Teachers Unions Spent $100 Per Teacher on Politics

-By Warner Todd Huston

Education Next undertook for the first time an effort to find out how much of their members dues money that teachers unions spent on political action. The results are very interesting. The analysis discovered that, “national teachers unions and their state affiliates spent more than $100 per teacher in five states, with Oregon at the top of the list at $360 per teacher during the 2007-08 election cycle.”

Much of this money was spent to attempt to control the political debate above and beyond mere issues of education. Teachers unions spent millions trying to affect the political debate on taxes, housing, healthcare, gay marriage, congressional redistricting, and a whole raft of issues that as teachers they have precisely nothing to do with.

“The unions’ influence over education policy is well known, but their influence over government is not. Teachers unions are by far the largest political contributors,” said Antonucci. “For the first time, we have put dollar figures on what has always been known anecdotally: The unions exert a great deal of influence on domestic policy, due to the sheer amount of money they spend on political advocacy, and at times pushing political agendas that are at odds with those of their members.”

Antonucci reports that with a 2010 budget of $355.8 million for the NEA and $165 million for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the unions have become political kingmakers, applying their influence directly through lobbying and election campaigns, but also indirectly through a network of “front groups”–friendly organizations to which they give substantial contributions. The NEA in particular is a driving force supporting attempts to raise state taxes or defeating tax cut or limitation measures.

The truth is that if you are a teacher, your dues are going for things that have nothing at all to do with your job.

Worse, if you are an advocate of small government and against this socialist expansion of state power, the teachers unions are an enemy with millions to spend to defeat your true American values.

And the money they have to waste on such un-American pishtosh is considerable, too.

The five states in which the two unions spent more than $100 per teacher were Oregon, Colorado ($173.98), Montana ($141.74), Utah ($140.60) and South Dakota ($132.15)–states in which there were hotly-contested political campaigns during the 2007-08 election cycle. Massachusetts came in sixth with $81.24 per teacher, followed by North Dakota ($68.17), California ($41.21), Washington ($40.75) and Minnesota ($40.04). The full chart available here shows the total expenditures by the NEA and AFT in each state as well as what those expenditures translate into per teacher.

It should be remembered that in all these jurisdictions the state forces teachers to pay dues, too, even if they don’t wish to belong to the union. With the cozy relationship developed between unions and their bought-and-paid-for Democrat politicians, laws have been created in these states to force teachers to pay dues in a sort of pay-to-work extortion policy. It’s no different than a criminal racket, protection money extorted from teachers to keep unions in the dough they need to pay off politicians.

And these millions have been spent in an effort to keep Democrats in power, thwart the will of the voters, and keep union bigwigs in the high income brackets in which they’ve become used to enjoying.

It’s all a perfect example of why public employees unions should be illegal. Public employees unions are antithetical to good government.

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