NEA vs. Paycheck Protection

Back to August 2012 Ed Reporter

NEA vs. Paycheck Protection

Every year, hundreds of thousands of teachers give their hard-earned money to political candidates and causes they may not even be able to identify. Teachers who object to this practice are often subject to retribution from colleagues, and in California, even those who would like to end the practice must pay to make sure it continues.

A new resolution introduced at this year’s National Education Association (NEA) Representative Assembly reads, “The Association also believes that members have the right to have payroll deduction of both Association membership dues and voluntary political contributions.”

When political contributions come out of teacher paychecks, they are delivered to the NEA, which uses the funds to help elect Democrats and aid in radical liberal causes that have nothing to do with the students about whom teachers are supposed be concerned.

State legislatures could end this racket by passing Paycheck Protection laws prohibiting the practice — but the NEA spends a lot of money making sure they won’t do this. In California, members can expect their dollars to be spent defeating Proposition 32, which would prohibit the use of payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. States that have already passed similar legislation have seen unions with increased fiscal transparency and accountability.

Union leaders spend far more money on politics than their members would like, and they work hard to make sure most members never realize that. This year’s convention was no exception. reported:

This year the union was even cagier than usual. The fund report was dated May 24, and listed the fund balance at $19,504,926. What the delegates probably didn’t know — and the members they represent certainly don’t know — is that the night before the convention opened the NEA board of directors met and voted to allocate $13 million of that balance, and another $4 million from the 2012-13 money, to a handful of state affiliate campaigns. The union expects to have spent $25 million out of an available $29 million by this time next year.

There’s also evidence that union leaders often pursue an agenda many members would rather not support — thus the need to veil the union’s activities from the very teachers it supposedly helps. According to the Heritage Foundation:

  1. Paycheck protection legislation has a clear negative effect on public sector union contributions to candidates for state legislative offices. These laws reduce union campaign donations by approximately 50 percent. The odds of random chance explaining these results are less than one percent.
  2. Paycheck protection laws do not affect donations from other economic sectors, nor do they have an effect on contributions from other industries. Paycheck protection laws appear to have a causal effect in reducing union campaign contributions.
  3. There is not enough evidence to determine if paycheck protection laws reduce the political influence of unions. Anecdotal reports, however, suggest that union leaders have found loopholes in paycheck protection laws that allow them to continue spending their members’ dues on political activism without their consent. The fact that unions must use these loopholes nonetheless demonstrates that union members do not support their union’s political agenda.