and national level as well.
With that in mind, any money collected from mandatory union dues that sharply exceeds the costs of compensating the union’s own employees or the costs of operating the union itself, such as rent for office or meeting space for the union’s employees, would have to be considered to be excessive. If excessively excessive, the amount of dues above that basic level would constitute gouging on the part of the union bosses, who set the level of their represented teachers’ dues, as they would be collecting far more in dues than what is genuinely necessary to represent their members’ at their employers.
The dynamic table we’re presenting below takes data compiled by the Education Intelligency Agency from the National Education Association (NEA) and its state affiliates. You can sort the data presented in the table according to the category given in each of the column headings, either from low to high or from high to low by clicking the column heading a second time. If you’re accessing this table from one of our RSS feeds, you’ll need to click through to our site to take full advantage of the dynamic table’s sorting capability.
|U.S. Education Union Revenues and Employee Compensation by State, 2008-09|
|State or Entity||Union Affiliate||Total Revenue ||Revenue from Member Dues||Employee Compensation ||Surplus Revenue ||Surplus Revenue [Percent of Member Dues]||Political Party in Control |
|United States||National Education Association (National HQ)||366,933,105||352,393,169||118,553,883||233,839,286||63.7%||Democratic|
|Alabama||Alabama Education Association||20,624,711||15,464,423||10,296,776||5,167,647||25.1%||Democratic|
|Arizona||Arizona Education Association||10,153,905||8,316,766||6,368,492||1,948,274||19.2%||Republican|
|Arkansas||Arkansas Education Association||4,455,217||3,952,091||2,938,202||1,013,889||22.8%||Democratic|
|California||California Teachers Association||176,868,803||178,923,363||83,373,700||95,549,663||54.0%||Democratic|
|Colorado||Colorado Education Association||11,547,934||10,479,538||6,641,638||3,837,900||33.2%||Democratic|
|Connecticut||Connecticut Education Association||18,096,257||17,273,742||14,961,202||2,312,540||12.8%||Democratic|
|Delaware||Delaware State Education Association||4,806,832||3,934,655||2,763,703||1,170,952||24.4%||Democratic|
|Florida||Florida Education Association||30,562,586||25,235,581||12,384,364||12,851,217||42.0%||Republican|
|Georgia||Georgia Association of Educators||9,573,040||7,660,449||6,091,621||1,568,828||16.4%||Republican|
|Hawaii||Hawaii Sate Teachers Association||7,684,800||6,882,900||4,247,781||2,635,119||34.3%||Democratic|
|Hawaii||University of Hawaii Professional Assembly||3,345,352||3,173,552||960,866||2,212,686||66.1%||Democratic|
|Idaho||Idaho Education Association||5,206,116||4,177,234||3,262,721||914,513||17.6%||Republican|
|Illinois||Illinois Education Association||48,327,911||42,345,994||50,016,259||-7,670,265||-15.9%||Democratic|
|Indiana||Indiana State Teachers Association||21,644,245||19,634,746||20,485,393||-850,647||-3.9%||Split|
|Iowa||Iowa State Education Association||14,317,046||12,608,093||9,435,891||3,172,202||22.2%||Democratic|
|Kentucky||Kentucky Education Association||11,393,174||9,740,133||6,668,526||3,071,607||27.0%||Split|
|Louisiana||Louisiana Association o fEducators||3,923,728||2,921,692||2,323,359||598,333||15.2%||Democratic|
|Maine||Maine Education Association||7,752,189||5,836,496||5,410,294||426,202||5.5%||Democratic|
|Maryland||Maryland State Education Association||18,678,952||16,440,085||11,755,639||4,684,446||25.1%||Democratic|
|Massachusetts||Massachusetts Teachers Association||40,035,184||36,164,880||21,125,727||15,039,153||37.6%||Democratic|
|Michigan||Michigan Education Association||78,138,236||65,771,358||55,389,591||10,381,767||13.3%||Split|
|Mississippi||Mississippi Association of Educators||2,225,990||1,274,502||1,372,860||-98,358||-4.4%||Democratic|
|Nebraska||Nebraska State Education Association||8,697,451||7,255,736||4,841,960||2,413,776||27.8%||Republican|
|Nevada||Nevada State Education Association||9,455,151||7,661,368||3,729,526||3,931,842||41.6%||Democratic|
|New Hampshire||NEA New Hampshire||6,391,083||5,297,637||4,314,136||983,501||15.4%||Democratic|
|New Jersey||New Jersey Education Association||112,152,523||104,075,758||45,357,538||58,718,220||52.4%||Democratic|
|New Mexico||NEA New Mexico||3,155,126||2,033,113||1,850,301||182,812||5.8%||Democratic|
|New York||New York State United Teachers||125,156,340||109,122,676||77,329,394||31,793,282||25.4%||Democratic|
|North Carolina||North Carolina Association of Educators||11,161,779||9,399,136||7,629,623||1,769,513||15.9%||Democratic|
|North Dakota||North Dakota Education Association||2,767,791||1,925,401||1,539,293||386,108||14.0%||Republican|
|Ohio||Ohio Education Association||59,252,311||56,664,971||26,642,028||30,022,943||50.7%||Split|
|Oklahoma||Oklahoma Education Association||8,111,500||6,164,071||4,005,152||2,158,919||26.6%||Republican|
|Oregon||Oregon Education Association||22,016,164||18,689,618||23,264,534||-4,574,916||-20.8%||Democratic|
|Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania State Education Association||64,727,092||54,856,881||36,075,940||18,780,941||29.0%||Split|
|Rhode Island||NEA Rhode IslanDemocratic||4,064,571||3,176,651||3,052,203||124,448||3.1%||Democratic|
|South Carolina||South Carolina Education Association||2,488,068||1,634,617||1,289,881||344,736||13.9%||Republican|
|South Dakota||South Dakota Education Association||2,460,289||1,674,654||1,348,401||326,253||13.3%||Republican|
|Tennessee||Tennessee Education Association||12,074,558||11,286,837||8,503,148||2,783,689||23.1%||Republican|
|Texas||Texas State Teachers Association||11,230,446||8,166,469||6,276,107||1,890,362||16.8%||Republican|
|Utah||Utah Education Association||3,400,957||2,746,270||2,046,444||699,826||20.6%||Republican|
|Utah||Utah School Employees Association||1,815,927||1,317,564||906,304||411,260||22.6%||Republican|
