Teachers’ Union to Raise Dues After ‘Significant’ Membership Loss

Teachers, staff and their supporters march through downtown Chicago, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019. The teachers are calling for district leaders to meet their demands on class sizes just days before a threatened strike that would affect thousands of students in the country's third-largest school district. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)
AP Photo/Teresa Crawford

The National Education Association (NEA) will expect active members to pay more in dues to compensate for the “significant membership decline” linked to layoffs caused by the coronavirus that originated in China, Education Week reported Thursday.

Despite the considerable drop in membership, the report continues, “the union’s revenue will actually increase by about $7 million next year because of a dues increase for teachers and support employees.”

“The value [educators] place in belonging to this union is significant, and they are willing to pay union dues to belong to that community to advocate for their colleagues and to stand up for what their kids need,” Kim Anderson, NEA executive director, told Education Week.

NEA’s virtual Representative Assembly convened on Friday with addresses from Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden and former First Lady Michelle Obama.

In his remarks at the Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration on Friday evening, President Donald Trump said the nation’s children “are taught in school to hate their own country and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but that they were villains.”

“[O]ur children,” he added, “from every community, must be taught that to be American is to inherit the spirit of the most adventurous and confident people ever to walk the face of the Earth.”

NEA anticipates its membership to drop from 2.42 million full-time members to 2.29 million.

The union reported about $350.4 million in tax-exempt revenue this past year, which it expects will increase to $357.8 million in the next academic year, and then to $365 million by year 2021-22 with its proposed dues increase.

According to its research, NEA has determined the “average annual salary” of classroom teachers for 2019-2020 is $62,877, and anticipates the average salary to increase to $64,449 in year 2020-2021.

Dues for teachers was $196 in year 2019-2020, and is proposed to increase to $200 in 2020-2021, and then to $204 in 2021-2022.

Anderson said NEA did not lose the number of members that was predicted as a result of the 2018 Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME in which the Court ended compulsory public sector union dues.

Following the ruling, public sector union leaders launched lobbying campaigns in state legislatures to boost their power over workers.

“We thought we could lose anywhere from 150,000 members,” Anderson said. “People are desperate to belong to a community and feel a sense of connectedness.”

Describing its budgetary needs, the nation’s largest teachers’ union states in its “2020-2022 Strategic Plan and Budget” that its “recommended investments” will be those that assist communities “in overcoming the racial, social, economic, political, and educational injustices marked by inequitable conditions and disparate impacts that have been exacerbated by the Coronavirus pandemic.”

According to its plan, NEA’s “strategic objectives” for the two-year period ahead include increasing the “influence” of teachers at local, state, and national levels, and to “advance racial justice in education.”

NEA states in its plan that public schools are the “cornerstone of our republic,” providing students “with the skills to be involved, informed, and engaged in our representative democracy.”

In its work ahead, NEA says it hopes to “increase member capacity as messengers, leaders, and activists.”

The union seeks to use knowledge of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to “grow, strengthen member voice at the local and state affiliate level.”

Former President Barack Obama signed ESSA into law in December 2015 and labeled the measure a “Christmas miracle.”

“A bipartisan bill signing right here!” Obama said about the law that further entrenched the federal government in education policy decisions.

The NEA’s goals to strengthen its union are enmeshed with both coronavirus issues, as a result of school closures since March and uncertainty about the state of public schools going forward, as well as its support for the protests and demonstrations waged in cities across the nation by Marxist groups such as Black Lives Matter.

Anderson told Education Week the increased dues money can assist to help state and local union affiliates “recover and advance” after the coronavirus.

However, NEA Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss reportedly added in a hearing on the proposed budget that the dues money could be used to assist with member organizing on virtual platforms.

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