1) Fifteen NEA State Affiliates Are
"Financially Distressed." It might be hard to
understand how the National Education Association and its state affiliates -
a $1.5 billion annual enterprise - can be experiencing serious money
troubles, but there is no longer any question about it. The revelation comes
from the people most familiar with the situation - the union's own
The National Staff Organization (NSO) is
the umbrella group for the staff unions that represent employees who work
for NEA's state affiliates. Each year, NSO holds its Winter Advocacy Retreat
- also known as W.A.R. College - where NEA employees learn and strategize
about current labor issues, both internal and external. This year's
conference wrapped up last Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Miami.
report to members, NSO divulged just how bad things have gotten:
Fifteen states are considered to be financially distressed
because of membership loss and their very survival is in jeopardy. And
because of financial hardship, 41 state executives are on NEA's payroll
instead of being paid by their state. Two states -
South Carolina - remain under an NEA trusteeship.
...Membership losses and the precarious financial position of
some states mean an estimated $12 million shortfall this year for NEA and a
projected $27 million shortfall next year. As a result, NEA is looking to
reduce 88 staff positions. Currently, 124 NEA staff are eligible to retire
and have until March 15 to take a proposed retirement incentive.
Even allowing for overstatement, these
figures put NEA in a financial bind unprecedented in its recent history.
It's important in this context to view NEA and its affiliates as private
employers who can afford large and well-compensated staffs when the teacher
force is growing and enjoying substantial pay raises, upon which union dues
are based. However, NEA is not well-adapted to budget cuts, since its own
staff unions are certain to use their considerable skills to prevent mass
layoffs or salary/benefit reductions.
It is likely that the union will utilize
internal budget-cutting measures to carry itself through the short-term,
while banking on external efforts to reverse its fortunes in the long-term.
These efforts make take the form of organizing non-union teachers, or
increased lobbying and politicking for public policies that will tend to
positively affect the union's bottom line.
Unlike the American Federation of
Teachers, NEA has always had an affiliate in every state, even though some
of them have always been dependent on NEA subsidies for survival. Even if
financially desirable, NEA could not withstand the blow to its prestige to
start shutting down affiliates. At the same time, propping up weak
affiliates is draining strong ones. Who will bail out whom is the difficult
choice NEA now faces.
2) Last Week's Intercepts.
Intercepts, covered these topics from January 31-February 6:
Other Than That, It's a Great Idea! No doubt about it.
We've got to get another hat.
NEA's 403(b) Redemption. The union wisely works to inform members about
who stands to benefit from their investment choices.
Capitol Becomes Teachers' Lounge. The one market where Wal-Mart can't
"We're Not in a Position to Get More Money." The California Teachers
Association won't ask members for more money. That's the taxpayers'
Balanced Budget: California Style. Earn less. Spend more.
New York Higher Ed Disaffiliation. Too many national affiliates for SUNY
Quote of the Week.
"We have a potential crime that has gone unreported, at least to law
enforcement. There's going to be a complete and thorough investigation." -
Beau Oglesby, state's attorney for Worcester County, Maryland, commenting on
news that the Worcester County Teachers Association reported an embezzlement
of over $100,000 (almost half its annual income) to the IRS, but not to law
enforcement authorities. Local and state union officers refused to comment.
Worcester County Times)