A group of about 500 education support employees in the Poway Unified School District in southern California ended their 28-year relationship with SEIU and voted to join the independent Poway School Employees Association, which already represents 1,500 other classified employees in the district.
PSEA captured about 96 percent of the votes cast. Supporters of the decertification vote had complained of “unresponsive SEIU representatives, high SEIU dues, and a lack of resources, training and assistance.”
Teachers in Poway are represented by the AFT-affiliated Poway Federation of Teachers.
H/T: Stern Burger with Fries.
Like most of NEA’s small state affiliates the Wyoming Education Association relies heavily on national subsidies to maintain its current level of operations. However, its membership numbers have been relatively stable and it doesn’t share the budgetary troubles of many other affiliates of its size.
Total membership – 6,188, down 130 members
Total revenue – $3.1 million (69.5% came from member dues), up $88,000
Deficit – $57,000
Net assets – $2.2 million
Total staff – 18
Staff salaries and benefits – $1.9 million
Highest paid employee – Ron Sniffin, executive director – $119,180 base salary
Highest paid contractor – None received more than $100,000
The NEA Fund for Children and Public Education is the union’s political action committee, and federal law limits it to collecting only voluntary contributions from members and their immediate families. This is enough to make the NEA PAC a significant force when it comes to funding candidates for Congress and the Presidency, but it has nowhere near the impact of the union’s SuperPAC, independent expenditures and ballot measure spending. This chart from Open Secrets shows the PAC’s income and expenditures over previous election cycles.
You will note that the PAC’s highest spending election cycle was 2010, which… was not money well spent.
In any event, the goal of $185 per delegate is well within its grasp, seeing as it raised $206.48 per delegate last year. Raising PAC money from delegates isn’t the problem. Getting them to attend the Representative Assembly seems to be. Last year attendance fell to 6,724. That number again would bring in about $1.25 million. That’s not bad for a four-day haul, but the RA is by far the PAC’s biggest fundraising event of the year. Without better attendance the NEA PAC will be faced with the bane of unions everywhere: demanding more and more money from fewer and fewer people.
The recent history of the Wisconsin Education Association Council is well-documented, having gone from 99,708 members in 2008-09 to 53,983 five years later. Payroll was cut commensurately, but virtually every dollar saved on laid-off staffers was spent on outside political advocacy groups.
Total membership – 53,983, down 11,760 members
Total revenue – $13.2 million (93.9% came from member dues), down $5.6 million
Deficit – $3.2 million
Net assets – $8.4 million
Total staff – 160
Staff salaries and benefits – $6.8 million
Highest paid employee – Robert Baxter, executive director – $150,739 base salary
Highest paid contractor – Metro Industrial Areas Foundation – $180,000
“The statistics for turnover among new teachers are startling. Some 20 percent of all new hires leave the classroom within three years. In urban districts, the numbers are worse—close to 50 percent of newcomers flee the profession during their first five years of teaching.” So claims the California Teachers Association web site, arguing for higher teacher compensation.
But in one fell swoop we have virtually eradicated the problem in the state, merely by suggesting changes to the teacher pension system.
Researchers like the ones at TeacherPensions.org, a project of Bellwether Education Partners, have their own “half of all teachers” statistic, and it’s that “Half of all teachers leave the profession without a pension.” They recommend retirement plans with a level of portability.
These suggestions struck a nerve at CalSTRS, the state teacher pension fund, and in response Jack Ehnes, its CEO, penned an editorial headlined “Teachers Are Better Off With a Pension Than a 401(k).” That the head of a giant pension system should hold such a position isn’t surprising. What is surprising is the research he cites to support it.
Ehnes notes that pension reform studies “suggest that a large percentage of new teachers drop out early and don’t stay long enough to collect full pension benefits.” This is wrong, he states.
However, most classroom teacher positions in California are not occupied by those who leave after a few years, but by those who stay long-term. A recent study from the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, titled Are Teachers Better Off With a Pension or a 401(k)?, analyzed teacher turnover patterns to project the number of years each teacher will work by the time he or she retires from California schools. The research found that 75 percent of teachers will spend 20 years or more in the classroom before retiring in their early 60s.
So to summarize: We need higher salaries because teacher turnover is high, but we shouldn’t change the pension system because teacher turnover is low.