Ten Things You Should Know About Union Membership Numbers

January 28, 2013

1) Ten Things You Should Know About Union Membership Numbers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual report on union membership last week and the news was pretty grim. While the economy added almost 2.4 million jobs in 2012, union membership was down by almost 400,000.

Digging through the data led to several more interesting discoveries.

1) Since 2008, private sector unions have lost more than 1.2 million members – almost equivalent to losing the entire rank-and-file of the Teamsters.

2) All of the government jobs lost since 2008 were added in the three-year period 2005-2008.

3) Almost half of all union members work in just seven states – California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio – though these states employ only about one-third of the U.S. workforce.

4) Union membership increased in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Of these, only five added more than 10,000 members (California, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas).

5) Local government (teachers, police officers, firefighters, et al.) is by far the most unionized sector of the American workforce.

6) Members of the two national teachers’ unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, comprise more than 25% of all union members in the United States, and just under half of all public sector union members.

7) About 42% of U.S. workers are 45 years of age or older. Almost 52% of union members are.

8) If unions were able to organize all the workers at Wal-Mart, by far America’s largest employer, it would only raise their share of the private sector workforce to 8.5% – less than the share they had in 2002.

9) If the trends recorded since 2000 continue, by 2051 there will be 8 million union members in the United States – 6.6% of the total workforce – and they will all work for the government.

10) Five million of them will be teachers.

2)  Last Week’s Intercepts. EIA’s blog, Intercepts, covered these topics from January 23-28:

*  Teacher Glut Is Elementary. Schools of education keep churning out candidates for jobs that don’t exist, while shortages in specialized areas persist.

Indianapolis Star Gives Teacher Union Troubles Front-Page Treatment. Mainstream media corroboration.

Union Membership at 62-Year Low. In actual number of warm bodies.

Evidently Only Money Can Light a Fire. Just the beginning.

3) Quote of the Week. “As we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of CTA, we must remember that we were founded for one reason – and one reason only – and that was to engage in politics. We were founded to engage in the political process in order to create an organized system of public instruction and to elevate the profession of teaching in California.” – Carolyn Doggett, executive director of the California Teachers Association, in a January 27 speech to the union’s State Council.

NEA Dues Keeping the Lights On in Indiana

January 22, 2013

1) NEA Dues Keeping the Lights On in Indiana. Teachers in Mississippi or New Mexico who are paying dues to the National Education Association should have a reasonable expectation that their money is paying for utilities and building maintenance at NEA headquarters in Washington, DC as well as the national union’s regional offices. But should they have an expectation that their dues money is doing the same for the Indiana State Teachers Association?

Back in 2009, the ISTA insurance trust collapsed under the weight of high-risk investments. Coupled with other financial difficulties, it drove the Indiana affiliate deep into the red, requiring the establishment of an NEA trusteeship. To bail out ISTA, NEA formed NEA Properties, Inc. (NEAPI) to purchase the real estate and buildings owned by ISTA. Since then, ISTA has been leasing space in its own buildings, paying NEA $1.5 million in rent in the 2010-11 fiscal year.

This seemed to be an adequate solution to ISTA’s problems, but it failed to account for the union’s continued budget shortfalls due to large losses in membership. ISTA ran a $4.2 million deficit in 2010-11 and was a cumulative $12.6 million in the red at the time. We can safely assume things haven’t improved.

Even more distressing for NEA is the news that NEAPI is losing money as well, reporting a $111,000 deficit in 2010-11. An examination of NEA’s financial disclosure report shows where some of the money has been going:

Electricity – $205,609

Property management – $198,752

Security – $96,316

Building repair and remodeling – $83,536

Custodial services – $74,008

Plumbing/HVAC repair – $47,671

Legal – $45,754

Monthly steam supply – $39,364

Maintenance – $36,100

Water – $30,814

Accounting – $27,908

Property taxes – $25,060

Concierge services – $22,961

Sprinkler repair – $17,655

Unspecified building supplies – $11,915

Pest control – $9,305

Door/glass repair – $8,437

Hygiene supplies – $7,892

Window cleaning – $6,975

Space planner – $6,458

These items alone total over $1 million, and when coupled with insurance costs and depreciation, leave NEAPI at a loss.

