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Unified Dues: More than Teachers Bargain For
posted by: Alix | September 16, 2013, 04:46 PM   

In right-to-work states or in communities where union membership is entirely voluntary, teachers and education employees often join their local National Education Association (NEA) affiliate thinking they are advancing their profession and protecting their interests, without the union baggage. Drawn in by the promises of a "united voice" and "dues staying at the state level," busy teachers often get more than they bargained for when joining these self-proclaimed "professional associations."

The truth is, membership in any NEA affiliate organization means a teacher is a member of the largest labor union in the country. Whether you teach in Arkansas or Massachusetts, your dues support every level of the NEA.

Beginning in the 1970's, the NEA moved to a unified membership system in which a member must join the local, state, and national unions. As part of this system, a portion of annual union dues that educators pay to their state and local associations is automatically forwarded to the national arm. Today that amount accounts for $180 for every active NEA member. During the 2013 NEA Conference, dues were raised an additional $3 per member.

Unfortunately, in an effort to remove themselves from the controversy of the labor unions, local NEA affiliates claim to have no ties to partisan spending or controversial social issues. According to financial disclosures, many NEA affiliates report to the Department of Labor and all use dues collected to support non-education related issues.

In 2011 alone, the NEA spent $19 million on liberal advocacy groups and initiatives. This is not political action money, rather money siphoned directly from member dues. If you take into account the nearly $7.8 million the American Federation of Teachers spends on their own partisan pet projects, the two largest teacher unions spend a combined $26.8 million on fueling controversial issues. In real numbers, that's nearly 600 teaching jobs, or over 35,000 text books.

Whether the NEA supports the Ohio Democratic Party, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, or marriage equality groups, many local NEA members are unaware of the union's political activity.

It is critical that teachers everywhere understand where their hard earned money is going. NEA members across the country directly support partisan groups and causes through their dues. For more information on how the NEA supports partisan politics read Powerful Failure.

Fed up? At the Association of American Educators we pride ourselves on operating on a lean budget to exclusively spend membership dues on liability insurance and professional benefits. We do not support partisan politics and do not take positions on issues unrelated to education. Let a teacher know that they do have a choice. Join AAE today.

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