|Virginia||Virginia Education Association||15,211,783||12,398,133||10,908,364||1,489,769||9.8%||Split|
|Washington||Washington Education Association||32,773,708||27,445,668||32,878,313||-5,432,645||-16.6%||Democratic|
|West Virginia||West Virginia Education Association||3,250,276||2,640,051||1,794,604||845,447||26.0%||Democratic|
|Wisconsin||Wisconsin Education Association Council||25,480,973||23,458,810||14,382,812||9,075,998||35.6%||Democratic|
|Wyoming||Wyoming Education Association||3,370,689||2,440,382||1,581,344||859,038||25.5%||Republican|
|Military||Federal Education Association (DoD Schools)||2,411,815||2,119,056||1,042,094||1,076,962||44.7%||N/A|
The key data in the table above is found in the Surplus Revenue [Percent of Member Dues] column. Here, the mean and median “surplus” percentage was 22.1% and 22.4% respectively.
Using these mean and median figures as a baseline value, we identify any union affiliate with a surplus percentage of member dues greater than 25% of the total member dues collected as potentially having set their member dues in excess of that required to legitimately represent the interests of teachers at their employers. We’ve shaded the rows of the table where the union affiliate’s surplus dues exceed this level.
We also note several union affiliates that appear to have been substantially mismanaged in 2008-09, in that their expenditures for compensating their direct employees exceed the revenue collected by dues imposed upon their union’s member teachers. The states that fall in this category include Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Oregon and Washington. The rows for these states have been shaded red in the table above.
But to answer the question we asked at the outset, some teachers are indeed being gouged by their union’s bosses – the ones whose state legislatures were controlled by the Democratic party in 2008-09 and whose union bosses are sending the member teachers’ money. The amount of the gouging would be approximately the amount in excess of 25% of each education union affiliate’s total revenue from their members’ dues.
We see that at the national level, where surplus member dues exceed 63% of the total member dues collected. Using our 25% threshold as the cap for “legitimate” union representation expenses, this suggests that the portion of teachers union dues that go to the national affiliate of the NEA could be reduced by 40% without impacting the ability of the teachers to have their interests effectively represented at this level.
The states whose education unions are most gouging their teachers members include Hawaii (with surplus member dues of 66% and 34% for the state’s two NEA affiliates), California (54%), Ohio (50.7%), Florida (42.0%), Nevada (41.6%), Massachusetts (37.6%) and Wisconsin (35.6%). At a minimum, teachers’ union dues could be reduced by anywhere from 10% to 25% in these states without impacting the union affiliates ability to just represent the teachers at their employers.
Finally, we note a significant divergence between states with legislatures controlled by members of the Democratic party and those states whose legislatures are either controlled by the Republicans or are split between the two major U.S. political parties.
Here, after adding up the amount of surplus revenue remaining after the union affiliates employees compensation has been subtracted from the total member dues collected, we find that states with Democratic legislatures account for $237,616,324 of the total surplus dues collected, or 70.7% of the $335,937,045 of the total surplus member dues collected in 2008-09 for the NEA’s state affiliates.
By contrast, union affiliates in states with divided legislatures account for $66,067,598, or 19.7% of the total surplus collected, while union affiliates in states with legislatures controlled by the Republican party have surplus member dues collections of $32,253,123, or 9.6% of the total surplus collected among all states.
There are some different ways to interpret what this divergence means. First, it could indicate that teachers in states with legislatures with at least one division of the state legislature controlled by the Republican party are happier with that situation, as it indicates that the teachers aren’t massing funds to support a prolonged strike in those states. That would also mean that teachers in states with Democratic-party controlled legislatures are less happy with that situation, and that they were preparing to support massive walkouts in 2008-09.
Yes, we laughed at that idea too! More likely, what’s going on is that the teachers unions in states with Democratic party-controlled legislatures have been effectively captured by Democratic party members, who are using the surplus member dues to fund their party’s political candidates at all levels in those states.
But we’d love to see the reaction of the state union bosses with high levels of dues gouging if anyone ever asks them if the reason why union dues would seem to be so much lower in the so-called Republican-controlled states is because Republicans are better at keeping unionized teachers happy!
Notes for the Table
 Total Revenue combines member dues with investment gains or losses.
 Compensation includes the cost of wages, payroll taxes, pension contributions and other benefits paid on behalf of individual employees. Travel and similar tax-deductible expenses are not included. We should also note that the Education Intelligence Agency indicates that some union affiliates (e.g. Michigan) would appear to have included retirees and/or others in their employee compensation totals.
 Surplus Revenue is calculated by subtracting Employee Compensation expenses from Revenue from Member Dues.
 The political party in control refers to the political party with majorities in the state or national legislature. This information was obtained from Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball web site.
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