The Indiana problem would be relatively small potatoes if all was well elsewhere. But if ISTA is still wholly dependent on its NEA bailout after almost four years, what does that portend for staggering state affiliates in Wisconsin, South Carolina, Michigan and a lot of other places? Will NEA use national dues to pay for exterminators in Texas, janitors in New Jersey and handymen in Iowa? Can it even afford to?

2)  Last Week’s Intercepts. EIA’s blog, Intercepts, covered these topics from January 15-22:

*  RIP CQE. Communities for Quality Education goes unfunded.

More Than You’ll Ever Need to Know About Lily Eskelsen. Accession announcement.

Class Size Reduction the Natural Way. Demographics and destiny.

Wisconsin Victory Only Leads to Next Battlefield. Keep your head.

Silver Lining in NYC. No deal better than toothless deal.

Union of 1% Same as Those of Other 99%. Congolese airlines and Chinese soul food.

3) Quote of the Week. “America’s educational system contains enough empty platitudes and kitten posters. It’s time to fill our students with some real content, create some connections, and see what sticks.” – Jessica Lahey, English and Latin teacher at the Crossroads Academy in New Hampshire. (January 16 Coming of Age in the Middle)

NEA Gave $15 Million to Advocacy Groups

January 14, 2013

1) NEA Gave $15 Million to Advocacy Groups. An Education Intelligence Agency analysis of NEA’s financial disclosure report for the 2011-12 fiscal year reveals the national union contributed just under $15 million to a wide variety of advocacy groups and charities. The total was about $3.8 million lower than the previous year.

The expenditures fall into broad categories of community outreach grants, charitable contributions, and payments for services rendered. In this list, EIA has deliberately omitted spending such as media buys, or payments to pollsters or consultants that have no obvious ideological component. The grants range from $4,568,000 to We Are Ohio, down to smaller grants to organizations such as People for the American Way, Media Matters and Netroots Nation.

Here is an alphabetic list of the 94 recipients of NEA’s contributions, with relevant web links. All of these were paid for with members’ dues money (the union’s federal PAC is a separate entity funded through voluntary means):

AFL-CIO – $1.15 million

Alliance for Justice – $5,000

America Votes – $376,100

America Works – $250,000

American Bridge 21st Century – $200,000

American Constitution Society – $10,000

American Sustainable Business Council Action Fund – $15,000

Asian American Justice Center – $10,000

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance – $5,000

Be the Change – $100,000

Board of Hispanic Caucus Chairs – $10,000

California Community Foundation – $6,000

Campaign for America’s Future – $20,000

Center for American Progress – $35,000

Center for Economic Organizing – $12,800

Center for Teacher Leadership – $63,178

Center for Teaching Quality – $120,767

Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association – $50,000

Citizens Helping Heroes – $10,000

Citizens for Tax Justice – $15,000

Committee for Charlotte 2012 – $250,000

Committee for Education Funding – $17,713

Committee on States – $25,000

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. – $70,000

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute – $55,000

Council of State Governments – $6,000

Daily Kos – $30,000

Democracy Alliance – $235,000

Democratic GAIN – $10,000

Economic Policy Institute – $250,000

Educating Maryland Kids – $200,000

Education Writers Association – $10,500

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate – $200,000

Excelencia in Education – $10,000

Fair Districts Now – $478,000

Fair Elections Legal Network – $50,000

Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network – $7,500

Good Jobs First – $15,000

Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice – $250,000

Health Care for America Now! – $125,000

HEROS, Inc. – $100,000

Hip Hop Caucus Education Fund – $25,000

Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform – $1,042,000

Initiative for Responsible Investment – $5,000

Japanese American Citizens League – $5,000

Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy – $9,300

Kansas Values Institute – $49,950

Keep It Local North Dakota – $135,000

Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – $25,000

Leadership Conference on Civil Rights – $5,000

Learning First Alliance – $91,200

Learning Forward – $25,000

Marylanders for Marriage Equality – $50,000

MediaMatters – $100,000

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund – $10,000

Montanans for Fiscal Accountability – $25,555

Moving South Dakota Forward – $225,000

NAACP – $11,000

National Action Network – $25,000

National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Education Fund – $5,000

National Black Justice Coalition – $20,000

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation – $5,000

National Conference of State Legislatures – $31,385

National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education – $202,646

