Over the past year, several states – including Wisconsin, Tennessee and Idaho – have passed legislation freeing teachers from the shackles of compulsory union membership.
Now that membership has become voluntary, a growing number of teachers are choosing to quit the union, which is causing hard times for the nation’s largest teachers union.
A new report finds the National Education Association has revised its membership numbers downward – from 3.2 million to just over 3 million.
According to Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency website, the hemorrhaging of members is contributing to the NEA’s $17 million deficit, which may force union leaders to lay off employees and cut aid to state affiliates.
“NEA employees have been presented with an ‘exit program,’ which is essentially an early retirement incentive,” Antonucci writes.
If not enough employees take the offer, the union may be forced to lay off workers, a process that is complicated by the fact “most NEA employees themselves are members of unions, known as staff unions,” Antonucci reports. Layoffs would require several months of bargaining and warning notices.
NEA leaders are also expected to reduce grants to state affiliates, which means local chapters will have to cut the pay of their UniServ directors (NEA employees who directly assist local unions) or pass the difference on to their members.
It’s ironic that the union’s cost-cutting decisions mirror the tough decisions many state officials have been forced to make, and many school boards have pursued to help their districts survive.
NEA leaders have spent the past several years excoriating state officials for cutting aid to public education and school boards for seeking union concessions – accusing them of hating teachers and trying to destroy public education.
Now the NEA that is fighting for its life – and surprise! – it’s cutting employees and asking affiliates to do with less.
Maybe rank-and-file NEA members should demand the union’s top brass – their 1% – take pay cuts, cancel all of their lavish conference retreats and begin flying coach, so middle-class union workers don’t have to do without.
Maybe they could “occupy” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel’s office. But we’re not holding our collective breath.
Written by the Education Action Group and published on BigGovernment.com, February 27, 2012.
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