Fewer Members Mean Higher Dues

With teachers’ unions losing members, it places additional financial strains on those who remain. Much of the overhead is tied to staff costs, and RIFs are subject to the provisions of staff collective bargaining agreements. In order to maintain the same size staff, dues must rise.

But there’s an additional inflationary factor for many NEA state affiliates. Union dues are often set according to a formula based on average teacher salaries. If salaries rise, dues rise. Because layoffs are usually made according to lowest seniority, the lowest-paid teachers are released first. That action alone raises the average salary. Factor in automatic step increases for many teachers and you may see an additional increase in average teacher salary. Finally, there’s a lag involved in collecting salary statistics, so today’s dues are based on the pay status of two or three years ago.

What remains is a dwindling number of members forced to make up the dues difference for members who are no longer there. NEA national dues are expected to rise only $2 for 2012-13 (to $180), but several state affiliates are planning increases as much as $15.

The Nebraska State Education Association came up with another method for increasing revenue – one tested previously by affiliates such as the California Teachers Association. Last year, NSEA instituted a temporary, one-year special assessment of $10 for its Ballot Contingency Fund. This year the special assessment disappears, but by strange coincidence the dues level will not drop. The union simply appended the $10 to its normal increase to set state dues at $376 – a hike of $4 over last year’s total.

NSEA mimics CTA in another fashion. The dues total includes a state PAC contribution ($15), which “is refundable upon receipt of a written, individually-composed request.”

Individually composed? Isn’t that an undue burden for teachers in [Nearby City]?