I apologize for not following the ongoing melodrama surrounding the front-page publication of “NYSUT’s leaders get double-digit raises” in the October 28 Albany Times-Union. Sure, I raised some questions about the story the same day, but I wasn’t aware that NYSUT was demanding a correction, and got it on November 4.
The paper now admits that its interpretation of the IRS data was flawed, but its correction falls a bit short as well:
The numbers cited by the Times Union were for salaries set by the union’s Board of Directors in June 2008, which NYSUT notes came after an increase in state school aid, rather than last year, as teachers layoffs and other education cutbacks were occurring.
According to NYSUT, President Richard Iannuzzi received an 11.2 percent increase at that time, applying to the 2008-2009 school year. In the succeeding years, he and other officers received raises of 2.75 and 2.85 percent. For the current 2011-2012 school year, the board at Iannuzzi’s request froze his salary and that of other officers.
Now that NYSUT has set the record straight, we now know exactly how much Iannuzzi and the other officers make, right? Wrong. Froze his salary at what? As New York Daily News columnist Bill Hammond learned, the union refused to say.
I don’t ascribe nefarious motives to this. I honestly believe the union can’t say how much money Iannuzzi makes without first examining, then trying to explain, the gory detail of base salaries, taxable cash allowances, deferred income, taxable benefits, non-taxable benefits, and reimbursement of expenses (including $8-12K per year from AFT for his duties as vice president that doesn’t show up on NYSUT’s books). Why go through all that trouble when the end result will be “We make a very good living off teachers’ dues”?
Unfortunately, “How much do union officers make?” and “How much do unions spend on politics?” and “How many teachers belong to a union?” are three questions that can’t have both simple and accurate answers. Best not to venture into those minefields unless you’re prepared to make some boring exposition.