Total membership in the NEA, which includes retirees who pay reduced dues, continued to hover just below three million in fiscal year 2013-14. But active membership dwindled to 2,595,275, which is a decrease of almost 11% over the past five years. Since Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed Act 10 legislation in 2011 that allowed teachers to quit the union, half of them have.
At the Orlando NEA convention, the temporary Ballot Measure/Legislative Crisis Fund assessment increase of $10, which was instituted in 2011 and was set to expire this year, was made permanent. According to the union, the special assessment has provided over $135 million to state affiliates for ballot measure and legislative activism and over $22 million for the media fund. When the union opposes a ballot measure or other action, they use this money to fight against it.
Two New Business Items, 7 and 97, were passed at the NEA convention declaring that the Secretary of Education and other local, state, and national education leaders should have an education background. This is ironic because NEA Executive Director John Stocks had no previous education experience. He was a union public affairs officer, a politician, a community organizer, and is known as a “social justice warrior.”
To the consternation of many of its members, the American Federation of Teachers union has already endorsed 2016 presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. Although it was generally understood that the union would not endorse a candidate this early or without greater member input, union President Randi Weingarten had the board endorse her friend Hillary. Some say the early nod was meant to help stem the tide of Bernie Sanders’ popularity. The 1.6 million members of the AFT “are expected to make more than 1 million phone calls and knock on more than 500,000 doors,” according to the press release accompanying the endorsement.