National Hispanic Leadership Institute – $25,000

National Public Pension Coalition – $135,000

National Women’s Law Center – $10,000

Netroots Nation – $15,000

New Hampshire Unity Table Fund – $50,000

Ohio Democratic Party – $150,000

Organizations Concerned About Rural Education – $5,000

Opportunity to Learn Action Fund – $300,000

Parent Teacher Home Visit Project – $58,353

Partnership for 21st Century Skills – $35,000

Patriot Majority PAC – $100,000

People for the American Way – $135,000

Progressive Majority – $50,284

Project Love Remember the Children Foundation – $250,000

Project New West – $140,000

Protect Maine Votes – $81,500

Public Education Defense Fund – $1 million

Quality Education and Jobs – $50,000

Republican Main Street Partnership – $25,000

Ripon Society – $10,000

Robert Russa Moton Museum – $50,000

SEIU – $15,333

Taxpayers in Support of Public Education – $30,000

TIDES Foundation – $100,000

University of Colorado Boulder Sponsored Project – $250,000

U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute – $100,000

Voces de la Frontera – $23,515

Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation – $166,666

We Are Ohio – $4,568,000

Wellstone Action – $30,586

Many of the largest donations from NEA headquarters went to state ballot initiative groups, but these do not constitute the sum total of the national union’s spending on state political measures.

For example, the national union sent millions of dollars directly to state affiliates to fund various activities, including $5 million to the California Teachers Association. Much of this money was also then directed to initiative campaigns.

All of these figures were culled from NEA’s disclosure report for the U.S. Department of Labor. To see the full report for yourself, follow this link, then type “000-342” in the File Number box at the top of the page.

2)  Last Week’s Intercepts. EIA’s blog, Intercepts, covered these topics from January 8-14:

*  CLAS Back in Session? What can happen when you replace bubble tests.

Maryland Bill Would Make Agency Fees Mandatory. Forget collective bargaining.

Means, Motive and Opportunity. What it takes to get ahead.

Guns, Laws and Education. Many districts already have the power to allow armed adults in schools, including Connecticut.

Left Turn on Main Street. RINOs become R-not-even-INOs?

3) Scheduling Note. The next e-mail communiqué will appear on Tuesday, January 22.

4) Quote of the Week. “Throwing money at it doesn’t always solve the problems, but it does help a little bit.” – Wes Fifield, president of the Upland Unified school board in California. (January 3 Los Angeles Daily News)

The 2012 EIA Public Education Quotes of the Year

January 7, 2013

The 2012 EIA Public Education Quotes of the Year

EIA is proud to present the 2012 Public Education Quotes of the Year, in countdown order. Enjoy!

10) “The numbers of teachers are going up faster than are the numbers of students. That is a ticking time bomb. … With an economic downturn, the troubles with our economy, it’s hard to picture how school districts can sustain that increase and pay for it. I don’t see it as sustainable.”- Richard Ingersoll, a professor in the Graduate School of Education and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. (July 26 Detroit News)

9) “We bear a lot of responsibility for this. We were focused – as unions are – on fairness and not as much on quality.” – Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, commenting on the union’s traditional defense of seniority over performance. (August 18 New York Times)

8) “Trust me, if you can cut such deals with Randi Weingarten, who is president of the American Federation of Teachers, you can do them with Vladimir Putin and Bibi Netanyahu.” – Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times columnist, explaining why he supported U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for Secretary of State. (November 27 New York Times)

7) “The office had a longstanding common practice of using profanity long before he got there.” – Josh Gruenberg, attorney for former San Diego Education Association executive director Craig Leedham, who was dismissed in part because of his style of dealing with employees. (May 21 Voice of San Diego)

6) “I find you and your organization wholly ineffectual and ineffective. Teachers cannot sit idly by facing financial ruin while you enjoy your wine and chocolates.” – Eric D. Przykuta, president of the Lancaster Central Teachers Association, in a February 17 letter to New York State United Teachers president Richard Iannuzzi. 

