Money and Membership Dominate NEA State Affiliate Concerns

April 1, 2013

1) Money and Membership Dominate NEA State Affiliate Concerns. Spring is when many National Education Associations state affiliates hold their conventions, and while I wish I had access to all their budgets contemporaneously, there is usually a delay of a year or more before comprehensive numbers are available.

In the meantime we have to make do with a hand-gathered sample of states and what they are facing for the 2013-14 school year.

* Connecticut Education Association – One of NEA’s healthier state affiliates in 2011 became significantly less healthy in 2012 despite a budget surplus of more than $1 million. That’s because revenue projections to fund post-retirement benefits for union staff had to be reduced because of continued low interest rates. CEA has about $12 million in staff pension liabilities and an additional $9 million in post-retirement medical benefit liabilities.

The union budgeted for a membership level of 36,260, which would be about 1,000 members below 2011’s level.

* Missouri NEA – Planning on a $10 dues increase after a loss of 1,000 members last year – to just under 27,000. The union is budgeting 65 percent of its income for personnel costs.

* Ohio Education Association – OEA closed two field offices, reduced 10 staff positions by attrition, and realigned service regions to allow fewer employees to cover more ground. The union lost 4,600 members last year and is expecting to lose 3,000 more by the end of this school year. If the trend is not reversed, OEA will soon fall below 100,000 full-time equivalent members.

OEA also suffered greatly from its post-retirement obligations. It currently has about $60 million in pension and retiree health care liabilities. Pension and health care contributions was by far the largest line-item in the union’s budget, exceeding even salaries plus payroll taxes.

* Vermont NEA – Planning on no change in active membership of 10,350, but calling for an $18 per member dues increase for a $4.65 million budget for 2013-14. All but $1 million of that will be spent on employee salaries and benefits.

* Virginia Education Association – I don’t have detailed budget information for VEA, but it is reducing the number of regional districts from 26 to 17, and reducing the minimum number of representatives on the board of directors from 33 to 15. Additionally, VEA will amend its by-laws to allow for electronic meetings and conferences.

* Other affiliates are planning for dues increases. The Nebraska State Education Association will ask for $380 (up $4), Kansas NEA $374 (up $5), Iowa State Education Association $489 (up $8), South Dakota Education Association $381 (up $11), and Wyoming Education Association $490 (up $15).

If you have similar information for other affiliates and it can be verified with documentation, send it along and I’ll update everyone.

2) Last Week’s Intercepts. EIA’s blog, Intercepts, covered these topics March 26-April 1:

*  Bad, Bad Week in Indiana Courts for NEA, ISTA. The unions will face trial for securities fraud.

*  Is James G. Blaine Finally Dead? Vouchers will continue to see legal challenges, but one argument might become moot.

Decertification Oddities in Florida and Montana. Deadlines.

“House of Cards” Causes Union Guy to Flush. Switch to decaf, dude.

*  Campus Gun Ban Hit By Musket Volley. The shot heard ‘round the world.

Labor-Saving Technology. No e-mails for three weeks, and then all in one day from Feedburner. I switched to MailChimp and let’s hope that mess is behind us. Thanks for your patience.

3) Quote of the Week. “We don’t condone cheating, but when you have high-stakes testing, which are one-shot deals that don’t tell you whether a child is going to fail or succeed, the whole setup in terms of No Child Left Behind was unfair to children, unfair to educators.” – Verdaillia Turner, president of the Georgia Federation of Teachers, remarking on the indictments in the Atlanta test cheating scandal. (April 1 MSNBC)