5) “We had a very aggressive savings plan.”- Lynne Webb, president of the United School Employees of Pasco, explaining to a judge how she and her husband, former Broward Teachers Union president Pat Santeramo, who was indicted for racketeering and money laundering, were able to put away more than half a million dollars in CDs while paying off a $574,000 vacation home in just three years. (July 13 Miami Herald)

4) “I think people need reassurance that their tax dollars aren’t getting wasted, that something good is happening [at school] that can be measured. I understand that ferocious need, coupled with falling test scores, with the difficulty in removing teachers who aren’t performing and the unions’ unwillingness for a long time to look at how to change things – all those things made us ripe for the picking. Or the kicking.” – Rebecca Mieliwocki, 2012 National Teacher of the Year. (May 16 Los Angeles Times)

3)  “If I’m a parent in poverty I have no clue because I’m trying to struggle and live day to day. The idea of parents making decisions simply based on choice is the abandonment of public schools.” – Michael Walker Jones, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Educators, commenting on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to expand school vouchers in the state. (January 23 New Orleans Times-Picayune) 

2) “We feel TFA is undermining our profession. We see TFA as a vehicle for union busting … the district is hiring uncertified teachers to reduce costs.” – Diane Brown, president of United Teachers of Richmond, speaking about Teach for America two weeks after her parent union, the National Education Association, provided her and other delegates with a report that concluded, “No evidence suggests that the TFA contracts are being used to reduce teacher costs, silence union voices, or as a vehicle to bust unions.” (July 18 San Jose Mercury News)

1)  “Things will never go back to the way they were.” – from the introduction to the 2012-2014 National Education Association Strategic Plan and Budget.

Nothing to Say

December 17, 2012

1)  Nothing to Say. With one event overshadowing everything else, it feels impossible to blithely move on to other topics. Since this was to be the last communiqué of 2012 anyway, let’s just call it a year and take a deep breath. Intercepts will continue to be updated daily but the next weekly communiqué will not appear until Monday, January 7. Happy Holidays, everyone. 

2)  Last Week’s Intercepts. EIA’s blog, Intercepts, covered these topics from December 11-17: 

*  Who Are the Freeloaders? Why should unions have to represent non-paying non-members? Because they won’t allow competitors. 

Teachers’ Union Supports Full Employment… for Animators. Propaganda cartoons are all the rage. Here’s what’s next. 

Education Bar Graphs of the Year. Something very important to keep in mind when you read the results of an opinion poll. 

I Don’t Know. I suspect I’m not the only one. 

Ask and Ye Shall Receive. A neglected story gets un-neglected. 

3)  Quote of the Week. “As opposed to your criticism that it’s ‘crass,’ ‘sophomoric’ and ‘garbage,’ the cartoon conveys these political ideas through the tools of fairy tale and animation, which by nature are allegorical and use caricature and visual metaphor for satirical effect.” – Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers, defending the union’s recent cartoon in a letter to the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. (December 10 San Francisco Chronicle)

Are NEA, SEIU and AFSCME Working on “No Raid” Agreement?

December 10, 2012

1)  Are NEA, SEIU and AFSCME Working on “No Raid” Agreement? It’s no secret that the National Education Association is working more closely than ever before with its counterparts in organized labor. NEA, SEIU and AFSCME teamed up to fund a series of ads targeting key lawmakers in the fiscal cliff negotiations and they are the driving force behind today’s “day of action” rallies in a number of cities.

While three of the largest public employee unions in the nation are cooperating on external communications and operations, they are also crafting an internal agreement that would establish a détente over competition for members. A group of high-level NEA officials met with teams from SEIU and AFSCME last week to put together a deal that would establish jurisdictions for the individual unions, similar to the arrangement NEA made with AFT after the failed attempt at national merger in 1998.

The two national teachers’ unions and many of their state affiliates made “no raid” agreements – pledges not to try to recruit the other organization’s members. There have been hiccups along the way and a number of affiliates that refused to go along, but for the most part the cutthroat competition for members is a thing of the past.

SEIU and AFSCME don’t represent teachers, but they sometimes compete with the teachers’ unions for education support employees. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t be too much of a hardship for each side to agree to stay away from the other’s members. Once that’s in place, it will pave the way for all the public sector unions to cooperate more frequently and efficiently.

The days when NEA stood far apart from the broader labor movement are gone. The AFL-CIO was once shunned by NEA delegates, but now more than one-quarter of NEA members are affiliated with the labor federation. This helps NEA in projecting political power, but could hurt its “professional association” image and embroil it in issues far removed from education.

Today’s union movement is almost entirely a public sector union movement. It only stands to reason that the largest public sector union would take a larger part.

2)  Last Week’s Intercepts. EIA’s blog, Intercepts, covered these topics from December 4-10:

*  And They Lived Happily Ever After. The moral of the story is: Don’t get mad. Get even.

WEAC Approves Moving Forward With Merger. Suppose we get to 10 or 12 merged state affiliates. Then what?

Teacher Misconduct Bill a Test Case for California Legislature. Moderation or tidal wave?

Going Mobile. Reading Intercepts on your phone just got a little easier.

Canadian Teachers’ Union Wants to Put Its Members in the Penalty Box. But it probably won’t get away with it.

3)  Quote of the Week. “A new, satirical video titled ‘Tax the rich: An animated fairy tale’ was created by the California Federation of Teachers, not by the California Teachers Association. Some media have confused the two organizations.” – from a December 6 California Teachers Association press release.

The Perks of Being a Union Executive

December 3, 2012

1)  The Perks of Being a Union Executive. We tend to pay a lot of attention to what teachers’ unions spend on politics, but even that lofty amount pales in comparison to what they what they spend on themselves. Like teaching, union work is a labor-intensive enterprise. Unlike teaching, the structure of union benefits resembles an inverted pyramid, where a lot of people receive similar perks and only the lowest level employees receive standard workplace accommodations.

Wage amounts are usually public record, but are perilously difficult to pin down. What a union executive makes can be inflated in the record by sick leave accrual or severance payouts, or can be understated because of tax deferments or allowances in lieu of pay. Still, with that caveat in place, an examination of 2010-11 tax records reveals wages of the highest paid employees of the National Education Association and its state affiliates – defined here as the money reported in box 1 of a W-2 form – ranged from almost $540,000 down to less than $92,000.

Financial records also show that certain perks are common among NEA and state affiliate executives, while others are controversial even in the corporate world.

Housing allowances are prevalent. Union officers often will receive a cash payment to cover the costs of maintaining a home near union headquarters, usually located in the state capital. Some affiliates actually provide a home. Which officers receive a housing allowance and for how much varies from state to state, but it ranges from 20 percent of salary all the way down to $800 per month.

One would expect the union to cover the costs of executive travel, but some affiliates allow first-class travel and many also reimburse for the cost of companion travel – in one case up to $2,000 per year. Unions have been known to reimburse officers for home, pet and garden care while they are away on business, although it isn’t known whether these kinds of perks have survived recent budget shortfalls. Auto allowances and gas cards are also common.

A growing number of officers receive payment for annual health or social club dues and initiation fees, with one affiliate offering up to $1,000 a year in “wellness-related expenses.” A handful of affiliates also provide the president with a discretionary spending account or clothing allowances.

Accounting for these varied forms of compensation can get complicated, so some unions provide free tax preparation. At least one affiliate even offers relief if a union officer’s accumulation of previously deferred payments or leave buy-outs leads to higher tax obligations – in the form of the “gross-up” payment.

If you are unfamiliar with the term, that’s when the employer picks up the tab for the additional tax the employee will have to pay for a unusually large lump sum payment. Of course, the “gross-up” payment itself is taxable, so it is often made large enough to help cover that extra tax as well. The practice has come under fire in corporate America, so it’s ironic to see it turn up in a union.

Since much of this alternative compensation is hidden, it will be difficult to discern how much it will be affected by membership losses and budget cuts. When revenues can’t cover payroll, union staffers are laid off. But executive officers are elected. Some have accepted pay freezes, but I haven’t heard any talk of rolling back these kinds of benefits. If done, it will be done quietly, so as not to alert the rank-and-file to their existence in the first place.

2)  Last Week’s Intercepts. EIA’s blog, Intercepts, covered these topics from November 27-December 3:

*  Graduation Stats Show Equality and Inequality. Racial gaps persist, but some states have equally bad stats across all groups.

School Districts Ride CABs to the Poorhouse. Next big idea: payday loans!

Tryptophan Coma at the New York Times. Thomas Friedman wasn’t the only one with goofy Cabinet suggestions.

NEA Affiliate Staff Updates. Contract settlements are not always good news.

Detroit President Re-Elected; Miami President Won’t Run Again. Apathy still in front.

3)  Quote of the Week. “There’s a lot of cynicism in labor about the capacity of ordinary, working-class people to run their unions. Leaders think those people should have good lives, but they don’t think they have the capacity to do big things. Even among ‘progressive’ unions, democracy is not high on the list of must-haves. That has really hurt our movement.” – Mark Brenner, director of the pro-union publication Labor Notes. (November 30 In These Times)